When Nate gets out of school Monday morning, there are news vans parked outside—they’ve been waiting for the last bell to ring. His friend Chad advises him to head out the back way—the reporters have been sniffing around about Nate. Nate approaches Bronwyn and Maeve—Bronwyn is freaking out, unsure of whether she should push past the reporters or wait at school until they’ve all left. Nate offers to bring Bronwyn to the mall on his bike—Maeve can pick her up later. One of Bronwyn’s friends warns her that things will look bad if they’re caught together, but Bronwyn shrugs her off.
Nate and Bronwyn’s relationship has been largely clandestine up to this point. Apart from the day he drove her home on his motorcycle and their encounter in the stairwell, they rarely allow themselves to be seen together at school. As things get more dramatic and intense, however, they decide to at last take the leap, and turn to the comfort and safety they’ve found in one another in public, not caring who sees.
As Nate and Bronwyn walk to the parking lot, Nate has a warm feeling inside, as if Bronwyn has “chosen” him. Nate takes them to the mall along some backroads through the woods, and when they arrive Bronwyn thanks him effusively. Nate feels unable to control his attraction to Bronwyn, and begins leaning in to kiss her when a van pulls into the spot next to them—they yank apart only to realize it’s just an ordinary minivan, not a news vehicle.
Nate and Bronwyn are still afraid to take their relationship all the way public, however—they still don’t know what they mean to one another, and know that being caught by the media could ignite a whole new set of problems not just for them but for Addy and Cooper, too.
Bronwyn notices that people are staring at them as they make their way through the mall. Bronwyn admits that the fact that Nate doesn’t have a lawyer makes her nervous. She suggests Nate look into an organization called Until Proven—a pro bono legal group nearby. Nate is reluctant, but Bronwyn insists he can’t just wait around—he’ll be “railroaded.” Nate harshly tells Bronwyn to mind her own business before realizing that Maeve has arrived. Nate worries that he has ruined everything, and gets up to walk away. He is nearly at the doors when Bronwyn tugs on his jacket and gives him a hug—and a kiss on the cheek. She asks Nate not to be mad at her; she can’t make it through all this if she doesn’t have Nate to talk to.
Bronwyn is looking out for Nate, and wants him to guard himself against trouble. She doesn’t understand, though, how indigent he is or how difficult life has been for him; they are stuck in the middle of the same problem, but the solutions available to them are vastly different. Nate is afraid to expose this part of himself to Bronwyn, and simultaneously fearful that what she’s saying is right; he knows he’s different from her, Addy, and Cooper, and is both the easiest scapegoat and the most defenseless.
The narrative switches to Addy’s perspective, and jumps ahead to Tuesday morning. She and Cooper were not as lucky as Nate and Bronwyn when it came to dodging the cameras, and both of them wound up on the evening news. This morning, thankfully, there aren’t as many vans. In the middle of one of her classes, Addy goes to the bathroom, where she overhears another girl crying—she recognizes her as Janae from the black combat boots, and asks if she needs anything. Janae tells Addy to go away, but Addy tells Janae how sorry she is about her loss, and Janae softens, slowly opening her stall door.
In this passage, Addy decides to look out for someone else—despite the serious emotional turmoil she’s in and the disorienting media attention she’s recently been forced to face. This shows that Addy is growing, and exploring who she is outside of her identity as a popular princess.
Janae points out that Addy has never really spoken to her before—Addy admits that it was her boyfriend, not her, who was the popular one, and Addy herself is fairly clueless socially. Addy asks Janae if she has anyone to talk to; when Janae says she doesn’t, Addy offers to listen if Janae ever needs anything. She heads back to class, but the lunch bell soon rings, signaling Addy’s new least-favorite time of day. As Addy heads the cafeteria, she feels someone tug on her arm—she turns around to see Bronwyn, who asks if Addy wants to eat lunch with her, Maeve, Kate, and Yumiko. Addy agrees—it’s better than hiding out in the library.
When Addy is called out for being hypocritical, she admits that she’s never stopped to consider other people’s feelings before; she owns up to her mistakes, but assures Janae that she want to get better at being a friend and an ally. Almost as a reward, Addy finds Bronwyn and her group of friends offering Addy, in turn, a chance at a new kind of friendship.
After school, there are no news vans out front. Addy rides her bike to a strip mall nearby and goes into a generic hair salon, where she asks one of the hairdressers accepting walk-ins to cut off all of her hair. The stylist suggests a less dramatic change, but Addy reaches for the scissors and lops off a chunk of her hair to above her ears, then orders the stylist to “Fix it.”
Addy is leaning into the chance to start fresh and make several big changes—she has changed the way she relates to people at school, the way she thinks about herself, and now wants a new look that will reflect all of her inner change.