Summary: Chad and Ryan take New York… Ryan takes umbrage.
Ryan rolled over, bringing Chad with him so that he was lying on top of the pair and looking down into bottomless brown eyes. He kissed the tip of Chad’s nose and smiled.
"As I started to say before I was so rudely interrupted--."
"Can I help it if we’ve got different priorities?" Chad asked, wriggling his hips suggestively. Ryan yelped and tried to escape but Chad held him firmly in place.
"That would take another twenty minutes!"
"And the problem with that is--?"
"Will you shut up and let me talk?"
"Talk is greatly overrated," Chad replied, lifting his head to nuzzle Ryan’s throat. Ryan fended him off by pinning his hands to either side of his head.
"What’s with you today? Did you get into your dad’s Viagra or something?"
"Dude! We agreed that jokes or any other kind of talk about parental sex were off-limits."
"Right," Ryan said penitently. "Sorry; that was a low blow."
"Speaking of low blows--." Chad dove for Ryan’s throat again. Ryan pushed him away, laughing as he did so.
"Down, boy. Can you let me speak for just one minute?" he asked. Chad sighed and laid back, smiling so sweetly that Ryan had no choice but to kiss him. But Chad prevented him from doing so with a palm to his forehead.
"Talk. You’ve got fifty-six seconds left."
"Okay," Ryan said, rolling his eyes. "I spoke to mom last night and she said you could come--."
"We’ve never asked for her permission before, but I’m happy to have her blessing," Chad said impishly. Ryan put a hand over his mouth.
"Hush!" he said. "Listen. Remember when I told you that my parents and I were invited to an orientation weekend at Juilliard?" Chad nodded mutely; Ryan’s hand was still on his mouth. "Well, my dad will be in Hong Kong on business and Sharpay isn’t going, so I asked mom if you could come with us. She said yes." Chad removed Ryan’s hand.
"Why isn’t your sister going?"
Ryan rolled off of Chad and sat up.
"She doesn’t want to be there," he replied unhappily. "I can understand, really. She won’t be going to Juilliard. Having to watch me go through orientation would be…you know." He shrugged uneasily; Chad sat up and wrapped his arms around him.
"I hadn’t thought about that."
"She doesn’t begrudge me the right to go but it’d just be hard for her to watch me start there without her."
Chad scooted back to lean against the pillows and drew Ryan along with him. They were silent for a minute, each one absorbed in his own thoughts.
"Do you think your folks will let you come?" Ryan asked, entangling his fingers with Chad’s. "Mom said she’d call your parents and offer the invitation. She thinks it’d be more appropriate if it comes directly from her."
"That’s cool," Chad replied. "I don’t see why they wouldn’t let me go if your mom asks. When’s the trip again?"
"A week from now. We’d leave Thursday afternoon and come back Sunday. You’d have to miss a day of school."
"I could live with that."
"In addition to the orientation, we’ll have time for a little sightseeing and a show."
"I knew there’d be a catch," Chad teased. "What show?"
"I don't know, but I’m sure mom would be happy to let you choose. She hasn’t ordered tickets yet. "
"I’d choose Knicks tickets."
"Over my dead body," Ryan said. Chad responded by tickling his belly.
"Have you ever been to New York, Chad?" Ms. Evans asked as they strode through the terminal toward their gate.
"No, ma’am," Chad replied. "I’ve got family in Western Pennsylvania and that’s the farthest east I’ve ever been, if you don't count going to Disneyworld as a kid." Ryan nudged him with his elbow.
"Would you stop calling her 'ma'am'? You make her sound like somebody’s mother."
"Dude, she is somebody’s mother," Chad replied tersely. "Yours. Besides, you call my mother 'ma'am,' too."
"You're both very polite young men," Ms. Evans said as a boarding announcement nearly drowned her out.
"Come on," Ryan said, grabbing her hand. "That’s our flight."
Chad fully expected to be flying first class, but he was still unprepared for the opulence of the accommodations. Ryan let him have the window seat and settled in to sleep for the duration of the flight.
"Take good care of him for me," Ryan said to the flight attendant who handed him a pillow. "He’s precious." Chad rolled his eyes as the flight attendant smiled.
"He certainly is," she said flirtatiously. "May I get you something?"
"Have you got anything that will prevent him from snoring?" Chad deadpanned. His words had the desired effect: Ryan opened his eyes and gasped. Chad sat back giggling.
"I’m sure none of the other parents are staying at the Plaza," Chad said, looking up at the venerable hotel. The doorman took his backpack before he could protest and placed it on the carrel already holding the Evans luggage. "What did you pack, anyway?" he asked as he followed Ryan’s mother into the lobby. "We’re only going to be here for three days. Checked luggage?" Ryan turned to him with a look that spoke volumes.
"Consider yourself fortunate that Sharpay didn’t come," Ryan said. "We’d be forced to spend most of our free time shopping."
"And how much of our free time will be spent shopping without her?" Chad asked. Ryan's eyes opened wide; he went to wait for the elevator without answering, which told Chad all he needed to know.
"Don’t we have to check in first?"
"No; we have an apartment here."
"An apartment--. Oh."
They stepped off the elevator and Ryan’s mother led the way to the Evans pied-a-terre. Chad kept his mouth shut so as to prevent himself from gaping like an idiot. He managed to hold his tongue until they were safely in Ryan’s bedroom and a porter had deposited their luggage by the door.
"Dude! This place is awesome."
"I know," Ryan cried with boyish enthusiasm as he dragged Chad over to the window to show him the view. "That’s Central Park, of course. The building on the near corner is the Sherry Netherland and that's the Pierre Hotel. My parents were married there. If this building had a few dozen more floors we'd probably be able to see Lincoln Center and Juilliard to the west." Chad grinned back at him.
"Do you think your mom will let us do a little sightseeing tonight?"
"I don’t see why not. She’ll probably go to bed early--she always does after she flies. We can probably get out and take a look around right now."
"You really need to learn to accessorize," Ryan said the following morning as he wrapped a scarf around Chad’s neck and artfully arranged it. "Sheer animal magnetism only gets you so far." He turned to the street vendor to pay for it. Chad took advantage of the opportunity to roll his eyes.
"How come you shop for you at Saks and for me on the street?" Chad asked as they continued down Fifth Avenue.
"First of all, Saks isn't open yet. Secondly, you would never let me buy you anything at Saks, anyway," Ryan said pouting. "Besides, you bought me something on the street yesterday; why shouldn't I do the same for you?"
"It was a pretzel!"
"Whatever. Let’s go back to the Plaza and order room service," Ryan suggested. "I'm hungry." Chad nodded and the couple turned back.
"You do realize it’s like sixty degrees out here," Chad said, loosening the scarf.
"That’s why it’s cotton; it’s made to be worn in warm weather."
"Why would anyone need a scarf in warm weather?"
"You know for a gay boy, you have appalling fashion taste."
Later that afternoon, Chad leaned against the wall, his arms folded and his mouth set in a firm line as he watched Ryan make a circuit of the large room, picking up papers and introducing himself to some of the Juilliard faculty. It was just like Ryan to be a social butterfly at a time like that, Chad thought, making conversation with very person he encountered. Half the school would be in love with him before the day was out. Chad sighed and checked his watch before he resumed his stoic vigil.
"Valhalla must be missing a god," someone said. "And lucky me--I found him."
Chad turned his head and found himself practically nose to nose with one of the student aides working at the orientation. He was attired completely in black and wearing more makeup than Ryan ever did on stage. He clutched one hand over his heart melodramatically and raked his eyes over every inch of Chad, who just stared back at him.
"Just look at that hair, those cheek bones... I'd like to lick every nook and cranny of your face. Honey, you’re the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever seen on two legs," the young man said in one breath. "Please tell me you’re in the drama program! If you’re in dance, I’m transferring."
"Go away," Chad said stonily. The young man pouted as Chad continued to glare at him incredulously. An arm reached over the interloper's shoulder and grabbed the end of the scarf that Ryan had carefully draped around Chad's neck back at the hotel.
"Bitch, please!" Ryan sneered as he drew Chad out of the room. "I knew this would come in handy," he said as they walked down to the auditorium to join his mother.
"You told me it complemented my outfit," Chad said as he yanked the scarf tail out of Ryan’s hand.
"It does; you look fabulous."
"You do realize that this will never see the light of day back home."
"I can live with that," Ryan admitted, nodding. "You look too damned good for the State of New Mexico."
"I look like I went into your sister's closet and got caught in something on the way out!"
"It couldn't possibly handle both of us being that fabulous at once. But seriously, Chad, you really have to stop being such an incorrigible flirt," Ryan continued as though Chad hadn’t spoken. "You’ve created a scene everywhere we’ve gone today."
"I’ve created a scene?" Chad sputtered. "What did I do?"
"The twins?" Ryan said as he scanned the large hall. He spotted his mother and began to make his way toward her.
"Excuse me? I didn’t say anything to the twins. They spoke to me. So did that pseudo-Goth twink back there."
"Besides, the twins were cute," Chad teased. "You know I have a thing for twins."
"They were girls," Ryan said, stopping to whip around and confront him.
"Your--." Chad abruptly cut off his next word when Ryan glared at him. Chad smiled. "Dude! I was only going to point out that Sharpay is a girl," he said innocently. Ryan turned and continued to walk.
"Really, Chad; if I’d known you’d attract so much attention I would have put a leash on you instead of a scarf," Ryan said sotto voce, smiling pleasantly at passerby as he made his way to his mother’s seat.
"You did not just threaten to collar me," Chad whispered as they sat down.
"This from the man who wanted to put tattoos all over my body."
"Hey, you were up for it."
"I was 'up' for something else and wasn't too proud to put up with quite a bit to get it," Ryan replied, reaching over to take Chad’s hand.
They played games with their fingers as they listened to the presentations and watched a performance by some of the upper classmen. Afterward, they went on a tour of the campus and Chad amused Ryan by pointing out all the viable make-out spots.
"And if I hear of you using any of them when I’m not in town I’ll come and drag your sorry butt back to New Mexico," he said.
"You’re so beautiful when you go all Neanderthal butch on me," Ryan said mockingly.
"How can I be ‘all Neanderthal butch’ when I’m wearing this?" Chad retorted, flipping the end of his scarf.
"I think you look wonderful, Chad," Ms. Evans said as she carefully rearranged it to its former state. Chad endured her ministrations graciously although he glared at Ryan as soon as her back was turned.
"I think you look terrific, too," he said impishly as he wound an arm around one of Chad’s and followed the tour group. "So what do you think of the place?"
"Nice, I guess."
"That’s it? Just nice?"
"Sorry, Ryan; I can’t get excited by music rooms and dance studios and stuff the way you do."
"But if this were a basketball court or a baseball diamond or a computer lab…"
"It’d still be too far away for my liking," Chad admitted petulantly. Ryan sighed and gave his arm a squeeze. Chad smiled weakly. He felt someone latch onto his other arm and looked down into Ms. Evans’ smiling eyes.
"You know, Chad, I’ve got several good friends I like to visit in the city and I come east at least once or twice a season for business meetings," she said. ‘You’re always welcome to join me--as my guest, of course."
"And I’ve talked dad into letting me use his frequent flyer miles for at least two home visits during the semester," Ryan added, giving his arm another squeeze.
"I’ve already talked my dad into letting me use some of his, too," Chad confided. Ryan beamed at him.
"There; we’ll see so much of each other we’ll hardly be able to tell we’re going to schools in different states."
Chad smiled back at him just as the orientation aide walked by. He slowed to take a good look at his taller, darker, more masculine counterpart and licked his lips. Ryan rolled his eyes.
"Back off, Tinkerbell," he said, glaring at the interloper as he tightened his grip on Chad's arm. "You know, on second thought, I might actually come to appreciate the fact that you're out of state," Ryan said with a sigh. When someone bumped into him a few minutes later, Ryan suggested that she keep eyes on her destination rather than on his boyfriend.
"Dude, chill," Chad said. "You're getting a little paranoid."
"I'm not paranoid," Ryan snapped back. "She was staring right at you!"
"Insanely jealous, then?" Chad replied mildly. Ryan huffed and suggested that they go to back to the hotel. "I thought you wanted to go to the park this afternoon," he said as they walked south on Broadway.
"I think I’d rather keep you to myself for as long as I can," Ryan decided.
"That works for me," Chad conceded, throwing his arm around Ryan's shoulders.
Ryan and Chad sat a short distance away from Ms. Evans in the first class passenger lounge waiting for their flight, Chad checking his email on his laptop while Ryan listened to music. Chad suddenly laughed and pulled out his phone to call his mother. Ryan frowned curiously as Chad set down his computer and went over to hand the phone to Ms. Evans. A minute or two later, he came back.
"What was all that?" Ryan asked, pulling one of the buds from his ear.
"Turnabout is fair play," Chad replied, grinning.
"Mom and dad got an invitation to orientation weekend at U of A. I just got permission for you to come with us."
"But U of A is like fifty miles from your house," Ryan replied. "It's not as though--."
"So you won't come?" Chad challenged.
"I'll probably have no choice in the matter. Sharpay will have to attend the orientation, too, you know."
"But you'll spend some time with me?"
"Oh absolutely," Ryan said reassuringly. "I'd like to check out the campus, get the lay of the land--."
"Scope out your competition?"
"Competition?" Ryan pouted at Chad, who grinned and kissed him before turning to stare defiantly at the elderly man across the lounge who'd gasped at the public display of affection. On board the plane a short time later, Ryan once again asked the attendant for a pillow.
"If you flirt with my boyfriend while I'm sleeping I will so kick your ass when I wake up," Ryan said, setting his fedora over his eyes.
"Medication," Chad stage whispered to the flight attendant. Ryan hit him with his pillow.
Across the aisle, Ms. Evans smiled indulgently.
On to College Visit (West)