Holly arrived at her locker shortly after the last (three o'clock) bell rang and found her friends eyeing her there in the hallway much the same way they had been when she'd made her first appearance this morning. Of course, this time it was less about the shock of her outfit than it was about the boy who'd kissed her in it, but at least now she was ready to talk about the incident after having some time to figure out how she felt during the biology and European history classes at the tail-end of her daily schedule.
Claire immediately walked up to Holly with a stern look on her face, but wasn't able to say more than her friend's name before she was interrupted: "Don't," Holly said. "Don't."
"How do you feel?" Claire asked as Rusty stepped up behind her.
"That depends," Holly said. "Are we talking about Kent giving me my first kiss or about you calling him a rapist?!"
"I knew this was coming. And you're right, that was wrong, and I'm sorry. I really am, Holly."
"I warned you not to act like that around him. Didn't I?"
"Look, I already said I was sorry. It won't happen again."
"And why'd you have to go and insult his manhood like that?" Holly said.
"I was just kidding around. It was a joke! Get over it."
"You wouldn't be laughing if that was your boyfriend being put down!"
"Or me!" Rusty blurted out. Holly and Claire exchanged glances with him, and then he added, "Okay, maybe you would if it was me. But you wouldn't mean it!"
"Rusty, I would never hurt you like that," Claire assured him.
"At least not until you've had the chance to see it for yourself, right?"
"Well, even if I did see it for myself, and that was the case, I wouldn't make fun of you for it. I'd try to help you, Rusty. Come on, we're all friends here."
After several seconds of silence, Rusty bit his lip and told her, "I think you're helping me right now, Claire." He didn't have to be told what to do next: "I know, I'm going to step back for a few minutes now." And he did so.
"So what if Jimmy was having problems in those areas, Claire?" Holly said once Rusty was at a reasonable distance away, though obviously still in the same hallway and within earshot. "I'll bet you wouldn't be laughing at Kent's expense anymore."
"No one's laughing at Kent's expense!" Claire argued. "I'm sure he's fine! For your sake, he'd better be!"
"Whoa," Holly said, immediately stating the obvious that "we're not having sex yet!"
"And neither are Jimmy and I!"
"We're not ready yet! Duh!"
"You mean you're not ready yet."
"Just because he's a guy doesn't mean sex is all he thinks about."
"No, but when you've been together for seven months, I imagine a guy might start getting needy."
Suddenly, Claire's cell phone began ringing. She pulled it out of her pocket and read the display to see who was calling. "It's Samara." Before answering, she replied to Holly, "The problem is, Holly, all you can do is imagine at this point. Until you've been in a relationship for seven months, and you understand what that's like, you shouldn't presume to know how it works." Finally, the annoying ring stopped as she answered the call. "Yes, Samara?"
"You should listen to Ozzie," Samara said. "Just because she's never had a guy until now doesn't mean she doesn't know how they think."
Claire sighed and grumbled. "Why are you calling me on the phone and wasting my Mom's money when it's obvious you're right next to us?"
"Because," Samara said, revealing her presence in a flurry at the doorway leading out into the quad. Holly, Claire and Rusty turned to look at her and waited for her justification. "Because," she repeated for added effect, "because, oh naïve child, because you would've ignored me otherwise."
"One too many 'becauses' there, Samara," Rusty remarked. He decided to rejoin Holly and Claire in closer proximity after saying this, and Samara walked down the stairs to do the same. "Why are you really here?"
"I wanted to be witness to Ozzie and Victoria's formal boarding of the love boat. Don't we all?"
"Yes," Holly said. "We do." Acting quickly, she sorted through her things, taking them in and out of her backpack and locker as needed for the night's homework, while her friends waited patiently. When she'd finished, she placed her arms through the shoulder straps of the bag, turned to the others, and said, "Okay, let's go."
"You're walking fast," Rusty said, following her and the other girls as they made their way out of the hallway and into the quad.
"He's going to be heading home soon," Holly explained, making a sharp left turn towards the east end of the campus. "We've got to catch him before he leaves."
"Because men in crutches are notorious for their speedy escapes," Samara said.
Holly stopped immediately. "I feel stupid."
"That's just the drug taking effect," Rusty said, patting her back. "That drug we call love." He knew the line was corny as all hell, as was the moment they were collectively rushing to enjoy, but nobody seemed to care.
Looking straight ahead, Holly smiled, pointed and exclaimed, "There he is!" And indeed, there Kent was, making his way across the quad toward his usual meeting spot with Tom, at the tables beside their regular school-break hangout. Tom, having mobility in his legs, was naturally already there waiting for him, standing midway between Holly and company, and Kent. Holly rushed past Tom, while everyone else took a spot next to him to watch as Holly and Kent hurried to be with each other. "Kent!"
"Holly," he said, his subdued enthusiasm understandable given his present situation.
At last, the two of them met each other in the center of the quad, but delayed acting on any hormonal impulses to touch one another again until they felt truly comfortable doing so. This was a moment that was only a few minutes away in reality, but of course seemed much longer in the minds of those anticipating it.
"So," Holly said.
"So," Kent said.
Another moment of awkward silence persisted after this brief exchange.
"It's been a long day," Holly said, in full Australian accent, to break the ice a little further.
"I'm trying to make it sound natural."
"It's hard to make over-the-top noir dialogue sound natural, though. Isn't it?"
"Especially when most of Becky's dialogue is with a guy who wants to kill her."
"Well, I don't want to kill you," Kent said with a small, embarrassed laugh. "Or," and here Holly noticed him looking past her at whom she could only assume was Claire, "rape you. I can't believe I'm even saying these things. Shouldn't they be self-explanatory? All I want to do is talk!"
"Sorry, cowboy," Holly said, teasing him with a brief look to the side. "I don't do talk jobs, either."
Kent took a second to absorb the Sin City dialogue she was throwing his way, laughed, and then said, "See, there's that natural issue again. You didn't have to say 'either,' did you? For there to be an 'either,' there has to be an…other, I guess is the word…? I'm nitpicking." He sighed.
"Settle down, darlin'," Holly continued. "It ain't the end of the world, now is it?"
Kent looked back at her and smiled. "That line wasn't in the movie. You really did read the comics."
"At least I'm not humiliating you for no damn reason at all." She and Kent both cleared their throats and didn't acknowledge the person who had done that to him earlier in the day. "That's a good thing, right?"
"Yeah," Kent said. He let out another sigh and ran his hand through his hair and across his face. "You know, seeing you in that outfit—or, any outfit, for that matter—is great, Holly, but, um…I'm really tired. Not just from the whole 'rape' thing—which I should really stop bringing up—but from everything. I barely got any sleep last night, thanks both to this injury and to you."
"Thinking of you."
"I'm starting to think I probably shouldn't have come to school today."
"It's a good thing you realized this so soon."
Kent laughed again, and this time Holly joined him. "Yeah," he said. "Of course, if I hadn't come to school today, then we might have never…well…you know…."
"It's not a woman you need. It's a good night's sleep." Holly reexamined the crutches under Kent's arms, which gave her a chance to study his entire body top to bottom. "You couldn't handle a woman in the state you're in."
Holly couldn't resist it any more. She stepped forward and prepared to wrap her arms around his neck and place his lips on hers.
Shocked, he stumbled backward before she could accomplish any of that.
"What are you doing?" Kent said.
"Would you just hold still for a moment?"
Kent's eyes and mouth opened, this time with even more shock, but of a happier variety, and he looked as though he were about to say, "Oh," but the kiss Holly planted on his lips prevented him from taking that action anywhere beyond the thought process. This was a longer kiss than before, for reasons too numerous to bother counting, and when she finally released him, Kent still had that same bewildered look on his face.
Behind her, Holly heard slow, sarcastic clapping. Samara, she confirmed with a quick glance, though knowing Samara, such confirmation was rarely necessary. Having taken a kiss from Kent the way he'd taken a kiss from her, Holly felt satisfied, and was just about ready to rejoin her friends—which she hoped would now include his as well—when she saw Kent's face and arms on a collision course towards her head. She gasped and quickly took a few short steps back. "What are you doing?"
"Would you just hold still for a moment?"
Unlike him, she got to say her "Oh," just before they kissed again.