"What the hell was that?"
Ryan peeked around the corner at the sound of Troy's voice. He wouldn't call himself nosy, but he was interested in other people's drama. Sometimes he really missed spying for his sister. Troy and Chad were standing near the gym doors, sweaty and flushed, and both looking irritated.
"I was wide open," Troy continued, spreading his arms wide to indicate just how open he must have been.
"Well, I didn't see you," Chad retorted. He lifted his chin defiantly. Probably Ryan shouldn't notice that it made his jaw line look even more lickable. He stared until it occurred to him that Chad and Troy would find him watching if they happened to look in his direction. Flushing, he drew his head back, and stared determinedly out at the parking lot. Even if he couldn't see them anymore, he could still hear them, though.
"You didn't notice me, you mean." Troy sounded really upset, which was unusual. He rarely went beyond a full pout in front of Ryan. "Maybe if I did a little dance routine under the basket? Would that help?"
"Troy," Chad said warningly. "You don't get to go there."
"No, man. When I get caught up in Gabriella and theater, you call me on it. And you're not nice about it, either. How come your distractions are off limits?"
"Maybe because you get to have your distractions." Chad sounded hurt more than angry. "You get to have Gabriella, and you get to do the theater thing, and that makes it a whole different ball game."
Troy sighed. "But the ball game you're supposed to be focusing on is the one on the court. Not the one where you pine over Ryan Evans." Troy's voice went high with disbelief on Ryan's name, and Ryan sympathized. His whole body felt kind of high with disbelief, like he was floating through sheer shock.
"I'm not pining," Chad muttered. "Dickhead."
"Oh, you're pining," Troy said. The irritation in his voice was being replaced by amusement. "A couple weeks ago, it was just a crush. But I caught you Facebook stalking him three times, and I've seen your yearbook by your bed, open to the Co-Presidents of the Drama Club. It totally counts as pining, now."
"God, you're a jerk," Chad moaned. "Why am I friends with you?"
"Because even though you're pathetically pining for a boy, I'm going to give you another chance to focus before I tell Coach you can't start the game on Friday."
"You wouldn't really tell him that," Chad protested.
"I don't want to." Ryan risked looking around the corner again, and saw Troy with his hand on Chad's shoulder as Chad slumped unhappily. Ryan's stomach twisted in an odd combination of regret and triumph at the idea that Chad looked that way over him. "Come on. Let's go back in and run that play again. Just … pay attention."
"Yeah, okay." Chad took a deep breath and visibly steeled himself. He shook out his shoulders. "Let's do it."
Ryan felt dazed as he watched Chad and Troy re-enter the gym. Chad Danforth had a crush on him. No, scratch that. According to Troy, he'd bypassed crushing a while ago. Ryan's heart was beating rapidly, and he felt giddy, like he might start laughing at any moment.
"Ryan!" Sharpay yelled. Ryan blinked and saw his sister standing in front of him, hands on her hips. Her car was idling behind her, driver's door wide open. "I have been honking at you for ages. What is wrong with you?"
Ryan grinned at her. He knew it would just annoy her, but he couldn't help it. There was no possible way not to grin. "Sorry, Shar. I guess I didn't notice you."