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I'd Rather Be Me

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Janis did not miss high school. She didn’t miss the judging attitudes, the petty politics. She didn’t miss mean girls and cruel boys.

Sure, her senior year had been much better than the chaos of junior year, after their plotting and scheming and Cady’s rollercoaster of popularity, but she liked college much more than she’d ever liked school.

She liked the college, the campus and the accommodation, and she loved the course she was doing. Art, of course, ignoring her parents, who hadn’t ever really stopped moaning that she’d never get a job in that. She loved the freedom to explore different ideas and all sorts of mediums, and while she hated essays and hated justifying her choices, she still loved the course.

She missed Damien and Cady, although she wouldn’t ever really tell them. Cady was at some fancy smart person college, studying a horrific sounding maths thing, but she seemed to enjoy it. She was still dating Aaron, and they were very happy, apparently (disgusting). Damien was doing musical theatre, singing and dancing his heart out. He’d informed her that he was grievously disappointed by the proportion of gay boys in his course, but he had a boyfriend too now, so there must have been some.

Without the two of them to talk to, Janis had made some friends, and she had to admit she even liked most of them. Art people, who she talked about paint and clay and artistic choices with. People in the same halls as her, with whom she complained about the uncomfortable beds with.

And the people in the LGBT+ society.

It had taken Janis a year to join the society, and her only regret was not joining sooner. She’d never been comfortable like this before, especially not after everything that happened in high school. But here, she was comfortable, and the first time she’d said the words ‘I’m a lesbian’, not as a joke, not as a flippant throwaway joke to draw attention away from her, she’d almost cried. (She hadn’t, though. She had an image to maintain, even here.)

She was happy here, and she got along with everyone, and she was at an informal coffee morning for people who identified as lesbians when she saw someone she never thought she’d see again, and certainly not here.

Regina fucking George.

She still looked fucking perfect, as well. All perfect pink clothes and perfect blonde hair and perfect body and perfect lipgloss. Janis knew she’d joined the lacrosse team in senior year, knew she’d mellowed out a bit, but she’d never in a million years have expected this.

She couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled out before she could stop it. Regina George, who’d called her a dyke and made her high school hell, who was the main reason she’d taken so goddamn long to be comfortable with her sexuality, was here.

Damien was going to have a fit.

Regina hadn’t noticed her yet, and she walked over to their table, and smiled at someone she obviously knew, and then her eyes fell on Janis, and she visibly flinched.

Janis waited to see what she would do. Hell, Janis wasn’t even sure what she herself was going to do.

Regina hesitated, and then pointed to the seat next to Janis. “Is that seat taken?” she asked, seeming surprised at her own question.

Janis blinked at her, blinked at the polite question and the casual tone, and then nodded. “Yeah, go for it,” she said, kicking it out, and then Regina fucking George was sitting down next to her, sitting down for lesbian coffee, and it wasn’t a joke. Goddamn.

The conversation started back as normal, about classes and girls and nonsense, but Janis was hyper aware of Regina beside her. And then, when across the table a friendly debate started about the benefits of green tea, Regina turned to her, and looked straight at her.

Janis’ first thought was that this was the first time she could remember that they’d made eye contact without one of them snarling. Cady and Regina had been on relatively friendly terms by the end of school, but Janis had never bothered. Her second thought was that Regina was still unfairly attractive. Damn.

“I’m sorry,” Regina said, and Janis choked on air.

“Wait, what?” she gasped, coughing.

“I’m sorry for the way I acted in school,” Regina said, twisting her hair between her perfectly manicured fingers. “I should never have done it, any of it, and I should have apologised before.”

Janis blinked. “This does explain a lot,” she said, gesturing to Regina and then to the rest of the group, who’d moved on to a fairly loud discussion about Kirsten Stewart. “If I was scared in high school, I can only imagine how it was for you.”

Regina nodded, and opened her mouth to speak again, but Janis raised a hand to stop her.

“Internalised homophobia doesn’t excuse homophobic behaviour, though. You were a terrible person, and a terrible friend, and I can’t just forgive you after one apology.”

Regina nodded again. “Of course,” she said quickly, “and I wasn’t looking for forgiveness. I just needed to say it.”

“Okay,” Janis said. “So you’ll be at these meetings?”

“Yeah,” said Regina, smiling for the first time. “I think…yes.”

“Alright. If you apologise enough, maybe it’ll take.”

Regina scoffed, sounding much more like her old self. Janis was glad, strangely. Nice Regina was slightly terrifying. “I’m still a bitch,” she said, raising an eyebrow, and Janis laughed despite herself.

“So am I,” she said, and lifted her coffee in a toast, re-joining the group conversation with an emphatic interjection about baseball caps.