Miles and Alaska go to Coosa Liquors, where Alaska buys her alcohol and cigarettes. Getting cigarettes is easy, but they ask for an ID card for buying booze, so Alaska has to flirt with the clerk to avoid this. Alaska is a reckless driver and she and Miles spend the drive back telling knock-knock jokes. Alaska’s favorite is one that her mom told her when she was six and that she still thinks is funny.
This scene foreshadows a number of events that will take place later on in the novel, but unfortunately Miles does not pick up on these warning signs. Alaska’s poor driving and obsession with her mother will come to be things that Miles wishes he had paid more attention to.
Later that day Alaska shows up crying at Miles’ door. She asks Miles why she messes everything up, but Miles doesn’t know what she’s referring to. He guesses she might be talking about the Marya situation, so he suggests that maybe she told on Marya because she was scared, but Alaska says that scared isn’t a good enough excuse. Miles doesn’t understand why Alaska is worried about Marya now. She says that there’s more going on than just that, but she also tells him that she told the Colonel about ratting on Marya.
Alaska treats Miles like a friend and she comes to him for support, but she doesn’t allow him to know enough about her to give her the support that she truly needs. Even in times of crisis, Alaska insists on maintaining a sense of mystery, and the decision to keep her friends at arm’s length will have serious ramifications for her own future, as well as Miles’.
When the Colonel found out that Alaska was the one who told, he said to her that he could never trust her again. Miles suggests that maybe it would help if Alaska explained to him why she turned Marya in. Miles asks if she was afraid of going home. Alaska falls silent, glares at him, and tells him, “There’s no home.” Remembering that Alaska’s joke came from her mom, Miles tells Alaska that even if she doesn’t have a home, she has a family. Alaska insists that she messes everything up. She tells Miles that he is in love with the fun version of Alaska, but not the “crazy, sullen bitch.”
Alaska is not usually self-aware enough to hold herself to the same standards she has for others, but she does know herself well enough that she realizes she can be difficult to get along with. Alaska’s mistake, however, is that she believes that no one will love the sad and unhappy version of herself, and that she must be fun to have friends. What she doesn’t realize is that all Miles wants to do is get to know her, no matter how she behaves.