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Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.


Chapter Eight

Bella scrolled quickly through the music on her iPod, trying to find another good song before the current one ended. After checking and re-checking the playlist, she gave up and clicked the shuffle button.

Thankfully Angela's dorm room was not far from Bella's, and that enabled the two to study together whenever it became necessary. Mrs. Cullen made sure it was always necessary. During the first few classes, Bella was sure that the woman was out to make her life hell, but Mrs. Cullen's excuse was that she didn't want to seem like she was favoring her just because she was close friends with Jasper and Rosalie. Bella could only imagine how tough she must be on Jasper because he's her nephew. She made a note to herself to hug him tightly the next time she came across him.

As she rounded the corner, she saw a familiar head of short black hair crouched against the wall next to her door.

"Alice?"

The girl looked up and Bella noticed the miserable look in her eyes immediately.

"Alice what's wrong? What're you doing here?"

"Can I stay with you please? Just for tonight, I promise." Bella's eyes narrowed at how raw and tired her voice sounded; like she had been crying.

"Is it your roommate again?" Alice didn't respond, instead fixing her eyes on her laces and tugging on the hanging loop. "Alice."

She sighed. "Please don't tell anyone."

"What do you mean 'don't tell anyone'?" Bella scoffed. "That girl has been bullying you for a long time as far as I know, and last time I checked running away doesn't solve problems."

"I just don't want you to go beat her up and get yourself suspended or something. Then it would be on your record, and it's all my fault." Bella shook her head and sighed. This girl was something else.

"Come on, let's get inside."

Alice stood up and walked into the room behind Bella. She hated to think that she was running away from her problems, but she couldn't stay there for a moment longer. She thought once again about telling a teacher or someone about it, but she was almost nineteen; she could handle her own issues.

"You're welcome to stay as long as you need to," came Bella's voice, making Alice jump as she was pulled out of her thoughts. "Do you have clothes with you?"

Alice blushed slightly and nodded. Hopefully Bella wouldn't find it creepy that she somehow knew Bella would allow her to stay.

"That's good. Well you've been in here before, you know where stuff is. If you want snacks, the mini-fridge is over there. The bathroom's over here. Just let me know if you ever want to invite people over, assuming that you want to stay here for long."

Alice nodded, her face heating up even more for reasons she did not know.

Bella sighed again. "You're going to have to tell me eventually what Lauren's deal is with you. You can't hide out in my room forever you know."

"I can try," Alice muttered under her breath.

"What?"

"Nothing." Bella raised an eyebrow but didn't push further.

"If you say so. Mi casa es su casa. Make yourself comfortable."

Alice was looking through her overstuffed backpack, searching for her art book which she just then realized she had left in her haste to leave the dorm before Lauren came back. She groaned out loud before she could stop herself.

"What's wrong?" Bella asked, glancing up from her iPod.

"Nothing, I just...I left my sketchbook back in my dorm. I need it to do my homework for tomorrow."

"I can go and get it for you if you want."

"No no, I don't want to make you-"

"Nah, don't worry about it. I don't have anything to do anyway." Bella was up and out the door before Alice could protest further.

Part of her was glad that she didn't have to go back to her room with the possibility of bumping into Lauren, but another part worried about what Bella might do. Would she act irrationally? She could get suspended. What if Lauren and her friends gang up on her? Bella would be outnumbered. She wouldn't stand a chance.

Woah Alice. Calm down. She shook her head and continued to pull things out of her backpack, dumping them onto the single bed covered in the same blue comforter as it was the last time she slept over.

In an attempt to distract herself until Bella came back, she decided to explore the room a bit more; she hadn't really gotten the chance to do so during her first visit. The space was huge and Alice wondered to herself if Bella ever got lonely being without a roommate. Probably not, but Alice entertained the thought nonetheless.

She looked over the randomly placed pictures around the room, most of them containing people that Alice didn't recognize. There was one of Bella with a man who she assumed was her father because of the similarities in their appearance. The two were both sitting on reclined chairs with fishing poles tucked under their arm while they dosed off. Everything about their posture was the same, even their mouths were hanging slightly open the same way. Alice chuckled and wondered who had taken the picture. Bella's mother maybe, but she had never mentioned her before so Alice wasn't sure what their family dynamic was.

She moved on to other pictures, coming across many of Bella with Rosalie, Jasper or Edward or all three together. They must've known each other for a long time, or at least spent a lot of their time together.

She turned away from the pictures, her eyes taking in the movie and band posters on the walls of the room. She was pleased to find out that Bella's tastes were similar to her own, that was one less thing to think about at least.

Spinning on her heal, she noticed a few more things in the room. Her curiosity got the best of her again when her eyes landed on the open closet. Her eyes scanned across the clothes on the hangers first, then onto the piled up clothes on the shelves. She appreciated neatness, and there was none of that here.

We can't agree on everything I guess, she thought with a sigh.

Just as she was preparing to turn away, a familiar flash of light blue caught her eye. She squinted to get a better look, before recognizing the vibrator she had knocked over in the bathroom a couple of weeks back. Her face heated as her mind ran through various scenarios and possibilities. Quickly she made her way back to the bed, taking her phone in hand and twirling it around so she could distract herself.

She couldn't stop her mind from wandering, but if Bella came back in she would definitely know something was up because of the blush creeping on Alice's face and neck. How often did Bella use the thing? Had she used it recently? Maybe that's why it was in a different place. Or maybe she had two - Alice didn't want to check. Bella would be back any minute and might think she had been snooping. Well, technically she was snooping. Well maybe-

"Honey, I'm hooome!" Bella called out with a grin as she walked back into the room. "That roommate of yours is a coward, by the way."

"Huh?" Alice managed to get out, her heart hammering as she wondered if Bella would be able to tell what she had been doing. "Oh, um...wait, what happened?"

Bella just shrugged with that same mischievous grin on her face. "Nothing of particular importance. Here's your book."

"Thanks. You didn't do anything that would get you in trouble, did you?"

Bella just made a zipping motion across her lips and winked. "Just let me know whenever you need anything else from there." Alice's eyes narrowed in suspicion, but she let the subject drop.

With her sketchbook, Alice was able to get on with her homework. She kept glancing over from where she sat at the unoccupied desk to see what Bella was doing. For the most part she just lay on her bed with headphones on while she read a book that Alice had never heard of. It looked like the type to have hundreds of pages and tiny print; Alice hated those.

Eventually, the silence was broken when Bella asked if Alice was hungry. The two agreed to go to the same cafe that Bella had taken her to to meet her friends and soon they were out of the room and headed off campus.

It wasn't long before they reached the cafe, and Bella asked for a table for two. They were led to an empty table in the back, and Alice was about to pull out her chair and take a seat when she heard a throat clearing. Looking up, she saw that Bella had pulled out the other chair and was standing behind it, her head tilted towards it meaningfully.

Alice smiled and made her way to the other side of the table, "Thanks."

"Anytime."

The place wasn't very crowded since it was a weekday, so the noise level stayed pretty low. The two talked about anything they could think of, their classes, homework, family - which gave Alice the chance to ask about Bella's mother.

"My parents had their problems, but I guess they had enough time to work through them," Bella explained while swirling her straw in her glass of apple juice. "They married each other again about five years ago and it was kinda weird for me but I always wished as a kid that they would get back together so I'm not complaining."

"Do they know you're um..."

"Gay?" Bella finished when Alice seemed to trail off. She got a nod and blush in response. "My mom knew before I did. Telling her was much scarier in my head than what actually happened. My dad took a while longer to come around but he only found out after he got back together with mom, so she helped me with explaining everything to him."

Alice nodded but stayed silent, mulling it over in her head. She always thought about how her parents would react if she ever told them, but never had the guts to actually say anything.

"Does it bother you?" Bella asked, her hand pausing its movement.

"No, of course not. I already knew because I heard from people around campus..."

"Yeah, I figured," Bella said with a nod, their conversation stopping as the food arrived.

The night wore on and long after they had finished eating they still continued to speak about other things, mostly Alice asking about Bella's childhood, until it got late enough that they needed to head back.

On the way to the dorm, Alice couldn't help but shiver in the cold despite the jacket she had on.

"Still not used to the weather, huh?"

"Unfortunately," she managed to get out, wrapping her arms around herself as they continued walking. Her step faltered when she felt an arm wrap around her shoulders and a warm body press against her side.

"You should borrow one of my jackets next time. It's almost always cold where I grew up so most of my clothes are pretty warm."

Staying warm wasn't so much of an immediate problem for Alice as her face and neck heated up from the proximity. Goodness, she smelled so good. "Uh huh," she finally stumbled out. They continued to walk that way, with Bella's arm wrapped around her, and Alice paid special attention to her feet so she wouldn't trip and ruin the potential moment. She reluctantly moved away when Bella removed her arm at the door, trying not to show her disappointment.

They quietly made their way up the stairs then down the corridor to Bella's room.

"I'm exhausted," Bella sighed, rubbing her eyes.

"Me too, but I had fun. And thanks for letting me pay for myself this time."

Bella chuckled, "Don't get used to it."

Bella disappeared into the bathroom and after a moment Alice could hear the shower running. She took out her sleeping clothes and put away her books as she tried to keep her mind off the fact that a single door was the only thing separating her from seeing Bella's naked body.

Eventually Bella stepped out dressed in plaid boxers paired with a tank top while she ran a towel through her hair.

"All yours," she said with a smile as she threw herself onto her bed. She watched as Alice grabbed her clothes and headed into the bathroom. The sound of the door clicking shut was soon followed by the flow of water, and she quickly grabbed her headphones and turned the music up. No need to tempt herself any more than necessary.


Hope you enjoyed reading that :) I'm done with most of the stepping stones now; you guys are gonna love the next few chapters.