It happens gradually, somehow without either of you noticing it. You have absolutely no idea how or why, but somehow, some way, it does. At first, there are just little things, feelings too vague and insignificant for you to register what they might mean. The two of you will be lying flat on her bed, face up, and you'll be laughing at something she says. The back of her hand will brush against yours as she turns to face you, her bright, wide smile spreading a warmth inside you that you haven't felt in a while. Not since you realized the consequences of your whole little…shenanigan with Paulie Bleaker, and then the fact that there's now a baby growing inside of you, this fragile, growing life that you know you'll never be adequate enough to take care of.
Maybe you should have known what was going on right away, at that exact moment. But since when had Leah making you happy been something that should arouse suspicion? Maybe you should have known, but you didn't.
It was a mistake, that night with Paulie was, a really stupid one, but in that moment, you still hadn't realized just how stupid it really was.
"Hey, preggers, you gonna get up off your ass sometime this year, or what? We've got shit to do, you know."
You moan and something hard nudges your side. "Let's go, Juno that totally rhymed we gotta find this kid of yours, like, a mom or something. Know what I mean?"
It takes the two of you using all of your combined brain cells almost an hour to find a decent match or, rather, a couple that doesn't sound like they could potentially be a pair of psychopaths. You find the couple, honest to God, in the Penny Savers section of the local newspaper, which is somewhat unsettling. You find a way to reason with yourself, though, to settle the guilt automatically associated with not caring enough about your unborn baby. It doesn't really matter, you think. Once this thing is born and papers are signed, the kid isn't actually mine anymore, right?
Leah gets the number and address down on the palm of her hand, and as she's doing so, you allow yourself to get caught up in those deadly uncertainties. It occurs to you that maybe these people aren't exactly the best people around, that maybe they're nothing more than two kiss-ass liars who know how to put the tears in sob story. While "Educated, successful couple wishes to adopt" isn't exactly the worst of the lot, you wonder educated how educated and successful they can possibly be if they're using newspaper ads in order to adopt.
Then Leah turns to you and catches your gaze. She's got that look in her eyes that prevents you from looking away until she does. When she smiles at you, something drops in your stomach and gives off this warm, affectionate feeling deep in your gut, to which your mind screams, Gross. Fuck no, Juno, you are so not one of those ridiculous, lovesick losers. But you honestly can't help it. It's this smile that you never really see on her face when she's looking at anyone other than you, except for maybe her prom date that one year, but he had turned out to be an idiot.
Suddenly, she's got a hold of your hand, and the tips of her fingers are running up and down yours, tracing over your veins. The motion is uncharacteristically sweet of her, and in all honestly, you kind of like it.
"It'll work out, kid, promise. This baby is gonna have some goddamn good parents. For real. "
And the crazy thing is, you're not really sure why, but, you believe her instantly. Your body is flooded with this intense relief that quickly overcomes your anxiety. The idea that she can do that to you, make you feel so incredibly calm when just seconds ago, nerves were coursing through you, driving you insane that in itself is somewhat troubling to you, but you don't want to worry anymore. You allow yourself to become completely absorbed in her presence, and when she yanks you off the bench and starts tugging you towards the slide, you let her. When she tricks you into standing in front of the slide only to shove you down a second later, you laugh instead of gnawing your lip off worrying about whether the jolt of falling could have possibly affected the baby. You let her lead you by the hand away from the park half an hour later, when you're pretty sure the tip of your nose is suffering from frost bite. And when she doesn't let go even after you've left the park and are heading towards the van, you swallow the sarcastic remark you have prepared a tactic devised in order to call attention to the situation, while diverging any awkwardness and instead, take it for what it is. You reason with yourself that it makes sense, because it's cold outside and, Jesus, the frostbite is going to spread and then the you'll have to amputate all of your limbs and you'll be left with just your torso and head and that would be pretty suckish because it would totally ruin the whole being a kraken from the sea thing.
It makes perfect sense.
In fact, everything makes sense. From the way her laugh makes your stomach drop you're hungry or something, probably and how your heart starts to race whenever her face gets the slightest bit close to yours it's been months since anyone has kissed you, and that Bleeker kid was too well experienced in sucking Tic Tacs and not sufficiently experienced in kissing you for him to even count. No matter what the excuse, it all adds up to the one thing that you know for sure: You are not attracted to her. She's your best friend, for Christ's sake, and anyway, you just don't swing that way. Girls are hot and all, but you are all for the dudes. Even the Paulie Bleeker brand of dudes, which, come to think of it, probably aren't the straightest dudes around. And if Bleeker isn't straight, maybe you're not straight either because, hello, you had sex with him; you're having his kid. And, oh shit, you're back at the beginning, the beginning of this never-ending cycle of denial which leads you to you discover the fact that you have acknowledged your denial, hence, acknowledging the fact that you have something to deny in the first place i.e., liking this stupid, ridiculous, totally hot chick. Jesus Christ.
It's two A.M and you've spent the past hour puking your guts out. You feel like absolute shit, and you really, really want some company but no one is home.
You're starting to think that this whole pregnancy thing is more trouble than it's worth, and you're not even keeping the kid.
And then, all of a sudden, she's just there. It's not even some sort of creepy, best friend telepathy or anything. It's just pure coincidence, actually.
From what you gather, Leah's been going around playing designated driver for some kids at a party, and, in her eyes, a night spent sober when there's an abundance of alcohol around is a ruined night, which leads to her stopping at your house in an attempt to make something out of the last few hours.
Whatever it is, you don't care because now there's a soft, warm body wrapped into your side, and just a minute ago, there wasn't.
She smells pretty good, too, actually. All clean and like laundry detergent and other soft things and, damn, she keeps just stopping in the middle of all her random stories to look up at you and smile in that really loving way. The one she occasionally shoots you at random that reminds you she actually loves you.
And, you really don't want your thoughts getting anymore twisted than they already are but, you'll be damned if your heart doesn't give this little jolt every single time she does it.
You probably shouldn't have, but it's much too late now, with your knee wedged between her thighs and your arm draped across her stomach. You remember waking up at three AM in pain, and not being able to fall back asleep. You remember a tentative arm slowly sliding across her abdomen and you're also pretty certain that somewhere along there, you pressed yourself against her back, or at least you know you must have, because that's how you are now. You're pretty sure this is something that shouldn't be happening, but it's definitely too late now.
And then it happens, out of nowhere. You've spent the day uncharacteristically going off on several tangents about things that could never possibly happen, but scare the fuck out of you nonetheless. Honestly, though, how could you not be worried when one in four million babies are born with a completely full set of teeth? What kind of vampiric bullshit is that?
Leah has dutifully listened to every single one of them, and kept her sarcastic responses to a minimum, which you're grateful for. Juno flip-outs don't happen very often, but when they do, it's best that there is no one around counteracting them and, consequently, fueling them.
It's when you start going on about whether or not the seaweed in sushi is safe for babies, and that scientists should do a scientific thing about that, she stops you.
Grabs you by the face, one hand on each side, and pulls you close to her.
On impulse, your stomach drops and your breathing is suddenly falling a bit quicker, as though your body has any right to do such a ridiculous thing. She's only a person, for Christ's sake.
"Juno. Stop." It's all she says, but it's all she needs to, partly because the look on her face stops you right away, but partly because you're paying more attention to the fact that her lips are suddenly closer to yours than they've ever really been before.
"Fine, it's not like I even wanted loving, caring friends in the first place." You say it because you're Juno, not because you mean it. You actually need a break from yourself, too.
Leah doesn't say anything for a moment, just watches you closely, and no matter how many lies you tell yourself, there is absolutely no denying the sudden ache you have for her to lean in closer.
"Juno, you little paranoid freak," she starts, and suddenly her voice is soft, and her warm breath is falling on you. "I love you, okay? I love you, and when this baby comes, it will be perfect and healthy and you will kick ass in the delivery room, and be the best biological-but-completely-uninvolved mother ever, and you will have made the right decision for your super kick-ass baby."
Her forehead is leaning against yours, those eyes are on full force, and you just do it.
Her lips are hot and even softer than that Bleeker kid's, and they're only on yours for a second.
That's all you allow.
That's it, but it's enough. You pull away immediately and you think that you might be trembling slightly, as if even your body is trying to tell you, What the fuck, Juno?
You're about to go into all-out panic mode, but then Leah, who only looks confused for a split second, grabs you by the neck and tugs you back into her.
Your lips press against hers again, and, holy shit, you're kissing Leah.
Leah is kissing you.
And it feels damn good.
Everything is incredibly soft, from her cheeks to her lips to the palms of her hands still pressed against your cheeks, and then Leah's tongue is tracing the outline of your lips.
You feel hot everywhere, and you grab her by the neck and attempt to press her even closer to you, which is considerably difficult with this giant baby-stomach in the way.
And then suddenly, she pulls away, with this Why am I making out with my best friend look on her face.
"Sorry," you blurt out, at the exact same time that she says,
"Holy shit, Juno, your pregnancy hormones are fucking crazy."
It's not the hormones.
You almost say it, completely automatically, and then you catch yourself, because voicing that truth is just not an option.
"Yeah, well, um "
She kisses you and you stop thinking for a moment.
"It's not the hormones, it's not the hormones, not baby hormones." You don't realize that this silent chant has morphed into you audibly murmuring it on her lips over and over until she pulls back and looks at you, eyebrow raised, like, I heard you the first time.
"Baby hormones or not, it was kind of hot, so. Whatever. We going baby shopping tomorrow, or what? You said it yourself; you at least need something for your kid to put on when it's born. Also, I think I rhymed again, so, like, pay me or something 'cause that's awesome and I'm awesome."
It was kind of hot.