Katie wobbles downstairs and spies something silly happening in the bouncy castle outside, and so she walks toward the window, face more bemused by the second, because Emily’s flash of red hair is mixed with blonde. Naomi and Emily fall down, Emily rolls on top of Naomi, studies her for a minute, kisses her, and for very first time in her whole life, Naomi stops clutching what’s in front of her and wraps her arms around Emily, clasping her hands to Emily’s back.
We all learn at different ages — young, young, young if our parents can’t protect us — that we have to arm ourselves to survive in the world. We can’t all be Emily Fitch, standing naked in battle with the sun on our faces and a song in our hearts. Most people pick up whatever weapon is handy, and just the cold steel or rough wood in their hands makes them feel safe. But at the tender age of 17, Naomi is already shouldering a full arsenal: guns and swords and lances and lasers and cannons and axes, and she’s clutching them with her whole self because she already knows that when you put down a weapon to let somone get close to you, they’re just as likely to pick it up and use it against you as anything else.
But now she’s stuck because she can’t keep holding on to every single weapon and reach for Emily at the same time, and her tiny heart is still beating so fast she could be ashamed, but is it really a cage of fire or just the proximity to Emily’s hands? And so she drops something — doesn’t matter what — and grabs onto Emily.
And what happens next, for a while, is that she doesn’t even realize she’s dropping her weapons (one-by-one) or that Emily is picking them up (one-by-one), not because Emily will ever ever ever attack her, but so that later, when Naomi realizes how exposed she is, Emily can hand them back. "Emily slept here" is a lot of things, and one of them is: "Here, you dropped these rocket launchers. You don’t need them. But here they are anyway."
Katie doesn’t have time to panic because she hears a car honk and it’s Danny with his entire team of Bristol Rovers Reserves and hangers-on, which is gross because these girls are in college, dudes!
What matters after this isn’t anything much, except Freddie finally shows up to get JJ, who is locked on like whoa and nearly sobbing, all, "I’m telling you, I was standing in the doorway looking at Naomi and Emily, and then I just disappeared."
Effy, who has been shagging Cook in the closet, chases Freddie outside, but he blows her off because he’s got to take care of JJ.
And when the party is finally over, Cook wanders downstairs and offers to play Twister was a bereft Panda. These are the Cook moments I love because at the end of the day, he’s the one who gave Panda exactly what she wanted — Twister, yes. And just seeing her. (And shagging her.)
The next morning, Effy tries to work up a rage about how Panda slept with Cook, but she honestly doesn’t give a shit, and then — just like that — Thomas is back. Panda holds him and sobs about how she missed him so much, too much.
Omniscient Effy watches Panda get what she wants, just like she watched her mum get what she wanted, and she wonders if anyone can ever win the battle of love. She tightens the belt around her armor and hides behind the bushes. She doesn’t have to fight now. Not yet. Not until next week.