Everyone knew there was something going on with Chad and Ryan. Except Chad and Ryan.
It all started that summer at Lava Springs. Their flirting on the baseball court, and in the dance lessons led to Taylor realising that her 'relationship' with Chad wasn't going anywhere but heartbreak, so she ended it, with the excuse, "We're just better as friends." To be fair, they never had really been more than friends, their dates consisting of nothing more than hand holding, and they hadn't even reached the milestone of actually kissing. Their time as boyfriend and girlfriend was even more G-rated than Troy and Gabriella.
Gabriella first became suspicious the day of the baseball game. They had swapped shirts, and were sending each other glances here, there and everywhere, yet everyone else seemed oblivious. She didn't want to hurt Taylor's feelings, so she waited until she finally got the hint, before discussing it with her. No one had any doubts about Ryan's sexuality, what with the dancing, the skin-tight jeans and the sequins, but Chad was a surprise, and Gabriella's little discovery led to numerous phone calls between herself and Taylor, discussing their duties as self appointed 'Official Fag Hags.'
Troy only realised when Gabriella dropped one too many hints, and when he did, it all made sense. Ryan had started sitting with Chad and the other Wildcats at lunchtimes, shamelessly flirting and blushing every time Chad looked his way. Chad would smirk at Ryan, their conversations at the table laden with innuendo and the air palpable with sexual tension. Troy had seen Chad nonchalantly swing an arm across Ryan's shoulder's in the halls of East High on more than one occasion, but had thought nothing of it, until Gabriella helped him on his way to his light bulb moment.
Sharpay first began plotting ways of outing them, when Chad began visiting the Evan's house more frequently than ever before. It was practically his second home during Senior Year, and to be honest, she was growing sick of the sight of his corkscrew curls. He had been over one evening, watching a film with Ryan in the sitting room, and both had fallen asleep. Sharpay, always one to walk in on the crucial moment, saw them sound asleep, Ryan's head resting on Chad's shoulder, as his body lay curled into the other boy's side. The light from the television illuminated their faces, and she could make out a slight smile on Chad's. She'd caught them red handed. This was gold dust when in the hands of one Sharpay Evans.
Zeke found out when Sharpay did. He was over at her house, baking for her as usual, when she'd 'accidentally' let slip what she'd walked in on the previous night. Of course, no Sharpay Evan's story was complete without bucket-loads of exaggeration and before long, Zeke was convinced that there was something going on with Chad and Ryan, which meant that subsequently, the entire Wildcat team were told, and soon it was the story on everyone's lips at East High.
Ryan soon became fed up of the not-so-subtle glances and the constant whispering when he walked the halls of the school. And as he did when he was sure any rumour was circulating, he approached his sister.
"Sharpay? Can I speak to you for a moment?"
She handed her frappachino to one of her many worshipping followers, and followed Ryan with a swish of her peroxide locks, and the clap-clap of her heels against the dining hall floor.
"Yes, dear brother?" Already she was pulling out her lip gloss to apply the tenth coat of the hour, and Ryan had to physically restrain himself from rolling his eyes.
"What is everyone whispering about?" He wasn't aware of any major changes in his life that were gossip worthy, although a basketball player auditioning for the school musical was a hot topic for what felt like months, so anything was possible. Nothing had changed drastically in his life since the start of Senior Year. Okay, so he'd bought some fabulous knee-high boots and had added to his hat selection, but that was hardly worth the stares and the, 'Oh my god! No way!' every time he was within earshot. It couldn't be that people had finally realised he was gay, because, really, would it have been such a shock to anyone? The only notable thing that had happened in recent months, had been that himself and Chad had become good friends, but he honestly couldn't see why that would be so scandalous, the whole status quo had changed when Gabriella Montez had arrived at East High with a lab coat on her back and a microphone in her hand.
"What do you mean? You honestly don't know?" This was really beginning to annoy Ryan, he had not endured days of giggling juniors to not get a decent explanation from the person who was most likely to have started the rumour in the first place.
"No! I do not know! So, if you could please tell me, maybe everyone could get over whatever it is that the whole school's been talking about this past week."
"You, and Chad. You know, together. I'm actually kind of insulted you didn't tell me Ryan. I'm your more talented and attractive twin, you're meant to tell me everything. Including new boyfriends."
Ryan couldn't believe it. "Boyfriends?!"
He marched back into the dining hall, hips, encased in impossibly tight dark denim, swaying from side to side as he went. He approached the Wildcat table, ignoring the sickening looks passed between Troy and Gabriella, and standing behind that full head of curls as Chad munched on a sandwich.
"Chad Danforth. May I have a word?"
Clearly everyone was enthralled in the latest scandal to hit the school, as the entire room fell silent when that name fell from Ryan's lips. Even the lunch ladies froze in anticipation.
"Sure, what's up, dude?"
They were sat on the edge of the stage, legs dangling over the side, palms flat on the stage as their finger tips brushed. Ryan had been silent since they'd arrived five minutes ago, and Chad was growing uncomfortable, it was never awkward between them. Even if they were watching a movie, their friendly banter continued to flow, when their mouths were full with lunch at the many weekends spent at the Evan's estate, they found time for continuous conversation between mouthfuls. But, now, although Chad wasn't aware of any changes in their friendship, there was complete silence.
"So, you wanted to talk?"
Ryan looked up, staring ahead to the back wall of the auditorium whilst he gathered his thoughts.
"Everyone thinks we're together. That's what the whole school's been talking about this past week. Just thought you should know."
Chad was speechless for a moment, a moment that hung in the miniscule space of air between them, before sliding his hand over the small gap between them on the stage floor, his palm resting flat on Ryan's hand, and entwining their fingers.
"Would that really be such a bad thing? If we were together, I mean?"
Ryan finally turned his head to look directly at Chad, his fingers still held in the cautious grasp of the jock. He shook his head.
"I guess not." It was barely a whisper but it seemed to echo off the auditorium walls.
Their faces inched closer together, their lips met. It was tentative and slow as they both adjusted to the kiss, but as their confidence grew, lips parted and tongues danced together, and Chad's arm wrapped around the small of Ryan's back, and Ryan's fingers combed through Chad's hair. They shuffled impossibly closer, their torsos meeting, chests rising and falling in time as they moaned in to the kiss, hands still entwined between them. When the inevitable happened, and they were forced to pull back through lack of oxygen, Ryan smiled, and Chad chuckled, and things were generally awkward for a few moments.
"So, we're really doing this?" Ryan's voice broke the silence, as his thumb ran over the back of Chad's hand.
"Well, everyone else already thinks we are." Ryan laughed, and dropped his head to Chad's shoulder, pressing a kiss to the side of his neck, inhaling the subtle scent of his aftershave as he did so.
They walked back in to the dining hall, hand in hand, matching grins plastered across their faces.
And now, everyone knew there was something going on with Chad and Ryan, including Chad and Ryan.