Summary: Sunday brunch with Ryan's roommates. (Sequel to Café Mozart and The Plaza; part of the Only in New York Trilogy.)
"Are you ready, Chad?"
"Ah, his master's voice," Sharpay quipped. "Tell me again that you're not completely pussy-whipped?"
"Excuse me? Did you just mistake me for Troy Bolton?" Chad replied archly.
"Chad!" Ryan called again from the living room.
"I've got to go, Princess. Ryan's taking us to brunch," Chad said into the phone. "I have to go be 'sociable' with Ryan's suite buddies. I'll talk to you later."
"Oh, you mean that kind of pussy! Because obviously, your brother doesn't have the other kind, and I ought to know; I'm intimately acquainted with his--."
"Goodbye, Danforth," Sharpay said, cutting off his next words. Chad laughed and went to find Ryan.
"All right, I'm ready to go meet the Bolshoi wannabes."
"Bolshoi?" Ryan smiled approvingly. "You've actually been listening to me, haven't you?"
"It happens," Chad said, pocketing his phone. He reached for his scarf and jacket and followed Ryan to the elevator.
"I think it's so cute that you wear this whenever you come to New York," Ryan said, taking control of the scarf and expertly arranging it. Chad shrugged insouciantly and Ryan rewarded him with a kiss on the tip of his nose.
"So where are we going?"
"Egg." Ryan said, gesturing for Chad to precede him into the elevator.
"I asked where we were going, not what we're eating."
"That's the name of the restaurant, honey," Ryan said indulgently as he began to rearrange the scarf. His primary motivation was that it gave it an opportunity to stare into Chad's face and smile sappily. Chad knew that and rolled his eyes. "Have I mentioned how glad I am that you're here?"
"At least thirty times since Friday," Chad said, glancing at his watch. "At this pace, you'll easily reach fifty before I leave tomorrow."
"Don't mention that word, again," Ryan replied pouting. Chad rolled his eyes again and gently pulled Ryan's hands away.
"So where's this restaurant?"
"Brooklyn," Ryan said leading the way toward the garage on 58th Street where he kept his car.
"We're going to Brooklyn to eat? What, the 20,000 restaurants in Manhattan aren't enough for you?"
"The car needs a little exercise. Come on."
"Are we picking up the Bolshoi twins?"
"No, but we'll probably give them a ride back to the school. By the way, they know my parents have a place in the city, but they don't need to know it's at the Plaza, okay?"
"Hey, they won't hear about it from me," Chad assured him. "I'm the one who didn't want to talk to them in the first place, remember?"
"They're nice guys."
"I'm sure they are. But I didn't come here to meet nice guys."
"Are you going to behave?" Ryan asked as he pulled his car out into traffic.
"Yes, mother," Chad said, sliding down in his seat and pushing it back so he could better look out at the view through the side window.
"So what did Sharpay have to say for herself?"
"She promised to forgive me for coming to New York without telling her if I bring back chocolates from Jacques Torres, whoever that is."
"That's another pricey chocolate shop," Ryan replied wryly.
"What is it with you guys and chocolate?" Chad asked, shaking his head.
"We'll hit DUMBO on the way back to the city. There's a Jacques Torres shop there."
"Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass," Ryan explained. "It's a trendy area of Brooklyn."
"Then shouldn't it be 'Down Under the Brooklyn Bridge Overpass'?"
"No, it's not under the Manhattan Bridge."
"The Manhattan Bridge is in Brooklyn?"
"Yes. The Brooklyn Bridge is in Manhattan, isn't it?" Ryan reasoned. Chad squinted at him for a minute and then shut his eyes.
"New York is hard."
Ryan smiled and headed south. They made their way through the light Sunday morning traffic and were in lower Manhattan in minutes.
"Look up," Ryan announced. Chad did as he was bidden.
"What am I looking at?"
"You're looking at the Manhattan Bridge."
"And if you look to your right, you'll see the Brooklyn Bridge."
"That one I recognize," Chad said, peering across the water toward the older East River crossing. He sat up and looked ahead. "So people live under the bridge?"
"No, it's just a name, like Williamsburg or the Upper East Side. Or Eagle Point or Palisade Hills, for that matter--just neighborhood designations."
"Ah. So we're going to Williamsburg, which is somewhere near DUMBO, to eat Egg."
"To eat at Egg," Ryan corrected.
Ryan parked his car a short distance from the restaurant and the pair walked the half block back. Yuri and Alexei had already arrived. The two couples had to wait a few minutes for a table and Ryan spent it snickering at Chad while he endured a barrage of questions from Yuri and Alexei. They'd been openly curious about Chad from the moment Ryan introduced him Friday evening and Chad and Ryan's hasty withdrawal to the Plaza had done nothing to diminish their desire to learn as much as they could about Ryan's boyfriend.
"You don't look like geek," Yuri concluded as they were finally led to their table.
"Told you so," Ryan whispered in Chad's ear, reaching out to quickly pinch his bottom before he sat down. Chad shot Ryan a look.
"You know, I was just going to mail that chocolate," he deadpanned. "But no; I started thinking about how you'd look when you got the package and that made me miss you even more than usual and then I decided I should book a ticket and called my dad about using his frequent flyer miles…"
"And I love you for it," Ryan said, leaning over to kiss his cheek.
"Aw," Yuri said impishly. He kissed Alexei's cheek and threw his arm around the dancer's shoulder. Chad rolled his eyes.
"Sociable," he muttered. "I promised to be sociable." Ryan giggled into his menu. "So do we have to eat eggs here?"
"No, you don't have to eat eggs," Ryan replied. "Although I plan to have my usual."
"Eggs Rothko--it looks a little like a Mark Rothko painting the way they--. Why don't you have a burger?" he said, abruptly shifting gears. "You're always happiest after eating a chunk of rare meat."
Yuri snickered and Chad sighed and buried his face in his menu. When the waiter came to take their order, Chad opted for French toast with a side of sausage instead. Again, Yuri snickered and this time Chad openly glowered at him.
"What?" he spat.
"You like sausage a lot, yes?" Yuri replied. Alexei quickly intervened and said something in Russian.
"You know, for a gay guy--."
"Chad, you didn't order anything to drink," Ryan said pointedly interrupting. "Why don't you have some OJ?"
Chad began muttering to himself again and Ryan smiled beatifically.
"We've got to make a stop on the way back," Ryan announced after a few minutes on the road. He made a turn and headed for DUMBO, lucking into a parking space a short distance from the chocolate shop. The foursome entered the store and looked around.
"May I help you?" a woman behind the counter asked cheerily.
"Yeah," Chad said hesitantly. "Except I have no idea what to get. Ryan? What kind of chocolate does Princess like?"
"Princess?" Yuri repeated quizzically.
"My sister," Ryan explained. "Chad's taking some chocolate back to Albuquerque for her."
"What kind of chocolate does she like?" the saleswoman asked.
"Oh, she'll be happy with pretty much anything Chad picks," Ryan said impishly.
"That's so helpful," Chad said, moving along the counter and scanning the offerings.
"It's true," Ryan insisted. "You can do no wrong in her eyes."
"Except for leaving Albuquerque without her permission," Chad muttered. "I need a clue here. Does she like truffles, too?"
"Get her a box of assorted chocolates," Ryan suggested.
"Thank you," Chad said gratefully. The saleswoman led Chad to the back of the shop where he could make his selection. Ryan watched him go until Yuri poked him in the ribs.
"Your boyfriend is dating your sister?"
"You two share him."
"Why is he bringing her chocolate?" Alexei asked. Ryan shrugged.
"She asked him to."
"And he just does it?"
"You haven't met Sharpay," he replied, going to join Chad. He helped Chad pick out an assortment of chocolates and offered to pay for it.
"No way," he said. "Even if my parents are going to freak when they see my charge card statement this month. It's going to be all plane tickets and chocolate. But she asked me for it. That means she's expecting you to send her something else."
"You know it," Ryan sighed. "I suppose we'd better find something for her before we head back to mom and dad's." They waited while Yuri and Alexei purchased some chocolate-covered corn flakes and a chocolate bar and then returned to Ryan's Mercedes. "What time is it?" He checked his watch. "Let's drop the boys back at the school, ditch the car and do a little shopping."
"I want to go shopping," Yuri volunteered.
"No one invited you, Yuri," Alexei replied.
"Believe me, you don't want to join us," Ryan said. "We're shopping for my sister."
"Believe me; you don't want to shop for his sister," Chad concurred. "I love her to death but--." He shook his head.
"Are you sure this is not threesome?" Yuri asked. Chad turned to look at him in the backseat.
"Be sociable," Ryan said, reaching over to lightly squeeze his knee.
They dropped Yuri and Alexei off in front of the school and took the car back to the garage before taking a walk up Broadway.
"Let's go to Loehmann's," Ryan suggested. "If we can't find something here, there's another place up the block."
"This is a discount store," Chad said, looking up at the sign. "I didn't think Evanses did discounts."
"Hush," Ryan said, drawing him over to the escalator. They quickly found a sweater that they thought Sharpay would like and Ryan made his purchase.
"It's not fair that you can buy a designer sweater that cost less than my chocolate," Chad said with a pout.
"Poor baby," Ryan cooed, leaning in to kiss his cheek. "Come on, let's head back to the hotel. Ooh, wait," he said abruptly, stopping to check out another sweater near the escalator. "This is really nice."
"No," Chad said firmly, dragging him away.
"You know," Ryan said once they were outside, "you deserve a treat. You came all the way here to surprise me, you brought my favorite chocolate, and you're taking treats back to Sharpay. You deserve something nice." Chad smiled at him and Ryan returned it. "Something besides that, sweet stuff. Come on, let's go to Barney's CO-OP."
"I'd be perfectly happy with the other kind of treat, you know," Chad said after a few minutes in the shop. Ryan ignored him and kept searching for the right gift for Chad. "Why don't you get me a new scarf?" he suggested after seeing the price on a sweater and blanching.
"Good idea," Ryan said and led him by the hand to the accessories department.
"You are not spending that kind of money on a scarf," Chad protested. "I don’t care whose name is on the label."
"It'll look good on you and you'd probably actually wear it back home," Ryan reasoned. Chad held up the edge of the scarf he was wearing.
"This one cost ten bucks! You can get a dozen more of these for the price of that thing!" Chad whispered fiercely. "And that's on sale!"
"And that makes it better?" Chad turned and walked away. Ryan sighed and followed him.
"All right," he conceded. "I won't embarrass you by buying a Prada scarf." Chad rolled his eyes. "Sharpay would approve of it, though, and when I tell her about it she's going to torment you for weeks."
"I'm immune to her ridicule," Chad said crossly. Ryan hooked arms with him and they left the store. They headed south on Broadway and stopped at a street vendor selling scarves.
"May I?" Ryan asked sarcastically. Chad called him a name that Ryan ignored as he blithely picked out a dozen scarves.
"Ryan!" Chad cried, but his protest fell on dead ears as Ryan skillfully negotiated a price for the collection.
"It's a wonder that guy can stay in business," he said as they walked away. "I would have paid $90 for the lot and he dropped the price another ten dollars."
"You expect me to wear all of those?" Chad asked, amused despite himself.
"Oh, no," Ryan replied. "The pink one's for Shar and I want to keep that pale blue one. It'll look great with my new leather jacket. The rest are for you."
"And where am I going to wear them?"
"Well, you can wear some of them in New Mexico--they're light enough for a cool day. You can leave some of them here. Oh, and make sure you take the olive one home. That would look fabulous on your mom."
"Did you just give away one of my presents?" Chad asked teasingly.
"I'm tired of walking," Ryan declared, turning toward the curb to hail a cab. "Let's ride back to the hotel." He flagged down a cab with practiced ease and gave the driver the address. He slid into the backseat and rested his head on Chad's shoulder. "I don't want you to leave tomorrow," he said with a pout.
"Me either, babe, but I don't have a choice."
"I guess I'd better start planning a trip west."
"That'd be nice."
"First weekend in October, maybe," Ryan mused. "I'll have to check my calendar."
"Me, too," Chad replied. "I've got an exam sometime next month and I don't want it to coincide with your visit."
"I can just hang with Sharpay if you're too busy studying."
"Oh, right," Chad said. They reached the hotel and went up to the suite. They spent the rest of the day in isolation, savoring their remaining time together.
"So you managed to remember me," Sharpay said when she answered Chad's call late that evening. "Either Ryan's losing his touch or you guys are taking a break for refueling."
"I won't dignify that with an answer," he replied. "Listen, I need a favor."
"Did you get my chocolate?"
"I know better than to disappoint you, Princess. Can you pick me up at the airport tomorrow? My roommate drove me on Friday so I won't have my car."
"I think I can squeeze you into my busy schedule," she replied. "What time's your flight?"
"Well, I should get in around four, but Ryan assures me that Labor Day travel is a nightmare and I should expect delays."
"So you want me to cool my heels at the airport for a couple of hours? As if!"
"I not only have the chocolate but a treat bag from your brother as well."
"Good point. I'll be there."
"Get off the phone!" Ryan shouted from the other room.
"Nice," Sharpay said. "I see my dear brother is at it again. Tell him I said--."
"I don't think he needs any advice about pussy-whipping from you, thank you," Chad replied.
"Oh, so you finally admit it?"
"Hell no! But that won't stop you from giving him pointers, will it?" Chad's mouth dropped open as Ryan entered the room and removed his robe. "What the hell?"
"Salome," Ryan replied smugly, doing a slow turn to give Chad the full effect of his outfit.
"Salome," Ryan repeated carefully. "I was folding your scarves to put into your bag when I thought of it."
"I'm still lost," Chad said, confused.
"If Ryan is showing you his 'salami,' I need to end this call right now," Sharpay cut in.
"And why are you wearing a scarf toga?" Chad asked, ignoring her.
"I'm going to dance for you," Ryan replied, queuing up the music.
"Chad, I so do not need to hear this. I'm hanging up. Now."
"Okay, Princess, but you're going to miss your brother's striptease."
"Heathen," Ryan said, pulling the phone from Chad's hand. "I said 'Salome,' Shar. As in the Dance of the Seven Veils."
"Bye," she cried, ending the call. Ryan laughed and tossed the phone onto the couch next to Chad.
"What's the Dance of the Seven Veils?" he asked.
"Watch and learn, precious," Ryan said, hitting the button on the CD player.
"For the record, that was nine veils," Chad quipped sometime later, "and you're so folding them back up."
"Why do I bother with you, again?" Ryan asked, rising from Chad's lap. Chad rose and followed him to the bedroom.
"I'll show you," he said, closing the door behind him.
On to Bonus