Jeremy anxiously skimmed the cast list, grinning when he saw his part. He was surprised that he actually got the role he tried out for. His friends told him that he was just too hard on himself and that of course he’d get it. Christine had somehow gotten Mr. Reyes to agree to putting on their (totally legal) version of the Mean Girls musical. He’s sure there was some form of blackmailing going on, or the promise of hot pockets. It’s best that he doesn’t know, that’s what Christine told him anyway.
Mean Girls Casting:
Cady Heron - Christine Canigula
Janis Sarkisian - Jenna Rolan
Damian Hubbard - Jeremy Heere
Regina George - Chloe Valentine
Gretchen Weiners - Brooke Lohst
Karen Smith - Madeline Anderson
Aaron Samuels - Jake Dillinger
“Why, is that my Damian over there?” Came a voice down the hall. Jenna. Jeremy grinned as she walked over. She wrapped an arm around his waist as they headed to lunch. He slung an arm over her shoulders and bumped her hip with his.
“Congrats on getting Janis,” Jeremy pulled her a little closer. “I’m looking forward to playing your platonic other half.”
“Likewise.” She beamed.
After the whole Squip incident (‘Squipcident’ according to Rich) the popular kids befriended Jeremy and Michael. The group joined the two at their lunch table one day without any warning. It was a bit awkward at first but after many apologies and talking through everything, the awkwardness faded away. He found himself drifting towards Jenna more times than not. She became his second best friend in no time. She was just as big as a nerd as him and Michael, often joining their video game sessions.
Jenna knew what it felt like to be an outsider, to be invisible. She opened up to Jeremy one night about everything. She started learning everyone's business because no one cared about learning hers. Chloe and Brooke started to talk to her more when they found out that she knew a secret about almost everyone at their school. Even than they only really talked to her just to get blackmail material. Jenna was at the top of the food chain but was still just as lonely.
Jeremy understood why she was so quick to take the Squip. All he had to do was mentioned that it would help whatever she was going through and that was that. He still felt incredibly guilty about that but Jenna has, and still does, assured him that it’s her fault as well. The idea of her thinking that no one cared about her broke his heart. He made it his mission that she would never feel that way again. That none of his friends would.
Their group quickly became the theater kids all thanks to Christine. Over the summer she got them all into different musicals. Their sleepovers ended up in an all out sing-a-long until their voices gave out or they collapsed in a pile of giggles. Everyone, with the exclusion of Rich and Michael, is in the musical this year. The two did tech. Michael didn’t like the attention and neither did Rich. Plus the brightness of the stage lights irritate his scars. They’re not fully healed yet and he’s worried about making them worse.
By the time the duo got to lunch, everyone else was already there. Jeremy took his seat in between Jenna and Jake, Michael right across from him. The two shared a smile before Jeremy dug his lunch out of his school bag. Christine was the only one not that the table yet, he was sure she was off somewhere bothering Mr. Reyes about writing their take on the musical faster. If there’s one thing you don’t mess with, it’s Christine and her musicals.
“So I’m guessing we’ve all seen the cast list?” Brooke asked, a smile on her face.
Conversion broke out after a moment of silence. Everyone was talking at once, congratulating each other on getting the parts that they all wanted. Jeremy was a little taken back by the loudness of the conversation, choosing to eat his sandwich and listen in. He let his eyes drift to Michael, who was leaning into Rich’s side, laughing. Jeremy swallowed hard, putting his sandwich down.
Michael and Rich announced that they were dating almost two weeks ago. Their announcement had taken the entire group by surprise. Michael drifted towards Rich like Jeremy had Jenna. Given the two of them were still each other best friends, but, you could have more than one best friend right? Jeremy guesses that’s not a problem anymore though, seeing that Rich was promoted to boyfriend. A promotion that Jeremy wanted and now was stuck playing the role of supportive best friend even though his heart was breaking.
It was selfish of him to be upset about Michael being happy, he knows. He hates himself because he can’t find it in him to be happy for his best friend. Well he could but it wasn’t genuine. It was fake and forced. His three year crush on Michael weighted heavy in his chest. It would mock him whenever he would see the two kiss or do anything really. They looked so happy together and they didn’t care who knew. Jeremy forced the little green monster in him away for now. He can cry about it later after school in the comfort of his bed.
Christine slammed her hands on the table made him snap to attention, the various conversations coming to a holt. She was grinning from ear to ear, Jeremy was worried that her face might break. Her excitement was contagious. He found himself smiling back at her, his heartbreak forgotten about for now.
“Did you guys see?” She asked, thrusting a piece of paper into Jeremy’s face. He grabbed it from her and held it so he could actually read it. It was the casting list again. “We all got the roles we wanted! Isn’t that so great? It’s amazing. Rich and Michael are gonna do tech again too!”
Jeremy was excited to hear that. Yeah, Michael told him that he really enjoyed doing tech but he never confirmed if he was doing it again this year or not. Jeremy didn’t wanna be annoying with all his questions. This would give them more time to hang out too. It’s their senior year, he’s glad that all of them could do this together before they’re scattered all over the country.
“Rehearsals start Monday!” Christine chirped, bouncing in her seat a little. She reminded Jeremy of an excited puppy, or a toddler on a sugar high.
“Wait does this mean I’ll have to dye my hair?” Chloe asked suddenly. She grabbed a handful of her hair. “Because I cannot pull off blonde hair that well.”
“I see a Party City trip in our future,” Jake looked into the idea. “Wigs for everyone.”
“By everyone you mean Chloe and maybe Jenna,” Michael laughed. He wasn’t leaning on Rich anymore, Jeremy was thankful for that. “Everyone else has the correct hair styles for their characters.Well, almost anyway.”
Jeremy looked over at Jenna who was rubbing her hair. It was buzzed so it felt kinda fuzzy. Everyone liked to run their hands over it. Jenna had to start wearing hats for awhile because it was just a natural reflex when they saw her. That was Jeremy’s reasoning anyway. He wasn’t sure about the others.
“Sure, I’ll get a wig.” Jenna shrugged. She looked over at him, down at his lunch and then back at him. She raised an eyebrow and Jeremy just shrugged. He wasn’t very hungry. He knew that she’ll be asking about it later. It was nice that she cared so much.
“There’s a joke about wig snatching just waiting to happen,” Rich commented, moving so he could wrap an arm around Michael’s middle. “I’m surprised no one’s said one yet.”
Jeremy found himself staring at where Rich’s arm disappeared under the table to hold Michael. He snuck a look at Jake, who was staring at the table. He was thankful the two of them, and Jenna, had free period next. They could hide away in the auditorium like usual and vent.
“Honestly I’m just excited to see Jeremy play Damian,” Brooke commented, making Jeremy snap to attention. “It’s really gonna make him step out of his comfort zone.”
“Our little nervous wreck JereBear is going places,” Rich said, pretending to wipe away a tear. “I can’t handle it.”
Jeremy felt his face getting red. He knew he would need to step out of his comfort zone for playing Damian. The character is the polar opposite of him, unpologiectly himself and comfortable in his own body. Jeremy was up for the challenge but he had his doubts.
“He’s gonna be great,” Michael said with a grin. “Like usual. Plus he has Jenna to play off of. It’ll be like watching them just hang out.”
Jeremy didn’t like the way that comment sounded. Michael didn’t look too happy about it either. Does he think Jeremy is replacing him with Jenna? He thought that they both made it clear that they’re still each other best friends. What’s player two without his player one? Jeremy was going to have to make sure Michael knew that he was still his number one, his favorite person. Even if the same sentiment wasn’t returned, seeing that Michael has a boyfriend who’s most likely those things to him.
The bell rung and everyone went their separate ways. Jeremy watched, from a little down the hall, Michael kiss Rich’s cheek before walking away. Knots formed in his stomach and he glared at his beaten up converses. He’s the world's worst best friend. He couldn’t even keep his jealousy down for longer than a half hour.
He felt an arm wrap around his shoulder. He looked up and saw Jake smiling down at him. “You okay?”
Jeremy sighed and shrugged. “The usual.”
Jake just hummed in acknowledgment as the two headed towards the auditorium. Jeremy glanced behind his shoulder to where Rich was at his locker, noticing the other boy staring after them with an unreadable expression on his face. Jeremy brushed it off. If anything Rich will now think that he and Jake are a couple now. Great. That’s the furthest from the truth.
Jake and Jeremy are both in love with their best friends, who are now dating each other. It totally blindsided both of them. Jake found him after school and ranted for an hour about he’s lost his chance and hates himself for waiting. Jeremy was in the same boat. If anything, Michael and Rich dating as brought the two of them closer. They bond over their broken hearts. Jenna sticks around to make sure they don’t do anything stupid. According to her anyway.
Jenna was already sitting on the stage when they reached the auditorium. They tossed their backpacks in the front row next to hers on their way up to the stage. Jeremy collapsed to the floor, moving so his head sat in Jenna’s lap. Jake sat on the other side of her. He’s been victim to being Jeremy’s footrest before. He’s learned his lesson.
“Y’know, if you keep using me as your personal pillow, people will start getting the wrong idea.” Jenna said, running her fingers through Jeremy’s hair.
“But you’re a lesbian.” Jeremy said bluntly, making Jake laugh loudly.
“People don’t know that though now do they?” Jenna questioned, sticking her tongue out playfully.
Jeremy shrugged. Jenna was out to their friends and her parents. She didn’t want the whole school knowing about her sexualitly, seeing that it wasn’t any of their business. Jeremy understood. He didn’t make a big deal about bisexual. Only his friends knew. He could ever really bring himself to tell his dad. Maybe he doesn’t have to come out to him. It could just be a thing they never talked about. He gets nervous just thinking about telling his dad, which he knows is unnecessary because his dad won’t care. He accepted Michael, and Jenna, when they mentioned being gay in passing. Even when Jake explained what pansexual was, his dad was very opened minded about learning.
“Are you guys still down for hanging out tonight?” Jake asked.
“Hell yeah. It gets me out of playing board games with my parents,” Jenna nodded. “What do you have in mind?”
Jeremy sat up with a very overdramatic groan and moved so he faced his friends. “Movies and junk food at mine? My dad’s working late again and left money for pizza.”
Jake gave him a thumbs up and Jenna nodded. They usually hung out on Friday nights at one of their houses. Jake’s been crashing at Jeremy’s ever since his dad found out about his house burning down and then the truth about his parents came out as well. It was weird at first, going from somewhat strangers to friends to roommates but Jeremy was just happy that Jake wasn’t motel surfing anymore. It put everyone at ease knowing he was safe and had a stable roof over his head.
“We should see if everyone else wants to join. If we don’t they’ll be annoyed we didn’t invite them.” Jenna said, pulling out her phone. No doubt opening the group chat.
“Sure. The more the merrier.” Jeremy said, knowing for a fact that everyone will be there. That meant more watching Michael and Rich and trying to repress his jealousy.
God, he was such an awful friend.
“You sure you two can handle watching the newest couple?” Jenna asked while typing out a message. “If you need a break we can just keep it us three.”
“We can’t keep avoiding them. We did that last week,” Jake sighed. “We can’t become the world's shittiest friends just because we can’t control our jealousy. It hurts but they seem happy. So it’s our job to be happy for them.”
“Even if you don’t mean it?”
Jake hesitated. “Yes.”
Jenna didn’t answer. She hit send and within seconds almost everyone answered. Jeremy wasn’t sure how they all managed to answer to quickly, seeing that they were in class. Or should be anyway. They decided on a time and that was that. Just in time for the period to end.
“One more class and then freedom,” Jake got up, teaching out to help Jenna. “Meet at your car after school?”
“Of course.” Jenna agreed before leading the way out of the auditorium after they grabbed their backpacks.
Jeremy waved bye to the two of them as he headed down the hall. He maneuvered his way through the various groups that liked to stop in the middle of the hall. Why? He has no idea. He’s half tempted to push them out of his way.
His classroom came into view — math with Mr. Buck. It wasn’t his favorite, nor his bet, subject but it wasn’t his worst either. He was in that little gray area. Plus he shared this class with Michael and there wasn’t a seating chart. He got to sit next to him in the back. Maybe that’s why he isn’t doing so great. The two of them always get distracted by each other.
He was about to walk into the classroom when a hand on his shoulder stopped him. He got pulled to the side, stumbling a bit. His snappy comment died in his throat when he saw that it was Michael.
“Do you wanna skip?” He asked. “It’s the last class and we aren’t going much. Brooke told me at lunch that it’s just a review.”
Jeremy was no stranger to skipping. He and Michael have done it a handful of times since Freshman year.
“Sure, I’m down to skip,” Jeremy answered even though they were already towards the back stairwell. He sent a text to Jenna and Jake not to wait up for him after school. “Is everything okay? Usually you only skip when something’s wrong. Is… is everything okay with Rich?”
Michael shrugged. “Everything’s fine with him. We just haven’t hung out in awhile. Y’know, just the two of us. I figured we could before we all hang out tonight.”
Jeremy couldn’t help but smile. “I can’t wait to beat you in Mario Kart.”
Michael snorted. “In your dreams Heere.”
The car ride to Michael’s house was uneventful. It consisted of the usual sing-a-long to whatever band he was currently listening to and fits of laughter that follow every time. Both of Michael’s moms were still at work which worked in their favor. If one of them were home they would have to hightail it to Jeremy’s before getting caught.
Jeremy made himself comfortable in one of the bean bag chairs in front of the TV. He could tell someone else (Rich) had been sitting in it. He hated how something as simple as that triggered his jealousy. He needs to calm down and get his shit together. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Pull it together you dunce.
Michael passed him a controller, getting comfortable in his own bean bag before starting the game up. The game menu loaded but Michael didn’t make an attempted to start a new game. Jeremy knew something was up as his friend kept staring at the screen. He placed his controller down and turned so he was facing Michael, who spoke before Jeremy had the chance.
“Are we okay?” Michael asked, his voice quiet. He fiddled with his controller, not making eye contact.
Jeremy was a little taken back by the question. “Why wouldn’t we be okay?”
A shrug. “It just seems that ever since everything with the Squip went down we haven’t really hanging out, and when we do someone else is always there. I like that we have more friends and everything but I miss when it was just the two of us sometimes. It seems like you have Jenna and Jake now and everything.”
Jeremy felt his heart shatter at the confession. He thought back to the comment Michael made a lunch. Maybe he really did think Jeremy was replacing him, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
“Just because I have Jake and Jenna as friends doesn’t mean you’re not my best friend. You’re my player one, I’m gonna need you until we’re gross and old. Even after that. I’m sorry that you felt like I was… replacing you or anything,” Jeremy counted it as a win when Michael looked over at him. “With our friend group growing so quickly it was overwhelming. Besides, you got Rich out of it right? I feel the same way with him. Given it’s a bit different because he’s your boyfriend.”
An unreadable expression crossed Michael’s face. It happened so quickly that Jeremy wouldn’t have seen it if he wasn’t looking right at him. Jeremy decided to push it aside for now. They had bigger things to worry about currently.
“I’m sorry if you feel like our friendship was put on the back burner. I didn’t mean to make you feel that way. Sure our new friends are great and I love Jenna and Jake to death but at the end of the day they’re not you. You’re my favorite person.” Jeremy felt himself blush at the last part. He mentally facepalmed.
“You’re my favorite person too Jer,” Michael said before pulling him into a hug. Jeremy also decided not to mention how he thought Rich would take that title. “I don’t feel like our friendship was in danger or anything. It’s just… a lot has changed so quickly. I’m not used to sharing you I guess, which is selfish. I’m sorry too. I guess I got excited about having, um, having a boyfriend that it was all I focused on.”
Jeremy hugged Michael back just as tight. “I suppose we’ll both have to make more conscious effort to hang out, just the two of us.”
“Mell and Heere versus the world,” Michael laughed, pulling out of the hug. Jeremy ignored how he instantly missed the arms around him. He felt cold. “Best buds forever my dude.”
Jeremy settled back into his bean bag chair with a laugh. “Best buds.” He said weakly as Michael actually started the game this time.
He’s glad that they talked, he is! They’ve both been a little distracted by other things and their friendship somewhat paid the price. Jeremy made a promise right there that Michael will never doubt how much he cares about him ever again. Crush or no crush. He’s his best friend and deserves to be loved and supported. To know that he’s loved and supported. Especially by his own best friend.
Best friend , Jeremy thought as the race started. The title left a bitter taste in his mouth. For this to work he really needs to get his emotions (jealousy and selfishness) under control and fast. He would be the best supportive best friend there ever was. He didn’t get a lead part in the musical for nothing.