"I can't believe he's gone," Sharpay wept.
"Me neither," Chad said, barely managing to restrain his sobs.
They both stood in front of the long mahogany coffin with the picture of a smiling Ryan Evans on top.
"He always hated that picture," Sharpay said, smiling through her tears at the irony of it all.
"Yeah well what do you expect when you let the parents organise the funeral?" Troy whispered with a sad smile on his lips as he joined them in front of the coffin.
The three of them stared at the picture a moment before Sharpay reached out to grab it, Chad replacing it with a picture he had hidden inside his long leather coat. She passed the old picture to him and he tucked it within one of the many pockets he had in the inside lining.
Sharpay reached out once more to tenderly place her hand on top of the wood of the coffin. "Goodbye brother," she whispered before turning to walk back to her seat. On her way she spared a glance in the direction of Taylor who was sat with Gabriella. Both girls did nothing to hide the tears that were streaming down their faces. For a moment, Sharpay's eyes locked with Taylor's in a hard stare that displayed none of the love that they had once shared. Taylor lost her nerve first, using the movement of Gabriella as an excuse to lower her eyes from Sharpay's gaze.
Sharpay carried on walking, sliding into her seat beside Kelsi. She looked at the other girl, who never took her eyes off Gabriella, Sharpay noticing how Kelsi seemed to particularly concentrate on the way the Latino girls hips swayed when she walked.
"Shouldn't you be sitting with her?" Sharpay asked out of genuine curiosity.
"Don't even go there," Kelsi growled dangerously, still not taking her eyes off of Gabriella.
Sharpay was shocked. She had never heard Kelsi talk in such a way to anyone. Well she had but she had never spoken to her that way before. She guessed that Kelsi still hadn't gotten over the fact that Gabriella kept flirting with other women, especially women in rubber.
Sharpay considered the option of moving to sit somewhere else and swivelled in her seat to survey the mostly empty church. Her parents may have organised this funeral but they sure as hell couldn't attend it. They thought that at least by organising it, they would buy them selves a little shred of retribution in the eyes of their daughter. It didn't. It was sad that most of the family had shunned Ryan during his later years. He had graduated from high school with more than halfway decent grades like they all had. It was just his choice to dress up in women's clothing that ostracised him from the family.
Every one of the East High alumni were here today hadn't done as well as they could have in their final exams, with only one of them being accepted to college. They had all been hit hard by the loss of two of their friends to the vile virus AIDS. No one knew how both of them had contracted the disease but it had had a ripple effect throughout the entire group. With Jason gone, both Troy and Chad couldn't concentrate on their basketball anymore and with Martha gone, both Kelsi and Taylor were like lost sheep.
But it had had even worse repercussions some members of the group. At a party after the last ever championship game for the Wildcats, everyone had gotten drunk and eventually paired up with someone. It was just unfortunate for the Evans twins that the people they had paired up with had been Martha and Jason. With all of them still unaware of the virus that was inside them, Chad and Ryan had hooked up as had Jason and Taylor.
Then the deaths had started and the panic took over. The discovery of the virus inside them was made and they soon discovered that none of them could concentrate. Apart from Gabriella, who shut herself off from everybody for over a month, trying to study without letting the outside world affect her. She was the only one who got accepted into college, but had dropped out after only a month, not having enough money to afford it.
Both Sharpay and Ryan were kicked out of the house and cut off from their family's money. This was a decision that was only made easier for their parents when they found out both their children were in homosexual relationships, they both had AIDS and that they both liked to dress in women's clothing.
Troy had moved out of his house voluntarily, as had Zeke. They all moved in together and after a while were joined by Gabriella.
After about two months, Gabriella had moved out again after having a revelation that she was lesbian and had gotten involved in a relationship with a not so reluctant Kelsi, who had picked herself up after the disaster that was her high school exam results and was now attending night classes that, if she were lucky, could lead to her obtaining a law degree.
Zeke, meanwhile, had gotten into a relationship with Kelly, the daughter of the man who owned the apartment building they lived in. They had eloped to Vegas and before Troy, Ryan and Sharpay knew it they were promised free rent on the building for as long as they liked.
Word had spread that the building was rent free now and people from all across Albuquerque had flocked to get a room. Taylor had moved in, as had Chad who had moved with his parents to Santa Rosa after high school.
Sharpay, after learning she had contracted AIDS from Jason, had become ever more reclusive. She had stayed the same for a bit after high school, joining a band in which she sang lead. But the band had split and Sharpay had escaped into herself. She had used drugs to try to help her get over herself, injecting, snorting or smoking anything she could get her hands on. But then Ryan had found out and he had forced her to get clean.
She got clean and tried to concentrate on her music again, but then Taylor had come back into their lives.
Chad had gotten his own place and Ryan had moved with him. Zeke had moved out long ago, to live his new wife and their stupid little yappy dog. Which left just her and Troy in their roof apartment.
Taylor had moved in below them sometime ago, they had just never noticed. Well, Sharpay hadn't. But she certainly had the night Taylor came up to her apartment looking for her.
Troy was often out late into the night, filming the homeless or one of those meetings for people with AIDS that Sharpay never saw the point in attending. As long as she took her AZT's she would be ok, at least until they stopped working and the virus took hold. She didn't need to sit in some circle and listen to strangers stories and have them listen to her and judge her like she knew they would. She really didn't know why Chad and Ryan bothered going.
Those nights it was usually just her and her guitar, but Taylor would often disturb her feeble attempts at song writing and after a while Sharpay just got tired of pushing out the door.
They would sit up most of the night and talk, mainly about trivial things and their own memories of the times they had all shared together as a group back in 'the good old days' of East High. They both knew of the feelings one had for the other, but after the first whirlwind night, they agreed to take it slow and to just get comfortable with each other again.
Well that 'getting to know each other after years spent apart' period had lasted oh about a month, one and a half tops, and thus their love had continued to blossom and grow with disturbance. Then Zeke had gone back on his word and threatened them with eviction, only reconsidering when Taylor met him for dinner.
Sharpay's blood had boiled and she had broken things off with Taylor because of it, pushing her away every opportunity she got. Today was the first time she was in the same room as her since New Years Day.
Sharpay let out a sigh that came out louder than she intended it to be.
She let her eyes wander back to the front where Troy, Chad and now Gabriella were stood. Gabriella had folded herself into Troy's arms and she swore she could feel Kelsi bristle beside her. She swallowed ad counted the seconds until this thing was over and they all got to calm down in the fresh autumn air. Not that she didn't want to have a funeral for her brother, it's just that he wouldn't want his funeral to be remembered as a time when everyone fought and bickered.
Her eyes again scanned those gathered here today, picking out the best dressed guy here. She growled softly as she recognised those Italian shoes and that silk tie.
What's he doing here?
She stared back at Zeke, shooting daggers at him with her eyes.
Now she really couldn't wait for this to be over and for her to get outside.
She was so glad she planned to leave this place forever.
There was nothing left for her here anymore. Her brother was gone, her lover loved somebody else and her friends all had problems of there own.
She had nothing.
Finally it was all over. She walked through the graveyard, ahead of all the others, not really wishing to be drawn into a conversation with them, just wanting to get out of there and get home to finish packing. She was already planning in her head what she was going to take and where she was going to put it all, how she was going to pack it all. But, like all great plans, it didn't work out that way.
"It's true you sold your guitar and brought a car?" she heard a voice sing out from behind her.
Sighing, Sharpay replied, turning on her heel to look back at Taylor and the rest of the group. "It's true – I'm leaving now for Santa Fe," she confirmed. She pointed at Zeke rather rudely, the gesture looking more like she was jabbing at him with her pointer finger. "It's true you're with this yuppie scum?" She emphasised the last word a little bit more than she meant to but she didn't care, the dam had been dented and now a little trickle of the anger she had within her came through.
"You said you'd never speak to him again," Zeke piped up, ignoring the death glare Sharpay was giving him.
"Not now," Taylor waved him off, earning a little smirk from Sharpay before she turned back to start walking up the hill, past all the graves.
"Who said that you have any say in who she says things to at all?" Gabriella joined the argument and Sharpay looked back at her, surprised.
"Yeah!" she added before going to walk by Gabriella.
"Who said that you should stick your nose in other people's..." Kelsi started before she was interrupted by Gabriella who thundered towards her in anger.
"Who said I was talking to you?!" she partially shouted.
Kelsi looked at Taylor and laughed softly. "We used to have this fight each night," she sang now locking her eyes Gabriella, who had now turned away from her.
"Calm down!" Troy tried in vain to shout-whisper over the others to make them stop ruining this day.
"She'd never admit I existed," Kelsi finally finished.
"Everyone please!" Troy still tried even though it was evident no one was interested in him and what he had to say.
"She was the same way," Taylor's voice rang out, stopping Sharpay in her tracks. She was half way up the stairs out of the graveyard but couldn't bring herself to leave while that beautiful voice filled her ears. "She was always 'Run away, hit the road, don't commit.' You're full of shit!"
The dam inside Sharpay that held all her anger at bay was getting seriously dented now. If Taylor didn't stop soon, it would come crashing down and they would have to deal with the full wrath of Sharpay, the girl who had shrugged off the Ice Queen persona ages ago yet held on to the Mountain Lion nickname with an iron grip.
"She's in denial," Kelsi sang, gesturing at the back of Gabriella, just so there was no confusion as to who she meant.
"She's in denial," Taylor seconded, staring deep into Sharpay's eyes.
"Didn't give an inch when I gave a mile!" Kelsi sang/yelled. Gabriella turned as and opened her mouth as if to respond but the words must have turned to ash on her tongue or died in her throat.
She was the only one to actually take Troy's advice. Seeing that he had got through to at least one person spurred him on to continue to try to reach the others; "Come on!" But he was drowned out by Taylor's voice once more ringing out.
"I gave a mile."
Sharpay snorted her laughter before responding, "Gave a mile to who?"
Troy tried again, this time joined in his attempt by Zeke; "Come on guys, chill!"
Their words fell on deaf ears as now both Kelsi and Taylor sang in a harmony that rang out, filling the graveyard with the sound of their beautiful voices.
"I'd be happy to die for a taste of what Ryan had, someone to live for, unafraid to say I love you!"
Tears streamed down Kelsi's face as she sang, which was a complete contrast to Taylor who wore a mask of complete anger. Sharpay looked down at her and the dam inside her broke.
"All your words are nice Taylor, but loves not a three way street," Sharpay spat back in Taylor's face. How dare she use her brother to make her feel guilty? "You'll never share real love, until you love yourself! I should know!"
Sensing that this could easily get out of hand and that Troy and Zeke were not doing anything to calm the situation, Chad barged in. He had physically push Sharpay back so she was no longer leaning into Taylor's face.
"You all said you'd be cool today, so please for my sake," he stared hard at Sharpay, willing her with his eyes to calm down. He then turned to face the rest of them, determined not to let them spoil this day any more than they already had. He looked down from where he stood by Sharpay on the steps, despair filling him at the sights that met his eyes. Kelsi stood there, tears streaming down her face while Gabriella stood with her back still to her and he knew it was so no one saw her cry. Troy stood with Zeke, both of them looking down sombrely at the ground beneath their feet. He moved down the steps, away from Sharpay and more towards Taylor, anger still twisting her face horribly. He looked at them all and continued; "I can't believe he's gone." He looked back up at Sharpay with nothing but sadness in his eyes. "I can't believe you're going." He looked down at Troy with tears in his eyes. "I can't believe this family must die." He had now reached the bottom of the stairs and was now standing right beside Taylor whose eyes were still locked on Sharpay. He looked at her in the hopes she would met his gaze and continued softly; "Ryan helped us believe in love, I can't believe you disagree."
Taylor lowered her eyes from Sharpay for the first time in minutes and tried to look at Chad but found she couldn't hold his gaze. She looked down at the ground in shame. She had spoiled this day for them all.
I'm sorry Ryan.
She opened her mouth and let out the words that summed up how she felt. Apparently everyone else felt the same way because when she let the words pour from her soul, she found her voice was only one of many putting a voice to how she felt inside.
"I can't believe this is goodbye."
Everyone looked at one another, almost daring the others to move first. Sharpay was the first to 'give in'. She let a single tear fall from her left eye as she turned to leave. Taylor watched her go. She wanted to call out to her, to tell her to wait, to not leave, to give them another chance, but it seemed her voice had left her. She took no notice as Troy brushed past her to run to catch up to Sharpay, for once he was without his beloved camera and it almost seemed he couldn't wait to get back to it.
As to where Chad went, she had no clue. When Zeke appeared behind her and touched her shoulder, making her turn, he was simply not there. She stared past Zeke at Kelsi and Gabriella who were consoling one another with quiet whispers and soft kisses. She felt tears roll down her cheeks as she couldn't help but wish that was her and Sharpay.
She let herself be lead away from them by Zeke but continued to stare longingly at the love they shared.
Troy returned home after going out for a walk. The day had really gotten to him; he wasn't used to so much fighting and everyone being so emotional. He stood outside the door, using his sleeve to wipe away the tears that dropped from his eyes. He sniffed rather loudly to clear his nose and was answered with a loud bang that came from within. Tears forgotten he went inside. He looked at the various bags strewn around on the floor and remembered that Sharpay was leaving for Santa Fe. He sighed loudly, he never actually though Sharpay would go through with this. Today was just getting worse with every second. First came the funeral, now Sharpay leaving... today couldn't get any worse.
He watched as Sharpay came into the room, lugging one bag behind her. She hadn't noticed him yet. He looked at all the bags and let a sad smile play on his lips as he went to help her. He grabbed the bag and opened his mouth, avoiding her gaze; "I hear there are great restaurants out west."
"Some of the best," Sharpay answered, not missing a beat. "How could she?"
Troy knew immediately who she was talking about, who else could it be? "How could you let her go?"
Anger sparked inside Sharpay. "You just don't know," she snapped. Not wanting to have a fight now she calmed herself, changing the subject. "How could we lose Ryan?"
"Maybe you'll see why, when you stop escaping your pain. At least now if you try, Ryan's death won't be in vain," Troy pleaded with her, stopping where he stood, still holding onto her bag.
Sharpay marched up to him ad reached for her bag. "His death is in vain!" she spat in his face, snatching her bag back from him.
Troy stayed where he stood, a disbelieving look on his face. "Are you insane?" her asked her, his tone almost angry. He softened his tone as he continued, not wanting to sound too harsh. "There's so much to care about, there's me there's Taylor."
"Taylor's got her baggage too."
"So do you."
Sharpay swivelled on her heel to give him a look that let him know she would kill him if she could. "Who are you to tell me what I know, what to do?"
"A friend!" Troy opened his arms out to Sharpay, almost as if he wanted to hug her but he couldn't quite bring himself to do it.
"But who Troy are you?"
Troy had no answer for this, not quite understanding what it was Sharpay meant.
"'Troy has got his work'," Sharpay started in an almost mocking tone. "They say 'Troy lives for his work' and 'Troy's in love with his work. Troy hides in his work." Sharpay did nothing to disguise the venom in her voice as she sang that to Troy's face.
"For what?!" Troy asked incredulously, a baffled look on his face.
"From facing your failure, facing your loneliness, facing the fact you live a lie," Sharpay sang again to Troy's face, letting him know she meant every word she uttered. "Tell you why, you're always preaching not to be numb when that's how you thrive." Troy opened his mouth to try to interject but Sharpay didn't give him a chance, carrying on as she had, needing to finish her little tirade. "You pretend to create and observe when you really detach from feeling alive."
This time Troy saw his chance to get a word in and he grasped at it with both hands. "Perhaps that's because I'm the one of us, to survive!" As soon as the words had left his mouth he regretted them. He had crossed the line and they both knew it. He shouldn't have brought up her illness in an argument, it wasn't fair.
Sharpay just stood there for a moment, shocked and disbelieving that Troy had actually just said that to her. After a moment, that uncertainty was gone. Left in its place was rage.
"POOR BABY!" she yelled at him before slinging her bag over her shoulder and walking towards the door. Sharpay was just about to open the door when she heard a strong voice call her back.
"Taylor still loves Sharpay, is Sharpay really jealous? Or afraid that Taylor's weak?"
"Taylor did look pale," Sharpay muttered to herself more than Troy.
Troy saw that he was getting through to Sharpay and tried even more, pushing it until he pushed it too far. "Taylor's gotten thin; Taylor's running out of time, Sharpay's running out the door."
"No more," Sharpay said, again more to herself than to Troy, wiping at her at her face. She then turned to face Troy, telling him to leave it. "No more! I've gotta go."
She reached for the door handle and slid the first door open.
In a last ditch attempt to get her to stay, Troy searched inside of him for something to say. Finding something, he finally yelled it so probably most of the building could hear him.
"For someone who's always been let down, who's running out of town?!"
Sharpay turned back to stare at him, anger blazing in her eyes. It didn't take her long to come up with a retort.
"For someone who longs for a community of his own, who's with his camera? Alone?"
Sharpay watched his face fall as she yelled back. That was when she realised that all he wanted was for her to stay. She walked back in to hold his shoulder comfortingly.
"I'll call," she said, a small smile playing on her lips.
He looked back up at her and returned her small smile, adding a small hint of sadness to it. He stood up straight and pulled her into a hug. "I hate the fall."
Sharpay separated from him and walked back towards the door and pulled on the second one so it swung open. The sight she saw there, framed by the little door way made her heart break.
Tears streaming down her face, taking her mascara with it, Taylor tried to manage a smile and failed miserably. "Every word."
Taylor reached for the banister that ran along the stairwell, using it to pull herself up into a standing position. She locked eyes with Sharpay and Sharpay felt her heart thud harder against her chest as she stared into those pools of chocolate that she had fallen in love with so long ago.
"You don't want baggage without lifetime guarantees," Taylor sang, taking a tentative step towards Sharpay. The pain in her face and her eyes made Sharpay's heart stop thudding against her chest and slow until it almost didn't beat. "You don't want to watch me die?"
Tears started to slide down Taylor's face and Sharpay felt her heart ache for her. "I just came to say goodbye love, goodbye love," Taylor's face was so earnest and filled with pain, both emotional and physical, that Sharpay's heart couldn't take it anymore. She felt it shatter inside her chest like a mirror that had just been broken. She felt every shard tear into her inside, as if her heart were so brittle at this withdrawal from love that it was nothing more than a shell which broke into razor sharp splinters that were now shredding her apart inside. This was the exact situation that she wanted to avoid. Maybe that made her a coward but she didn't care. She didn't want this. Both she and Taylor had suffered enough pain recently, she just didn't want to add to that pain. At least that was her excuse. The reality was that she was just pathetic.
Tears welled up in her eyes and she couldn't stand to look at the blurry outline that Taylor had now become. This did not deter the other girl though, serving instead to spur her on, the pain fading from her voice and anger taking its place.
"Came to say, goodbye love, goodbye. Just came to say..."
This was it for Sharpay, the straw that broke her back. She needed to try to get through to Taylor, to tell her why she had to go. She heard the anger in her voice and understood perfectly where it was coming from. She didn't want to leave it like this, she didn't want to leave with Taylor angry at her. She was the only person ever that Sharpay had truly loved. She was certain she would never feel this way about any body ever again in the limited time that she had left on this earth. She blinked the tears from her eyes and looked back up to find Taylor not three feet from her.
"Glory!" her voice rang out, mingling with Taylor's until the sound of them both filled the stairway.
"Goodbye love." Taylor responded, her voice losing some of the power she had sang with before. The determination in Sharpay's eyes scared her slightly. She knew not what it was there for or why indeed it was there, and not knowing things scared Taylor.
"One blaze of..." Sharpay realised the intensity of her eyes was too much. She had tried to hard to show her determination and had left no room for the real emotion she was feeling inside; love.
"Goodbye love." Taylor unconsciously smiled a little at the sight of her lover's eyes softening. When she saw the love that shone from within them she took another, more certain, step forward towards her blonde goddess.
"Glory." Everything about Sharpay softened; her voice became more supple, and her posture more yielding to Taylor.
"Goodbye love." Taylor stepped forward and so did Sharpay until they were standing in front of one another. Sharpay wrapped her arms around Taylor's waist, pulling her towards her, and Taylor in turn threaded her arms round Sharpay's neck, pulling her head down until their foreheads were resting on each other. "Goodbye..."
"I have to find..." And Taylor finally understood. She wasn't the reason she was going, this was just something that she thought she had to do. Sharpay never took her eyes off of Taylor's and the seconds for which they stood there seemed to stretch on for years. Everything else dropped away and it was only them stood there. They each started to lean in for their final parting kiss when Sharpay caught sight of a figure in the shadows on the stairs. The figure stepped forwards out of the shadows, revealing himself as a bad reminder of why Sharpay couldn't kiss Taylor.
Sharpay promptly pulled away from Taylor, not letting their lips get within an inch of each other. She lowered her eyes to the floor and walked around Taylor to get to the top of the stairs. She walked as fast as she dared down them and pushed past Zeke, secretly hoping he would fall flat on his face. Without even sparing a glance backwards to get one last glimpse at the life she was leaving behind, Sharpay pushed the big double doors open and got into the old rusted Chevy she had parked up out front, ready fro her to jump in and drive away.
It was a good thing Sharpay didn't look back otherwise she would have seen Zeke walking up to her Taylor and trying to comfort her. Before he even touched her she flinched away from him, secretly blaming him for what had just happened. "Please don't touch me understand I'm scared, I need to get away." Taylor stepped away from both Zeke and Troy who had now emerged from his apartment.
Taylor started to shake violently. She tried to hide it but all that did was make it more obvious that she was shaking. She silently cursed herself.
"I know a place, a clinic." Troy tried to offer his help even though he only expected to be ignored. After all it wouldn't be the first time today no one really listened to him.
Zeke rolled his eyes, slightly annoyed at the snubbing he was receiving off of Taylor. Then he took one look at Taylor and his heart and expression immediately softened. He knew Taylor was going through a rough patch in her life and that the only thing that made her feel even slightly better was Sharpay who had just left, probably because of him. He owed her. "A rehab?"
Taylor answered without even realising that she was admitting she had a problem. "Maybe." Then she realised that there was no way she could possibly go. Unless...
She turned to Zeke, a look of utter desperation on her face. "Will you?"
Zeke nodded biting his bottom. "I'll pay."
Feeling tears coming to her eyes, she ran as fast as she could down the stairs to her apartment on the floor below. She didn't want to break down in front of both Troy and Zeke, she couldn't let herself.
She wasted no time doing useless things like closing the door or even pausing to switch the lights on. She raced to the window, silently praying that she could catch one last peek of that blonde hair, even if all she saw was the back of her head.
Her heart leapt as she dashed out onto the fire escape to see her Sharpay pull away from the curb.
Tears creating rivers down her face, she sang out loud and proud, in one last futile attempt at getting her to stay. If it didn't work, maybe at least it would get her to look back so Taylor could see that beautiful face one last time. And if she was really lucky then maybe she would look back and give her that million dollar smile that always succeeded in lighting up a room.
"Goodbye love, goodbye love! Came to say, goodbye love, goodbye. Just came to say goodbye love, goodbye love!"
This evidently wasn't Taylor's lucky day. She got no smile, no last glance, not even a flick of the hair. The tears streamed faster down her face until she couldn't see anything except blurry shapes. Her beeper went off as Sharpay's white Chevy turned the corner. At least she thought it was her white Chevy...
"Goodbye love, goodbye love."
She reached into one of the pockets hidden in her skirt to get her AZTs. She plucked on out and held it to her mouth for a moment before she let it drop. She leant forward on the railing and tipped the contents of the small cylinder to the street below.
Sharpay was gone. She had no more reason to live. Now she just had to wait for the virus to take hold...
What do you think? Is it any good or should I just delete it?
I might continue this with a Gabriella/Kelsi centric chapter which would most likely be with the song Take Me Baby Or Leave Me
Please leave me a review saying what you think.