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Fic written for the Femslash 2010 Exchange ([livejournal.com profile] femslash10). My recipient, [livejournal.com profile] aphrodite_mine requested Janis Ian being awesome and gay. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] ranka_lee and two irl bffs for beta-reading ♥

Originally posted here. Reposting with a few less typos.

Title: you say you want a revolution
Fandom: Mean Girls
Characters/Pairings: Janis Ian; Janis/Regina George, Janis/Kevin Gnapoor
Word count: ~6700
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Coarse language, references to bullying, very mild sexuality, excessive use of the word “like” and other teen-girl-isms.
Summary: Post-movie. North Shore High is without a queen bee and in the ensuing chaos, Damien tries his hand at psychoanalysis, Regina decides she's a little bit gay, and Janis holds a grudge.



So apparently Damien is her personal receptionist now or something, because Janis comes back from the washroom and he’s like, “Regina George just called you.”

“Gross,” says Janis. Then she drops back down into her spot on the couch and asks, “What did she say?”

“Said it was a wrong number,” Damien says, his eyes trained on the screen once more. It’s not even October, but they’ve managed to find themselves a zombie marathon. It’s pretty sweet.

“I wonder how she got your number in the first place,” Cady says. Her eyes are still a little red around the edges even though she’s agreed that if Aaron is the sort of guy to dump her over the phone because he’s found his supposed soulmate in a freshman History class, then he’s not good enough for her. Janis is trying this thing where she doesn’t roll her eyes at Cady’s ridiculous ladyfeelings, because hey, Cady’s still cool enough that Janis wants to put up with her weird shit. Without rolling her eyes because apparently Cady is sensitive about that.

“Don’t know,” Janis says, “don’t care.”

“She’s probably trying to make amends. Subconsciously.” Damien’s new thing is shitty, unsolicited psychoanalysis. Regina George trying to make amends? Yeah, right.

“Yeah, right.”

“You represent her old, pre-Plastic life. Now she’s post-Plastic and trying to reconnect with the girl she was before she got swept up in the glamour of high school popularity—”

“So she subconsciously asked around for my number and put it on her speed dial?”

Damien shrugs. “Just a theory.” He’s got one hand curled around a carton of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey. The obligatory jokes about bananas have already been made, so Janis swipes it away from him and reaches down to the other end of the couch, offering it to Cady.

“Have some ice cream,” Janis says. “Damien’s liable to eat the whole thing, and he’s not even nursing a broken heart.”

“Hey, fuck you, Janis,” Damien says lovingly.

“Just trying to be fair,” Janis says diplomatically.

But Cady’s like, “It’s cool, I’m not big on bananas anyway.”

Damien snickers. Janis smacks his arm. Cady blows her nose and grins.

Without another word, they turn their attention back to Dead Alive.

*

Yeah, so it turns out Damien was a little bit right, but Janis isn’t going to tell him. For a while, at least. She’s got to leave it long enough that he half-forgets, and she’s got to make it sound like it’s no big deal that Regina decided to show up at Janis’s front door at 7:15 AM on a Saturday.

“So I was thinking,” Regina says, her ten-thousand-dollar hair falling out of a ridiculously high ponytail, “that since I’m doing lacrosse now, I’m kind of a jock. And I had to think about what that means about me as a person, you know, what that says about my identity, and I had to do a lot of soul-searching and a lot of research and meditation and I’ve realised that I’m a little bit gay.”

Janis just goes, “What,” and actually rubs at her eyes because she’s had weirder dreams before, and maybe she’s really still in bed. Which is where she belongs this early on a Saturday morning.

“Oh, don’t be so surprised,” Regina says, smoothing a few strands of damp hair back from her forehead. She’s still tanned this late in the season (it’s gotta be fake, Janis thinks) and with the waistband of her sweats rolled down and her hem of tank top riding up like that, Janis can tell she’s got a brand-new set of Carmen Electra-approved abs.

“I mean, it’s totally in to be a little queer now,” Regina says. “And half the girls on the team are dykes. So, like, it’s got to rub off, right?”

Janis clears her throat a couple of times and crosses her arms self-consciously. She feels entirely too vulnerable having this conversation in her pyjamas.

“Well, look, Regina,” she says, resisting the urge to hock a loogie in self-defense, “that’s great for you that it’s in now. Really.”

Regina cocks her head to one side. Janis wonders, briefly, why she’d need to wear lip gloss to go running. But it’s probably just more proof that she and Regina don’t even belong to the same species.

“I don’t get why you’re here, though,” Janis continues, “because I don’t get the sense that you’ve acknowledged the irony of this situation and come to…”

Regina furrows her perfectly even eyebrows, and even though Janis is cold and tired and underdressed, she still has too much pride to ask Regina George to apologise for four years of humiliation, alienation, and epic bitchery.

So Janis goes, “Y’know what, never mind.”

Regina’s forehead relaxes. “Anyway, I was thinking,” she says, “that you could hook me up, get me some contacts in the community.”

Janis briefly considers moving them to the kitchen so that she can get some coffee, because how is she supposed to handle this conversation when she’s not caffeinated? But that would mean inviting Regina George into her house, and despite Cady assuring her that the old regime has been overthrown, that a new power structure is about to take shape at North Shore, Janis is not going to be the one to lead the peace talks.

So she just says, “I’m sorry?”

Regina sighs. “You’ve got to know some other lesbians, Janis. I mean, the girls on the team are nice, but they’re all so… butch, and that is really not my thing. I mean, you’re not exactly Portia de Rossi, but, I mean, you do wear some makeup, right?” And for some inexplicable reason (PMS? Excess adrenaline? Or maybe this is all a dream?), Regina leans forward and runs the pad of her thumb under Janis’s right eye, presumably over a smudge of eyeliner from the day before.

And Janis is like, “Okay, okay, no touching. Seriously,” and she moves one foot backwards, wishing she’d just slept through the doorbell like the rest of her family apparently did, but no, she just had to crash on the couch on the main floor after Damien and Cady left.

“Jesus, Janis,” Regina snaps, pulling her hand back, “calm down. I’m not going to jump you.” She looks fairly disgusted at the concept, which at least makes sense.

“If you want someone to tap into the Pandimensional Homo Hive Mind,” Janis says, “you’d be better off talking to Damien. I’m still not—”

“Oh, come on,” Regina says. “If you’re so straight, where’s that math nerd you were dating? He’s not bad. For a guy in your league.”

“Our personal philosophies didn’t mesh,” Janis says. “Now—” fuck off fuck off fuck off and die “—please go away.”

Regina rolls her eyes and oh my god she actually pouts. “Just, like, let me know if you think of anyone?”

Janis steps back and slams the door.

*

Here’s the deal with Kevin Gnapoor: he’s cute, he’s a nice guy, he’s actually kind of funny (even when he’s trying to be, which is an accomplishment), and he’s obviously smart because he’s a frigging Mathlete. And despite being a Mathlete, he doesn’t dress like a grandpa or breathe heavily through his mouth. Janis’s parents would be totally cool if she’d ever brought him home.

And he was Janis’s first kiss, unless you count that one time with Damien.

(And really, please don’t count that one time with Damien.)

But the thing is that he was all into, like, flowers and chocolates and shit and look, Janis liked him when he was being his regular, odd self. She doesn’t go in for that lovey-dovey boyfriend crap. It was embarrassing. And she was a little worried that Damien was jealous because she knows that he goes in for aforementioned lovey-dovey crap, and she wasn’t even appreciating it, and—

And—

And okay, okay, there was this one time when he took her to the movies (yeah, he paid for the tickets and popcorn and did the whole yawn-and-stretch trick) and she happened to mention that Halle Berry looked pretty hot in the trailer for the new X-Men movie and Kevin nearly jumped out of his seat and probably got, like, a ridiculous boner because then for the rest of the movie, he was all, “So would you ever make out with a girl?”

And Janis was like, “Holy shit, just forget I said anything, god.”

And she hasn’t talked to him since.

*

Like Cady and Damien keep telling her, the proletariat have risen, the Plastics have disbanded, and they’re all supposed to hold hands and be BFFs now.

What this means, in practice, is that apparently Regina George is still hotter than the sun and she’s got the nicest house of anyone in their grade and her mom isn’t concerned about underage drinking, so she continues to host the best parties. But now Janis and Damien are invited. And now that Aaron’s out of the picture, Cady doesn’t quite get invited but she also doesn’t get glared out of the house by Regina, who might be a little bit gay but who is still as possessive as hell about her exes.

Anyway, the point is that they’re all at this party, awkwardly crushed onto one couch and complaining about the food and the homework they’re not doing tonight and avoiding eye contact with Mrs. George, who keeps offering the guests cosmopolitans.

Thirty minutes in, Cady gets up from the couch, saying she’s going to the kitchen and promising to bring back something thoroughly virgin for Damien.

Janis takes the opportunity to brief Damien on the Regina George situation, because yeah, Cady’s her best girl friend, but last year’s drama makes Janis a little hesitant to share something this sensitive with her before she can figure out what it all means.

“It means Regina George has a thing for you,” Damien says. He opens his eyes wide. “In the pants.”

Janis rolls her eyes. “Damien, seriously.”

He shrugs and goes, “She wants to be friends again.” Then he grins and adds, “With benefits.”

Damien. Seriously.

“You used to be best friends, so clearly there’s some quality in your personality that she likes—”

“Or there was when we were twelve.”

“And that whole petition was just, like, her way of projecting her own insecurities about her repressed sexuality onto you.”

“I’m not gay.”

Damien gives her shoulder a friendly shove. “Never said you were. But whatever. What’s your theory, genius?

“She’s evil and she has some sort of plan to ruin my life. Again.”

“I think she’s beyond that.”

“She is not.”

“Even Regina George wouldn’t show up at your house and come out to you just so that she could ruin your life. Again. It’s too much effort on her part.” Damien taps the side of his head with his index finger. “Trust me, Janis. I know these things.”

Janis scoffs. “If you’re such a fucking psychic, why don’t you stop ogling the basketball team and use your powers to find some pretty-boy who’ll let you dry-hump him?”

Damien sets his jaw and makes no response.

Janis has overstepped a boundary. See, there are two things they don’t speak of: Regina’s petition and Damien’s celibacy— but hey, Damien crossed that line first, so that means it’s fair—

But he’s clearly upset. So she goes, “Hey, Damien, I’m sorry. You know how I get about Regina George—”

“Janis, why don’t you go ask her yourself?” Damien says, jerking his head at a cloud of girls gathered by the stereo. Regina, as always, is the centre of attention, but her outfit is so un-Regina that Janis hardly recognises her. She’s wearing dark jeans and a letterman jacket with her name printed across the back, and her hair has a subtle but uneven wave in it that Janis hasn’t seen for years, not since they were in middle school, which means that it hasn’t been straightened.

“Holy shit,” Janis whispers.

Damien nudges her with his shoulder. She turns and looks at him questioningly, and he’s like,

“Look, Janis, if you go talk to her and prove me right, I’ll forgive that slip of the tongue.”

Janis sputters a bit and actually almost stands up, but then Cady saves the day by showing up with drinks. She’s brought orange juice for Damien and a rum and Coke for Janis.

“What’re you guys talking about?” she asks, plopping down between the two of them.

“Regina George is a little bit gay,” Damien says.

Cady’s face goes through a wide range of emotions in a very short period of time. “Oh,” she says.

Janis goes, “Apparently it’s cool now or something,” and tries not to squirm too much.

“Like,” Cady says, staring contemplatively at a few crushed Cheetohs on the floor near her sneakers, “do you think she’s trying to impress a guy? Because I saw an episode of Tyra about that.”

Janis considers this. Then she smirks at Damien.

“Y’know, that makes a lot of sense.”

“As the writer of the North Shore Noteworthy’s gossip column,” Damien says, “I happen to know for a fact that she’s single.”

“Could be someone she’s not dating,” Cady suggests.

Damien scoffs. “Whatever. Since when has Regina ever tried that hard to impress anyone?”

“Since when are we invited to Regina’s house for a party?” Janis says. “It could be a last-ditch effort to, like, make herself stand out.”

“Or she could be hot for you.”

Cady’s head whips around faster than is probably safe, and Janis can feel the blood draining from her face.

“Damien,” she says very, very quietly, “please shut up.”

But Cady pays no heed to Janis’s obvious agony. “Did she hit on you?”

“She asked me to find her some lipstick lesbians, like I actually know any, but that’s all.”

But Damien just has to mention that Regina touched Janis on the face while she was making this request, and why did Janis think that was a good detail to share anyway, because it wasn’t, it was totally irrelevant but of course he’s going to think it’s a huge deal and oh great, apparently Cady does too.

“Oh my god,” Cady says, “oh my god, are you serious?”

“I thought we were done gossiping about people,” Janis says. “I thought that was our new thing.”

“That doesn’t mean we can’t get excited when a former member of teen royalty has a thing for you,” Cady says.

Janis glares at her, and then she goes, “You guys are going to make me hurl.”

“Taaaaaaalk to her,” Damien says, pushing her shoulder again.

“Whatever, Damien. If it’ll get you off my back,” Janis grumbles.

She stands up so quickly that she sloshes a bit of her drink onto her shirt, which is fortunately black. But it still gives her an excuse to stomp to the washroom, yelling profanities at the couples who have staked it out as their sacred makeout spot until they get out of her sight.

She scrubs at her shirt with the corner of a wet towel, swearing to herself and nearly tearing a hole in the fabric. And it’s at this moment that Regina George sneaks up on her like the demonic serpent that she no doubt was in a past life. This is when Regina George silently takes a seat on the edge of the bathtub and waits for Janis to look up into the mirror and let out a real horror-movie scream.

“What are you doing here?” Janis shrieks. She whirls around and clutches at the countertop behind her, her eyes wide and her breath short. She wants to either throw something or to throw up.

“I live here,” Regina says serenely, examining her short but polished nails.

“Oh,” Janis goes, panting a bit. “Right.”

“I just wanted to see if you were enjoying the party,” Regina says. She’s taken off the letterman jacket, revealing a long-sleeved pink t-shirt. “And I was wondering if you’ve made any progress on that little project I gave you.”

Janis glares and says, “Regina, I never took on any frigging project.”

Regina just lifts her shoulders and lets them drop again in one fluid motion. “It’s just a little favour that I asked of an old friend.”

Janis cannot articulate the depth of her emotion, so she just goes, “Mmmnnngh,” and clenches her fists and rolls her eyes. Then she picks up the cup that she left on the countertop and downs what remains of her rum and Coke.

Regina sighs daintily. “And I was really hoping you were over all the drama that’s gone down over the past few years, but I guess I get it if you’re not. Not everyone has the option to channel their anger into sports. Maybe you need to get it out another way. Whatever. But I was thinking, I don’t know, maybe it would help if we hung out again.”

And Janis finally finds her words: “Ibetyou’rejustsayingyou’rebitoimpressboys.”

Regina frowns. “I beg your pardon?”

Janis clears her throat and tries again: “I bet that you’re only saying you’re bisexual to impress boys.”

Regina actually has the nerve to laugh, and that is it, Janis has had it with this conversation, she’s leaving this bathroom and then she’s finding Damien and getting him to drive her home early—

“I’ve got a game on Wednesday after school,” Regina says. “You should come. Then we can go shopping. You look like you need to go shopping.”

In the face of this topsy-turvy, mirror universe insanity, Janis can only stare at Regina until she hears herself agree to this thing that Damien is probably going to say is a date, oh my god, what if it’s a date holy shit—

She literally runs into Kevin Gnapoor while trying to flee the bathroom.

“Of course,” Janis says. “Because this night hasn’t been nearly awkward enough.”

Kevin doesn’t look too offended by this.

“Hey, what’s up, babe?” he says. He’s wearing too much cologne. Janis once found this endearing in a painfully-awkward way.

“Someone’s messed with the space-time continuum,” Janis says. She can hear herself slurring ever-so-slightly and she really hopes she’s not drunk from a single rum and Coke.

“You are a strange woman,” Kevin says. He actually strokes the little patch of facial hair that’s recently sprouted on his chin. Janis makes a face and hopes it’s the right one for the situation.

“Regina George—” she begins, but then she stops because it’s not like anyone would believe her. She clears her throat and says, “Er, Regina George throws a pretty sweet party, huh?”

“I guess,” Kevin says. “So, Janis, how come you never call me anymore?”

Janis needs to get home. “I’m really sorry about that,” she says, “we should totally hang out again sometime but not right now because—” She spots Damien and Cady, who are now slouching against the wall by the stairs. “—because I’ve really got to go now, bye Kevin.”

Janis crosses the room in record time before grabbing Damien’s arm like a drowning woman would grab a life preserver. “Take me home,” she says.

Damien smiles maliciously, but before he can get in a single word, Cady steps up and takes Janis by the shoulders and says, “Hey, what’s up?”

“Regina George,” Janis croaks.

And immediately, Damien’s all, “Yeeeeeees?”, and if he had a moustache, he’d totally be twirling it.

Janis can’t say it. She can’t. So she just goes, “I can’t stand being in the same room as her anymore, please let’s go.”

Damien’s smile disappears. “Oh my god, what happened? Are you okay?”

Janis regains her composure, clears her throat, and says, “She asked me to hang out with her.”

Damien seizes her hands, and with Cady’s arms still around her shoulders, Janis is starting to worry that this is going to end in an all-too-public group hug and why are they still in Regina George’s house?

“You could forge an alliance,” Damien says breathlessly.

Janis doesn’t even bother asking him what the hell he’s talking about. He knows her well enough by now to anticipate that.

“In the wake of last year’s revolution,” Damien whispers, steering Janis carefully up the stairs with Cady at his side, “our grade is without a queen bee. Sure, there are those freshmen who think they’re hot shit, but they’re freshmen— you only really look at them if you’re pushing them into a locker. There are still cliques, but nobody’s sure of their rank on the social ladder anymore, and the lines are blurring between groups. I mean, Cady’s a Mathlete and she’s dated a football pla— uh, I mean—”

“It’s okay,” Cady assures him, but an awkward silence descends anyway because now Damien’s lost his train of thought and Janis isn’t going to remind him. So they all just sit quietly in his car and Janis wonders when they’re going to be able to talk about Aaron again.

Only then when they’re a block from Janis’s house, Cady turns around in her seat and says, “So if Regina is interested, will you— y’know?”

Damien steps in without missing a beat. “Sadly not. Janis is as straight as a ruler.”

“I’d go gay for Regina George,” Cady says with a shrug.

“Somebody drank too much tonight,” Janis mutters.

“She’s attractive,” Cady insists.

“No, the best we can hope for is friendship,” Damien says.

“Why would we hope for that?” Janis snaps, although it warms her heart a bit to know that he’s still one of the few people who doesn’t assume she’s a lesbian.

Damien pulls over to the curb neatly, and then he undoes his seatbelt and he and Cady band together to give Janis a Deep, Meaningful Look.

“Because you would get to forge an alliance,” he says.

“Oh god not that again,” Janis goes.

“Regina might not be the queen bee,” Damien says, “but she’s still fierce.”

“And rich,” Cady says.

“I’m not going to befriend someone because they’re rich,” Janis says.

“But think of what it would represent,” Cady says. “Don’t you want to put all your drama behind you before you graduate?”

“We tried to infiltrate the Plastics last year, remember? Didn’t work out so well.”

“This isn’t about infiltration,” Damien insists. “And she’s not Plastic anymore.”

Janis rolls her eyes. “Whatever, you guys, I’ll go watch her stupid lacrosse game but I can’t promise anything more.”

Cady and Damien grin when they hear this, and she can still hear the two of them giggling by the time she gets to the front door.

*

Turns out that Janis doesn’t know anything about lacrosse, and Damien isn’t much help. He listens to his iPod the whole time, sketching layouts for yearbook pages and reminding her every time she pokes him that he skipped out of a meeting just so she wouldn’t have to do this alone.

Cady sends encouraging texts every half-hour until 6:00-ish, which is apparently when her math tournament starts. It’s also when the game ends and Damien pushes Janis in the general direction of the girls’ locker room, where Regina said she’d meet her. Then he disappears and Janis is left to fend for herself.

Regina emerges from the locker room in a puff of pomegranate body spray-scented steam. Janis knows exactly what brand of body spray Regina is wearing, because she sells it for minimum wage— and she wonders how it is that Regina could have this particular brand of body mist when Janis has never seen her come into the store. And then Janis wonders why Regina wouldn’t wear something at least a little more high-end, one of those flowery perfumes with a celebrity’s name on the bottle, the sort of stuff that makes Janis’s nose crinkle from twenty feet away.

But just because Janis knows Regina’s body spray doesn’t mean they’re friends now or anything.

And later, when she slides into the passenger seat of Regina’s stupid car, and Regina’s all, “Hey, I just want to say that I actually am sorry about that petition and stuff,” and she actually tries to look fucking sincere for a moment— that doesn’t make a difference either, Janis is still just here to get Damien off her back, and because she didn’t have anything to do tonight anyway, and it’s going to take a lot more than a stupid little apology to make up for everything Regina’s done.

Regina drives them to the mall, and they go into all the stores that Janis usually ignores. Regina gets all excited about the idea of Janis owning a pink cardigan, and Janis tells her she’s nuts but she does pick out a pullover in a shade of mauve that looks grey at first glance. It costs way more than a pullover should, but she refuses to let Regina pay, and she figures that she’s done her duty.

“That’s really cute,” Regina says, no hint of sarcasm.

“Uh, thanks.”

Regina shuffles through the racks and pulls out a knee-length skirt with flowers embroidered along the hem, and Janis actually laughs.

“Don’t push it,” she says.

“Come on,” Regina says, “Just try it. I need to know if you even have calves.”

“I’ve got to have a couple secrets,” Janis says. Then she realises she’s smiling, and she twists it into a frown. “Besides, I like the way I dress.”

Regina hums and shrugs and says no more.

*

And then it turns out that Regina actually does have an evil scheme up her sleeve and fortunately, Janis is able to discover it before anyone gets hurt. Regina will end up flunking a few courses, and she’ll have to stay in high school for an extra year while Janis and Damien and Cady all go off to their different colleges. They’ll never hear from Regina again but they’ll always hope that she got stuck in a dead-end job, or that she ended up as an unfulfilled trophy wife, or something else, whatever, it doesn’t matter because the point is that this is where the story ends.

Seriously. It is.

No, hey, stop making that face—

Seriously—

Okay, okay, so that’s not exactly how it goes, but you have to take the truth to your grave. Okay?

… Okay.

*

What actually happens.

Well.

Regina drives Janis home from the mall. It’s a little after sunset when she pulls up in Janis’s driveway, and it’s cold enough that Janis has her hoodie zipped up all the way, and she’s too busy shivering to think clearly— and somehow Regina George puts the car in park and shuts off the ignition and reaches a hand over to part Janis’s legs in a completely non-platonic way and Janis is shocked into silence for a few long seconds before she summons the power to grab Regina’s wrist and say, “Are you tripping balls or something?”

And Regina is like, “I don’t even know why—”

And Janis is like, “I don’t care why, I mean wait, I do care why, but what the fucking hell, Regina.”

And Regina is like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I was just trying to open the door for you."

And Janis is like, “That’d better be true, Regina, because I’ve had it up to here with you thinking that I’m in love with you—”

And Regina is like, “Just get out of the car if you’re so upset.”

Which is when Janis notices that she’s still gripping Regina’s wrist and she hasn’t pushed her away, so Regina’s still touching her inner thigh and she’s— was her face always that close to Janis’s—

And—

Well—

Regina somehow ends up giving her a hickey.

You’re not getting any more detail than that.

*

Look, Janis doesn’t like Regina all that much, it’s just that she’s— okay, really hot. And maybe Janis does like girls and maybe she’s known this for a while but she never wanted Regina to be right, but maybe if Regina is willing to make out with her, that balances everything out—

Or something.

*

She calls Kevin at 4:30 the next morning. He answers on the second ring and she says, “Kevin, you’re a great guy, but I like girls.”

“Who is this?”

The blood drains from her face and she wonders if she dialled the wrong number. “Am I speaking to Kevin Gnapoor?”

“This is Kevin G.” She hears Kevin yawn right into the phone. It sounds like a hurricane. “Wait, Janis?”

“Uh. Yes.”

“Girl, this is old news. Don’t you have a thing for Halle Berry?”

“Uh—” Janis is making the call from her bed, and she pulls the covers up over her head before answering. “Yes, I do.” She tries to add a silent What’s it to you?

“So are you calling to say you’re into chicks exclusively?”

“I— uh, maybe. I’ll get back to you.”

“Sure thing.”

“I just wanted to say that it’s not your fault that we didn’t work out. And that you’re actually a really good kisser.”

“Thanks, babe,” Kevin says groggily. Janis wonders if he’s hearing any of this.

“I’ll let you go back to bed now.”

“Thanks, babe.”

“Bye.”

*

Janis doesn’t tell Damien. She can’t tell Damien. He’ll never let her live it down. So she’s just going to keep her mouth shut and deny everything if he ever asks.

And that plan works until second period, when he says, “Janis, that scarf is so cute, can I see it?” and he touches the black scarf she found in the basement and totally just unwraps it without her permission. And he must have smudged her concealer because he goes, “Oh my god, what happened to you?” and he actually looks seriously concerned for all of about two seconds before he realises why her neck is bruised and yeah, she’s never going to live this down.

“Don’t you dare breathe a word,” she says, fixing her scarf.

“Scout’s honour,” he says. Then he smiles at her for longer than is strictly necessary, but it’s kind of sweet, and she smiles back reluctantly.

*

Regina doesn’t acknowledge her in the halls, which suits Janis just fine.

But she doesn’t acknowledge her in the nearly-empty parking lot after school either, and Janis has to dig through her cell phone to find the call she missed from Regina back in September just so that she can send her a text asking what the hell is going on.

Regina responds after a few minutes—

nothing is going on

And Janis calls her to see what the fuck that means, but Regina doesn’t pick up and there’s no way Janis is leaving her a voice mail.

This goes on for a few days. The bruise disappears from Janis’s neck, and there’s still no word from Regina.

So Janis calls Damien and Cady for an emergency meeting. Fifteen minutes later, they’re in Damien’s car, parked outside her house with a carton of Ben & Jerry’s in the cup holder. Janis finds plastic spoons in the glove compartment.

“Regina George is a life-ruiner,” Damien says.

“That’s what I keep saying, but does anyone believe me?” Janis starts shovelling Cherry Garcia into her mouth.

“But it’s not like you want to date her,” Cady says from the backseat.

“Of course not,” Janis says through a mouthful of ice cream. “This is one of the better alternatives. But what if she tells people that I—”

“Deny it,” Damien says.

“And we’ll be graduating soon,” Cady says.

“Not soon enough,” Janis says.

Damien puts the car in drive and starts circling the block and goes, “Soooo?”

“So what?”

“Soooo,” he says. “You’re officially what now?”

“Oh, that. Um. Queer,” says Janis, who spent the past couple of nights Googling around for the proper terminology and not a little bit of porn. “I’m queer.”

It feels good to say it out loud. Kind of empowering.

“That’s cool,” Cady says. “I like it.”

“Hey, sorry I couldn’t forge an alliance,” Janis says.

“You did your best,” Damien assures her.

“Totally,” Cady says.

“Anyway, you guys up for a movie?” Janis asks, shamelessly changing the subject. She seals the ice cream carton and puts it back in the cup holder.

“I have an essay to write,” Damien says. He shoots Janis a sideways glance. “But I can do it while we watch.”

“Wait, wait,” Cady says. “What happened exactly?”

“That’s for me to know and you to guess,” Janis says. “We shall not speak of it again.”

“But—”

We shall not speak of it,” Janis repeats.

“Too bad you can’t tap into the Pan-Dimensional Homo Hive Mind, Cady,” Damien says, steering them towards his house. “The details are pretty juicy.”

Cady pouts and says that it’s only fair for her to pick the movie. So she does, and her choice is 28 Days Later, which no one objects to because zombie flicks are never inappropriate.

And they really don’t speak of Regina George all night.

*

When December comes, Damien complains that nobody will go to the Christmas concert if the Plastics aren’t doing Jingle Bell Rock.

Cady suggests that Janis perform her own take on it.

And Janis gives her a look that hopefully conveys just how unfunny that joke is. But she agrees to paint a backdrop for the concert because it’s more fun than doing essays, and she says, “Hey, you’re free to do whatever you want with that number, Cady, but count me out.”

Cady and Damien decide to sing a duet— not that stupid Jingle Bell Rock— and Janis thinks they sound pretty good considering they’re doing a Ricky Martin song. But ticket sales do turn out to be pretty shitty, and somewhere along the line, Damien agrees to bake twelve batches of sugar cookies because the music department can’t afford to buy refreshments.

Janis and Cady offer to help him out, which means they get put on sprinkle duty because the recipe is a family secret. So on a Sunday night, they sit down in Damien’s kitchen and promise not to peek at the recipe that Damien’s reading from or to eat the dough or to decorate the cookies in any way that could be interpreted as obscene.

“Karen says we’re going to have snow for Christmas,” Damien says with a wistful glance out the kitchen window.

“Which could mean anything,” Janis says.

Nobody argues with that.

“I heard Mrs Kim complimenting Gretchen’s Korean the other day,” Cady says. “She seems to have picked that up pretty quickly.”

“Her dad got her a private tutor is what I heard,” Damien says.

“Why are we still talking about the Plastics?” Janis says, angrily shaking a container of green sprinkles. “Or the Former Plastics, whatever.”

Damien cracks an egg and shrugs.

Cady pipes pink icing onto a star-shaped cookie and goes, “Just something to talk about.”
There’s a moment of uncomfortable silence, and then—

“I haven’t heard anything new about Regina,” Damien says.

And Janis is like, “Yeah, so what?”

And then she realises that she’s buried her cookies under a mountain of sprinkles.

“Well, you’d think if she came out to anyone else, we would’ve heard about it,” Damien says.

“Maybe no one cares about one more lady-loving jock.” Janis digs the cookies out and dumps the excess sprinkles onto an empty plate. She hopes Damien won’t notice. “She’s just fulfilling her stereotype-prescribed destiny.”

“Maybe she hasn’t told anyone,” Cady suggests.

And Janis is like, “Sometimes nobody needs to know.” To date, she’s come out to Kevin, Cady, Damien, and her mom. Nobody’s been surprised, and Janis hasn’t felt the need to make any more announcements. So she can respect Regina’s decision to keep that stuff private—

Not that she respects Regina George, of course, just her decisions.

Anyway.

Janis wants this conversation to be over, so she goes, “Besides, I don’t think it’s our business.” She gets up and turns on the old radio that Damien’s parents keep on top of the fridge, scanning the local stations for anything that isn’t a Christmas carol.

*

Second term rolls around and Regina isn’t even nominated for Spring Fling Queen. Janis hears she declined a nomination—and she hears this from Damien, who’s responsible for counting votes, so she can definitely believe it.

That information eventually spreads around the school, but people don’t talk about Regina George the way they used to. She’s less of a goddess and more of a fallen idol. People shake their heads and sigh, like they’re nostalgic for the Good Old Days when Regina could make them feel like crap with a single glance.

Janis feels sorry for them.

In the end, some sophomore no one’s ever heard of wins the crown and there’s no speech, no drama, no revolution. Janis wears a dress because Damien dared her to, but otherwise it’s a pretty uneventful night.

Oh, and apparently Cady’s gotten over Aaron. She even gets a date for Spring Fling, although it’s clear to everyone that it’s not going to develop into anything more.

Janis and Cady both get their first-choice schools, and Damien’s numerous extracurriculars make him eligible for a couple of very impressive scholarships. He uses these to justify the expense of going out of state, but he promises to fly home at every possible opportunity.

Then suddenly graduation is behind them, and Janis starts working full-time to help cover her tuition for the next year, and her last summer of freedom starts whizzing by in a blur of weekend sales and scented lotions.

*

Regina George talks to her again on a Thursday in July when Janis is closing the store. She shows up at the cash register with no warning at all, quick and quiet as a ninja. A demonic ninja. But Janis doesn’t want to vomit or punch things or even scream when she sees Regina. Bile doesn’t rise in her throat and her vision doesn’t go red.

She just says, “Oh hey,” and keeps on cleaning up the samples.

“Hey,” Regina says. “I hear you’re going Northwestern.”

Janis goes, “Yeah, I am.”

And Regina’s like, “Me too.”

“Oh,” Janis says, kind of surprised she’s not going to an Ivy League school, but whatever, it’s not her job to guess Regina’s life choices. “Guess I’ll see you around next year, then.”

“It’s pretty exciting, right? Kind of like a chance to start over.”

Janis leans back against a display case. “Yeah.”

“So if anything happened between us, it’d be on a whole new blank slate, right?” Regina asks with a little smile, like she really just enjoys taking awkward conversations and making them awkwarder. She taps her nails against the counter.

(Many, many years ago, Janis used to do Regina’s nails with a Barbie home manicure kit. Not that she’s sentimental or anything, it’s just something she remembers.)

Janis feels like maybe she should call Damien or Cady before she responds, but in the spirit of growing up, she squares her shoulders and says, “I’m pretty sure that’s not really how it works, Regina.”

Then she adds, “But a blank slate isn’t necessarily required.” Which is ambiguous and open-ended and non-committal, and it’s exactly as much information as Regina George deserves.

Regina smiles her toothpaste commercial smile. She flips her un-straightened but decidedly frizz-free hair. “Cools,” she says. “So text me or whatever. We can hang.”

Her smile falters for a fraction of a second, and that moment of vulnerability makes Janis’s chest clench with a rush of emotions. She feels triumphant, energized, gloriously vindicated.

(But she doesn’t feel angry.)

“Or whatever,” Janis agrees.

And okay, maybe she admires the swing of Regina George’s hips as she leaves, maybe she spends a few minutes imagining how Regina’s shoulders would fit in her palms. And then she touches the side of her neck and remembers the pressure of Regina’s lips, the points of her teeth, the warmth of her tongue.

So let’s say she does— but hey, it’s not like it’s a big deal.

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