Okay, weirdness. I couldn't access this story at all, and then it just disappeared. So I'm just re-uploading it, see if it happens again.

A/N: Let us satiate the masses (over-statement) waiting for Like A Prayer and All You Need and gift them with a short (very short actually), hopefully entertaining one-shot.

Unbeta'd, so feel free to point out any mistakes.

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Hard Candy

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He's sweet, of course.

Ryan is the nicest, non-judgmental, most unassuming boy Troy ever had the pleasure to meet. Apart from Zeke, or maybe Jason. Kelsi also. And Gabriella. In fact, most of his friends were nice in some way. Zeke would give you a favor without even batting an eyelash. Jason was unendingly loyal. Kelsi was always optimistic. And Gabriella understood...everything, almost. Even Chad, who was somewhat thick when it came to change, would do his best to support his friends.

But Ryan? Ryan Evans? If the boy were any sweeter, Troy would get die happily from diabetic convulsions. Obviously Troy's opinion was a little rose-colored, simply because he liked Ryan. Though you could really blame him, since the blond was basically the Drama Club Saint. Where Sharpay usually left hot messy puddles of a ninth grader in tears, Ryan would swiftly follow with his usual zen demeanor and positive words. He'd lift them back up into something resembling a person who may not have just been torn apart by the unapologetic Ice Queen. Every day, Ryan kindly gives his lunch to the boy who can afford neither a school lunch, or to bring his own. The blond had even taken to packing two lunches, just for the poor boy. Always with a smile, and a 'Don't worry about it'.

It's why people instantly love him. The eternal supply of niceties that Ryan has no issue providing. If someone needs a shoulder to cry on, or someone to vent at, Ryan is there. Need a ride? Help studying? Singing? Dancing, especially dancing? Ryan will always be the one to go to.

That's not why Troy likes Ryan though.

Many are fooled into thinking that Ryan is some sort of submissive, wilting, wallflower. Granted, the boy is more 'pretty' than he is handsome, with a face that speaks of heavenly cherubim. He was the kind of adorable that often caused girls to giggle as he passed, and greet him shyly. And if Troy weren't so proud and didn't have any sense, he probably would have done the same. Giggle and blush as Ryan passed him. But he was proud, and he did have sense, so in the end Troy would always wave and claim he was only so flushed because of basketball practice, or something or other.

Though, there were times when Ryan wasn't so nice. Despite his naïve and innocent appearance, the blond did not let anyone harass him in any way, unless it happened to be his sister. And even Sharpay had slowly lost her power over her brother since the previous summer. No one got away with anything, especially homophobic bullying.

Everyone remembered when Ryan stood up to Jeff Wilkinson, the school bully, who should have been a senior in college.

The sound of Ryan being slammed against his locker was deafening. It had made the whole of East High freeze in curiosity. Who would want to hurt East High's Mister Congeniality? Every eye turned to see Jeff pushing Ryan against the dented metal door.

"We have to stop meeting like this Wilkinson," Ryan greeted cheekily despite his current position, his face pressed against his locker.

"I can't help it Evans. I just see you and it makes me want to punch the wall. But I think punching you might be more fun." He released the smaller boy.

People were gathering around them, wondering where Sharpay was to protect her twin. She wouldn't just let him die in such an undignified manner, would she? What Evans ever allowed themselves or their family to get the fuck beat out of them? Ryan didn't dare move out of Jeff's vicinity, lest one of those huge gorilla arms swung around and caught him in an unfriendly headlock. But he did have the decency to turn around and glare very sharps daggers at the bigger boy.

"It's not my fault Sharpay won't even take a passing glance at you, Jeffery. I mean, you obviously don't look in the mirror in the morning otherwise you'd know why. Your clothes are decrepit, you're greasy, and if he breathed through your nose once in awhile, you might realize that you smell of a boy who hasn't seen a shower in weeks."

Jeff's fist came slamming down right beside Ryan's ear, further destroying the poor locker the blond was leaning against. He trembled a bit watching as Jeff's face turned the most unattractive hue of plum, and his vein twitch in his forehead. It wasn't smart to aggravate the school bully, but Ryan would not back down to anyone, no matter how big they were.

"SHUT UP YOU FAG," Jeff yelled and emphasized himself by pushing Ryan back into metal once again.

"So what if I am? No one would fuck you any more than they would now by calling me gay."

Troy had half a mind to step in and help his friend, but compared to Jeff Wilkinson he was a twig. It would be useless for both of them to be snapped in two. But if anything did get too out of hand, Troy would most likely push through the crowd and try his best to defend the boy.

"I SAID SHUT UP!"

Ryan dodged the fist coming for him, ducking under it. His foot connected with Wilkinson's shin and everyone watched as Jeff bounced around on one leg, holding his other as his face contorted into a mixture of anger and pain. "You'll pay for that Evans," the bigger boy shouted.

Troy joined in on the snickering as Jeff charged at the blond only to meet the hard metal lockers he'd pinned Ryan to before with a loud smack. Who knew Ryan Evans was so good at dodging things?

"You are such a neanderthal," Ryan said with a hint of superiority.

He was caught by surprise as Jeff started swinging his fists, catching Ryan's cheek and lip. It sent the boy hurdling back into the crowd of people and into a boy who had just pushed through to see what was happening. The blond's back met with the chest of Bradley Morris, the school quarterback, who was roughly equal in size to Jeff but infinitely smarter.

"What's going on here," he asked in the commanding tone that only the school quarterback could manage, and possibly Sharpay. Definitely Sharpay. He turned Ryan around to face him taking note of his busted lip and now blossoming bruise on the boy's cheek. "What happened Ryan?"

"Nothing I can't handle Bradley." The blond shook himself out of the football player's grasp. He stepped closer to the fuming Wilkinson. Ryan balled his hand into a fist and sent it flying towards Jeff, and many were awed as small, pretty, nice, pushover Ryan sent Jeffery Wilkinson sprawling to the floor with a bleeding and swollen nose.

"See," he hissed in pain, holding his balled up fist as Wilkinson stood up and bowled through the crowd screaming obscenities and threats to no one in particular. Jeff knew when to run. Especially when the goody-two-shoes quarterback arrived. You could suffer defeat when it meant getting away from the only person who was able to properly kick the shit out of you.

"Fuck you Evans," Jeff had yelled from the other end of the hall as he rounded the corner.

"Anytime Jeffery,"

Everyone was jump started into action as the bell rang. Bradley, along with the people gathered in a slight circle around Ryan dispersed and made their way to their classes, leaving Troy standing a few feet from the blond who was picking up all his books. The basketball player kneeled down to help Ryan, trying his best to make up for being to chicken-shit before.

"Thanks, Troy," he smiled, blood running down his chin now.

"Er, no problem." He paused. "Sorry I didn't help before."

"It's okay. I can handle my shit when I need to."

That was obvious.

As they stood up, Troy smiled a bit, happy that he hadn't needed to step in for Ryan either way. Not because he had been scared, but because everyone got to see that Ryan wasn't one to be pushed around anymore.

"I'll make it up to you," Troy offered. "Let me walk you to the nurse?"

"Sure," Ryan smiled back with his purpling cheek and cracked open lip.

They made their way down the hall.

"So, uh, what are you doing this weekend?"

Ryan answered Troy with another smile. You'd think one wouldn't be so happy to be hit...twice. "Nothing...yet."

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Tell me what you think!

Loves y'alls!

Xian Chan