Andrew swirled the leftover jungle juice in his cup. It wasn’t the best he’s had. Too much alcohol distracted from the sweetness of the fruit. That might have been the point, Andrew thought as he observed the college students cheer again for no other reason than intoxication and leftover adrenaline from their football team’s homecoming win against their conference rivals.
Beer was spilled and empty cups were knocked over. In the middle of it all was Neil. He threw his head back and laughed at something a guy from the track team said to him. A few girls from the volleyball team walked over and joined their conversation.
It was weird. After everything calmed down from their previous year, Neil was actually quite popular around campus. It was mostly due to sensationalism at first but now it was from Neil being Neil. A magnetic field existed around him that drew people in. Andrew was no exception.
“Hey hey! Do you guys remember ‘Honey if you love me’?” a girl from the swim team said. A chorus of excited yes’s answered her.
“Oh let’s play! That game was the best back in middle school,” Nicky jumped in.
In no time half the party was crammed in a lopsided circle. Chairs were pulled up, couches held three times their sitting capacity, the floor was filled with people, half-full Solo cups, and beer cans.
Andrew stayed where he was leaned up against the wall.
The game started. Eventually Matt lost to the track guy. Matt stood from his chair and crushed two empty beer cans with his foot. He picked them up and stacked them on top of each other. His head swiveled around the room until his eyes landed on Neil. Neil was doing a very good poker face when Matt swaggered up in front of him and got down on one knee to be on eye level with Neil.
“Honey if you love me,” he began and brought up the two beer cans. “Won’t you please smile?”
He opened the cans like he was opening a ring box and Neil stood no chance. His eyes brightened with glee, the corners of his mouth spasmed before losing the fight to stay neutral, and he burst out laughing, shoving Matt away from him.
Neil got up and the surrounding laughter died down. Neil’s head turned straight towards Andrew and Andrew resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
The crowd around them murmured as Neil made his way over.
“Josten you’re going after Minyard, really?”
“He’s not going to crack.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile.”
That didn’t stop him. Neil stalked over and crowded in, not quite touching, but only barely. Andrew locked eyes with Neil as he leaned in closer. Neil placed his hands on the wall by Andrew’s head, framing his face and blocking his view of the rest of the room.
Neil finally spoke. “Honey if you love me…” A smile tugged to his own lips. “Won’t you please, please smile?”
There was something in the way Neil’s lips quirked to the side like the two halves of his face were having a competition of which side could smile the biggest that made Andrew’s heart pick up pace. It was a chemical reaction that started the moment Neil turned his head his way. And like all reactions there was no stopping the twitch of his lips, the squint in his eyes, the slight wrinkle of his nose. He was getting soft.
Neil noticed, of course he did, and his smile widened further. “Well it was worth a shot. Looks like I lost.” He said with a shrug, letting his hands drop from the wall. He gave one last knowing smile to Andrew before turning away. “Nicky, Honey-”
Nicky immediately burst out laughing.