-1Title: Action and Reaction
Summary: Where are they now?
Notes: This is where all the lurkers finally review, and where the faithful weigh in on the conclusion. Really, just go right ahead and hit that review button to tell me what you thought of the series in its entirety.
Warning: Fluff alert
Disclaimer: I own it like I own Santa
Chapter Ten: Reflection
The punch was too sour, the lights too bright and the music was nothing if not a disastrous combination of old hits. In addition, the giant pictures scattered around the ball room were just embarrassing. He could really do without the balloons and streamers any day, because they were just tacky in his opinion. All in all, Troy was fairly convinced he was attending the cheesiest ten year reunion in the history of reunions.
Still, it was nice to see everyone again. It really had been too long in some cases. For instance, looking across the way he could see most of the old basketball team had gathered together. They all looked good and there seemed to be smiles on each of their faces. Troy could just hear Zeke talking adamantly about his successful baking show on the Food Network, and in particular a lemon soufflé recipe. Then just a little behind them he spotted Taylor McKenzie, who by rumor told him she'd completed her doctrine and was now a successful microbiologist. As his eyes sought out familiar faces he was proud to see nearly all of them.
Yet he couldn't find Chad. They hadn't talked since the ill-fated telephone conversation so many years ago. Troy had checked up on his friend occasionally, tracking his progress as the war spread into Iran. He knew Chad had joined the marines for one tour, but when his time had expired, he'd signed for a second and third round of duty, eventually becoming a full time soldier. Around the time Chad made sergeant Troy had lost track of him. Now he could only hope Chad showed, or at the very least was able to.
Then again, she wasn't present either, yet.
He finished his punch and tossed the plastic cup into the trash bin. He peeled the back of his name tag off and pressed the sticky side against his heart. He'd written his name in the available spot, Troy Bolton nice, loud and legible, not that he thought it was needed. When Troy looked in the mirror he saw the same kid who'd floated through high school and the same awkward teen who'd been thrust into the real world in the rudest way possible. People who clapped him on the back easily recognized his face, but he knew they couldn't possibly see him as the man he'd become.
Troy's eyes floated up to the far wall where a large portrait of Kelsey hung in plain view, confronting all who walked into the large party room. Troy blinked quickly as he realized it was almost to the day. It was almost surreal, he felt rather disconnected from the idea that she'd died four years ago. They now chose to remember her as the girl she'd been in high school, not the undesirable she'd grown up to be.
He turned suddenly as a familiar face nearly screamed his name. Troy spun, face lighting up when he saw his best friend.
Chad caught Troy in a massive hug, nearly squeezing the less muscular man to death. Troy noted the marine corp. had done wonders for Chad. Aside from the lack of hair, Chad seemed happy, confident, capable and content. He was buff, if nothing else, and wore his dress uniform with pride.
"How are you?" Troy asked, hesitant to release his grip on a man he hadn't seen or talked to in nearly a decade. "It's be forever!"
Chad laughed, "I've been good, really good!"
In a whirlwind of conversation Troy found out Chad had been promoted again and was in command of his own compliment. They were shipping back out shortly, this time to Korea, but Chad was pleased with his situation, exclaiming loudly how thoroughly he enjoyed serving his country. He'd taken online classes when not on duty, and it had taken twice the time, but he'd managed to earn a degree in of all things, mathematics. He had a longstanding girlfriend and two children with her, both boys. Troy was pleased for him.
In return Troy replied, "Man, you shame me."
Chad asked, "You went to college, what'd you end up doing with that pretty boy degree?"
The plan had always been to be a professional basketball player, and when that had failed, Troy had intended to earn a business degree and go to work for a stuffy corporation. He'd make his slimy boss rich, work in a cubical and go on with his meager existence.
"I got my degree, and I'm doing colorful things with it."
Chad nearly begged, "What?"
"I'm a manager." He chuckled at Chad's childish frown. "I manage for a modeling agency."
Chad's face fell blank for a second before he punched the sky. "Score!" He threw his arm around Troy. "Man, did you score! How'd you manage that, no pun intended."
Troy shrugged. "Connections."
The two drifted back over to the punch table where they consumed more of the unsavory drink.
Finally, Chad managed, "Where are you relationship wise? With anyone?"
Troy blushed just slightly and raised his left hand, his bright gold wedding ring flashing under the lights. "Married. Six years this December." This earned him a good shake and a demand to know who."
"She a new woman?"
"A new woman?" He quirked an eyebrow. "You wanna see a new woman?" He dug into his pants, hunting for his concealed wallet. He popped it open and retrieved a now worn and creased paper. With a gigantic smile he unfolded it and handed over. "If by new woman you mean around five months, then yeah."
Chad's forehead wrinkled as he glanced down at the glossy beige photo. "Dude, this is a--"
Troy tapped the picture. "It's my daughter." He peered down at the ultrasound picture for the millionth time. "That's my baby."
Chad caught him in another hug that put all of them in the past to the shame. "Congratulations! Where's your wife? Did you bring her?"
"No, I brought him." Suddenly a blonde figure was next to the two men, fiery as ever.
Chad gawked, "Sharpay?" He spied the beautiful woman, making note of her large smile, and even larger stomach. He only required seconds to make the connection between Troy, the picture and Sharpay's extended stomach. "Pregnant?" He tried not to roll his eyes at his own stupidity. "I mean, of course you're pregnant, but you and Troy, I mean, wow." He swooped down to hug her gently. "Congratulations, you look great."
Something lodged in Troy's throat as he watched his wife and his best friend genuinely hug. They both meant so much to him and he felt himself shaking slightly as they seemed to accept each other without terms.
Sharpay moved to Troy's side and he wrapped an arm around her, reaching out to take the ultrasound picture from Chad. She balked, "You're not show that to everyone here."
Troy feigned a glare and flashed the paper to her. "Of course I am. Do you know who this is? This is my daughter, Sharpay, and I love her and I'm going to make sure everyone knows."
She laughed softly and told Chad, "It's our first." Her joy was nearly indescribable as she learned up to kiss him quickly. "He's proud of his achievement."
Chad remarked, "You two really love each other, don't you?"
"I wouldn't have married him otherwise, especially with the dramatics of our relationship."
He was almost hesitant to bring it up, so he said cautiously, "The last I heard, things weren't particularly well with the relationship. What happened to keep you two lovebirds together?"
"I was an idiot," Troy volunteered, eyes still radiating sorrow to the very day.
Sharpay shrugged. "I walked out on him."
Troy sighed deeply. "Then I stood there, like my feet were glued to the floor. I swear, I knew Sharpay was the one and that if we were going to have a chance I had to go after and fast, but I just couldn't budge."
"Ryan smacked me on the back of the head." Troy shrugged helplessly, head tilting towards the tall, success full blond cutting it up on the dace floor. "He smacked me really hard and all but kicked me after her."
"Then he decided to play caveman," Sharpay supplied, rubbing her stomach soothingly. She told Troy, "She's kicking pretty hard."
Face radiating concern, Troy asked, "Do you want to sit down? I told you we should have brought a wheel chair for you. You know the doctor said you shouldn't stand for prolonged amounts of time. I want you to sit now."
Sharpay kissed Troy and he quieted immediately. She told Chad, "He's also under the impression that I'm going to break. He forgets I can drop him like a sack flour if necessary." She guided his hand to her stomach, knowing it soothed father just as much as baby. "Where was I?" She asked Chad.
"Caveman?" He supplied, extremely amused.
"Ah, yes, so he marched out after me about thirty seconds later. Instead of talking, he picked me up, threw me over his shoulder and well, that was the end of that. Weeks later I transferred modeling companies to one based in California, we moved in together, got married a couple years later and can you believe it, I've only gotten him domesticated now."
Chad pointed between the two of them. "Oh, wait, modeling? Troy, when you said you were managing a model--"
"Dude," Troy said, "You've been out of the country for too long. Sharpay blew up on the modeling scene. She was in every magazine and billboards and naturally she needed a manager."
"But I quit a couple years back. It took me out of the country too often. I paint now."
Troy cut in, "They're the most fantastic pieces of art you'll ever see. They're in art galleries all over San Francisco and the bay area."
"Sure, I paint, but you're acting now, on top of still managing a company and dealing with the finances. Chad, really, he's starred in half a dozen Broadway shows now."
Eyes soft, Chad realized suddenly what he'd had so much trouble seeing before. He finally got why they were so perfect together, why they were meant for each other. He could see the love radiating between them and that was all that was ever really needed.
Chad watched Troy stiffen and Sharpay sigh. He asked, "What?"
"Gabriella just showed up."
Chad now tensed as well, eyes jetting over to her form as she entered the room. "Wow," he remarked.
"She's a hot chemist now," Troy remarked.
"Hot?" Sharpay questioned, pinching him.
"I meant it figuratively!" He corrected, shying away from her. "That she's in demand, professionally, of course."
Sharpay tapped her foot. "Well, why don't you invite her over? It doesn't look like people are jumping to speak with her, and she looks lonely."
Chad and Troy shared a worried and confused look. Finally Troy said, "Do you have a fever."
She smiled sarcastically. "I think I'm a little past petty jealously. After all, I bagged the boy, got the dream career and I'm having a baby. I don't feel even the least bit threatened."
Troy pressed a kiss to the top of her head and said lovingly, "You're something else, you know? Really, Shar, you're more then any man could ever ask for."
"Keep the compliments coming this way," Sharpay said, eyes wagging. "You're going to spend hours rubbing my feet tonight."
"I like your feet."
Chad laughed loudly. "You do have him trained."
Ryan joined them seconds later, shaking hands with Chad in a respectful manner, then Taylor skirted to the group, and when Gabriella found herself waved over, they talked cautiously about old times--good times. Things would never be fully mended and scars of the past would always remain, but they laughed together, sharing funny stories of easier times. It was almost a whole new world.
So in the end Sharpay and Troy had their family, after so much time, trouble and tribulation. Fiona Evans-Bolton (because Sharpay was a conventional girl who was keeping her last name) was born just months later to two people who loved each other unconditionally and promised to provide for her everything she'd ever need. Even in her infancy, as she glanced up at her mother as she was fed, or as her father as he rocked them in her favorite chair, she knew that she was born into the very essence of love.