8. He’s so nice.
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Randy stepped out of his house, backpack slung over his shoulder. Nikki was parked at the end of his driveway, and even from his door he could see the wide grin on her face.

"You owe me a nude now." Nikki announced that proudly as Randy climbed into her car. "You said you'd send me one."

"No, I said 'you first.'" he dropped his backpack by his seat and shut the door. They were running a little early, so Nikki kept the car parked as he talked. "You've gotta send me one first."

"I did." she smirked. "I was naked when I took that."

Randy's face flushed red. He crossed his legs - not again! - and tried to think up a response.

"Hmm." Nikki drummed her fingers on the wheel. "I want a butt pic."

"Butt pic?" Randy rose his eyebrows. Nikki looked at him.

"Yeah, lemme see them cheeks." he snorted at that, and her grin grew even wider. "What? You owe me, Randy!"

"You're... you're funny..."

What even was this conversation? Randy prayed that Nikki didn't notice the glow on his cheeks, or the swelling in his pants. The girl decided to drop the topic. Maybe she realized she had put him on edge...

"You smell good." Nikki said, starting the car. She drove down Lahoya Street and took a turn. "Did you like, wash your hair or something?"

"You always wash your hair in the shower." Randy said. 

Nikki blinked. "Is that how you're supposed to do it?"

"Well, it's good for your hair actually if you only shampoo every other day." Randy snapped into beauty-care mode. "Or even every two or three. If you wash it too much it can break, actually. You should still be conditioning though, just to get the sweat out, and if it gets oily, you can use a dry shampoo to..."

He stopped himself. They were at a red light, and Nikki was staring at him. It was hard to read her face. She was somewhere between amused and impressed.

"It's alright, you can keep going." she said. "I didn't know hair could break. You mean, like, fall off?"

"No, no, it just gets weaker."

"You do your eyebrows?" Nikki asked, shocked. "Like, with wax?"

Together, the two walked into the library. The entire ride over was spent talking about skin care, hair care, and all the other types of care Nikki knew nothing about. She was both surprised and not surprised at all by the breadth of Randy's knowledge on the topic. On one hand, it was weird for a guy to care so much about that stuff... but on the other hand, that must've been how he got so freaking cute.

"No, no, that's only if you're trying to like, really shape them." he said. "Or if it gets really bad in the middle. I just use tweezers."

"Doesn't that hurt?" she tried to imagine plucking her hairs out, wincing at the thought.

"Yeah, a little." he said. "But hey, they look good, right?"

"Yeah..." Nikki wanted to tell him everything about him looked good, but she'd been weird enough this morning. God, what was she even thinking with that butt pic joke? He must've thought she was some kinda freak...

Randy stopped in the middle of the library, glancing around. "Huh, there's nobody here."

Nikki took a look around herself. Yep, it was as just as he said, the place was empty. No librarian, no teacher to watch them, nobody. Randy took out his phone and checked the time on it.

"We're ten minutes late, too." he said.

Together, they took their seats in the usual spot and waited for a while, Nikki asking Randy a few more beauty questions, which he was happy to answer. It was funny, Nikki thought. If he said any of this stuff a week ago, she would've punched him or called him gay. She was getting better with being nice...

As the conversation went on, ten more minutes passed without any sign of a teacher walking in. Nikki checked the time on her phone.

"They're probably not coming." she grinned. "Let's skip!"

Randy was clearly nervous, fidgeting with his hands at the suggestion. "I don't know..."

"Hey, it's early. Maybe we could run by McDonald's and get something off the breakfast menu." she elbowed him. "Aren't you hungry?"

"Maybe another time." he said.

"Well, I'm hungry." Nikki said grumpily. "Do you have Pop-Tarts today?"

Randy pulled the packet out of his backpack. She stole it from him and ripped open the foil.

"Good, strawberry." she took a bite out of one. "Want the other one?"

"You've made that joke before." Randy grabbed it from her. This time, he didn't seem mad about it.

"Come onnn." she elbowed him again as she ate. "Let's skip. We've got like, a good half hour til' homeroom. We could go do something..."

"How about we use the time on our essays?" Randy suggested. She not-so-subtly rolled her eyes at him.

"Pussy." she said. "When's that even due?"

"End of next month."

"We've got plenty of time then." she said. "Why are you trying to get it done so soon?"

"I just like doing my homework that way." said Randy.

Nikki slumped down, giving in. "Well, what do we even have to cover on it?"

"I guess you never looked at the email?" he pulled out two papers from his bag. Nikki skimmed one over: it was the rubric and guideline for the paper. "It's alright, I figured, so I printed an extra copy."

"Thanks." Nikki said, slipping one in front of her. That was thoughtful of him... "'Paper must be no less than five pages in length and cover the other person's family life and high school experiences.'" she read it off, groaning after.

Randy shrugged. "I mean, it should be easy."

"How? I don't know anything about... that stuff."

"Well, I'm right here." said Randy. "I already know a lot about you, so if you have any questions for me-"

"What do you mean you know a lot about me?" Nikki was a little offended by that. Nobody really knew much about her...

Randy sat up, tapping his finger on the table as he recalled. "Well, I know your parents are divorced. You live with your dad and your mom lives in California. You have an older brother that's twenty-something and lives away from home, and you play basketball and soccer on the school teams. You also get in trouble with the school staff. Like, a lot."

Nikki's face flushed, and she glanced away, hoping Randy didn't notice.

"Wow, you've got a good memory." she said. He shrugged humbly.

"Well, thanks. Here, maybe we should start with you, then." he flipped his rubric over and, with a mechanical pencil, jotted down the things he knew about her as a series of bullet points. "Um, what's your dad do? Like as a job?"

"He's a nurse." Randy wrote that down. "But he's trying to become a doctor." he jotted that down too.

"Oh, that's cool." He always looked her in the eyes when they talked. It was nice. "Any particular kind? Like, surgeon, whatever?"

"No, no..."

They continued like that for a while - Randy asking questions, Nikki answering them - until the teacher eventually showed up and separated the two. As she walked to the other side of the library, Nikki couldn't help but hug her backpack to her chest.

The more she talked with Randy, the more she felt bad for all those years she spent picking on him. God, he was just so... genuine. And attentive. And cute, but, he was always cute. A pit was growing in her stomach just thinking about him. If only she could apologize...

Well, she could. Easily. "Sorry" was just a word. One word she'd never said to anyone before!