A/N: I am a huge Ryan & Gabriella fan. This is my first fic so please be kind and leave some feedback. Thanks!

The Highest Bidder – Chapter 1

Gabriella twirled the red and white streamers while Taylor taped one end at the edge of the stage.

"This is a bad idea," Taylor muttered as she ripped another piece of tape off the roll.

"What is?" Gabriella asked as she taped her end to the opposite side of the stage.

"This auction!" Taylor exclaimed, throwing her arms up in the air.

"I think it's a great idea!" Gabriella responded. "It'll help raise money for the theater and basketball program."

Taylor stared incredulously at her friend. "It's a degrading, sexist, superficial, disgusting tribute to the horrific practices of slavery and indentured servitude, and I just—"

"Hey girls!" a peppy, sugar-coated voice interrupted Taylor's tirade.

Taylor rolled her eyes as Sharpay entered the room, her heels clicking against the stage as she bounced towards the two friends.

"Hi Sharpay," Gabriella greeted with her signature dimpled grin.

Sharpay ignored Gabriella as she brushed past the brunette, eyeing the roll of tape in Taylor's hand. "What is that?" she sneered, a hint of disgust in her voice.

Taylor glared at the blonde. "Masking tape," she growled, speaking slowly to ensure that the blonde could comprehend her response.

"Ew," Sharpay responded, wrinkling her nose. "Why are you using that gross vomit-colored tape?"

Taylor looked over at Gabriella in disbelief. Taylor and Gabriella had worked for three days planning and decorating the auditorium and this whole thing was Sharpay's stupid idea. Gabriella shrugged her shoulders, smiling with amusement at Sharpay's typical behavior.

"Nevermind," Sharpay huffed, opening her Louis Vuitton purse and pulling out her cotton-candy pink phone. "Ryan?" she said, much louder than necessary. "Get over here right this instant before this whole auction is ruined!" She snapped the phone shut with a flourish and Gabriella was certain Sharpay hadn't waited for Ryan to respond. "There, now that that's taken care of, why don't you girls make sure these fliers are put in every locker by lunchtime." It was a command, not a request.

Taylor crossed her arms, refusing to take the stack of pink papers Sharpay had pulled out of her purse. Sharpay gave Taylor the evil eye and turned to Gabriella. Shoving the stack of papers at Gabriella, Sharpay said with a plastered smile, "I hope you saved up this summer, Gabby."

Gabriella shook her head, noting the condescending use of her nickname. "Of course. I needed that job to help pay for college next year."

Sharpay snickered, flicking her hand, "No, silly. I mean for the auction. After all, Troy is the most popular boy in school. I'm sure a lot of girls will pay a lot for a date with him. You don't want some girl to get your man, do you?"

"And by 'some girl', you mean YOU?" Taylor hissed, shoving Sharpay by the shoulder.

Sharpay gaped at Taylor in feigned shock. "I have no idea what you mean! I was just warning poor Gabby that she should watch out." Sharpay glanced over at Gabriella with a smirk on her lips. "I mean, you and Troy have already broken up twice in the past year. That can't be good." She patted Gabriella on the shoulder. "I'm only looking out for you, Gabby."

Taylor stepped forward to smack Sharpay but Gabriella pulled her back. Gabriella put her hands on her hips and smiled sincerely at the blonde. "Both times, Troy came back to me and never gave you a second look. So you can keep trying, Sharpay, but it's really starting to make you look desperate. You don't want people to think that, do you?"

Sharpay gasped, her mouth wide open. "Well!" she exclaimed.

Gabriella grinned and patted Sharpay on the shoulder. "It's okay. I'm only looking out for you, Paypay."

Sharpay's eyebrows knitted together as her face twisted in anger and she glared at Gabriella. "Hmph," she shouted. She turned on her heel and stomped right out of the room, her shoes clicking on the floor a lot harder than when she had entered.

Taylor and Gabriella glanced at each other for a moment before they both broke out into a fit of giggles. Taylor put her arm around her friend and commented, "That girl will never learn."

The two girls grabbed their things and walked side-by-side out of the auditorium, laughing and discussing what still needed to be done for the auction that night.

Sharpay stood behind the curtain, her hand tightly gripping her purse. She murmured to herself, "I'll show you, Gabriella. We'll see how giggly you'll be once I win the date with Troy and he finally sees how much better I am for him."

"Hey sis!" Ryan greeted, walking cheerily up to Sharpay. "You rang?"

Sharpay smirked, turning to her brother. "Ryan, all's fair in love and war, wouldn't you agree?"

Ryan stared at his sister, completely bewildered. "Uhh, I guess."

"Good, now go fix the mess that Taylor girl did to the stage," she commanded, gesturing towards the decorations Gabriella and Taylor had put up. "Everything has to be perfect tonight."

Ryan nodded, though he was still confused by his sister's behavior. He shrugged as she walked away, certain that he would never understand the inner workings of Sharpay Evans.

Though he was done being Sharpay's lapdog, he let her keep thinking she could tell him what to do. After what happened in the summer, he felt like it gave her comfort to know at least something in her life was still the same. Ryan turned to examine the work that Taylor and Gabriella had already put into the decorations. He smiled, thinking it looked fine to him. He knew it just needed the Ryan Evans touch and it would be perfect.