They were the pair that no one could ever quite make sense of. The Cautionary Whale and the Cheerleader Slut, That Strange Indie-Rock Kid and That Girl Who's Banging the Math Teacher. Juno and Leah. The best friends that no one would ever think would actually be best friends.
Juno had pondered it many a time. It had crossed her mind briefly for the first time when she'd paced around her room, fingers tapping nervously against that ridiculous hamburger phone, as baffled about why a mainstream popularity-obsessed attention whore like Leah was her best friend and first one on the list of people to tell about that unholy little pink plus sign on the pregnancy test as she was about what to do regarding said symbol of unholiness. If she had a type, she thought idly as she dialed Leah's number, she wouldn't think Leah would fit into it. Juno was, after all, That Strange Indi-Rock Kid, the one who pulled off snark and sarcasm and what would be corny graphic tees on anyone else without a hitch, the strange short girl in the hallways who shunned the cool in favor of creating her own cool—really, she was just one more cliché in the cliché that was high school classification systems (though she liked to think that she created an unprecedented and interesting enough blend of about seventeen thousand different subcultures to make her a non-cliché anyways). But her cliché and Leah's cliché, they weren't the type to mix. Because Leah liked to trounce around in tiny little gym shorts and too-tight shirts that shoved her cleavage out for the world to see, and liked to sleep with overweight bearded geometry teachers who were too dazed at the thought of their Cheerleaders XXX porn flicks coming to life to worry about the fact that they could go to jail for a taste of the bouncy and flirtatious Leah. Juno should be sitting alone at lunch—or possibly with Bleeker—mocking the ridiculous antics of someone like Leah instead of sitting with Leah and simply rolling her eyes indulgently at said ridiculous antics.
She couldn't quite remember when or how they'd become friends—best friends, no less, though in her unconscious desperation for quirkiness Juno shunned the term "best friends" for other quirkier parallels like "hetero life mate" or some such. It just seemed like it kind of always had been. Shouldn't really have been, but was anyways, the Cautionary Whale and the Cheerleader Slut. They had their separate lives of Cool Musical Nerdiness and Popular Party Girl, respectively, but always wound up eating lunch together, bumming around town after school together, watching insane horror movies to the wee hours of Sunday morning after retiring to Juno's room because there was nothing to do but go hang out at the 7-11 and watch jocks try to beat up skater punks on a Saturday night. And when Juno found out that she had the spawn of socially challenged but inexplicably awesome Paulie Bleeker growing in her uterus, the first person she thought to tell wasn't the producer of said spawn, but rather…Leah.
As she had been delivering her baby, Bren and Leah on either side of her for encouragement and comfort, it had been Leah's hand she held tighter. Though Bren knew more of what she was talking about—not hard, since Leah's comments tended to fall more along the lines of a twelve year old boy's while watching a slasher flick—it was Leah who Juno looked to when she felt like the spawn was trying to pull her entire stomach out through her uterus with him, Leah who quieted for a few moments each time Juno clamped down on her hand and offered a rare genuine smile and a nod of encouragement, Leah who was the first to really understand why Juno felt so broken after the birth. It wasn't at giving up her son, because she knew that she didn't want a child at sixteen, but at the fact that—though she would never, ever, ever admit it aloud, because she knew it was selfish and wrong—she was giving him up because she was really just like every single other sixteen year old girl in the country who got pregnant: Not Ready To Have A Child. Leah knew Juno well enough to recognize that spark of defeat in her short friend, which only materialized in her tired eyes for a split second as the doctor carried the baby out of the room and into the forever waiting arms of Vanessa Loring, knowing that even though Juno didn't consciously try to be so quirky and unique, she unconsciously did try that hard. Being one more sixteen year old who gave her child up for adoption made her a statistic, a number, one of thousands of people who were just like her. And really, even though Juno wouldn't even admit as much to herself, that was one of her greatest fears—and Leah was the only one who knew her well enough to understand that. And so Leah was the one who got her through the pregnancy, and the labor, and her continually rocky romance with Bleeker, and, most importantly, through the hours between the spawn popping out and Bleeker showing up from his track meet.
Juno could laugh lightly at it and shrug it off and say that Leah had simply known her long enough to accumulate enough blackmail material for Juno to need to stay on her good side, but it wasn't like that. Even if they were two clichés who weren't supposed to mix, they did. Because Leah was smarter than everyone gave her credit for, and Leah knew Juno, and that was just how it was. And so, Juno didn't go to the coast with Bleeker the week after school let out when he invited her. Instead, she spent the week in a shoddy hotel in the next town over with Leah, watching gory horror movies and unhealthy amounts of really bad porn, living on Slurpees from the gas station next door and vending machine candy, while Leah made fun of Juno's musical obsessions and Juno threw pillows at Leah while making snide comments about Leah banging the geometry teacher. And for the first time since she'd watched that doctor carry her son out of her life for forever, she felt like a whole person again.