This takes place towards the end of HSM3 just after the Spring Musicale. Sharpay is understandably upset by the events of the evening, and Ryan is the only one who can make her feel better. Warnings: some bad words, major corniness towards the late middle, and an undercurrent of unexpressed (and unconsummated) incestuous desire.|
While mistreating Ryan twelve ways from Sunday did not give Sharpay pause, the vision of a future without him literally made her stagger. No one noticed her cling to Martha’s arm during the announcement that Ryan had been accepted by Julliard – she had regained her equilibrium before anyone’s eyes had turned her way, and the looseness of the graduation robes did much to hide the incident. The second Ms. Darbus indicated that another East High student besides Kelsi had been received by the New York school, Sharpay knew it was Ryan. She knew already that it wasn’t her, as Troy must have known that it wasn’t him.
Ryan would have noticed her swoon had he not been so tensely wrapped up in Ms. Darbus’ suspenseful revelation.
Martha, it turned out, had an uncommonly kind (and forgiving) streak. Somehow she had detected in Sharpay’s eyes the fear that was there, and had not interpreted her near-faint to be the product of furious disappointment and outrage. She helped her upright and on to her own two feet just in time for Sharpay to smile at Ryan and give him a hug. This was no small feat: she was acting against an intense and acute desire to throw up and then take refuge in a dark hole, curled up in the fetal position. Fetal! Even that thought made her eyes sting with tears. The possibility of herself at the University of Albuquerque rendered her yet more nauseated. All in all, for once, she could not wait to get off that stage.
Their parents were in the audience, but Sharpay didn’t have the energy to maintain her composure long enough to greet them. She launched herself into her dressing room and locked the door just as the tears were unleashed. Ryan had a key, so blindly she nudged a chair under the door knob to keep anyone from entering.
She was surprised at herself: her disappointment surrounding Julliard, while strong, was nothing compared to her horror at the idea of her and Ryan at separate colleges. She was feeling something unfamiliar, but she knew it was fear. Terror, really. She didn’t quite know why.
Two or three minutes later someone knocked. She knew it was Ryan. She covered her mouth with a pillow and tried to quiet her sobs, but she didn’t know how successful she had been. There was a lot of hustle and bustle outside, so it was possible she couldn’t be heard.
“Shar?” Ryan asked tentatively. He was exercising a sensitive tone, very aware of how let down she must be feeling, how disheartened.
Only he had no clue. Sharpay didn’t think he was capable of grasping her pain. No one could feel like this and keep going.
He knocked again, and repeated her name more loudly.
When still she said nothing he tried his key.
She was afraid the chair wouldn’t be strong enough, so she jumped up and added the support of her hands to keep the door closed.
He struggled with it for a moment and then gave up. She heard him sigh. “Are you coming to the cast party?”
She’d rather stick pins through her eyes.
She knew she had to keep up appearances. She couldn’t let anyone think that being stood up on stage by Troy only for his understudy to make a farce of it, then her sequence being usurped by that bitch Tiara Gold, and finally not getting in to Julliard had her down.
And the truth was, right now, those weren’t really the things that were bothering her… (Though she was certain no one had ever experienced such compounded misery.)
But she couldn’t do it. She really couldn’t. She just wanted to go home. She wanted Ryan to come home too, but for once she wasn’t going to tell him what to do. No doubt he actually wanted to go to that party and hang out with those losers.
“I’m not coming. I have a headache,” she snapped, hoping he couldn’t hear the tears in her voice. It had been hard to make her voice loud enough; it strained her.
“Everyone is gonna be there.” Yip-fucking-ee, she thought. “Don’t you think you should come?”
“I’m not coming,” Sharpay repeated, more forcefully. “Go have fun without me.”
Ryan bit his lip and tried to decide whether to apply more pressure or not. Maybe a little more: “I’ll have more fun if you’re there.”
Again Sharpay felt something unfamiliar and totally unwelcome, a pang of some sort. It was pleasurable, but carried a danger with it that she had no interest in.
“You could’ve fooled me,” she spat bitterly. It did not seem to her like her company held any value for him anymore. She was just now realizing exactly how much that hurt her. “Hurt” was an insufficient word. There was no word.
“Just go to your fucking party, Ryan, OK? Tell Mother and Father I’ll see them at home.”
She erupted into another fit of crying and she begged God that Ryan hadn’t heard. His pity was not what she wanted.
He gave up with another heavy sigh and left.
The butler George (he did more than “butle”, but that’s what they’d always called him) must have heard Ryan pull-up in his moped because he was ready with the front door open. Ryan didn’t stroll in stylishly as was his habit.
He looked at the butler with concern and then raised his eyebrows inquiringly.
George sighed and shook his head.
Ryan nodded somberly, handing over his keys and bag to be put away.
He paced nervously in the foyer for a few minutes before proceeding up the stairs.
“I thought I’d find you here.” Ryan flipped the lights on in the pitch black studio and made his way over to the make-shift stage.
Sharpay was lying down at the edge on her back. She rolled away from him, groaning as the light hit her eyes. Boi was in her arms. The normally content dog seemed perturbed, probably because she was squeezing him within an inch of his life.
“You didn’t stay long at the after party,” she remarked, stable, but a little forlorn. Her sobbing of earlier had given way to a perhaps yet more pitiful chronic weeping. Hiding her face might hide the tears and her bloodshot eyes, but her sniffling was a dead giveaway.
The top of the stage hit him at the waist. Ryan put his hand on her shoulder and forced her off of her side and down on her back again so that he could look at her. She tried not to lift her eyes to him, but it finally became awkward not to do so.
He shrugged, now that she was watching. “They’re not really my crowd. I stayed long enough for everyone to pat me on the back, and to hand out a few congratulations myself on a show well-done, and then I took off.” That was only polite (Ryan was always polite), and he had, of course, wanted to bask in his success a little.
Worried for the safety of the dog, Ryan pried her hands off of Boi and let him free.
“Not your crowd? So who’s your crowd, then, Ryan?” Sharpay asked, still bitter, utterly resistant to his efforts to cheer her up.
This was a rhetorical question, but he answered in earnest. “Well, you are, Sharpay.”
She tried to swallow back more tears, but failed. She closed her eyes, ashamed, and turned her face away from him. “Just stop, OK. It’s time for my reality check, anyway.”
Watching her try to stop crying and not be able to was hurting Ryan more than he expected. “What do you mean?” he asked, fidgeting. He knew he should touch her, but he didn’t know how to. He wanted his hands to be comforting, and not anything else but that…
She shook her head. “Look, I’m fine, Ryan. Just go back to the after party. That’s what you want, right?”
“Not really. Especially not if you’re here, like this.”
“I deserve this. You must agree. I mean, look at what I’ve done to you.” She rolled her head a little to face him and then opened up two contrite eyes.
“Deserve what? Not getting into Julliard? I certainly don’t agree with that.”
She raised her eyebrows in despondent skepticism. “You really think I should have gotten in?”
“You heard Ms. Darbus: Kelsi got in for music, I got in for choreography. They were looking for, well, ‘playmakers’ as Kelsi says. Behind the scenes stuff.”
“Yeah, singers and dancers are a dime-a-dozen.”
“You’re not just any singer or dancer, Sharpay. I don’t know why they couldn’t see that.”
“Well, you’re a great choreographer (although you belong on the stage, if you ask me), and Kelsi is a great composer, it turns out.” Sharpay admitted begrudgingly. She narrowed her eyes: her little sawed-off Sondheim was probably having a field day. “I suppose they could only let in so many people from East High.”
“You should have been one of them,” he reassured her with an emphatic nod of his head.
“I can’t really believe you: you’d say anything to make me feel better. You’re a good brother…most of the time.”
“Well, you don’t have to believe me about that; I have something even more important to say to you.”
She furrowed her eyebrows. “What?”
“Imagine having everything we’ve ever dreamed. Don’t you want it?” he sang.
“Maybe,” she responded, as depressed as ever.
“Can’t you see it?”
She squinted. “Kinda?” Kinda not really, she thought, but she could play along.
“Imagine first audition after college I get the lead!”
“A part for me?” she asked, a hopeful little light beginning to shine through her eyes and her voice.
“Well of course!”
“You gotta believe it!”
“Keep talking…” she encouraged desperately, sitting up so that their faces were level.
“You and I, all the fame,” he sung, punctuating the words with a strong, meaningful gaze.
“Sharpay and what’s his name?” she asked with a sly smile.
“Inviting,” she answered with a nod, as far from sarcastic as possible.
He grabbed her hand and kissed it. “Let’s do it, then,” he spoke.
For the first time in hours she had stopped crying completely. Smiling, she dove into his arms for a hug.
“Julliard is a good school, Shar. But it’s not the only school. There are tons of stars who didn’t go there. Most of them didn’t. And, you’re gonna be one of them. I’m sure of it.” Then he slugged her playfully in the shoulder. “And if not, then at least you’ll always be Ryan Evans’ sister.”
Ryan had never known his sister to begin a sentence and not end it, unless it was because she screamed. The smile dropped from his face. “What?”
“I do want it all. For us. For you. But as long as it’s you and me, I think I’ll be OK. That’s why I was so upset.” She looked away, trying to shield her vulnerability.
Ryan nodded, finally understanding. He placed his hand on her cheek and turned her face back to his. “You thought I was leaving you behind.” He shook his head and retracted his hand. “No way, Sis. We’re twins: they’ll have to take us both, right?. Maybe not Julliard, but the world.”
“But how can you still want that? After the way I’ve treated you.”
“You had a crush on Troy, and you wanted to show up Gabriella; it’s not beyond my forgiveness. Anyway, what’s less than a year of minor disputes compared to 17 years of almost perfect unity?”
“What about the fact that I always tried to take the spotlight for myself?”
“I was by your side all that time because that’s where I wanted to be. It was never about not being able to stand up to you. It has been a little frustrating from time to time…but ultimately, we’re yin and yang, Sharpay. We’re complementary, not in competition.” He paused for a second, and then shook his head. “It was more than frustrating…it was frightening.”
“Frightening?” she pressed, locking onto the word.
“Frightening. Because I thought you might leave me behind some day. That’s why I was so angry, and then so skeptical. I was protecting myself. I was afraid.”
Sharpay sighed…it was still reality check time, and the ugliness in her past just kept getting uglier. She was so pleased by what he was saying, but at the same time, so ashamed at her behavior. “I hope you never doubted that I love you.’
“N-no.” He shook his head, and then repeated his negation with more certainty. “And I never doubted that you thought I was talented. I miss the trust we shared when we were on stage together: I’ve never felt that with anyone else. Total confidence in one another. We knew exactly what to expect.”
“Except when you tried to sneak in jazz squares.” She smirked at him.
“You’re right, I’m guilty there. But, you know what I mean, don’t you?”
“I know exactly what you mean. And me neither: I’ve never felt that way with anyone else. I’ve been such an idiot, Ryan. I was so busy trying to get what I wanted, I never took the time to think about what I was wanting, and whether it was right.”
“Do you know now?” he asked, tilting his head a little, and trying not to be afraid. He’d sailed in on the confidence of a successful night, but the emotional exchange between him and his sister had torn that confidence to shreds, and all that was left was him, exposed, knowing exactly what he wanted to hear, but not if he would hear it.
She nodded. “You and me. All the way.”
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