Summary: Troy's defection causes Chad to doubt his own choices.
Author's Note: Disney musicals bear little resemblance to reality. Graduating seniors don't make decisions about college on graduation day. And they don't get to apply in late May and get accepted at a college without parental knowledge and gain ready acceptance onto the basketball team, Troy Bolton or no. Therefore, I am
Ryan slid his passkey into the lock and entered the motel room he'd be sharing with Chad that night. Chad was sitting on one of the two beds, talking on the phone. Ryan opened his bag and busied himself with unpacking his things while Chad was occupied.
"Hey Troy!" he said, glancing up at Ryan. "Where are you, dude? I've been looking for you all day. What? What?"
Ryan looked over at Chad, who looked as though the world had suddenly screeched to a halt. He tossed his hat onto the spare bed and walked over to Chad with a look of concern.
"When did this happen? And when were you planning to tell me about this?" Chad's expression changed from shock to anger. "Great, Troy! Just great! Yeah. Yeah. Of course you do. Look, I have to go. I'll--. Yeah." Chad shut the phone and stared at it for a few moments. Ryan sat down beside him and waited for him to speak. But Chad remained mute, staring into space, alternately shaking his head and sighing.
"What's going on?" Ryan finally asked. Chad shook his head again.
"He's not coming."
"So he isn't here, after all," Ryan replied. He knew that Chad had been keeping an eye out for Troy throughout the day and hadn't found him. "Has something happened?"
"He's not coming to U of A," Chad said dully. "He's--." He abruptly rose and tossed his phone onto the dresser. He went to the window and stared out at the campus across the road from the motel. "He's decided to attend Foothill College instead." Ryan frowned.
"I've never heard of it."
"It's a community college located a few miles from Stanford," Chad spat angrily.
"He's going to California to be with Gabriella," Ryan concluded. "And his parents agreed to this?" Chad shrugged, because at the moment, he could care less about such things. He sighed again and returned to sit down next to Ryan.
"Remember that day we had the picnic at your place and I told Brent Matthews I was considering going to Rutgers?" he said. "I only said it to yank his chain, but that night Troy called to ask me if I'd really intended to throw over all of our plans and go running off to the east coast after you." Ryan bristled at the comment, but remained silent as Chad continued. "You see, after Troy's 'summer of dickheadedness' we made up and decided to go to U of A together. That was before you and I became involved, of course. The U of A offered Troy that athletic scholarship; I applied for early admission and got a full academic ride. Only now I find out that he never signed the letter of intent; he'd been considering a couple of other offers from colleges closer to Stanford and when neither of those came through, he decided to chuck everything and go to a community college for a year while trying to break into a four year school out there with a good basketball program."
"And I take it this wasn't a sudden decision on his part?" Ryan asked gently. Chad shook his head in disgust.
"I keep thinking about that night when dad talked to us about choosing colleges. He talked about a lot of things, but he kept telling us to be true to ourselves and keep our eyes on the prize."
"I got the impression he was only saying that so you wouldn't do something crazy, like apply to Rutgers," Ryan said wryly. Chad nodded.
"Oh yeah," Chad agreed. "He thought I'd do something boneheaded like Troy's about to do. But he was right, to some extent. If you'd applied to U of A just to be with me, you might have spent the rest of your life wondering 'what if?' and resenting all the lost opportunities you sacrificed. On the other hand, scholarship aside--which, in spite of my parent's income is nothing to sneeze at--I might have applied to Stevens, or NJIT or Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or any other engineering school within a hundred miles of you and been accepted. Except--."
"You and Troy had plans."
"Yeah." Chad flopped onto his back and Ryan did the same. They laid there for a minute, staring up at the ceiling. "He's making a huge mistake."
"He's screwed you yet again," Ryan said, cutting to the chase. Chad acknowledged it with another sigh.
"I've officially lost count of how many times he's done that," he said bitterly.
"Suffice to say Troy's screwed you many, many more times than I have," Ryan replied. Chad laughed and squeezed his hand, but he quickly sobered.
"I want to go to New York," he said quietly. "I could have gone to New York," he added, angrily. "I'd been accepted at U of A but I was willing to consider other options. If--."
"Why are you second-guessing yourself?" Ryan asked, rolling onto his side to look at him. "Don't do this, Chad. You made your decision to go to school here for the right reasons. Being with Troy was a part of the equation, but you applied to this school because you liked the program and you thought it was a good fit for you."
"You're the prize," Chad said. "School's important, but you're the prize." Ryan reached out and caressed his face. Chad looked as though he was alarmingly close to tears. Ryan pulled him into his arms and hugged him. After a few minutes he made Chad climb fully onto the bed. They wrapped themselves around each other and talked for the next twenty minutes about how they were going to cope with being separated.
"There's no going back," Ryan said. "We're going to do this. If we can't make it through this year, we've got no future at all, Chad. So I'm going to Juilliard and you're staying here at U of A. We can reassess things later and if you want to transfer, we'll figure it out. Maybe we'll both transfer; whatever we do, we'll make a reasoned decision based on--."
"The fact that I'm desperately in love with you?"
"Yeah, that'll work," Ryan said lightly. He kissed the tip of Chad's nose and earned a smile. He was about to kiss him again when a knock on the door interrupted him.
"Danforth? Stop mauling my brother and open the door," Sharpay said. Ryan sighed and went to admit her.
"For the record," he said haughtily, "I was about to maul him."
"Don't ruin my perfectly crafted image of you as the victim in this little romance, Ryan," she said as she strode into the room. "Dad's taking us all to dinner. Get up, wash the drool off your faces, and march. I'm starving." Chad rose from the bed and walked over to Ryan.
"Do I have drool on my face?" he asked, holding up his chin for inspection. Ryan pulled him into his arms and licked his face.
"Yes!" he said brightly, bending his head to lick at Chad's throat. Sharpay shrieked and rushed to the door.
"You two are so gross," she cried. "Be at the car in three minutes or I'm sending daddy back to get you." Ryan and Chad laughed as she shut the door. They turned to one another and Chad pulled Ryan into a hug.
"Are you going to be okay?" Ryan asked. Chad nodded before lifting his head to kiss him. The kiss grew more heated and urgent until they were interrupted by another knock on the door. Chad excused himself to use the bathroom while Ryan went to answer it.
"Are you two planning to join us anytime soon?" Mr. Danforth asked.
"Yes, sir--as soon as Chad's done in the bathroom," Ryan replied, stepping back to allow him into the room.
"Did he ever find Troy?"
"Yes," Ryan said softly, averting his eyes.
"And?" Mr. Danforth said suspiciously.
"I'll let Chad explain," he said, reaching for his hat. Chad emerged from the bathroom and smiled wanly at his father.
"Is everything all right?" Mr. Danforth asked, reading his son with practiced ease. Chad looked over at Ryan. A smile, open and genuine, spread across his face.
"Yeah, dad; everything's fine."
On to Fallout