Disclaimer-I don't own High School Musical. Nor any songs mentioned in this story.
Story By StormDancer
"It is not light that we need, but fire; it is not the gentle shower but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake."
It was always him who caught my eye; the sidekick, the best friend who always stepped out of the spotlight at the last moment. Not that he's humble in anyway, shape, of form, but because he's one of the most arrogant people I know. But he never takes the limelight. Instead, he pushes other people into it. He'll give up anything for his friends, or anything that holds his loyalty; even if that means giving up their friendship. He honestly did believe he was doing what was right for Troy, even if it did turn out badly. Troy was ready to give up on him when it all went wrong. Chad never gave up on Troy.
I don't know why people think he's stupid. He may put basketball first, but he's not dumb. However much I say to the contrary. He's got an amazing way with words, a manipulator worthy of, well, me. But he has another gift he hides, and hides well. He always has, and probably always will. Even during "Confession Lunch", as it is being called now, he didn't confess. I'm pretty sure I'm the only one who knows, and he never actually told me. OF course, he has to keep it on the down low. A basketball star can't write poetry, much less good poetry. It would have upset the team, and so he couldn't tell, no matter how much his pride wants recognition. Their Captain could have a slight peccadillo for singing, but if the 2nd in command wrote poetry, they would freak. Their tiny brains couldn't comprehend it.
I've watched him for a while now, ever since I met him in freshman year. That's the only way I know this stuff. I don't like him, or anything, or maybe just as a friend. We wouldn't work. Even if he did ask me out on a date, it would be a spur of the moment sort of thing, not real. But he's always intrigued me. He's such a contradiction; an arrogant fool who is loyal to a fault, ambitious, but not wanting to be a star, jock who writes good poetry, a contradiction. One I've always wondered if I could figure it out.
She was the one I could never quite place. Everyone else had a section, set spot, personality, and way of acting; but her? She was, is, I suppose, different. I've seen her watching me; glancing up at me out of those icily-beautiful black eyes. That, of course, doesn't count the innumerable times when she makes fun of me. Then she looks at me directly. But even then, it's calculating. She never stops being cold. Her every move is planned. She never acts on impulse, a manipulator worthy of, well, me. It goes with her ice. But sometimes I can see a flash of something else; of passion, held deep within her. Obviously she cares deeply. She works strenuously for the Scholastic Team, and defends her friends against anything, even themselves. But even the way she acts on that passion I scold. I've never seen her, or heard of her, letting loose. Her fire burns deep, and only in embers. But although Sharpe may be the Vanity Princess to the hilt, Taylor's Ice Queen has a still lit fire at its heart.
She knows everything so well. Not just academia, but about people as well. She doesn't just watch me, she observes everyone. She could probably give the low down on anyone at East faster then the biggest gossip mongering cheerleader. With what she knows, she could make her way to the top of the societal ladder with blackmail alone, if not with her other … attributes. But she doesn't. I have no idea why, and I don't thi8nk she does either. She may know everything, but she's not omniscient. She doesn't know herself. She doesn't know what she really feels about me and it scares her. She was afraid of the changing rules at east, and tried to stop it, even if she didn't know that was her motivation. Even if she has the power to hurt us all, she's afraid to use it, because she doesn't know what she'll do with that influence.
Even as she's watched me, I've watched her. I don't think she's caught me at it, and even if she did, she wouldn't believe it. I don't really know why I'm so interested in her. I mean, I won't deny I'm attracted to her physically. She's hot and I'm a guy. No shame in that. But when I asked her to the after-party, I was obscurely disappointed at her response. She was trying to manipulate me into something, and for once I wasn't. That's why I gave such a noncommittal answer. I think I was disappointed because she's always been a mystery. A contradiction. A girl with power who won't use it, someone who knows about all but that which is closest, herself, a girl whose forever icy heart is constantly warmed by passion's flame. A contradiction I've always wanted to understand.
Chad wandered the dance floor aimlessly, bored. The glory of winning had dimmed somewhat, and he was too exhausted by the game to party as hard as he usually did. As he meandered through the couples, he caught sight of Taylor dancing with a red headed nerd. Her face, he saw over the kid's shoulder, was fixed in a grimace that most would interpret as a smile. He quickly walked over and tapped the kid on the shoulder.
"Mind if I steal this lady?" he asked with a carefully ingratiating smile. The boy scowled but stepped away.
"What if this lady doesn't want to be kidnapped?" Taylor retorted.
"Who wouldn't want to be abducted by someone as hot as me?" Chad replied with his usual arrogant smirk, "You're just afraid of Stockholm Syndrome."
The kid looked anxiously at Taylor, than muttered something to her. She raised her eyebrows, but she responded quietly then stepped back to Chad.
"What was that about?" he asked curiously as they wandered away from the kid.
"He told me to be careful, 'are you sure you want to go anywhere with him? He might try something…'" Taylor rolled her eyes.
"He dislikes me that much?" Chad said with incredulity plain on his face. He hadn't thought his reputation was that bad!
"Well, he's jealous," Taylor replied, casually imparting knowledge that the kid would have died before telling her, "He has a crush on me. He has for years. Damn, it's hot in here!"
"We could go out on the porch," Chad suggested, "It'll be cool there."
"Sure," Taylor shrugged. He led her out the door ignoring knowing looks from both their friends.
"So," he asked her as they sat down on a swinging chair, "what did you tell carrot top?"
"That if you tried to rape me, I'd be sure to yell for him,"
Chad let out an involuntary laugh.
"Now why would I ravish you?" he teased, "I mean, I'm a good guy, really!"
"Sure," she drawled, "Now, was there a reason you stole me?"
"You looked like you wanted kidnapping."
"True." Taylor sighed, "He's a nice kid, and devoted to me, but, I don't know…"
"You were scared," Chad stated, "That's why you never took up with him before. Now, of course, you have me, so you wouldn't want him."
"I was not scared!" Taylor spat, ignoring his native arrogance, "I don't do fright."
Rain began to fall, pattering gently against the roof.
"You're scared a lot; even if you try to hide it, and maybe you do, if only from yourself."
"What am I afraid of?" Taylor retorted icily, but Chad could see the bravado hiding in her opal eyes.
"What you could do; any power of yours. You don't trust yourself, Tay, and that's your problem."
"I don't trust myself with power?" she sneered, ignoring his use of the nickname for once, "I'm not the only one who avoids any spotlight at all, who always defers to others."
"What do you mean?" Chad was on the defensive now, "I'll take credit for my amazing leadership ability."
"In little things, sure," she conceded, "But never in big things. You're as good as Troy, and debatably more devoted, but you never even made a bid for captaincy. Now who's afraid?"
"I prefer to be the power behind the throne," he corrected, "I don't want t take any credit from those who deserve it more."
"What about you? What if you deserve the credit?"
"I get enough. Some friends need it to keep them confidant. I, as you've often said, have an ego big enough for 3. It doesn't need encouraging."
"I don't get that," she admitted, "You like, no love, attention, but you're so loyal. How can you be that devoted? I know I couldn't."
"Me? Loyal?" Chad gave a harsh bark of laughter, "In what world are you living in? You don't want to know how often I've betrayed my friends. Just look at what I almost did to Troy. There are far too many instances."
He hoped she hadn't noticed too many of them. Taylor really could be too observant.
"Fishing for compliments isn't becoming, Chad."
"No, honestly, I'm curious."
She leaned in as if to whisper a secret. He responded by leaning closer as well, until their faces were almost touching.
"You would do anything for a friend, admit it. For yourself, you might be afraid to get power, but for someone you love, you would walk through fire."
She looked beautiful in the rain softened moonlight, Chad mused, only half listening to her words. Impulsively, he leaned in the crucial inch to kiss her. She started to meet him, but turned away at the last moment, so his lips only brushed unsatisfactorily against her cheek. It wasn't coquettish, more nervous.
"See!" he exclaimed, sitting back up, "even now, you're afraid. You're afraid of me, admit it."
"You?" she laughed contemptuously, but there was an undercurrent of regret, "Why would I be afraid of you?"
"You're afraid of how I make you feel. I'm making you lose control, forcing you to act impulsively, and that scares you." His voice dropped, "Passion isn't bad, Tay. It's the same as anything, everything in moderation. Same goes for impulses."
"I can be impulsive!" she protested instinctively.
"Stop hiding from yourself," he snapped, "You've cultivated an Ice Queen Façade to hide your fire."
"I'm not the only one who's hiding," Taylor retorted, going on a sudden offensive, "When is the world going to see one of your poems?"
Chad, who had been studying the now pouring rain, looked at her so quickly she was afraid he would get whiplash.
"How did you know that?" he said slowly. That was one thing not even she should be able to know about.
"You threw one at me last year, 'Icy Fire' I believe it was called, in response to one of my comments," she stated simply.
Chad paled. He hoped she hadn't realized that poem was about her, but with Taylor, that wasn't always a surety.
"It was good, Chad, really good," she continued, "Why don't you tell the world the truth?"
"When was the last time you did something impulsive?"
Taylor opened her mouth to retort, than closed it again. He nodded.
He stood and pulled her up with him.
"Chad!" she protested, "What are you doing? You never answered my question!"
"Just come one!" he replied enigmatically, pulling her to the stairs leading down to the uncovered front yard. He ran down, leaving her standing alone on the steps under the roof as the rain soaked him, weighting his hair straight. Somehow, Taylor decided, it looked just as good as his usual look. But than again, he always managed to look good.
"Come on!" He spun, arms open wide.
"I can't! I'm," she fished for an excuse, "… wearing a white shirt!"
"You think I care?" he winked roguishly at her. She rolled her eyes with find contempt and walked cautiously down the stairs. He gave a loud whoop, and grabbed both her hands and spun her around until they were both dizzy.
"That was…fun!" she said in surprise.
"Reckless impulse usually is," he responded with a wide grin.
From the house, they could hear music playing.
"Forever Young; I love this song!" Taylor exclaimed. Chad stepped in front of her and bowed theatrically.
"May I have the honor of this dance?" he asked with a smile very different from his usual arrogant grins.
"I suppose." Her reluctant act was only that, an act, and he knew it.
She locked her hands together behind his neck as his arms encircled her waist. She lay her head on his shoulder, and they swayed to the soft strains of music emanating from the house.
"Why are we trying this?" she asked softly after a few minutes, "we're such opposites."
He didn't have to ask what 'this' was.
"It worked for Troy and Gabriella," Chad observed, noting absently the way her skin shimmered in the rain.
"But we're a contradiction, even more than them! We're polar opposites! We have nothing in common! This can't work! Why are we trying it?"
Even as Taylor spoke these words, her body contradicted her, melting closer to his.
"Well," Chad murmured gently, his soft voice against her neck running pleasant shivers down her spine, "Maybe some contradictions aren't supposed to be understood."