Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I associated with, HSM.

AN: This is for the Irving Berlin challenge on the ryelsi LJ community (link's in my profile). It's for "Fella With an Umbrella," in case you didn't get that.

Fella With An Umbrella

What. The. Hell?

Kelsi stood in the Lava Springs main entrance, staring out at the dark sky. The stars were hidden by a sheet of ominous clouds that had randomly appeared over the resort. It was the middle of summer for heaven's sakes! How could it be pouring down rain?

She wasn't entirely sure what to do with this turn of events. Zeke was supposed to give her a ride but Sharpay had stolen him away hours ago to make brownies at her house. She was still a bit peeved about the talent show (though she refused to admit it) and was showing her face at the resort only when necessary. Kelsi, not thinking it would rain in New Mexico in the middle of summer, had thought she could easily walk up the road to the bus stop when her shift ended. Not so much.

She sighed and shifted in the doorway, watching the garden lights reflect off the rippling water. She fingered the thin fabric of her sweater. Maybe if she held it over her head and ran really fast, she could make it to the relative safety of the roofed bus stop without being completely soaked. Yeah, and maybe Taylor would suddenly give up her studies to become a professional mime.

"Problem?" a familiar voice asked from behind her.

She whirled to face Ryan and momentarily wondered why she was suddenly smiling. "Your sister stole my ride."

Ryan quirked an eyebrow. "Zeke? Why would Zeke be giving you a ride?"

Kelsi sighed, she really hated explaining this. "See, I don't have a car so I take the bus."

His eyes widened. "There's a bus that comes out here?"

She frowned. "Yes, Mr. I-can-have-any-car-I-want-because-my-daddy's-rich, buses do come way out here." He paled a bit at that and she thought he might get angry before she barreled on to say, "Most of your staff takes the bus, well the ones that aren't Wildcats."

That cooled him down about. He probably didn't think about the staff much outside of his friends.

"So," she continued, "about two weeks into summer my bus was really late and when I came in I had to explain and …"

"And what?"

"And the basketball team won't let me ride the bus. They think it's unsafe." She hung her head, hiding behind the bill of her newsboy cap.

"They are a bit overprotective of you," he said and she could hear him holding back his laughter.

She looked up sharply. "A bit?" she demanded. "When one of the lifeguards told me he really liked the song I was playing, they dressed him down for over an hour!"

Ryan bit his lip, trying to hold back his laughter. "So," he gasped, getting a hold of himself, "why didn't one of the others take you when Sharpay kidnapped Zeke?"

"Because my shift ends over an hour after the kitchen staff's. The guys rotate who has to stay late each day to take me home. They just forgot today and I let them, not thinking about," she motioned to the doorway.

Ryan nodded at the rivers running over the asphalt. "Okay," he said and ran off.

Kelsi blinked. Since when was Ryan such a flake? The least he could do was offer to find her an --

Ryan appeared once more, an umbrella in his hand. "We don't want to soak on the way," he said.

"The way to where?"

He smiled at her over his shoulder, the way he did when he was charming an audience, and reached his arms out the door to open the umbrella. "To my dad's car. He leaves it here in case he wants to go into the city when he visits."

"Ryan, I can't --"

"Please, you have to put up with Sharpay. My family at least owes you a ride home."

He crooked his arm and held it out for her to take. She smiled and slid her arm through his.


Ryan ran through the rain and climbed as quickly back into the car as possible. He'd escorted Kelsi to her door, and apologized to her parents for getting her home so late (even though both told him she was home more than an hour early; the Wildcats, it seemed, got off track a lot). Once he was back inside the warm, dry car he looked at the glowing porch and waved at Kelsi. Through the rain streaked window he thought he saw her wave back before heading in. He drove forward a few feet so he could see around the side of the house and smiled when he saw a light flick on.

As he turned off her street he frowned, and picked up the car phone. A moment later the other line picked up.

"Hello?" a sleepy Chad asked.

"What. The. Hell?" Ryan demanded.

"Ryan? Dude, it's almost midnight. I've gotta be at work at five tomorrow to set up for the synchronized swimming thing."

"Why didn't anyone tell me that Kelsi took the bus?"

Chad was quiet for a minute and Ryan could have sworn he heard the other boy mutter something along the lines of, "I hate it when Taylor's right."

"We've got it covered," he said finally. "One of us takes her home --"

"You mean like Zeke?" Ryan asked as he turned onto the highway. "Who my sister kidnapped today?"

There was the distinct sound of a fist hitting wood. "I cannot believe we spaced. Is she okay?"

"Yeah, I just dropped her off. Why didn't you guys tell me?"

"We thought you knew. Everyone knows. She takes the bus to school."

"A lot of kids --"

"City bus, dude. Very different thing."

Ryan sighed as he passed a semi.

"What does it even matter? We're taking care of it. She's fine."

Ryan ground his teeth. Why did it matter? He wasn't sure and he didn't really want to think about it anymore. "So tell me about this lifeguard," he said and Chad laughed.


reviews = love