(gasps) What's this? A story outside of the Harry Potter fandom? Moi? Yes, it's true. Try not to collapse with shock or anything; it's still slash. I just saw High School Musical and was totally bitten, so there you go.

Disclaimer: I do not own High School Musical: it belongs to the people of Disney. I do however think that they missed a great opportunity in not giving Ryan and Sharpay a lot more screen time. But my opinion is irrelevant. (sobs)

Warning: Guy-on-guy action. The squeamish and the homophobic should run away screaming now. Oh, and I split up Chad and Taylor. Please don't hurt me!

Tiny little note: I know I should be working on A Snake Among The Lions chappie 8, but this hijacked the system. I was powerless to resist. (shrugs) Oh, and the timeline for this is all screwed up. I don't get the American school day, so you're going to have to suspend reality and pretend their screwy schedules make perfect sense. Are we all on board? Lovely. On with the show…


"Heads up!"

Chad leapt into the air and caught the basketball, watched as Troy ran past towards the hoop, and passed it back to him almost as soon as his foot touched ground. Troy took a shot, scored, and threw the horns in celebration, crowing loudly and grinning like a madman. Chad only allowed himself a small chuckle. Troy noticed.

"Hey man, what's up with you?" He scooped the ball up and tucked it under his arm.

"Nothing really." Chad took the ball and dribbled a few feet, then stopped, seemingly lost. "It's just…I've always been about the basketball, right?"

"Right."

"And that was cool. There wasn't really any reason to want to do anything else, you know?"

"With you so far."

"And then you did the singing thing, and suddenly everybody was doing other stuff and loving every second."

"So?"

"So…I never did other stuff."

Troy shrugged. "Well, it's not like you have to. If you're happy with basketball then there's not really any point."

"But that's the thing! I'm wondering if basketball is all I am. What if you never met Gabriella? Would you be as happy as you are now if you hadn't found singing?"

"I…guess not…never really thought about it."

"See!" Chad cried, not really listening. "I want to find my singing thing!"

"But what if your singing thing is basketball?"

This time Chad shrugged. "I'd like a chance to find out."

Troy took a long hard look at his best friend. He seemed serious enough.

"Okay." He said at last, wondering why he was giving Chad permission to go ahead with his soul-searching. "We'll find your singing thing."

"Great!" Chad laughed and pulled Troy into a big bear hug. "So where do we start?"

"Well…what do you like to do? Other than basketball."

"I don't know. I guess I like watching MTV."

"Great, so we'll start with singing!"

Chad blanched. "No man, I'm no singer. No way."

"So try dancing then."

A pause. A smile.

"Yeah! I'm always dancing in my room. That's it! I'll try dancing! Troy, can you help me?"

"Sorry man, I'm no dancer. But I know a guy who is."

"Who?" The instant the question left his mouth Chad already knew the answer. "No. No, you are not gonna set me up with one of the Evans twins!"

"Aw come on, Danforth! Ryan's probably the best dancer in the school and you know it! Besides, the Evans twins aren't that bad. Just a little…overbearing."

A look of purest murder crossed Chad's face. "He'll try and co-ordinate my clothes, Troy. Worse, he'll try and give me an outfit."

Troy smirked. "But he'll teach you to dance. It won't be that bad at all. Remember, Ryan is the human one. It's Sharpay you have to watch out for."

"Fine!" Chad threw his hands up in submission. "I'll do it." He jabbed a warning finger in Troy's face. "But if he tries to get me to wear a hat, I am holding you personally responsible."

Troy just cracked up at the thought of Ryan trying to wrestle Chad's massive 'fro into one of his stylish caps.


Ryan Evans looked at the two jocks before him, fresh from the court and still wearing their jerseys. He wasn't entirely sure he had heard them correctly.

"You want me to teach you to dance?"

Chad nodded.

"Really?"

"Really, really."
Ryan still held a look of confusion. They must have been unable to find a dance teacher elsewhere; Ryan was never the first choice for anybody. Drama was all he was good at, and even then people always approached Sharpay before him. She must have shot them down in flames, although she never used to be able to refuse Troy anything. Strange; Zeke's cookies must have flushed that crush right out of her system.

"You really want me to teach you to dance?"

"YES!" Chad and Troy cried.

"But, I'm just teaching Chad, right? Not Troy."

"That's the plan." Troy sighed. Ryan shrugged and cast an appraising eye over Chad. He had eager eyes, a bright winning smile, a wild brown afro – so 70's – an unimaginative wardrobe, if memory recalls, to match an unimaginative boy, and long gangly limbs meant for the basketball court, not the dance floor. Still, he had a good awareness of his movements; one advantage of that wretched sport, and he could keep a rhythm. He had the potential to make an excellent dancer…which was exactly why Ryan couldn't teach him a thing. Troy had already outshone him as a singer (although his acting was worse than Paris Hilton's, thank God). There was no way he could afford to be danced out of the spotlight too. If there was one thing his dear sister Sharpay had taught him, it was be the best you can be, and eliminate anyone better.

"Sorry boys, no can do. I'm all danced out 'till the Winter Production."

And with that he turned on his heel and sauntered out of the auditorium, leaving two very deflated jocks in his wake.

"What was that?" Chad demanded after recovering from the shock. He had not just been blown off by a drama geek!

Troy shook his head. "That was Ryan dealing with the competition."

"Yeah well who needs him? I'll dance on my own!" Chad yelled at the door.

"Hey man, take it as a compliment. He obviously thought you were good enough to rival him."

"I'll do more than rival him, I'll kick his butt! I'll dance all over his sorry ass!"

Troy placed a soothing hand on Chad's shoulder only to have him pull away and storm out of the opposite door to Ryan, swiftly leaving his best friend very alone in front of the stage. Without knowing why, Troy shivered, and then walked out, suddenly desperate to see Gabriella.


Gabriella, meanwhile, was talking to Taylor over a steaming flask of chemicals. They seemed completely enraptured by the conversation.

"Gabby, you would not believe how awful it truly was."

"Was it that bad?"

"I should think his pick-up line was a testament to just how bad it was. 'It must be your lucky day'? What was I thinking saying yes to such an arrogant proposal? It just had 'Neanderthal' written all over it!"

Gabriella watched the contents of the flask change colour, noted it down, and wrinkled her nose in concentration. "Are you sure you gave him a fair chance? Maybe he was nervous?"

"Nervous?" Taylor snorted. "He was anything but! All throughout the date he was acting as if I should have been honoured that he asked me out, like he was God's damn gift! I felt like a trophy, not a date. He just asked me out because he thought he should, not because he liked me."

"Aw, come on, he liked you."

"As a comrade. A colleague. Maybe even a friend. But not as a girlfriend. We both just got caught up in the rush of winning the Scholastic and the Championship and getting you and Troy into the show all in the same day. We have since learned that we are not compatible date-wise."

"I'm sorry Taylor."

"I'm not! Who wants to date a jock?"

Gabriella gave a small deliberate cough.

"Well, apart from you." Taylor shrugged. "Besides, Troy doesn't count. He's beyond a jock; he is the singing jock. And you're the singing math freak. You fit. Chad and I don't."

"I guess." Gabriella sighed. "I'm still sorry you didn't work out."

Taylor smiled at her friend. She was so romantic; she wanted everybody to be in love now that she was. Well, Taylor didn't have time for guys right now. She had to focus all her energy on her studies. Blockheads like Chad Danforth were not going to distract her.

Lunch came around all too swiftly for Taylor. She fully expected Chad to come ambling up behind Troy as he made his way over to where Gabriella (and consequently, Taylor) was sitting. Yet there was no sign of him at all.

"Hey you!" was Troy's greeting as he sat down. Gabriella grinned and fed him a French fry. There was still no Chad, no matter where Taylor looked she couldn't see him, and he wasn't exactly hard to miss. She was puzzled to say the least.

"Where's Chad?"

Troy tore himself away from Gabriella's eyes. "Hm? Oh, Chad! Yeah, he's spending lunch dancing."

"What?"

"Dancing." He repeated. "He wants to find his 'singing thing', so he's working out this dance routine."

"Aw, that's sweet!" said Gabriella. "See, maybe there's something more to Chad than meets the eye." She gave Taylor a meaningful look.

"Maybe…" Taylor was even more puzzled. "So he's working out a dance routine because he wants to find his 'singing thing'?"

"Well, technically he's working out a dance routine to show Ryan Evans that he can dance. He kind of shot him down earlier when he asked him to teach him."

Taylor sighed. She knew it wasn't what it seemed. "So what was originally a venture to find himself has now become a struggle of ego?" Troy shrugged in way of answer. Taylor huffed and threw her eyes skyward in disgust. Why did guys have to make everything about ego?


Meanwhile, Ryan and Sharpay had taken up residence at their usual table with the Drama Club, which still didn't include Troy and Gabriella. Sharpay was still sore about that, but she was torn between wanting them to join out of principle because they stole the show and not wanting them to join out of spite because they stole the show. Presently she was vocalising this dilemma, not letting anybody else get a word in edgeways, though this was nothing unusual. Ryan sighed into his ice tea. He had hoped that after Troy and Gabriella smashed the clique boundaries, Sharpay would loosen her vice-like grip on the whole school and let him voice an opinion or two, but alas! Within a few weeks after the final curtain call on Twinkle Toes everybody had drifted back to their original groups, doing their original stuff, with only the few exceptions such as Zeke and his cute little baking. When Ryan had first found out about that he had a strong image of the basketball player in a frilly apron pulling a fresh batch of cookies out of the oven, and now he cracked up every time he saw him. Just thinking about it brought a smirk to his face, which Sharpay swiftly picked up on.

"What are you smiling about?" she demanded.

"Nothing! Whether or not Troy and Gabriella should join the Drama Club is a very serious issue!"

Seemingly satisfied, Sharpay nodded and continued whittling away with her anti-Troy and Gabriella sermon. Ryan had to chug down his ice tea to stop himself from giggling like a girl.

Five minutes later he felt nature calling. He had to stop drinking ice tea at lunch; it went right through him!

"Excuse me, gotta use the little boys' room." He explained before standing up and hot-footing it to the boys' bathroom. He reached the door and put his weight against it, expecting it to swing open, but it didn't. It was locked.

"Damn!" He tried again, this time putting his whole weight against the door and pushed, but it still wouldn't budge. He briefly considered trying to break the door down, but he had the strength of a gnat and the pain tolerance of a two-year-old. Thoughts of an agonising broken shoulder wrestled with the urgent pressing on his bladder, until his attentions were drawn to something else…he could hear music coming from the bathroom!

"Now I've really got to get inside!" Ryan muttered to himself as curiosity hooked its claws into the corners of his brain and gave it a good yank. He tapped his foot impatiently as he tried to think of a way to get the door open, but discreetly, so he wouldn't disturb whoever was in there.

What would Sharpay do? He asked himself. Suddenly he was struck by a brainwave! Excitedly, he scrabbled around in his pockets, searching for his stash of just-in-case items. His eyes lit up and he yanked out a single hairpin, kept for whenever Sharpay lost one of hers and had a 'major hair emergency'. He shoved it in the keyhole and rooted around, waiting for it to go 'click!' like in the movies. It didn't happen. He tried again at a different angle, and again, and again, until eventually he got the feel for it and tripped just the right part.

Yay for me! I'm a super-sleuth! He cried in his head, mindful of disturbing the guy with the music. It was hip-hop; fast and thumping – the kind that makes you want to break-dance even though you know you can't. Quietly, Ryan nudged the door open and peered round so that he could see the guy with the music, but the guy with the music couldn't see him. He gasped at the first glimpse of the all-too familiar hair, bobbing up and down like a frizzy marshmallow. His jaw dropped as he watched the body move in fluid, desperate motions, keeping to the beat as though the music was in his head, not coming out of the stereo. He had never seen anybody dance so…he couldn't even describe it. It was just so raw, and yet so much more than that…he couldn't stop watching! He watched as Chad Danforth repeated the same moves over and over, spinning and snapping, getting more desperate with each turn. Then suddenly, the fury disappeared and Ryan could see that Chad was lost, completely lost in what he was doing. Fury left behind passion, desperation left behind freedom. This was his rapture, his bliss. And Ryan had tried to deny him this because he felt threatened.

Suddenly Chad stopped dancing, aware of Ryan peeking from the behind the door. "What the hell are you doing here?" he cried, switching off the music. "I thought I locked the door!"

Ryan stared at Chad with his mouth hanging open like a goldfish. He took a real good look at the jock before him, almost seeing him for the first time. He was panting from the dancing and a few beads of sweat were glistening on his brown skin. He was working hard in there…really hard. He was serious about this. Ryan looked up and met Chad's brown eyes with his own. He could see the determination and the passion burning behind them. He knew what he had to do.

"I changed my mind. I want to help you."

"Come again?" Chad spluttered. "Weren't you 'all danced out'?"

Ryan ignored the quote. "Look, you're really good…"
"You bet I am! I don't need you to teach me. Heck, I don't even want you to! So just turn your little Gucci-covered tail around and get lost!"

Ryan sighed. "It's Armani, but that's besides the point." He put on his best I'm-talking-to-you-as-an-equal-here face (which, to be honest, wasn't used all that often) and chose his next words very carefully. "You ARE really good. You have talent coming out of your pores! But you're not gonna get anywhere if all the practice you have is in the bathroom with a boom box and a vague idea of a routine."

Chad cocked an eyebrow. "So you're going to help me out of the kindness of your heart?"

Ryan nodded. "Yeah."

"Even if I turn out to be better than you?"

"Sure. Troy took singing. You might as well take dancing too. I mean I can still act circles round you guys so…it's cool I guess." He gave a nonchalant shrug which completely knocked Chad for six. The tone of his voice was so… blunt and…not like Ryan. Suddenly Chad understood why Ryan had blown him off in the auditorium; drama meant everything to him. He didn't have anything to fall back on if it disappeared because, say, a few guys stole all his spotlight. So why would he want to help him now? Had he just given up altogether?

"What changed your mind?" Chad asked.

"The way you moved." Ryan answered simply. "You were free. I could relate. That's how I feel when I'm on stage performing. I couldn't deny you your wings."

Chad paused to think. He didn't want to admit it, but he could do with Ryan's help. He just wasn't sure he could trust him; this could all be some elaborate plot to make sure his chances of dancing were ruined. After a deep breath he made up his mind, drew himself up to his full height and looked directly into Ryan's eyes, brown against blue, and initiated a primal declaration of war.

"Okay drama geek, teach me." He threw down the gauntlet and watched as Ryan picked it up (metaphorically speaking, of course).

"I'll show you everything I know." Ryan smiled. "But not right now."

"Why not?"

"Because I have to pee. Now get outta my way before I wet my very expensive ARMANI pants!" Ryan emphasised the word Armani by theatrically widening his eyes, causing Chad to burst out laughing as he let the blonde past. What was that, a sense of humour? Maybe Ryan wasn't as bad as he first thought…

END PART 1...