The third time someone mistook Chad for a waiter, he was ready to fight about it. He wasn't wearing a uniform, he wasn't carrying a tray, he wasn't asking people for their drink orders. And he wished he didn't know why people kept making that mistake, but looking around the Evans family's holiday party, he had his suspicions. The party was a who's who of important, influential people in New Mexico -- politicians, business people, and the filthy rich -- and not a lot of them looked like Chad.
If it happened one more time, he was going to punch someone. Which probably wouldn't help, come to think of it.
He made his way to the side of the massive ballroom where everyone was mingling, and stood on his tiptoes. He climbed up on top of a windowsill but still couldn't spot anyone he recognized. He'd had to show ID to get in, they'd had his name on an official list, but so far he hadn't seen a single person he actually knew.
His phone vibrated in his pocket. Chad dove for it, read the text that had just come in, and rolled his eyes. keeping ur fone in ur pocket ruins ur suit.
He craned his neck. If Ryan was sending him texts scolding him about his suit, he had to be somewhere within view. But picking out a well dressed, blond, white guy in this crowd was like looking for a needle with a trust fund in an obscenely wealthy haystack.
His phone buzzed again. behind u
He spun. All that was behind him was a window, and it was so bright inside that he couldn't make out anything but his own reflection. Scowling, he cupped his hands over his eyes and peered out. He still couldn't make out much -- but definitely saw a few pale shapes, and some bright pink.
follow wall to hallway & door out is on ur right :)
He hopped down from the sill and threaded his way through the crowd until he reached the hallway. There was an exit to the courtyard. Chilly air hit him and it felt nice after the heat of the crowd inside. There were only a handful of people out here. All teens, though only a couple of familiar faces among the fifteen or so people: Ryan, Sharpay, and Sharpay's flighty friends from Lava Springs.
Ryan bounded over to him. "Hey! Welcome! I'm so glad you came."
"Yeah, thanks for the invite." Chad let Ryan tug him over to where they'd been sitting. "You know, I always thought my family parties were pretty big. All seventeen of my adult cousins show up with their families... But we just drink and watch home movies. This is..."
"Yeah." Ryan shrugged. "This kind of stopped being my family's party years ago. Now it's... this." He gestured at the window he must have spotted Chad through. "Which is why we party out here."
"Doesn't look like much of a party," Chad scoffed.
Ryan grinned and reached into a pocket in his suit jacket. He produced a flask and teased, "And now?"
Chad reached for it, but Ryan danced back, agile as ever, snatching it just out of his grip. Chad looked up at his face, his cocky grin. The way the Christmas lights reflected in his eyes actually made it look like they were twinkling. Neither of them needed to say a word. Ryan dashed away and Chad chased him, while Sharpay shrieked something about acting like idiots. Chad couldn't catch most of it.
The courtyard wasn't very big, but Ryan was good at the game. Every time Chad thought he had Ryan, Ryan managed to reverse directions or duck under his arm or something. It was nice, though. Running kept him from getting chilly, and competing with Ryan, even doing something silly like this, felt... he couldn't quite explain it, but it felt like when he'd made the school basketball team back in middle school, after working so hard for years. It left him giddy and laughing, pumped full of adrenaline, even when he lost.
But he didn't lose this time. It took a few minutes, but eventually he got Ryan cornered -- literally. Ryan dodged too near a corner, turned, and Chad was right there. Before he could duck, Chad threw his arms out against the walls on either side of Ryan and leaned in, trapping Ryan's body with his own.
"Got you," Chad said.
"Yeah, you did. So what are you going to do with me?" He laughed and shook his head, holding up the flask. Ryan's cheeks were red, probably from the chill. "You earned it."
Chad reached for it, but didn't back up. He and Ryan were almost nose to nose when he raised it to his mouth. Eggnog, with rum or bourbon or something in it that burned as it went down. He took a few swallows, then capped it and pushed it up against Ryan's chest. The booze hadn't really hit him yet, so he no excuse except adrenaline and hormones when he said, "I'm gonna do this, Evans -- " and leaned in.
Ryan met him halfway, their lips crashing together. His heart sped up even further, and his knees felt a little weak. That certainly wasn't from the running or the booze. He broke off, laughing embarrassedly, but Ryan snaked an arm around him and leaned forward, forehead to forehead. "Was that okay?" Ryan asked him.
"It was great," Chad breathed. He leaned in to do it again --
-- and Ryan ducked under his arm and behind him, danced away a few steps. He held up the flask and said, "If you want more, come and get it!"
Chad grinned and followed him. Oh yeah, he wanted more. And it had nothing to do with the flask.