Summary: Being the president's son is considerably less fun than you'd think.
Author's Note: This is my second AU in this fandom, the first being Even Maids Divinely Fair. I hope this one is better received. I wouldn't have written another AU, except that I read elvensorceress's request for a story written that is set in Sharpay and Ryan's "I Want it All" fantasy world over at chyanchallenge. This story is probably as far as one can get from what she envisioned, but that was my initial inspiration. I fully intended to post this story before President Obama's inauguration. Hee.
"All right, get up," Chad said, rapping his knuckles on Ryan's door and striding into his room one evening a week later. Ryan looked up and frowned. "Come on, dude. We're out of here. You've been cooped up for days."
"Finals begin next week!" he protested weakly, allowing Chad to pry the pen from his fingers and pull him out of his chair. "Where are we going?" he asked, pulling on the jacket Chad tossed at him.
"I've arranged a dinner out," Chad replied as Bates led the way to the elevator. "We're going to eat somewhere that doesn't serve food on trays, where no one else is worrying about finals or can tell the difference between a tour jete' and the Tour de France."
"Why? Dude, you've been holed up in your room for the last week. I know finals are coming, but you've practically been hibernating."
Ryan's mother wasn't the only one who'd noticed Ryan's depression. Chad had noticed it, too, as had Bates. They'd conspired to get Ryan out of his room and hopefully distract him for an evening. Ryan went along more willingly than either of them expected. They took him to a small, trendy restaurant not far from the campus. Ryan was a bit subdued at first, but Chad's naturally buoyant personality and charm worked their usual magic. Ryan completely enjoyed himself and the pair spent nearly three hours eating and laughing and enjoying themselves. When they rose to leave, Ryan grabbed Chad's arm. Chad turned and searched Ryan's face curiously.
"Thanks for this; I really needed it."
"Any time," Chad replied, smiling warmly. He escorted Ryan to the door, where the limousine was waiting in front of the restaurant. "I mean that," he said, pausing to look Ryan in the eye. "Let's do this again sometime soon."
"Yeah," Ryan said noncommittally, slightly confused by both the unexpected invitation and the obvious warmth with which it had been offered. He averted his eyes and glanced at Bates, who'd taken up a position in front of the limo, looking up and down the street as was his wont, eternally on his guard. Bates nodded curtly and opened the car's rear door. Ryan began to walk toward the waiting limousine just as a sound not unlike a gunshot rang out somewhere nearby. Bates immediately drew his gun and moved to protect his charge, but Chad moved faster. He pulled Ryan to the ground and covered him with his own body until Bates reached them.
"Get him into the car," Bates barked as he scanned the area for the source of the gunfire. Chad grabbed Ryan's arm drew him toward the car, using his body to shield Ryan from the direction of the perceived threat. He pushed him inside as Bates ran around to the other side of the car and got in on Ryan's right. The car sped off and Bates pulled out his radio to get information.
"Are you all right?" Chad asked, bending forward and reaching for his ankle. Ryan followed the movement with his eyes.
"It was a car backfiring," Bates reported. "NYPD just confirmed." The agent at the wheel nodded. There was a large police presence around the block where the restaurant was located to provide protection; tracking down and identifying the source of the noise had taken seconds. Bates wasn't about to apologize for overreacting, however. The seasoned veteran was happy to see Ryan out and enjoying himself, but his safety was of paramount importance, even if it put an abrupt end to his evening.
"You okay?" Bates asked. Ryan nodded, shutting his eyes tightly, swallowing hard. Bates patted his arm and they rode the rest of the way in silence. When they reached the school, Bates got out and walked around to the other side of the car. Ryan followed him, not waiting for Chad to get out at the curb.
"Hey!" Bates cried, but by then Ryan was already on the sidewalk. He stalked into the building and straight to the elevator without a word. Bates and Chad exchanged a glance and followed him inside. Ryan refused to meet either man's eyes. When they arrived at the suite Ryan announced that he was going straight to bed.
"Ry--." Chad's words were cut off when Ryan slammed the door in his face. Chad sighed and shut his eyes for a moment. He opened them and turned to leave, ignoring Bates' questions.
"How could you?" Ryan shouted as soon as he reached his father on the president's personal line. "You promised I could go to school and have a 'normal' college experience, that I'd be treated just like any other student."
"You know that's--."
"I can't believe you set me up like that!" Ryan continued, not allowing him to get a word in edgewise.
"What happened?" his mother asked calmly. Ryan sighed.
"Mom--." He fought back an angry retort and took a moment to compose himself. "I told you about Chad when I was down there last week."
"Well, there's something I didn't tell you," Ryan said angrily. "I didn't know it myself until half an hour ago. He's Secret Service, too."
"What?" his mother replied, turning to her husband. Vance Evans shrugged. "Did you know about this?"
"Of course he did," Ryan spat. "I should have known that there had to be a catch when you promised me that there'd be no Secret Service agents in my classes. What you meant was that there'd be no agent in a suit. No--dad managed to find the one member of the agency who obviously missed his true calling when he chose a career in law enforcement."
"I don't understand, Ducky."
"Oh, I'm sure dad understands perfectly. Chad's one of those--what did you call them? Concessions--yeah, that's it."
"Ryan, I had no idea," his father protested.
"You certainly lucked out, dad; there can't be many people with the right security clearance who can also dance well enough to be accepted into Juilliard," Ryan said, warming to his rant. "I was totally taken in, too. But I should have known better. Why else would Chad agree to be my friend when every other student treated me with kid gloves? Why else would he hang out in my boring suite and watch reruns of Queer Eye or take all the same classes as me?" Ryan chuckled mirthlessly. "I should have guessed that--."
"Now wait just a minute," Mr. Evans cried. "I had nothing to do with anything like that!"
"The hell you didn't," Ryan said through gritted teeth. "Well, if you were so interested in providing me with the perfect escort you should have done a bit more work on Chad's background. You missed a key element."
"I have no idea what you're--."
"Ryan!" his mother interjected firmly. "Please, let's discuss this calmly. Now what happened? What makes you think Chad is in the Secret Service?"
"I saw his gun, mom. We left a restaurant tonight and a car backfired up the block. It sounded like a gunshot so the security people rushed me into the car. But before they could do that, Chad covered me with his body and drew a gun. He thought I didn't see it. He tried to hide it as soon as we were in the car and out of harm's way, but I did. He totally blew his cover."
"Well, if he was protecting you I can't say I'm sorry about it," she replied.
"Mom, that's hardly the point."
"I know, honey, but--."
"You know how I--." Ryan aborted his next words, returning his attention to the matter at hand. "Dad, you have no idea what you've done. Oh, and next semester? Don't even bother. Feel free to put a suit in the room. I don't care. Chad can go back to hunting down counterfeiters or whatever it is he was doing before he was assigned to be my best friend." Ryan slammed the phone down and threw himself across the bed. He spent the next two hours crying.
Ryan refused to leave his room the next morning, and wouldn't answer his door when Bates knocked. He was exhausted and depressed and perversely determined to wallow in his misery. He stared at the ceiling, recalling his brief exchange with Chad just before everything fell apart. There was something in the way Chad had looked at him when he suggested that they go out again. It had plagued Ryan all night. He rolled onto his stomach and buried his face in his pillow.
Although the rational part of him said that he shouldn't be angry with Chad, the emotional side of him was furious. Chad had totally played him, manipulated Ryan into befriending him. It was entirely Chad's fault Ryan had fallen in love. Ryan growled and rolled onto his back again, hugging the pillow to his chest. He was being unfair and he knew it. He shut his eyes, vowing to think of Chad no more. There was a knock on the door and he sat up.
"Go away!" Ryan shouted. "I don't want to talk to you." The door opened nonetheless, and Chad entered the room. "Get out."
"Get out!" Ryan shouted. He launched himself off the bed, prepared to physically remove Chad from his room, but Chad voluntarily retreated. Ryan slammed the door shut and returned to his bed. A second later the door opened again, Ryan turned over, ready to resume his attack, but the unexpected sight of his father stopped him in his tracks.
"Ryan?" he said tentatively. Ryan sat up circumspectly, averting his eyes to the floor. Mr. Evans took that as permission to enter. He sat beside his son and stared at the poster of Rudolph Nureyev above the desk. "Those were very strong accusations you hurled at me last night." Ryan didn't respond, so he continued. "I honestly knew nothing about Chad Danforth. I called Donald in this morning and demanded a complete explanation. It was their idea--the Secret Service thought it would be less intrusive if they placed someone on campus undercover. They never meant--." Mr. Evans gestured awkwardly and dropped his hands into his lap. "I'm sorry, Ryan. Your mother told me how you feel about him. No one thought--. I mean--." Ryan snorted and turned away. "He's a bright young man, exceptional," the president continued. "I've just spent some time becoming acquainted with him."
"Swell," his son deadpanned.
"I think the two of you should talk," Mr. Evans said rising to his feet. "You deserve an explanation. And I think you'll feel better if you heard it from him." He was gone before Ryan could refuse. But Chad didn't reappear as he expected. Ryan sat in his room for an hour until his curiosity got the better of him and he finally opened the door. Bates looked up from his book and smiled.
"Good afternoon, Ryan," he said, rising to his feet. "I just made a fresh pot of coffee. Want some?"
"Where is he?" Ryan demanded.
"The president left a while ago. He's on his way back to Washington."
"Chad," Ryan said, his voice tight.
Oh," Bates said, placing a mug on the table in front of Ryan. "He left after you threw him out."
Ryan sighed and sat down at the table. Bates filled the mug from the carafe and pushed the milk in his direction, but Ryan picked up the mug and took a sip. Black coffee suited his mood. He felt bitter and ill-used.
"May I say something?" Bates asked after a few minutes of silence.
"Sure, why not?"
"I think you're being very hard on him."
"You knew all along," Ryan said dully, but the accusation was clear.
"Yes. He was assigned to be your guardian while you were in your classes. We thought--well, they thought--I had nothing to do with the arrangements--that you'd be more comfortable if there was someone closer to you in age, who wouldn't stick out like a sore thumb and make your classmates uncomfortable."
"Yeah." Ryan took another sip of coffee.
"If you think he's been pretending to be your friend all semester, you're wrong. He's spent most of his free time with you these last three months of his own volition. He gave up his evenings, his weekends. I don't know if he's got any friends left on the outside," Bates said speculatively. "He's only seen his family on--."
"All right," Ryan said crossly, setting down his mug. "I'll talk to him."
"He's hurting, too," Bates added after a moment, looking him in the eye. Ryan frowned back at him, then rose to his feet.
"I'll talk to him," he repeated. "I want to go down to his room."
"He's not there," Bates replied. Ryan scowled at the agent.
"I suppose you know where to find him?"
"As a matter of fact, I do," Bates said, reaching for his phone. He called for the limousine to be brought around while Ryan fetched his coat. In a matter of minutes, they were on the road.
"So where are we going?"
"Brooklyn," Bates replied from the front seat. Ryan slid down and stared out the window at the darkening sky as the car made its way out to Fort Greene. It pulled up in front of a neatly appointed brownstone. Ryan slid over to the curbside, ready to get out, but the door to the house opened and Chad emerged. He walked over to the car and got in next to Ryan.
"Hey," Ryan said. Chad nodded crisply and the car set off again. "Where are you going?" he demanded of the driver, who turned onto the highway headed east. It was Bates who answered.
"What?" Ryan spat.
"You two want to talk. Your father thought you should do it on neutral ground."
Ryan glanced at Chad, who was stonily staring out the window. They rode in silence for approximately a half hour until the car pulled into the driveway of a large Victorian house somewhere on Long Island. The car stopped in the porte-cochere and the two young men were whisked into the house.
"The cook has prepared something, if you're hungry," Bates said as he took their coats. "We'll be here in the parlor. You two will have the rest of the place to yourselves."
Ryan turned to Chad, who was eyeing him calmly. Ryan gestured with his head and the two young men wandered down the hall. Ryan poked his head into a few rooms, settling on what appeared to be a study. He closed the door behind Chad and followed him over to the fireplace.
"I hear you have a story to tell," he began. Chad turned and frowned at him. "I agreed to hear you out."
"Okay," Chad licked his lips and pulled his hands out of his pockets. "Where should I begin?"
"I want to hear all of it," Ryan replied, claiming one of two enormous wing chairs in front of the mantel. "But start with your dance credentials. I'm curious to know how someone like you ended up a fed rather than on Broadway."
Chad smiled for the first time and sat down in the opposite seat.
"I began on Broadway, actually. And I'm not a fed; I work for the NYPD."
"They have a dance squad?" Ryan quipped. Chad shook his head.
"I began dancing lessons when I was two. By the time I was eight, I'd turned professional. I danced on Broadway, did the Nutcracker at the Met, a bit of television… I attended the Professional Children's School and danced professionally for ten years."
"And then you were recruited by the NYPD?" Ryan asked sarcastically. Chad smiled again.
"Something like that; I've wanted to be a cop since I was a kid. My dad's a cop. He's assigned to the Intelligence Division. He's the one who recommended me when the Secret Service came calling," Chad explained. "I joined the department right out of college. They take a few people out of the academy for special duty. In my case, I could pass for a high school student, so I was assigned to Narcotics and worked undercover in a number of high schools for the last eight months."
"Exactly how old are you?"
"I'm twenty-two," Chad replied, shifting slightly. "Look, I'm sorry I--."
"Go on with your story," Ryan commanded. Chad sighed, but resumed his tale.
"Like I said, I was working undercover in a high school when the Secret Service asked my dad's unit to work out security arrangements for you. It was his idea to put me on the campus. He thought it would be better to have someone in your classes who could keep an eye out for you."
"What was your assignment?"
"I just told you."
"Exactly what was your assignment?" Ryan repeated.
"I was assigned to attend the same classes you attended and watch your back."
"What were your hours?"
"How many hours a day? What time did your day end?"
"What difference does it make?" Chad asked. He huffed and rolled his eyes. "Whenever you were in the classroom, I was in the classroom. Those were my orders, all right?" He rose to his feet and began to pace. "What do you really want to know? Was I just pretending to be your friend all this time? No! Why would I do that?"
"Why not? You were being paid to be a student. Why not be paid to be my friend?" Ryan asked obstinately. Chad gaped at him for a moment.
"I wasn't paid to be a student," he replied, looming over Ryan's chair. "I was paid to protect you! Look, I understand that you're pissed about being deceived, but I was doing my job. I don't get to call the shots. I'm a rookie cop. When the president of the United States asks for a security detail to protect his son, I'm in no position to argue."
"So this was my dad's idea."
"Hey, I don't know who did what back in Washington; that's not my turf. And by the way, being awakened at seven o'clock on a Saturday morning by the president is not as cool as I thought it might be."
"He called you?"
"Dude, he came to see me! At seven o'fucking clock in the morning! Actually, it was pretty cool," Chad admitted, leaning on the mantel. "He had Bates wake me up and come out to say hello in my shorts. Then he let me shower and get dressed and took me to breakfast. Your dad really is a cool dude. He's got a thing for fugly ties, but he's cool."
"You didn't show up until this afternoon," Ryan said, his tone accusing and petulant.
"So what were you doing all that time?"
"I don't know," Chad said with a shrug. "I did a little laundry, finished a paper… And yeah, I have to do real school work in this gig. The faculty doesn't know about me."
"Wait a minute--you hung out with my dad and did laundry?"
"No! He had some meeting or briefing or something presidential to do. He came back to see you later."
"Ah." Ryan's eyes opened wide. He slouched in his seat and stared at the fire.
"Look, Ryan," Chad said gently. "I am sorry you feel as though I've betrayed you. But would it really have made a difference if you knew about me?"
"Why'd you spend all that time with me, if I was just an assignment?"
"I never said you were just an assignment," Chad protested.
"You said I was just a job."
"I said protecting you was my job! That has nothing to do with how I feel about you," Chad said angrily.
"How do you feel about me?" Ryan asked, rising to his feet. Chad shook his head and Ryan started to back away. But Chad reached out and took hold of his arm.
"This time, you're going to stay and listen. You promised to hear me out, remember?"
"Yeah," Ryan replied, swallowing down a lump in his throat as he stared into Chad's eyes.
"All right," Chad said, exhaling a breath. "It's like this; a few weeks back you said you were attracted to me. I'm attracted to you, too. You have no idea how much," he added, reaching up to cup Ryan's cheek.
"But you said you weren't--."
"You never gave me a chance to say much of anything that night," Chad replied, cutting him off. "You decided for yourself that I wasn't interested."
"You never showed any evidence of--."
"I wasn't supposed to," Chad cut in, edging a bit closer to Ryan as he spoke. "I was assigned to be your bodyguard. That didn't exactly preclude the possibility of being together, but it would have been a bad idea to begin anything with you under those circumstances."
"I don't understand."
Chad lightly caressed Ryan's cheek and smiled, leaning in to kiss him briefly, too briefly for Ryan's liking. But Chad was too busy making his point.
"What if I'd told you how I felt that night? What if I'd kissed you then and started something? How would you have felt if you found out about me afterward?"
"You could have told me first," Ryan reasoned.
"I would have told you first," Chad said. "I'll answer my own question: I think it would have made a big difference if you knew about me, but you decided that we shouldn't pursue the matter any further. You wouldn't let me explain anything or even bring up that night again. So I backed off. If we weren't going to go there, it didn't matter whether or not you knew I was a cop."
"I'm an idiot," Ryan declared. Chad smiled radiantly.
"I know," he said, leaning in to kiss him again. After a few minutes, they retired to a small settee, where they sat holding hands and talking honestly about their feelings for the first time.
"You were asking me out," Ryan said abruptly, turning to look at Chad. "Last night at the restaurant. You were trying to ask me out."
"I thought I should try," Chad admitted. "I saw how this thing between us was affecting you. It was eating at me, too, especially after that night."
"Nothing happened, I swear," Ryan promised. "I was upset," he admitted. "When he told me you were out, I assumed you were on a date with some--." Chad put a finger to his lips to stop him and followed the gesture with a kiss.
"Rule number one--we never mention Curly Boy or that night ever again."
"Agreed," Ryan vowed, shifting to snuggle against Chad's shoulder.
"We were both hurting. Even Bates noticed and said something. I hadn't figured out how to have this discussion with you, but I wanted to try," Chad continued. "I wanted you too much to give up without a fight and I--." Ryan cut him off with a kiss.
"Thank you," Ryan said, solemnly. "Hey! Something's been bugging me ever since I found out about you. Were you assigned to go to college with me for the next four years?"
"I have no idea what the plan is long term," Chad replied, entwining his fingers with Ryan's.
"Will you actually graduate if you stick it out?" Ryan asked. Chad shrugged. "Are you really enrolled?"
"Yes, I'm really enrolled, though I never auditioned for the program."
"That's ironic, given that you're the best dancer in the class. I suppose the police department has other plans for you besides funding a dance degree."
"I bet you could talk the president into changing those plans."
"I suspect I could," Ryan said, beaming.
"Mom, I'd like you to meet Chad Danforth," Ryan said, smiling into his boyfriend's eyes.
"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance at last," she said reaching out to give the blushing young man a hug. "I've heard so much about you." Chad returned her smile.
"Ma'am," he said awkwardly as Sharpay moved in to greet him. She enfolded him in her arms and hugged him like an old friend.
"It's about time," she said, drawing away to look him in the eye. "I thought you two were never going to come to your senses."
"Kitten," her mother warned. "Come sit by me, Chad," she said, picking up a discarded newspaper and handing it to an assistant. Ryan caught a glimpse of the headline on the page she'd been reading:
First Son's Dancer Beau Meets the Parents
He smiled and took a seat on Chad's other side, primarily to spare Chad the ordeal of trying to cope with a curious Sharpay at close quarters. The assistant returned with refreshments and the first family became acquainted over hot chocolate and Christmas cookies.
"Sorry I'm late," the president said, entering the room. "The press conference went on for longer than I expected." He hugged his son and shook Chad's hand before taking a seat next to Sharpay.
"I supposed they were curious about Chad," Ryan said warily.
"Indeed," Mr. Evans replied. "But I assured them that my son's personal life was off limits." He rubbed his hands together as if to slough off his professional persona and resume his fatherly role. "So boys," he said, reaching for a cookie, "tell me about your first semester at Juilliard."