Chad doesn't call Taylor that night.
He really should. She's good at calming him down (and other things he'd rather not discuss right now), but somehow he stops before he gets her name in his cell phone, presses the green call button, and waits impatiently for the voice on the other end of the line.
"Can you come over?"
Three miles away, Ryan Evans sits up on his bed. "Chad?"
"Can you come over?"
The blonde is already pulling on his shoes as he puts on the speakerphone. "Why are you calling?"
"Just…come over. Please." And with a click, Chad hangs up the phone.
Ryan looks in disbelief at the blinking "disconnected" sign on his phone, shakes his head, and grabs the keys to his Vespa.
"Long time, no see," the blue-eyed boy says plainly when Chad opens the door.
"I've been… busy."
Ryan shrugs and lets himself in. He drops his blue baseball cap on the front counter, and casually strolls about the foyer. It's been awhile, too long in his mind, since he's been here. Six months, three weeks, two days, and five hours, to be more precise. Not that he counts (though he really does).
Chad shakes his head, curls dipping into his eyes. "Dinner with my aunt and uncle. They'll be out for the night." He peers curiously at Ryan, who is already making his way to the back of house towards the porch. "What the hell is that?"
A bottle and two wine glasses appear from the depths of Ryan's messenger bag. "A gift from my parents. For the Julliard scholarship."
Chad lifts an eyebrow as Ryan peels the foil from the green champagne bottle. "They bought you booze?"
Ryan nods and pops the cork expertly. "They've also offered to buy me marijuana if I'm curious about it, but I turned them down."
He sets the glasses down on a coffee table, and sits behind the couch.
"Am I drinking alone tonight?" he says before pouring the pink alcohol into Chad's glass.
"You? Drinking alone? Probably not a good idea."
Ryan laughs and pours Chad twice what's in the other glass.
"To East High?" Ryan asks as he lifts his glass, the sunrays sparkling in the liquid.
The dark-haired boy shakes his head as he takes a seat on the smooth leather of the couch. "To us. To Chad Danforth and Ryan Evans."
Ryan drinks deeply, the champagne tickling his throat as it seeps down. "To Chad Danforth."
"To Ryan Evans," Chad replies, barely above a whispers, and drinks the entire glass in one forced gulp.
Chad's a lightweight, and Ryan's honestly never had more than a sip or two out of his sister's glass. They're both red in the face within twenty minutes, sprawled out on Chad's back porch as the sun sets in the background. Chad has been droning on for the past ten minutes about how excited he is about starting school next month, how he can't wait to move into the dorms and start meeting other people, especially GIRLS, because Chad needs to make it very clear that GIRLS are of primary concern for the next four years.
Just as Chad begins to discuss the male-to-female ratio that the University of Albuquerque boasts, Ryan breaks his silence. "Why am I here?"
"Because I missed you."
"Liar," Ryan retorts. "You haven't spoken a full sentence to me in six months."
"I've been busy."
Ryan pours himself more, knowing that he'll be paying the price later when his head is slumped over the toilet in Sharpay's bathroom. "Bolton?"
"Why would you say that?"
"You've always had some pathetic crush on him."
Surprisingly, Chad nods in his drunken stupor. "Didn't everyone? I mean, you've wanted to fuck him, right?"
The blonde scoffs, surprised at the drop of the illustrious F-word from the otherwise clean Danforth boy. "Troy? No, no, I leave his type for my sister. And closet cases like you."
Chad groans miserably and throws his head between his hands. "He's leaving. He loves HER more than he loves ME."
"To be fair…" Ryan starts, but Chad throws an emphatic hand over his mouth.
"None of this is fair! It's all crap. Crap, crap, CRAP. He's leaving me again. Only this time he's not coming back."
Ryan doesn't say anything, only pours more champagne in Chad's empty glass.
"When do you leave?"
Ryan sighs and takes another sip of the pink liquid. Chad is beyond gone now, his lithe body sprawled out on the rotting wood of the porch. Ryan is fairly confident that he could leave and the dark-eyed boy wouldn't even notice.
"Three weeks. Early orientation for dance majors."
"Everyone's leaving me," the dark-eyed boy whines as he turns onto his stomach and stretches out. Ryan can't help but think that Chad isn't as ready for college as he might think.
"Except my sister," Ryan teases him casually, dropping himself to the ground next to Chad and putting his hands on his shoulders.
"Please don't remind me," Chad mutters as he leans into Ryan's touch and shivers.
It had probably been building up for ten months, but Ryan is still somehow unprepared.
It's Chad who ultimately kisses Ryan, who is so shell-shocked that he couldn't have kissed back even if he wanted to. It's over before it even started, and suddenly the pleasant feeling that the champagne had been creating was suddenly gone.
"And that was?" Ryan says harshly, pushing against Chad's chest.
"I'll miss you," Chad whispers, and tries kissing him again, harder, his hands practically tearing at the light blue material of Ryan's shirt.
"You're a big boy. Deal with it."
As the blonde stands up, Chad stands up with him and pushes against him, hands everywhere under hit shirt and at the edges of his pants. For a moment, Ryan can't move, too stunned to do anything but listen to the sound of blood rushing past his ears.
When he finally comes to his senses, as Chad's shaking hand grasps at the zipper on Ryan's khakis, Ryan's fist connects with Chad's face and the darker boy falls to the floor.
"What the fuck, Ryan?" he growls, clutching at his now-bleeding lip.
"Not going to happen, Danforth."
"Why not?" Chad says, his voice suddenly seductive. Ryan is almost sick to his stomach.
"You're a little too busy swooning over Bolton," the blonde retorts, dumping the remaining champagne on the porch and heading for the glass doors at the back of the house. "Sorry Chad, but I don't play second fiddle to anyone."
"You like me!" Chad screams from behind him, as he picks himself off the wooden ground. "I know you like me!"
Ryan tightens his fists. "Where was this six months ago?"
"I don't know! I was…distracted."
"I like you, Ryan!"
"I like you too, Chad," Ryan utters, not quite sadly. He turns around and takes a step into the Danforth living room. " But I never liked you that much."
"You can't possibly drive home. You're wasted."
"Then I'll walk."
Before he can finish his sentence, Chad is on the ground next to the porch, all the champagne from the evening finally too much for his body. Ryan turns around in time to see him crumple, and his heart breaks all over again.
"Stupid Wildcat," he mutters as he holds Chad's hair back. "Never did know how to hold your drink."
Chad laughs bitterly, wiping his mouth. "Nah. Never did."
They stay like that, on the damp grass, until the crickets that Chad always falls asleep to start chirping.
"I really do like you, Ryan."
"But not as much as Troy."
Chad doesn't answer.
"You're stupid. You know that?"
Chad just sighs and leans back, allowing Ryan to wrap his arms around his waist.
He's never liked champagne.
Disclaimer: I don't own it. Never did, never will.