AN: This fic was a way of getting me out of my current, very frustrating, writer's block. Based on lyrics from the Fall Out Boy song The (Shipped) Gold Standard. All feedback and concrit is greatly appreciated.

I wanna scream 'I love you' from the top of my lungs, but I'm afraid someone else will hear me.

Chad knows it's difficult for Ryan, but it isn't exactly easy for him either.

He wants so much to be the boyfriend that Ryan desires, however he just can't be as easily open about himself as the blond - for so many reasons.

Chad sometimes wonders if the dancer knows how lucky he is, but then he sees the small, sad smile Ryan gives him when they have to stop kissing against the side of Ryan's car because the rest of the students are starting to arrive. And in that miniscule gesture, that kind look in his eyes and the sympathy that flashes across his features it's made clear that Ryan knows precisely how lucky he is, because he realises that Chad is anything but.

Mr and Mrs Evans are about as accepting as parents come - they would shower Ryan in affection and expensive gifts no matter who he fell in love with. Chad's parents were more likely to allow him to drown in his father's disapproving glances and his mom's tears of disappointment.

Ryan's chosen career would be more than accepting of his sexual preference, whereas Chad has had nightmares about the disgusted looks which would most likely grace his team-mates' faces in the locker room showers.

No one questioned Ryan's sexual orientation ever since he turned up on his first day at East High with a sequin hat on his head and a skip in his step, so he had sort of fast-forwarded past all of that 'coming out angst' because, really, it would have been more shocking to everyone if he had announced he had impregnated some girl. On the other hand, Chad had always been labelled as the womanizing jock who somehow managed to land the freaky genius girl.

None of his friends ever stopped to think that maybe they saw him as a lady's man simply because he was more comfortable around girls - no blushes or bulges to hide when the friendly play fighting between the guys became simply an intrusion of personal space and morphed in to the stuff the basketball star's wet dreams were made of - and they clearly never spent much time thinking about his 'relationship' with Taylor, or they would have realised they had done nothing but hold hands since Chad walked in on Taylor and Kelsi making out and he had confessed his crush on Ryan to her.

From that day on they made a pact to continue on as they had been in front of their friends and cover for each other when anyone began to get suspicious of the science geek spending too much time with the musical protégée or of the fact that the corkscrew-curled jock had disappeared with the flamboyant dancer and they had both returned looking rather flustered.

And maybe Chad did have an abundance of physical strength, but Ryan was somehow able to lug around a tonne of emotional baggage and still walk around with a bright smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. Sure, Chad could lift weights the equivalent of around half Ryan's body weight, but years of being Sharpay's shadow and being jeered at by the arrogant homophobes he was destined to encounter once in a while had left Ryan with his fair share of 'coping strategies'. More than once, when things were starting to get on top of him, Chad considered taking up yoga and learning those breathing exercises Ryan swore by because, if the dancer was anything to go by, those painful looking stretches must be miracle workers.

So, maybe Chad did envy Ryan and his 'I'm me - fuck any one who has a problem with it!' attitude, but maybe that was purely his naivety, because, as Chad discovered one night, the blond didn't have it as easy as he would lead everyone to believe.

His parents may have been loving and open-minded, but Ryan couldn't help but be pressured by their riches and their expectations to be just as successful as them. And his future career would most likely welcome him with open arms - pink trousers and closeted boyfriend and all - but Ryan had confessed that night as they lay entangled in each other on the blond's bed that dancing was primarily his chosen profession for solely that reason - yes he loved the thrill of the audience's eyes on him, but it was the fear of not being accepted in another field that had him longing for a place at Juilliard.

And, not that he wasn't forever grateful of how open-minded his friends were but, sometimes he just wished that they hadn't already pigeonholed before they had really gotten to know him, because a lifetime of baseball games and dancing lessons at Lava Springs would never erase the fact that he would always be 'The Gay One'. Perhaps he did pride himself on his emotional strength, but it seemed that night was one of revelations as it was then that Chad found out that Ryan had had no choice in being strong. Chad audibly gasped when Ryan pulled back his hair to reveal the small scar left over from the shattering glass of the bottle that was hit off his head when he was just fourteen as a taller, more muscular boy shouted 'faggot' at him and left him screaming for help in the middle of the street.

So, despite how painfully afraid Chad was he knew that not even the Ryan Evans of the world had it easy and he deserved so much more than a cowardly, closeted boyfriend.

He knew that he didn't have long, Ryan had already received his Juilliard acceptance letter and the chances of him meeting some hot, out gay guy in New York were very high - hell if Chad didn't act now Ryan could have forgotten all about him by the time he graduated and he would be stuck in an unhappy marriage to some girl his mom and dad approved of whilst Ryan graced the stages of Broadway with his gorgeous boyfriend watching from the front row.

His imagination was stopped from running in to overtime when he was pulled back to the present, hearing the shocked gasps of all of his fellow students as Taylor took Kelsi's hand and led her to the dance floor. All he could do was watch with a stupid grin on his face as the girls held each other close and waltzed around the room whispering to each other and giggling. He stood stiff, uncomfortable in his rigid tuxedo as he watched Ryan from across the room, a distant look in his eyes as he watched the girls, and that was when he made his decision.

Because no one had it easy, and if he didn't make the difficult decisions he had to make he had every chance of never seeing Ryan again, it would be 'Nice meeting you, have a nice life!' and off they would go on their separate paths that were likely to never collide, all because Chad wasn't brave enough to be the boyfriend Ryan longed for.

But Chad was going to be brave, just this once, because this thing he had with Ryan was too good to throw away just because of what other people would think. All that really mattered was making Ryan smile and forget all about the impending 4754, give or take a few, miles distance between them.

So, he took a leaf from Taylor's book and decided to go after what he wanted no matter what anyone's reaction was.

Ryan looked up in slight shock when Chad held out a hand for him and said in a trembling voice, "Dance with me?"

It really was an offer he couldn't refuse, so he placed his half full punch glass on the table and followed the taller boy as he led him to the centre of the dance floor.

There was some ridiculously cheesy song playing and Kelsi and Taylor were still lost in each other, and Chad pulled him in to a kiss to silence the second round of gasps of the night and he just lost himself in the feeling of Chad's strong arms around him and his tongue in his mouth as the fairylights lining the hall flickered in time with their steps and everyone stopped to watch the most unlikely couple of the night dance elegantly in each other's arms.

When the jock pulled back Ryan could see the tears welling in his eyes as he whispered, "I'm going to miss you, baby."

Ryan attempted to joke by smiling and saying, "I'll visit every weekend, you'll be sick of seeing me by the time we graduate." But he was struggling to hold back to tears that threatened to fall aswell as Chad.

Chad couldn't even get his response of "never going to happen" out because Ryan was pulling him in to another kiss, more heated this time, and he wrapped his arms tightly around the dancer's lithe body and revelled in the tingle that jumped up his spine when Ryan ran his fingers through the jock's unruly curls. He chose to forget about everyone's reactions, and really he didn't care because the only one who mattered was the boy in his arms.

When they pulled back he glanced over to Taylor and Kelsi on the other side of the otherwise empty dance floor and laughed when Taylor winked at him, because all he could think at that moment was that this was a prom East High would never forget.

And even if neither Chad nor Ryan had it easy, things had never been simpler as they held each other and banished thoughts of 'what ifs' and the future, of disapproving parents, narrow-minded basketball players and drama schools in whole other states. The most important thing was that Chad could finally be the boyfriend Ryan had always desired.