This is growing up, Naomi thinks, and if this is what it's supposed to be like, then it's maybe not so damn fucked up after all.
She's surprised at first, because fucking Effy Stonem's the one that seems the most settled, you know, and that ought to be a shock to anyone who knew her for longer than two seconds. The girl went completely mental for almost a year and look at her now, she's working at some shop or other and selling clothes and from what Naomi hears she shows up at work on time and even looks half decent, no visible piercings, no tattoos or shit like that. Naomi doesn't really run into her often, but when she does, Effy seems to mostly be looking right through her, and Naomi doesn't bother with anything more than that.
It's still surprising to be living in a world where she has to move out of her parents' flat and calling Effy to see if she has a bed to spare is actually an option she considers. (She'd call Cook probably too, if she thought there was a chance he could offer anything more than a shag.)
Effy's doing better these days and Naomi's sort of proud of her, in that way that you can only be proud of that person whose life always seemed to be very close to yours but who you never really intertwined with. Effy doesn't do drugs anymore. Sure, Effy smokes like 70 cigarettes a day and drinks sometimes but that's all Effy does. Naomi even finds her sometimes sitting up in her bed during nights, when Naomi's awake for some reason at 3 in the morning and Effy leaves her bedroom door open to allow the air to circulate and Effy's awake as well, smoking a cigarette in bed, a perpetually filled ashtray resting on her knees as Effy flicks away the ashes. Naomi can't see because the light isn't that good, but some of that ash must miss the ashtray and land on the bed, because Effy puts out the cigarette and shakes down the blanket and her clothes and goes back to sleep.
Cook comes by a month after Naomi moves in. Naomi got the couch and Naomi's still on the couch, only Cook's on the other couch now, well, the nights when the sounds of him and Effy aren't keeping Naomi awake.
Emily's in the States. Katie went to the States, so Emily followed, identical twins and all. They Skype occasionally and Emily seems happy. But they used to Skype everyday and it's been almost a year and now they do it once a month, or once every two months. Drifting apart, she thinks that's what people usually call this. She'd like to say she minds, only that's obviously a lie, because then she would have done something to stop it, and she didn't.
Effy still uses words sparsely, like it hurts her to do so. In between her good days, when she's punctual and eats breakfast and gets 6 hours of sleep, there's other days, but Naomi doesn't learn about these until she moves in. There's Saturdays Effy spends mostly staring at the blank walls in their place and smokes more than during other days. There's Saturdays she goes out and brings back lovers that resemble strays more than anything else. Effy takes them in and provides them with comfort for the night and they probably provide the same for her. Why else would Effy bring them. It's girls and boys without any discernible pattern, at least none discernible to Naomi. Blondes and long haired boys and short haired girls and everything in between.
That is, until, like a scene from a fucking ancient movie that no one'd bother to watch anymore, James Cook shows up on their doorstep in the rain. He asks them if he can spend the night and then he doesn't leave afterwards. The night turns into a week and a month and there's that, there's three of them now.
Somewhere along the way, a bit after Cook being here turned into something permanent and stable, Effy stopped bringing home other lovers. Naomi would lie if she said she was surprised.
Naomi spends days with Cook sometimes, when Effy's gone to work and Naomi hasn't, and Cook's eternally between jobs (between life and death and hell and whatever's the opposite of that anyway), Naomi sits on the sofa with Cook and her fingers are in Cook's hair, and he reminds her of Peter Pan more than anything else. The boy who didn't want to grow up, the girl who didn't want to grow up. And Naomi. What an awesome fucking threesome.
The first time that Effy kisses Cook, it's in the middle of a bottle of vodka and a cigarette being passed between the three of them and it's more that they kiss simultaneously, but it's as if effy's given permission for the kiss finally. Because Cook, Cook's obviously wanted this for days, years, his entire life, perhaps even before he was born, but with Effy, you never know or at least Naomi doesn't know. No one kisses her that night. That part comes later, but only days later. Naomi's just showered and Effy and Cook are hooking up in Effy's bedroom and the door is opened and Naomi stands in the doorway for about a second too long on her way to the couch and then Effy noticed her and Effy invites her to her bed and that's when their lives change. For the better, in Naomi's eyes. Sex with her two Peter Pans is amazing, all need and hunger and teeth and skin. It's the most primal sex she's ever had and she likes it. She's not sure if any of them love her, of course, because it's Cook and Effy and she never knows anything, but sometimes when they look at her at the same time and then look at each other and back at her, she thinks this all might just be love.