Jo nearly ran through the crowd, haphazardly dodging people as she went, grin on her face and drink sloshing around in her hand. She couldn’t believe it - the DJ was playing their song! She had seemingly endless college memories of Reagan attached to that tune. The time someone made a noise complaint about them blasting it in the dorm, the first time she saw Reagan get drunk, singing along to it while their suitemate badly played guitar under them, hearing it at the graduation party, surprising Reagan by setting it as their alarm tune… a warm happiness bubbled up in her at the thoughts, and she tried only a little bit to convince herself that it was from the alcohol.
The gentle burgundy of Reagan’s dress against the venue’s walls caught Jo’s eyes and she set a straight path for her. Reagan stood in a small group - in it, but not really. Her mind wandered elsewhere; Reagan chronically felt alone in crowds. The words around her went in one ear and straight through out the other. So, when Jo popped up next to her, grabbing hold of her arm with a grin wide enough to split her face in two, it came as a welcome albeit sudden surprise.
“Come on!” Jo practically threw her drink onto a table nearby as she went to run back through the crowds to the dance floor.
Reagan stumbled a bit in her heels before pulling Jo into a near-screeching halt. “Whoah - where?!”
Jo pointed fervently toward the group of dancing couples and trios. “Dance with me!”
Reagan blinked, swallowing, before letting Jo tow her off toward the music. She tried to let the image of Jo’s smile fade from her mind, but it refused, like the outline of a lightbulb burned against the back of her eyelids after she flipped off the switch. That smile held so much energy that simultaneously made Reagan feel exhausted and elated. Before she had time to process just how hard her heart was beating, Jo had her arms around her neck in fittingly cheesy fashion and bounced them around to the rhythm. As hard as she tried, Reagan couldn’t help smiling just a little bit, and within the minute her grin was so wide that it made her cheeks sore. Jo’s lipsyncing led them to belting the lyrics raucously offkey, falling into a warm and giggly hug as the song came to an end. Reagan held Jo close around the waist, hoping her pounding pulse was due to inertia and could be slowed to normalcy with deep breaths.
Jo lifted her head from Reagan’s shoulder. “I’ll bet ya a quarter they’ll play Journey next.”
Reagan snorted. “And where did you manage to get your hands on a quarter from?”
Jo glanced to her side in mock covertness. “Mmm, I might’ve taken the change off your nightstand…”
Jo let her loud laugh break the act, and Reagan joined in too. Jo felt a deep relief growing in her. Reagan didn’t get to have fun much. Didn’t allow herself to have fun, rather. Any chance Jo could get, she wanted to try to make Reagan relax a bit. And she’d started to find herself doing more and more to make that happen.
The two of them became aware of a soft piano melody as their laughter died down. Jo glanced toward the DJ’s station as the lights above them faded to a calm blue. The night was coming to a close, she figured. Reagan suddenly became very, very aware of Jo’s arms around her neck; of the fact they stood with their stomachs nearly touching; that if Jo turned to look at her again, their noses would only be about a foot apart. And she gulped. And the color drained from her face. She let her hands quickly drop from Jo’s waist, suddenly feeling how clammy they were. Jo, however, felt a surge of confidence. She had a feeling, and she thought that it could be right. So she made up her mind and turned to face Reagan again. She saw Reagan’s eyebrows tightly knit together, her eyes dancing around - landing anywhere but Jo’s face. Jo’s concern ebbed out of her voice.
“I’m getting a drink.”
The cold, matter-of-factness of it made Jo flinch. Maybe she was wrong after all. She stood, alone, watching as Reagan hurriedly trotted back toward the tables. She had her fists balled up at her sides as she often did when she felt worried or stressed. The warmth and resolve and confidence in Jo’s voice had scared her and confused her. Reagan spent the brief remainder of the night sitting alone in a bathroom stall, hoping that Jo wouldn’t come looking for her there.