(A.N. Again I'm updating when I have so much else to do! But inspiration struck and hope springs eternal or something like that. This chapter features a jump in time in the play, which is something I had intended to do a lot of. The play isn't entirely written out, but it's more or less formed, and so the scenes of the play are supposed to reflect the story. I actually had most of this chapter written but had to figure out what scene to include in the play portion.)

Ryan wasn't sure who to turn to now. Were he a normal person, he might be able to talk to his parents. You're supposed to be able to trust them, after all, and if you couldn't the whole life cycle thing just wouldn't really work. But he was not a normal person. Normal people were not in love with their sisters, for one. And normal people had parents around sometimes. While Ryan was close to his mother, she wasn't available very often.

And now, with Ryan's sudden realization that anyone could be lying to him at any time, he felt dreadfully alone. He knew he couldn't trust his sister, and strangely enough knowing that for a fact was much more relieving than not knowing if a particular person was trying to pull one on him or not.

"You wouldn't lie to me, would you?" Ryan said as his cat, Snowball, came in to his room. She meowed at him. While Sharpay had her own dog of an appropriate enough breed, he had insisted on getting a cat. It was one of the few times Ryan had stood up for himself and gotten his way, and he was glad, because he loved Snowball. He always was more of a cat person than a dog person. Dogs were friendly and loyal, of course, and they rarely ever lied, but cats didn't lie either. Of course they didn't lie about being the most selfish and self-serving beings in existence, but still, they were honest about it. Sometimes Ryan wondered why Sharpay didn't like cats, since they were just like her, but other times he realized that that was exactly why she didn't like cats.

Ryan began petting Snowball absently as she purred. In any event, Ryan couldn't go to Sharpay with all his problems because one of them was that he was in love with her. That was, in fact, his biggest problem. His second biggest problem was that everyone else in the world was lying to him, but that wasn't easily dealt with. His problem of being in love with Sharpay, however, he could handle. He just needed to tell someone about it.

"Snowball," Ryan said to her. "I'm in love with Sharpay." Snowball meowed.

"Yes, it's true. A terrible, aching love, one not proper for a brother to feel for his sister." Snowball meowed again.

"You won't tell anyone, right?" Snowball meowed a third time. She was a very talkative cat, but Ryan felt he could trust her with this secret.

A sudden idea came to him. Ryan was a trained actor, and he was very good at it. Oh sure, he focused on the singing and the dancing, but that was just an act too, really. If no one else was going to be honest with him, why should he be honest with them? He was already lying about his true feelings for Sharpay, so why would it be so much of a stretch to, say, lie about other things? He could schmooze with other liars and, if he could out-lie them, hopefully come up with the advantage. Or at the very least he could work them into a situation which protocol requires that they do what he wants. It could work.

But could it, really? More to the point, did he have it in him? He very much sincerely doubted so. He couldn't handle it anymore. He felt himself breaking down, and very slowly he began to sob. He cried audibly, but quietly. Still, Sharpay was passing by and heard him.

"Ryan?" she said softly. "Are you crying, you big baby?" She chided him, yet her voice was still soft and soothing rather than cruel. She came over to his bed where he sat and sat down beside him, wrapping her arms around him and leaning her head on Ryan's shoulder. It was ironic that she was trying to comfort him, when Ryan's problems were caused by her. And yet, despite the fact that he was upset both at loving her and at her false nature, he was indeed comforted, strangely but surely, by her physical closeness. He gripped her hands with his own without moving her arms from around him. He looked at her, tears welling in his soft eyes.

"You can tell me anything, Ryan," Sharpay cooed. "I'm your sister, after all." Ah, but he couldn't tell her everything. But perhaps he could tell her something.

"Sharpay, I'm worried that everyone is being false to me and no one really likes me," he said, explaining part of his troubles.

"Aw, Ryan," Sharpay said, looking at him. "People like you! They like you more than they like me, anyway. I mean," she paused. "Remember back last year when you went behind my back, betraying and backstabbing me and -"

"Is this supposed to be helping?"

"Sorry," she said, giving him a squeeze. "But what I mean is, you helped all of them put on a hell of a show. Surely they appreciated you for that. And I, I was just trying to antagonize them."

"I know, but... did they really like me or did they just like getting at you?"

"I don't know," Sharpay admitted. "But I do know this. I will always love you."

"Really?" Ryan said, almost shocked. He blinked through his tears.

"Yes," Sharpay said, shushing him quietly.

Ryan shook his head. He wasn't so sure about that. He knew that Sharpay could be more false to him than anyone. But how could he tell her that? If he told her he was worried about her lying to him, she could just lie and say she didn't. She would, if she were lying to him, and there's no way he could tell then, because either way she would say that she does in fact love him. She continued to hug him, though.

"Ryan, do you want to sleep with me tonight?" Sharpay asked.

Ryan started. Had he heard what he thought he heard? Then again, she probably didn't mean what he had thought.

"Shar, we haven't done that since we were little kids," he said. It was true that when they were younger they would share a bed occasionally. It grew inappropriate for them to do so as they got older, naturally, but given the closeness they shared when their parents weren't looking it wouldn't be strange to Ryan and Sharpay to share a bed. Besides, the house was going to be completely empty until late afternoon the next day.

"I know, but I don't want to leave you alone," she said.

Why did she want him in her bed? Ryan wondered at this. What purpose could it serve? If she genuinely wanted him close to her, she might not be lying about loving him. And if she truly didn't want him to be alone, she might be thinking of him out of love too. The only thing Ryan could see her doing, which was probable anyway, was that she wanted to keep him dependent on her. He wasn't going to give her that pleasure.

"I'll be OK," Ryan said. Sharpay batted her eyelashes and looked at him pleadingly.

"Please? For me?"

Ryan bit his bottom lip. She badly wanted to make sure he was dependent, apparently. Well he wasn't going to let himself become any more emotionally dependent than he already was (if that were possible anyway), but he felt that he could give into this one without too much damage. Plus, he wanted to.

"All right. For you," he said.

Later that night, as Ryan got into Sharpay's bed in his flannel pajamas, he felt like this was somehow right. Somehow, this bed felt more comfortable, although maybe it was. And when Sharpay got in next to him in her sheer nightgown, he felt at ease. She was cuddled up next tom him, holding him, and Ryan wondered if she wanted to be near him as much as he wanted to be near her.

Act II, Scene III

Lord Benvolio's Manor. Malvolio and Bonita are there

Malvolio (Ryan): 'tis I, your husband Benvolio, come home from the day's scouting.

Bonita (Sharpay): Is there any sign of your brother's army?

Mal.: Nay, nay. They seem to have retreated upon seeing our defenses. Except – oh, never mind, I shouldn't bother you with it.

Bon.: With what, pray tell?

Mal.: With news of what that no-good brother of mine is up to.

Bon.: Whatever do you mean?

Mal.: I might as well tell you. Malvolio sighs. We fear that it may be a trick, that he may have something else up his sleeve. We are forunate to have kept up our defenses.

Bon.: Wouldn't the Seeress Larissa have seen it if he did have another plan?

Mal.: (Aside) So this is how my brother knew of my army! My deception already yields worthwhile information. I must find this Seeress! (To Bonita) I don't know, my dear. Perhaps we should convene with her to find out. (Aside again) Though I must be careful – if she can see through my disguise it wouldn't do to have my sister-in-law present while we speak. (To Bonita) I would prefer not to bother you with the details of our battle plans.

Bon.: Bonita Nods. I understand. I'll send for her and leave you alone.

Mal.: (Aside) Ye God, I can't believe that worked. (To Bonita) Thank you my dear. For all our sakes I hope she has seen nothing.