Summary: Chad discovers that he's got competition.
Author's Note: This story is the second part of Rivals, Part 1, although it could actually be read on its own. Both parts follow Revelations, part of the ever-expanding Coming To Terms 'Verse.
In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Chad stumbled out of Ryan's bed and made his way to the door. Belatedly, he recalled that he was naked and dug through the pile of clothes on the floor to find his jeans. He pulled them on and went to the door. Just before he opened it, Ryan grabbed his hand and gently led him back to bed. He nudged Chad gently until he crawled onto the bed and curled up once again. Ryan sighed and got back into bed, throwing the blanket over Chad's bare chest.
He made a mental note to speak to Chad's mother again. This had happened once before. Apparently, Chad occasionally became somnambulant when he was stressed. Ryan laid awake for the next hour wondering what had provoked this episode and worried that he'd get up again. The first time it happened, Chad had made it to the stairs before Ryan caught him so Ryan refused to let himself fall asleep until he was certain that Chad was going to stay put for the remainder of the night.
Chad, on the other hand, slept peacefully. Consequently, when he awoke four hours later, he was well rested and felt refreshed (although confused as to why he was wearing his pants). Ryan grunted and turned back over to get some more sleep as soon as Chad got out of bed.
Chad showered and dressed and went downstairs. He was comfortable enough with the Evans family to join them for breakfast without Ryan, who never got up early on Saturdays unless there was a compelling reason to do so. Chad entered the kitchen and found Sharpay at the counter.
"Couldn't get a rise out of Sleeping Beauty, eh?" she said as she placed a glass in front of him and poured him some juice.
"You don't really want me to answer that, do you?" Chad replied impishly.
"Eww! No," she said decisively. "In fact, forget I spoke. Good morning, Chad," she said, smiling as she started their conversation anew.
"Morning, Princess. Where is everyone?"
"Dad's in San Diego. Mom got up early to run an errand. We're meeting later to get our roots done by Fabrice."
"Am I supposed to understand that?"
"Given that he's a hairstylist, I suppose not."
"Har har. What's for breakfast?"
"Well, I'm having yogurt and granola. But Maria can whip up some eggs if you want."
"Got any cold cereal other than granola?" Chad asked, heading for the cupboard.
"See for yourself," she said, taking a seat at the counter. Chad joined her a moment later with a large bowl of cereal, milk and a banana. Sharpay was cutting fruit into her bowl, so she sliced the banana for him. "I suppose you'll be hanging out here today."
"Probably, unless Ryan wants to do something. Oh," Chad said, reaching for his phone. "I almost forgot; I promised Zeke a chance to drive my new wheels today. I'd better call him and see if I can do that early. Who knows? I may be able to get over to his house and back before Ryan even wakes up."
Chad called Zeke and arranged to meet up with him at Zeke's house. As he spoke, he dipped his spoon into Sharpay's bowl and stole a strawberry, causing her to protest and retaliate by stealing a slice of his banana. Chad ended the call and grabbed her wrist to try and stop her from eating it.
"Give that back," Chad cried as he gently wrestled the spoon away. "Ryan wouldn't approve of you eating his boyfriend's banana, would he?"
"Oh, gross!" Sharpay replied, relinquishing the prize. "And just for that, you can drop me off at the salon before you go to meet Zeke. Since I'm meeting up with Mother there's no need for me to take my car."
"You mean you actually don't mind being seen with me in public?"
"Of course I mind," she shot back without hesitation. "But you'll do it anyway."
"All right," Chad replied. "Be ready in fifteen minutes or I'm leaving your sorry pampered butt right where it is. And speaking of sorry butts--."
"What happened with that guy who was giving Ryan the notes?" he asked. "Ryan said he didn't show up in class yesterday." Sharpay visibly relaxed; she gave him a knowing look. Both he and Ryan took great pleasure in saying provocative things for the sheer pleasure of making her squirm.
"Oh, I suggested that he not show himself in class until he was ready to apologize to Ryan. I suspect he stayed home to rehearse."
"Good!" Chad said, rising to deposit his bowl in the sink. "I'm going to go up and check on Ryan and then I'll be ready to go. You be at the door when I come back."
Chad slipped back into Ryan's bedroom and made his way over to the bed, picking up his discarded clothes as he went. He tossed them into the hamper to be washed with Ryan's laundry. That way he'd have clothes for his next visit. Ryan had a few changes of clothes at Chad's house, too. The first time Ms. Danforth saw a pink shirt in Chad's laundry she stared at it in shock for a full minute. Ms. Evans, on the other hand, never dealt with her children's laundry. If the housekeeper noticed Chad's clothes among Ryan's things, she never mentioned it.
Chad sat on the edge of the bed and smiled at Ryan, who was deep asleep. Chad leaned over and kissed his brow. Ryan immediately reached up and pulled him closer, but Chad gently extricated himself and rose to leave. Ryan opened his eyes and frowned.
"Chad," he said with a groan. "Not again." He sat up and reached to pull Chad back to the bed.
"What the heck are you doing?" Chad said amusedly. "I've got to get out of here."
"No, Chad," Ryan said patiently, "you've got to go back to bed."
"Because I said so," he replied, tugging on Chad's arms. "Come on, be a good boy and get back in bed."
"Sorry, can't--Sharpay's waiting for me downstairs."
"Sharpay is not waiting for you downstairs. You're dreaming."
"No, I'm awake. You're the one who's still asleep," Chad replied. Ryan frowned at him, peering into each of his eyes.
"You are awake!"
"No shit; look, I promised Zeke I'd meet up with him and let him see the car. I'll be back, though, in an hour or two." Chad peered into Ryan's eyes. "Ryan?"
"Were you awake earlier?"
"Never mind." Ryan paused to yawn. "You're going to see Zeke and you're coming back. Got it." He laid back and closed his eyes.
Chad leaned over and kissed him. Ryan pulled him closer and after a bit of wrestling and giggling, Chad managed to escape. He made his way downstairs and met Sharpay at the door.
"You said fifteen minutes," she said when he reached her.
"Your brother's part octopus."
"I do not want to hear about my brother's behavior in bed," she said, covering her ears. Chad laughed and pulled open the door. As he stepped outside, Maria came to the door and informed Sharpay that she had a visitor. She frowned and turned to look toward the gate. Zeke's car was heading toward the house. "Chad," she called.
"I see it," he said, confused as to what Zeke was doing there. When Zeke pulled up and got out of the car looking upset, Sharpay turned and ran back into the house.
"Hey, Zeke," Chad said, smiling as he approached. "I was just on my way to meet you. What's are you doing here?" Zeke looked slightly apoplectic. "Zeke?"
"I might ask you the same thing," he said finally.
"I spent the night," Chad replied easily. Zeke glared at him for a moment, then began to pace back and forth. Chad observed him for a few moments, growing increasingly concerned.
"What's going on, man?"
Zeke sighed and ran his hands over his hair.
"I thought you were my friend, Chad," Zeke said softly. "In fact, I've always considered you to be my best friend."
"I'm honored to hear you say that," Chad said sincerely. "If something's wrong--."
"How could you do this to me?" Zeke cried suddenly, turning to confront Chad, who was utterly confused by his outburst.
"Oh, don't play dumb. I've watched you. At first I thought I was imagining things. But after these last two weeks, I've come to understand exactly what's going on. You've got everyone else fooled, but I know what's really going on. Hell, you can't even deny it! I caught you right here!" Chad blanched and slowly raised his hands as realization dawned.
"I know, Chad."
"Look," Chad began.
"I'm not stupid, Chad. I know exactly what's going on," Zeke replied. Chad shook his head. "I know I'm pathetically obsessed with Sharpay and I know I'm never going to be anything more to her than a good friend. She's certainly told me that often enough. I can deal with that, believe it or not. I'm still crazy about her, but I can live with the fact that I'll never have her. But I thought you were my friend, Chad. I thought you would at least respect our friendship enough to be honest with me."
"Zeke?" Chad said, suddenly confused. A second later it clicked and he immediately tried to correct Zeke's blunder. "You don't--"
"I know what's going on. I've seen you talking to her at school, staring at her from afar. You call her names and tease her when all the Wildcats are around but when it's just the two of you, you're all warm and friendly."
"Sharpay and I are friends, Zeke. Nothing more."
"Nothing more? I saw you at school yesterday, talking in a quiet corner by yourselves. You had your arm around her waist and you were whispering. And I saw you here at the house the yesterday. You kissed her!"
"On her forehead," Chad replied, rolling his eyes. "Look, Zeke, I know that what you saw looked suspicious--."
"She told you to go wait for her in her bedroom! I heard her!" Zeke shouted.
"No, she told me to wait--."
"I heard her, Chad! You've been sleeping with Sharpay!" Zeke threw up his hands and began to pace again. "How long has this been going on behind my back? Why couldn't you just tell me? Or was humiliating me part of the thrill?"
"Zeke, no one's trying to hurt or humiliate you. I'm not sleeping with Sharpay," Chad insisted. "I can easily understand how everything you saw or heard could lead you to conclude that, but--."
"I'm not stupid, Chad!" Zeke yelled.
"No, Zeke, you aren't stupid, but you are mistaken. I have been hiding something from you, but it's not what you think."
"Oh, I think I know exactly what you're hiding." He was about to say more, but stopped abruptly, looking past Chad, who turned and saw Sharpay and Ryan come out of the house. Ryan's hair was askew and he was wearing pajama bottoms and a tee; Sharpay had clearly dragged him out of bed.
"Come here, Ryan," Chad said extending his hand. Ryan scratched his belly as he came forward, barefoot on the cold tile driveway.
"Hey Zeke," he said as he drew near. "What's going on?"
"I was about to explain something to Zeke," Chad replied as he wrapped an arm around his waist. "He's under the mistaken assumption that I'm involved in some sort of secret relationship with Sharpay. He's seen things that made him rightfully suspicious." He turned back to Zeke. "I am involved in a secret relationship but it's not with Sharpay, Zeke. It's with Ryan."
Zeke stared at Chad for a moment before he threw back his head and laughed.
"Well, that was unexpected," Chad said lightly. He let Zeke laugh for another few seconds before he rolled his eyes and attempted to speak again. "It's not a joke, Zeke."
"I got out of bed for this?" Ryan said squinting at the laughing teen.
"That was your sister's doing, not mine," Chad replied, glancing over his shoulder at her. Sharpay remained at her post near the entrance.
"Well, I'm going back to bed," Ryan declared. "It's freezing out here. Call me if something really requires my attention."
"Sorry, babe," Chad said softly, leaning in to kiss his temple. "Go back to bed. I can handle things here." He gently rubbed the back of Ryan's neck and released him.
"You sure?" Ryan said stealing a glance at Zeke, who'd stopped laughing and was staring at the couple. Chad nodded. "Why don't you come up and wake me when playtime's over?" Ryan suggested. He gave Chad a quick kiss and went inside. Chad turned back to Zeke, who had averted his eyes and shoved his hands into his pockets.
"Zeke," Chad said awkwardly. Zeke seemed to ignore him as he abruptly walked over to Chad's SUV and admired the exterior.
"This thing rocks," Zeke said as Chad approached. "May I?" Chad nodded and Zeke opened the door on the driver's side. Chad walked around to the passenger side of the car and got in. "I'm sorry I was such a jerk earlier," Zeke said, not meeting his eyes.
"It's okay," Chad replied as he watched Zeke examine the dashboard. "You had good reason to be mad. Your suspicions were correct; you just got the wrong twin." Zeke shot him a glance, an impish grin on his handsome face.
"We haven't told a lot of people," Chad continued. "Ryan and I have been together about three months and so far we've only told people as it became necessary. I've actually been struggling with whether or not to tell you," he confessed. "I'd decided not to, for the time being. Not because I don't trust you… But that's why I hid from you yesterday."
"Does Troy know?" Zeke asked, not at all offended. Chad nodded.
"And Gabriella and Taylor--they're the only ones outside of our families. Oh, and I told Troy's mom because I had to--well, she's like a second mom to me. " Chad looked up. "I trust I can count on you--."
"Of course," Zeke said earnestly.
"You have to know I'd never consciously do anything to hurt you, Zeke," Chad replied. "If I was going to date Sharpay I'd definitely clear it with you first. And then I'd call a shrink and have my head examined." Zeke laughed at the remark and Chad felt the tension in his gut begin to ease. "Are we okay?" he asked after a minute.
"Yeah, we're okay," Zeke said as he fiddled with the buttons on the dashboard. "So you--."
"Yeah, I got that part," Zeke replied archly. "But you and Ryan?" He shook his head and smiled.
"What's wrong with that? Ryan's a great guy! He's smart and funny and sweet--."
"Hey, I know! I know," Zeke replied. "He's my friend, too, remember?"
"Yeah," Chad said sheepishly. Zeke observed his expression and began to laugh again.
"Man you are so lost! And all this time I thought it was just him."
"He's always had this huge crush on you. It's been like the world's worst secret since freshman year. I didn't know you were crushing on him, too."
"I wasn't," Chad replied. "It wasn't like that."
Zeke laughed again and was about to answer when he saw Sharpay approaching the car. He lowered the window when she reached it.
"I still need that ride, if you two don't mind," she said.
"Zeke?" Chad said, handing him the keys. "Take her to Fabrice."
"Boys," Sharpay sighed. She slid into the rear seat and Zeke drove her into town. They dropped her off and took the long way back. Along the way, Chad shared the whole story of how he came to terms with his sexuality. Zeke asked a lot of questions about his relationship with Ryan and Chad answered every one of them. He felt completely at ease with Zeke for the first time in months and Chad really relished the experience.
"I just--. I didn't want anything to change, you know?" Chad explained as they reached the turn-off leading to the Evans estate. "I mean I'm not ashamed of being gay or the fact that I'm in love with Ryan. But I was scared, too scared of all the changes. They were coming too fast. And there were things that I didn't want to change. I was afraid that my friends might not understand and they'd abandon me or--." Chad took a calming breath. "Besides, my parents didn't want me to be out at school."
"Yeah, that would be a bad idea," Zeke replied. "My cousin came out at school and he got beat up pretty badly, several times. I wouldn't want anything like that to happen to either of you, though I guess Ryan's social status affords him a level of protection against harassment."
"Yeah," Chad said thoughtfully. He'd never considered that before but it made sense.
"What about Coach?"
"I haven't told him and I don't plan to, at least not now."
"You know, it's actually kind of cool that you found what you wanted and had the guts to go for it," Zeke said thoughtfully. He leaned into the headrest and stared out the window. "That takes real courage." Chad smiled and shook his head.
"It was hardly like that," he admitted. "At least I didn't feel courageous. I felt lost and confused for a long time. I knew that something was…different about me. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew that I wasn't like you or Troy or any of the other Wildcats. I just felt like a fish out of water and as much as I wanted to be like the rest of you, I knew I couldn't ever be like that. It's hard to explain," Chad said with a shrug.
"When was this?"
"Most of last year, I guess," Chad replied. "I think it started when my cousin came over with his girlfriend and wanted me to double date. I asked Taylor out and we went on this date and it was--it was just awful. I think that's when I really knew that I wasn't straight. I already knew something wasn't quite right, you know? Like a piece of the puzzle was missing. I began to ask myself a lot of questions and really think about things. After a while, I began to realize that I was gay."
"But you worked through your confusion and found the answers," Zeke replied. "And you found Ryan--who'd been lying in wait for you for three years," he laughed. Chad punched him in the shoulder and joined him in the laughter.
When they reached the house, Zeke said goodbye and took off in his own car. Chad went inside and headed for the stairs but Maria informed him that Ryan was in the lounge. Chad pulled off his jacket and wandered into the spacious room. He found Ryan sprawled on a sofa watching cartoons.
"Hey," he said, sitting on the edge of the sofa. Ryan pulled him into his arms and Chad happily settled in with him.
"So how did it go?" Ryan asked, his eyes on the screen. He absently reached up and smoothed a few of Chad's errant curls that were impeding his vision.
"We had fun," Chad replied mildly. "It was good to finally be able to tell him about us. It's been kind of bugging me that he'd been left out of the loop."
"I know, Boo," Ryan said soothingly, rubbing Chad's back. He kissed the top of Chad's head.
"Sorry I didn't ask you first."
"Sounds as though you had no choice but to tell him when you did."
"Still… We agreed we'd discuss these things."
"You wanted that after you told Gabriella. I don't mind if you tell people."
"You don't?" Chad asked, surprised. Ryan tore his eyes from the screen to look at Chad.
"Why should I?"
"I don't know," Chad replied. "I just thought--. Never mind." Chad shifted a bit, turning his head so he could see the screen. Ryan spent a few seconds smoothing Chad's hair again and they watched television in silence for several minutes. "You didn't get anymore sleep, did you?"
"A little," Ryan replied. "I came in here and dropped off."
"Why didn't you go back to bed? It's a lot more comfortable than this."
"Well," Ryan said hesitantly. Chad looked up. "I wanted to stick close by in case you needed me out there," he admitted. "And after you left I just decided to stay here and wait for you."
"Uh huh. Admit it; you missed me."
"I missed you, Boo," Ryan said, grinning. "And I didn't want to go back to bed alone."
Chad reached for the remote and turned off the TV. He scrambled to his feet and pulled Ryan up as he protested weakly. But by the time they reached the top of the stairs Ryan was yawning. He began peeling off his tee as he entered his room and crawled onto the bed before wriggling out of his pajamas and tossing them onto the floor. Chad closed the door and undressed more slowly. He walked around to his side of the bed and slid under the covers. Ryan immediately reached out to pull him closer.
"Stay put this time," he muttered.
"Wild horses wouldn't get me out of here," Chad replied. He pulled Ryan to his chest and was soon fast asleep. And with Chad as his anchor, Ryan slept soundly as well.
On to Cupcakes and Confidants