Disclaimer:The Mouse owns High School Musical and the characters within. I'm just borrowing them for awhile. I promise I'll put them back when I'm finished.
Summary: A campout turns disastrous when the gang is taken hostage by a crazed big game hunter.
Pairing: TroyPay, of course.
Time frame: Autumn of their senior year, after the summer at Lava Springs.
Chapter 1: Community Service
"Oooo, listen to this one", Gabriella says with excitement as she reads aloud from a small paperback book. "How to Survive a Bear Attack. Now that could come in handy..."
Sharpay rolls her eyes at the overly enthusiastic brunette and then, turns her head towards the window and tries to figure out what the hell she's doing here. Gabriella is sitting next to Sharpay as they bounce along the rough terrain in the huge Hummer H2 SUV. Troy and Ryan graciously took the third row, but Ryan is barely in his seat as he is straining against his seatbelt in order to lean forward far enough to hear what Gabriella is reading. Troy is staring absentmindedly out the window. He's thinking back to how they came to be here today.
It's the first week of school and Troy is flying high. This is almost as good as the summer. He's got his best bud, Chad and his best girl, Gabriella. Basketball will be starting in a couple of months and his dad has already started training his team with mandatory workouts in the weight room. And best of all, it's the first Friday of the school year and tonight he and Gabriella are double dating with Chad and Taylor. Life couldn't be better.
"Hey, babe", Troy croons into Gabriella's neck as he sneaks up behind her. She twists her head in irritation and scoots away from him.
"Troy...", she admonishes, "I've ask you not to do that in public. It's embarrassing."
"Sorry", he replies sheepishly. "I just wanted to firm up our plans for tonight."
He's leaning against the locker next to Gabriella's while she sorts through all her books, deciding which one's she needs for the weekend.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Troy. I thought I told you. I can't go out tonight. I have a tutoring session."
"Tutoring? You? What on earth do you need tutoring in?"
"Noooo, silly. I don't need tutoring. I am the tutor. My mom says it looks great on college applications."
"But we're talking about Friday night, Gabby --- the first Friday night of the school year."
"Exactly, ... so there'll be lots more before the year is over. We can go out Saturday night", she offers with a peppy smile.
"I can't. We're going to my grandma's on Saturday morning. She lives in Santa Fe and Saturday's her birthday", he finishes with a slight pout on his lips.
"Aaaah, you're so cute when you pout, but we'll have lots of other Fridays. I promise", she reaches over and shyly strokes his cheek with her hand and then, pulls it back quickly before anyone can see. "Hey! Have you already completed your community service requirement for graduation? I know most people have already done it and I'm really behind the curve, but moving here mid-year last year really threw me off."
"Uuuuh, no. I ... uh ... kind of forgot about it. See ... back when I should have been concentrating on it, I was distracted by this really cute girl who just moved to town."
"Really?", she says self consciously. "I distracted you?"
"Every minute of every day", he says sincerely. He steps closer to her and reaches out to wrap his arm around her waist when she suddenly realizes what he's about to do and she steps back.
"Hey, stop that! Now, you're the one distracting me. We need to talk about community service", she insists and then, she starts frantically searching through her backpack for something. "Check this out", she says as she hands a pamphlet to him.
Troy barely glances at it --- clearly not in a mood to talk about community service.
"What do you think?", she chirps.
"What is this?"
"Oh, it's a really worthwhile organization called City Kidz Camping. It's where at-risk inner city kids can come out to the country and go camping, hiking, canoing, etc. You know, stuff they wouldn't get to do otherwise. Doesn't that sound great?"
"I don't understand. What does it have to do with us?"
"Oh! We get to be the camp counselors. It'll look great on our college apps. Let's sign up, okay? We can do it together. Wouldn't that be fun?"
"I suppose", Troy says unenthusiastically.
"The camp starts in the spring, for weekends only, of course. But there's training that we have to do and that starts in two weeks. It sounds pretty easy. There's basic first aid training and CPR, some group dynamics training, ... oh, but the first thing is the basic wilderness survival training", she says with a laugh. "But don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds. It's really just camping for two days in tents and cooking on a campfire, that sort of stuff. I've never actually been camping myself, but I think it sounds like a lot of fun."
This perks his interest. "Camping in a tent for two nights with you?", Troy says wryly as his waggles his brows.
"No, silly. There will be no mixing of the genders. It says so right in the pamphlet." She pokes at the paper authoritatively when she tells him this.
"Still,... it might have possibilities."
"So you'll do it?" At his nod, she jumps for joy. "Oh, this is going to be so much fun. We'll be camping with two guides and another couple in training like us. Wonder who the other couple will be? Wouldn't it be great if it's someone we know?"
At the same time in the guidance counselor's office, an irate Sharpay Evans is trying to restrain herself from choking Mrs. Saar.
"You listen to me, very carefully. I will not be a babysitter for a bunch of juvenile delinquent, drug addict, gang members. Are we clear on that?", Sharpay seethes at the overly calm looking middle-aged woman.
"Now, Sharpay, may I take this opportunity to remind you that East High's character trait for this month is respect. Therefore, I think you should avail yourself of this most treasured characteristic and ..."
"Aaaaaaahh!", screams Sharpay in frustration. "Ryan! Explain things to her! Now, Ryan!"
Ryan, who had been until now, sitting quietly in the other chair in Mrs. Saar's small office, looks up suddenly with big wide eyes. He had obviously not been paying attention to the conversion happening between the two women.
"Uhhh? Oh, right...", he says as he quickly decides that this would be a fine opportunity to practice his impromptu acting skills. "Well, you see, Mrs. Saar, Sharpay suffers from outdoor-a-phobia. She's always been that way. When she was little, mom had to put a bag on her head to get out of the house and into the car. She's better now, of course, but definitely, spending that much time in the forest, especially with children... Did I mention she also has kid-a-phobia too?"
Mrs. Saar is resting her head on hand with an unreadable expression on her face.
"So you're saying ... Sharpay is suffering from agoraphobia and pedophobia? Because if that's the case, I have a friend who specializes in phobia cases and I could recommend that she..."
"Pedophilia?! Oh no! Of course not! Sharpay can't stand to be within ten feet of child. So you definitely don't have to worry about her doing anything ..."
"Ryan!!! Shut it! Now!" Sharpay has definitely heard all she can stand to hear. Then, turning to Mrs. Saar, she plasters on her very best fake smile --- the one she saves for all her adoring fans, and says, "Thank you so much, Mrs. Saar. Ryan and I would simply love to volunteer our time and immerse knowledge to aid any underprivileged youths who need our help."
With that, she turns to leave, but Mrs. Saar stops her. "Excellent decision, Sharpay. Now the first training will be the wilderness survival training in two weeks. You'll be paired with another couple in training along with two wilderness experts for two nights of tent camping in the Arroya National Forest."
"We look forward to the experience", she says in a saccharine sweet voice and then, turning to Ryan, barks, "Ryan! Come!"
Once they are in the hallway, Sharpay grabs Ryan by the collar of his, ever present, dress shirt and shoves him against the nearest row of lockers.
"You call that helping? It's pedophobia NOT, pedophilia! You dolt!"
She releases him and starts to stalk away. He rushes to catch up with her and says, "I was just trying out my improv. And anyway, if you'da just picked the animal shelter like I wanted last year, all the good services wouldn't have been filled up. Maybe it won't be so bad. Mrs. Saar said there'll be another couple there with us. Who knows ... maybe it'll be somebody we know."
"... So in summary, if it's a grizzly, play dead. If it's a black bear, or a grizzly that regards you as prey, don't play dead. In that case, the best thing to do is fight back", Gabriella finishes with relish.
"Wow, that's amazing", Ryan comments, clearly enraptured with her speech. "But wait a minute; how do you tell if the grizzly thinks you're prey?"
"Ummmm", Gabriella says as she searches quickly through the book. "It doesn't say, but it does talk about the best way to hike. You want to hear about that?"
"Please, yes", Ryan says sincerely.
"Please, ... just shoot me and put me out of my misery", Sharpay grumbles.
Troy smirks a little from the backseat. However, no one notices the look that passes between the two "wilderness experts" sitting in the front of the vehicle.
So... what do you think? Please let me know.
Oh there's no such place as Arroya National Forest (at least I don't think so).
Thanks to Going2Alaska for coming up with the title of this story.