"Am I going to have lipstick all over my face now?" CJ asked, admiring the bright red lipstick stain on the glittery flask in his hands.
"Are you going to care if you do?" I pursed my bright red lips and blew him a kiss.
"I'll drink to that," CJ raised my flask to his lips and took a swig before passing it back to me. From where we sat, we could hear the muffled music playing from the ballroom team's welcome week event. Just a few minutes before, I had finished my foxtrot showcase and had yet to change out of my black and white gown. CJ, Whitney, and I were hiding out in one of the isolated hallways of the Michigan Union, casually stealing sips from the flasks we had brought along to the event. We were unofficially starting the after party early this year.
I was only hanging out with CJ to wait for the right moment to call him out for hanging out with me. He had been shockingly nice to me since this semester had began, which was a striking change from the previous one. I was just dying to ask him, innocently of course, if he was only being friendly to me because he's fighting with Sarah. It wouldn't be an out-of-the-blue question: I would tell him that all last year I knew whenever he was fighting with Sarah before he would tell me because I could feel when I got bumped from no. 1 priority from my usual no. 2 slot. He was talking to me again, conversationally, asking about my life. Partner-less for practice before the welcome week event, CJ asked if he could run his routines with me during our pre-tryouts rounds, and even dancing with him seemed to push us back into a familiar pattern of friendship. There was something comforting about the way I settled back into a standard frame with him, or the way I could follow his open latin choreography; it was almost like we used to be best friends or something.
When we arrived at the actual welcome week after-party two hours later, I had swapped my gown for a pair of ankle length black jeans, a sequin trapeze tank, and a pair of sky-high nude Gucci platforms.
"Grab a bottle, whatever is the best stuff on the table," CJ said, as the two of us rounded on the table of alcohol.
I poured us a pair of shots of Captain, and didn't bother to return to the handle to the table. The only time I let go of our handle was when CJ and I went to go dance. We did shots, and when our bottle began to get low, we poured the remains into a solo cup and drank it straight. When CJ dropped our cup on the floor, I sent him straight to the table to get us another handle, and he returned with a handle of Smirnoff, "You've got to hold it, you're the one with boobs."
"You're lucky you've got me to hold onto it then," I said, filling us another cup before tucking the Smirnoff bottle under my arm. It wasn't long until I hid the bottle, and CJ and I found ourselves in our own corner of the party. Under the influence of nothing but the straight alcohol we had drank the entire night, we were tucked back into a slightly-quieter area of the hallway.
"I've missed you, Kaitlyn, I really have," CJ admitted.
"I wouldn't know, you didn't talk to me for so long CJ. There was the summer, and then the two months of you still not talking to me when we got back to school. You didn't even open my snapchats," I bit my lip.
"You don't know how hard it was for me, it was so hard not to talk to you-" CJ reached out and took my hands in his.
"No CJ! I don't know!" I cut him off, "You dropped off of the face of the earth for six months with no explanation!"
"I wish I could tell you, I really do, but I can't."
"CJ, I'm your best fucking friend, you can tell me absolutely anything," I insisted, holding his hands tighter, "Whatever it is, I promise I can handle it, I'm not going to judge you-"
"Kaitlyn, you're the best friend I've ever had, and I will tell you, I promise, I will tell you," CJ let go of my hands and gently put his hands on the side of my face, leaning forward and kissing my forehead.
"You need to tell me CJ, we can't go from being best friends, to not talking, and then to being friends again with no explanation for the summer of silence," I insisted.
"I will tell you, I promise, but now is not the time, it's not the time."
I looked up at CJ through my false lashes, and a moment of shock, I saw that there were tears in his eyes, "CJ..."
"When the time is right, I'll tell you. Promise," CJ blinked quickly, trying to hold back the tears welling in his eyes.
"Pinky swear?" I held out a pinky.
"Pinky swear," CJ said, looping his pinky with mine and then pulling me in close. We stood there for a while, hugging, until CJ kissed my forehead again, "Let's go get burritos."
After gathering the troops, a bunch of us headed to one of the infamous drunk food places on campus.
"What do you want? Giant burrito?" CJ asked me, turning around from where he stood in front of me in line.
I nodded, the chatter of a line of drunk people awaiting burritos was scattered all around me.
"I got you," CJ winked at me as he ordered two giant chicken burritos, and once our food was ready, we trooped back to Alex's house, arm-in-arm. I might have been braving ice-covered streets in high heels, but with how tightly CJ kept his arm grasped around mine, I didn't think preventing me from slipping was his only motivation.
I hadn't ever seen CJ cry before, and I had the distinct sensation that something was brewing beneath the surface, and it began with his silence over the summer....