Title: Cupcakes

Pairing: Troypay

Rating: PG

Summary: Sharpay is broken. Ryan fixes her.

This story has been made possible by my wonder-beta, abster1, and viewers like you! Your continued support makes such endeavors possible!

For Abby, who says she's not the one who need sympathy. I'm thinking of you.

Sharpay's not a bitch.

She's smart. Determined. Methodical. But a bitch? No, not really at all.

Sure, she's spoiled. She's used to getting everything she wants, but she's not used to having everything she wants handed to her. Sharpay, she works for everything she wants. She spends hours practicing with various teachers and instructors to make sure she never ever loses the lead in the musical again. She spends Wednesday nights, not beside a piano, or in her tap shoes, but with Chris Grimke, the nerdy college student tutoring her in calculus.

Sharpay is not just big hair and Dior sunglasses. Sharpay is human, with talents and faults.

Friday night she's alone in the kitchen, making cupcakes. Each red and white paper cup gets exactly three spoonfuls of her homemade batter. Each tray bakes for exactly thirteen minutes. The counter is already full of cupcakes. Some of them are too lopsided, too brown, not brown enough, not round enough, and, as delicious as they all look and smell, not good enough.

For my eighteenth birthday, I got twelve slightly lumpy cupcakes with green frosting and yellow sprinkles. We made them together, standing side by side in the kitchen, laughing and joking around.

"Made with love!" she had announced and hugged me as she handed me one.

"You must not love me that much," I had laughed as I pulled the paper off one and tore it in half.

Shar had only smiled before taking one for herself.

That had been fun. But this, this cannot possibly be fun. Shar's frowning and muttering to herself. Her brow is furrowed in solemn concentration, there's flour smear across her forehead, and her hair is flat.

"What's the point, Shar?"

She barely even looks at me. And only says, "Everything."

Before I can open my mouth again, Sharpay speaks.

"Don't. Don't start. I know what you're thinking; I know what they're all thinking. This is pointless. This is futile and desperate and- and just sad. But it will work," she says resolutely. "It has too," she adds much quieter.

"If it doesn't?"

"Something else."


"You're supposed to be on my side, aren't you? Isn't that what you're here for?"

Something inside snaps.

"That's right, Ryan Evans, eternally second on the marquee. Supporting actor. Supportive brother. Second-best. That's exactly what I'm here for," I say, wishing I didn't sound so bitter.

"Don't, don't you too, Ryan. You know that's not what I mean," her eyes are clouded with unshed tears. "Please, don't," and she looks so close to an edge as she whispers her plea. "I need you, okay? If it weren't for you…"

"You'd be up all night making cupcakes for Troy Bolton's birthday?"

Her laugh is brittle.

"I'm pathetic," and when she's standing there, looking so lost, oil staining her shirt, it's hard to disagree.

"No. No, you're just… you'll be okay, Shar. You're always okay."

She sighs and leans against the marbled counter.

"Will I?" Her eyes are big and round and she looks so raw and young without her façade of make-up. I step towards her and put an arm around her. She leans back against me and sighs softly. "I'm lucky I have you."

"You are," I say seriously. "No one else would put up with your psychopathic baking tendencies."

She hits my arm and smiles. "Hmm. Do you want to help me ice them?"

"Will you come watch So You Think You Can Dance? with me afterwards?"

"I suppose I can fit it in my schedule…"

I pick up the bowl of homemade frosting that she's already dyed red and a knife. Sharpay's smiling now, as she turns on the radio and sings along with Katy Perry.

I like this Sharpay. This Sharpay isn't broken and vulnerable. This Sharpay is my sister, my strong, funny, vibrant sister.

I like this Sharpay, so I decide not to tell her Troy's facebook status has changed from "in a relationship" to "single," and Gabby's already called me in tears to tell me it's because there's someone else Troy has feelings for.

I like this Sharpay, so these things can wait until tomorrow, even though Sharpay will sulk and pout because she didn't know. But now, now she and I will talk and joke and I can be happy knowing she has finally realized she doesn't really need him.

Sharpay takes the cupcake from my hand (apparently, I don't ice well) and shakes her head, grinning.

"You're not doing it right. Here, let me…"

Sharpay is not a bitch.

She's smart. Determined. Methodical.

And really, really lucky.

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