"Can you really believe this is the last one?" Nikki asked.
"No." Randy shook his head. "I really can't."
Randy and Nikki walked side by side into the library for their final detention. The teacher acknowledged their presence with a nod as they took their seats, then returned to his phone call. It was the same guy that had watched over them the first time, the substitute from that fateful gym class two weeks ago.
It was funny, Randy thought. That day existed like a Schrödinger's cat inside his head: both yesterday and a year ago at the same time. He could remember the events clearly, but it was almost like a dream, like they had never happened in the first place. It just sounded too absurd. He couldn't imagine Nikki being mean to him now, or him punching her in the face. But it had happened. And it had started all this.
"What are you thinking about?" Nikki whispered, trying not to draw the teacher's attention.
"Nothing, really." Randy said. It wasn't honest, but he didn't feel like trying to describe his feelings to her when he could barely process them himself. "Just stuff, I guess."
Hungry, he reached down to his backpack and unzipped it to pull out a packet of Pop-Tarts. Nikki's hand shot over to steal it from him, but backed away at the last second.
"Can I have one?" she asked in a quiet voice.
Randy smiled. Aww! She actually asked this time. That was so sweet... well, by her standards. To Nikki's surprise, he pulled another packet from his backpack and handed it to her.
"Figured it was about time I started packing two." he explained as he opened his own.
Nikki grinned as she tore apart the silvery packaging. "Aww, you're so thoughtful!" the girl took on a mocking tone. She had really meant it, though...
"I just want to actually have two for once." Randy shot back playfully. "And you're welcome, by the way."
"Thanks." Nikki said, voice a bit quieter. She tore one of her Pop-Tarts in half, then held it out towards Randy. "Want half of one of mine?"
"Why?" he asked.
"I dunno. Tax?"
That made him laugh. "You just have it!"
As the two ate, they traded a few idle words. Nikki was proud to say that she had done all her homework for once, and Randy was glad to hear it. Both because it meant that she was improving, and that he wouldn't have to do any. Randy talked for a bit about a new charcoal mask he had bought, and Nikki mentioned wanting to try it with him - he couldn't imagine her caring about her skin, but he said they could do it next time she came over to his place.
"Hey, we're starting the swimming unit today, right?" Nikki said. "I've got my swimsuit. If I came over we could go in the pool."
Randy's eyebrows flicked up. Swimming unit, right! Crap, he had nearly forgotten about that.
"Yeah, we could do that." he said, anxiously pulling his backpack into his lap and checking through it. Okay, phew. He had his swim trunks packed, the black pair with the faded roses. He must've put them in there in advance and forgotten about it.
Nikki bent over, looking inside his backpack too. "Oh, is that the pair you got at King of Prussia?"
Randy nodded. "Yeah, it is."
"Cute flowers." she said, resisting the urge to make a joke. "Wanna see mine?"
Randy was expecting her to grab her backpack, but to his surprise she pulled up her shirt all the way to the neck. Underneath it he could see that she had been wearing a shiny black one piece, and it fit her body tightly. For a second, Randy had thought he was getting flashed... but this was still nice. Really, really nice.
God. She was so hot... they might not have been the biggest, but her boobs were so cute... and her stomach...
"C-cool." Randy said, averting his eyes. Nikki pulled her shirt back down.
"Yeah, I would've gotten a nicer one or something, but I just wanted to fit dress code..."
"I think its really nice." Randy blurted out. He didn't know how Nikki would respond, but she just smiled and blushed a little.
Phew. Once again, he thought about how much things had changed. If he had said that to her just a few weeks ago, he'd probably have gotten his clock cleaned.
Seventh period, changing time. Gym class had moved locker rooms today, from the ones that lead into the usual gymnasium room to the school's pool. Nikki had found herself a quiet corner to change in, which really just meant pulling off her pants and shirt - most of the other girls had also had the idea to wear their swimsuits beneath their clothing.
As she stuffed her backpack and clothes into a spare locker, she could hear someone approaching. She turned around to see that Asian girl she sometimes saw Randy with, Sarah Chang.
"Hi Nikki!" Sarah said. Either her voice was naturally like that, or she was trying too hard to sound friendly. She had already gotten changed, a pink two piece that had a bottom like a skirt. She also had on a swim cap, for whatever reason. Maybe she wanted to keep her hair dry.
"Hey." Nikki said, deciding to try and be nice. No reason to pick a fight with one of Randy's friends.
"What's up?" she asked. Nikki looked over her shoulder, noticing some other girls hanging around near the corner. They were Sarah's friends, she recognized. Okay, something was going on here.
"Do you want something?" Nikki asked.
Sarah looked embarrassed. She glanced from side to side, then leaned in.
"Sorry." she said. "Just, like, is it true? What people are saying?"
"I guess that depends on what people are saying."
"Y'know." Sarah shrugged. "That you and Randy are like, a thing?"
Nikki paused. Sarah stepped back nervously, as if expecting to get punched. But then, the bigger girl just laughed.
"I guess even other people see it." she said, mostly to herself. That was strange to think about, people gossiping about her. She figured no one really noticed her. Or just thought she was a bully. A reputation that, she wasn't going to deny, was well-deserved.
"So you are...?" Sarah asked again.
"No." Nikki said, letting a twinge of sadness seep into her voice. "No, we're not. Not yet at least."
"Not yet?" Sarah rose an eyebrow.
Nikki looked around. She didn't know why she was gonna tell Sarah this, of all people, but... she was tired of keeping everything to herself.
"If you tell anyone, I'll kill you." she said, sounding dead serious. She then leaned in and whispered something in the girl's ear...
Randy was out of the locker room a bit late. He, like a few other guys, were anxious about getting changed where everyone could see, so he had to wait in line for one of the bathroom stalls to be open. Looking around at the other boys' swimsuits, he was shocked to see how many had that same flourescent orange pair David had attempted to buy back at the mall. Was it really that big of a fashion statement?
He stepped out into the humid natatorium, arms folded across his bare chest. Everyone was still waiting around for the gym teachers to round them up into the metal bleachers that rested against one wall. A few were crouched near the pool's edge, testing the temperature of the water, while others were talking amongst themselves. His eyes scanned the crowd for Nikki... he spotted her alone near the corner of the pool, dipping her toe in the water.
She was so beautiful.
Randy almost wished she hadn't given him that sneak peek of her swimsuit earlier. It fit her so well... it covered a lot, but that was almost more alluring than if it showed everything. Her bare legs were long and shapely, with clear muscle on her calves and thick thighs. Her curly, dirty blonde hair was usually kept up, but she had let it down, and it framed her face and fell over her shoulders. She was usually brash and outgoing, which was reflected in how she held herself, but right now she looked almost demure, a little shy - was she insecure about how she looked?
He saw her eyes flick to his, then go a little wide. Nikki had noticed him... uh oh. Had she caught him staring? He tried to look a bit more casual, giving her a small wave as he walked up to her side.
"How's the water?" he asked.
"Freezing cold." she said, shying away when he stepped up to her side. Her eyes were fixed on him, but she didn't seem to be looking at his though. They were a bit lower... was she checking him out? Randy dismissed the idea. She might like him, or even have a crush on him maybe, but he knew he wasn't that handsome or anything.
Randy tried it out himself, lowering his foot into the water. He pulled it out just as fast, shivering. "Yeah, you're right."
"I hope your pool's warmer than this." Nikki said.
"It is." Randy said. "The hot tub definitely is, too."
"I forgot you had one of those." Nikki grinned. "Man, why was I ever mean to you? If I had known you had one of those, I would've quit picking on you back in middle school."
Randy rolled his eyes, but kept his smile. Nikki, though, went clammy and still. For a second, he thought she must've put her foot back in the water, but she had done no such thing.
"I'm sorry." Nikki said quickly, tapping her finger anxiously against her leg. "Was that too mean?"
"No." Randy shook his head. Aww, she had gotten so concerned. "You're funny."
She let out a breath of relief. "Okay... sorry."
There was a brief pause.
"I've been trying to, y'know..." Nikki shrugged, trying to piece together her next words. She wished she had pockets to shove her hands into, she had to settle for propping her hands on her hips and avoiding his gaze. "Be nicer and stuff."
"Well, thank you." Randy said. "I appreciate that. But, y'know. I can take a joke. Just don't punch me or anything."
She hit him on the shoulder lightly. "Why would I ever do that?"
He hit her back and she laughed.
"Watch out." she said. "We might get another two weeks of detention if someone sees us."
"I kinda want that at this point..." Randy said. Realizing he had let his feelings slip, he tacked on a few extra words - just to make sure there was no awkwardness. "It's gonna be tough getting used to going on the bus again."
Suddenly, there was the sharp sound of a whistle from across the room. The gym teachers were waving for the students to come to the bleachers, and given how they were splitting up, it was boys on one side and girls on the other.
"Aw. I was hoping we'd get to swim together." Nikki said as they started walking up to the rows of metal benches. "Well, I guess we can after school. Right?" she made her voice sound as pleading as possible, just in case there was any doubt.
"Right." Randy said with a smile. "Meet you after seventh period?"
"Yeah. I can't wait."
As she took her seat on the bleachers, Nikki could just barely contain the excitement in her chest. Today was going to be amazing, and that in itself was amazing. She couldn't remember ever feeling this happy about life before.
Love, she thought. She was in love.
Hopefully Randy would accept the surprise she had for him...