Marcus goes to school the next day and nobody has noticed that he was not there the previous afternoon. He meets Ellie and her friend, Zoe, at break time. Ellie is still wearing her Kurt Cobain sweatshirt and she asks him his name. She tells him that Marcus is a cool name, but when Marcus asks if she really thinks so, Zoe says
No, and they both laugh. They say that they will see him around and Marcus thinks that it is the longest conversation he has had in school for ages. The next day in school he sees Ellie with Zoe by the vending machine. Ellie greets him in a friendly way and puts her arm round Marcus and ruffles his hair. At that moment Mrs Morrison turns up and tells Ellie to go to her office. Marcus can see that Ellie just does not care, she shrugs and goes along with the headmistress. As they leave, Mrs Morrison tells Marcus that they have unfinished business and Ellie catches his eye and smiles. Marcus feels that he is part of a trio with Ellie and Zoe. At lunchtime they come to find him, and the other pupils in Marcus’ form class are amazed because they are all in awe of Ellie and cannot believe that she is friendly with Marcus.
Will is going off the idea of spending Christmas alone. He decides that people judge other people by the way they spend their Christmases, and spending it alone, drunk and stoned, does not give a very positive message about his life. He decides to find a family with whom he can spend Christmas – there is just one family that he wants to avoid. He does not want to eat nut roast, not be allowed to watch television, or be forced to sing carols with his eyes closed. So, having decided that he will on no account spend Christmas with Fiona and Marcus, it is a surprise when Marcus invites Will to spend the day with him and his mum. Will does not want to hurt Marcus’ feelings, so he keeps making excuses and sounding undecided until eventually, after a lot of questioning from Marcus about whether he has other plans, he finds himself accepting.
Presents are exchanged. Marcus thinks about how Christmas is better if your parents are separated, because you get the best of both worlds – you get sensible presents but you also get fun presents. He thinks that if his mum and dad were still together, there would have been just the three of them on Christmas Day, which would have been boring. Then Suzie comes round with her little girl, Megan. Will has not seen Suzie since his lie about being a single parent was exposed, and he is very embarrassed. Will decides enough is enough and gets up to leave, but Marcus says that he doesn’t want him to go yet. He says that Will welcomed him into his home, bought him trainers and listens to him, whereas his mother just tells him to get used to being bullied. Will refers to how Marcus killed a duck, and Marcus is at first horrified that Will brings it up, until he realises that Will is calming the situation down and making people laugh.
Will goes to a New Year’s Eve party, where he meets a woman called Rachel, and falls in love. Rachel is a children’s book illustrator and Will thinks she is very attractive – glamorous and clever, with long, dark, wavy hair. Rachel sits next to him at dinner and Will is sad that although she seems to like him for the first five minutes, he feels that as soon as she works him out she will lose interest. When Rachel turns back to include him in a discussion about music, she tells him that she thinks Nirvana sound like Led Zeppelin. Will replies that he knows a 12-year-old who would kill her for saying that, and Rachel tells Will that she also knows a 12-year-old boy, and asks what Will’s boy is called. Will tells her Marcus’ name and Rachel tells him that her son is called Ali. Will does not exactly lie, but he does not prevent Rachel from assuming that Marcus is his son or that he has split up with Marcus’ mother. Having established that they are both single, they find each other at midnight and kiss. Just before Rachel leaves, they arrange to get their two boys together.