Chris Brown and Rihanna are no longer being shy about their rekindled friendship, after two consecutive outings in New York City this past week and confirmation that Brown has split from girlfriend Karreuche Tran. Still, the decision to go public with their friendship has been a steady build over the past few months.
Back in February, fans were flabbergasted when it was confirmed that Rihanna reached out to Chris for a collaboration. Brown appeared on the remix of her raunchy Talk That Talk single "Birthday Cake," while she contributed vocals to his hit "Turn Up the Music."
Fan debate about whether Rihanna was making a mistake by working with the man who violently assaulted her back in 2009 raged for weeks, but both singers continued to promote the songs. "She's pretty smart. The same questions that went through my mind, and I'm an artist also, had to have gone through hers," "Cake" producer The-Dream told MTV News, explaining that he was surprised to get a call from Rihanna in which she said, bluntly, "I think I'm gonna put Chris on it."
A few weeks after the singles were released, eyewitnesses continued to report that the former couple often partied in the same clubs out in Los Angeles, and when Drake and Chris Brown's crews clashed violently at an NYC nightclub in June, Rihanna's name was thrown out as a possible reason for the brawl.
July and August
The exes crossed paths again in Cannes, France, while Brown's reps continued to deny that they were getting back together, but it was Rihanna's intimate August interview with Oprah that got things heated up again. During the sit-down, Rih opened up about the darkness she felt after the assault, but also admitted that she and Brown have remained "very, very close friends," which set off alarms one more time.
Fans and even celebrities, like comedian Joan Rivers, publicly chastised Rihanna for forgiving someone who had hurt her so badly, but the 24-year-old singer has continued to brush off the criticism.
Actually, "disregard" might be the most accurate word, as Rihanna openly showed her affection for Brown during the 2012 VMAs. Although the live cameras weren't rolling, an intimate moment was captured where Rihanna walked over to greet Brown, giving him a kiss and then gently rubbing his head before she walked away, although she must've been aware that all eyes were on them.
This, of course, set the Internet on fire again, but Rihanna carried on as usual, openly tweeting her support for Brown when he returned to court last month for a probation hearing stemming from his assault case. "I'm praying for you and wishing u the best today!" she directed at Brown on Twitter, prompting more than a few re-tweets.
That show of support on Twitter seemed to be a bold move, but not compared to what would follow. This past week, the pair were spotted partying together at a New York City club, where an eyewitness claimed they disappeared into the bathroom together, and sources say they visited each other's hotel rooms. The gritty details were never confirmed, but when Rihanna and Chris Brown showed up together to catch Jay-Z's concert at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, there was no more denying that they had patched things up.
Photo evidence showed them sitting next to each other, with Brown's arm draped around her chair, and the next day he issued a statement confirming that he had split with longtime girlfriend Karreuche Tran. There's no telling where Chris Brown and Rihanna's relationship is headed from here, but the scrutiny won't cease anytime soon.