A/N: Here we are. It's been two years since I first wrote this. During those two years, I've gained a lot of insight, and it is thanks to that insight, that my writing style has changed for the better.

Back then, you see, I had a wonderful idea, but little to no idea of how to correctly execute it. Because of this, I've had to heavily edit, and almost rewrite quite a few of the last chapters. That wasn't easy. There were days where my mood sank so low, any and all motivation was obliterated.

But, I'm still writing. My ultimate goal with this story is to not only entertain people, but to help them. I fully intend to get this published in the hopes that this story will touch people's lives, and help them to learn to live again, or to love themselves again, as Ryan did.

Unfortunately, my family has been less than supportive regarding my writing, and that tended to derail me as well. When that happened, I thought of the wonderful comments that you guys have left me, the beautiful reviews that mean so much to me. Without my readers, I wouldn't be half of the author that I am. So, I thank each and every one of you, my reviewers, my loyal readers, and even my casual readers who are new to the "High School Musical" fandom, but decide to give one of my stories a chance, anyway. Please know that I love and appreciate each and every one of you.

I can only hope that I may have the honor of your continued support when I finally get this story published.

So, without further ado, this story is dedicated to you, and to all of the other people out there who feel that they, perhaps, "don't deserve to live".

I have no claims of ownership to anything recognizable. All characters and elements relating to the "High School Musical" movies, are © of Disney and Peter Barosschini. The song, "Bohemian Rhapsody" belongs to Queen and Freddie Mercury. Macbeth's soliloquy, "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow", belongs to the Bard, William Shakespeare.

Chapter 37: Finale

A single spotlight shone down on the stage, illuminating the solitary figure on the polished wood surface. His fedora adorned head of blond hanging in a sullen matter, the younger Evans twin sat on the stage, his legs splayed out behind him.

He began to sing at a mezzo piano dynamic:

Mama, just killed a man

Put a gun against his head,

Pulled my trigger, now he's dead

Mama, life had just begun He began to rise slowly to his feet, his dynamic increasing simultaneously.

But now I've gone and

Thrown it all away!

Mama, ooh

Didn't mean to make you cry

If I'm not back again this time tomorrow

Carry on, carry on,

As if nothing really matters

He walked across the stage, staring out into the house of the performance hall. He felt his heart miss a beat as he was greeted by row after row of empty seats.

Too late, my time has come

Sends shivers down my spine, He hugged himself, embodying his words as a shiver crept up his spine.

Bodies aching all the time

Goodbye, everybody

I've got to go

Gotta leave you all behind

And face the truth

A sudden intense pain seized his midsection, causing him to gasp.

Mama! Ooh- The pain made him fall down to his knees, his voice breaking slightly as he went.

I don't wanna die! He pleaded

I sometimes wish

I'd never been born at all

The music swelled as he remained there. He could feel warm blood pooling out of a wound on his side. His life force was fading… fading... Soon, he would leave the earth behind him.

Then, suddenly, a platform rose up behind him, figures emanating an unearthly glow, stood on the risers that protruded from it. Ryan found himself able to get to his feet, and he did so, startled at the sight before him.

I see a little silhouetto of a man, he vocalized, moving cautiously toward the otherworldly choir of all males. He noted that they were clad in dazzling white robes.

Scaramouche, scaramouche,

Will you do the fandango? They responded.

Thunderbolt and lightning, Ryan sang.

Very very frightening me, the choir came in, drowning his lone voice out.

Galileo, the blond called.

(Galileo), the voices of the choir echoed.



Galileo figaro

Magnifico, the intonation of the chorus swelled.

I'm just a poor boy, Ryan sang, feeling his legs quake. His heart clenched in fear that they would buckle, and somehow send him falling through the stage.

Nobody loves me

The faces of the chorus members remained impassive. None of them took notice of his growing fear, or so much as glanced in his direction, even as he stood among them.

He's just a poor boy

From a poor family

Spare him his life

From this monstrosity

The blond found himself dancing, moving across the stage on his toes in the manner of a ballerina until he stopped abruptly, the action sending him falling to the feet of the second row of robed singers.

Easy come, easy go

Will you let me go? He inquired softly, turning up to the still apathetic faces of the ivory robed figures.

BISMILLAH! several lower voices bellowed. Arms reached out, and seizing the theater king's right arm, pulled him to his feet with such force, pain screamed along the limb. Ryan bit back on an outcry.

No! We will not let you go!

LET HIM GO! A mixture of voices, all sounding familiar to the blond boy, demanded.

BISMILLAH! The choir retorted.

We will not let you go!

LET HIM GO! The combined voices insisted once more.


We will not let you go!

Let me go! Ryan exclaimed.

Will not let you go, another pair of hands took hold of his other arm.

Let me go! He struggled fiercely against the iron tight clamps on his appendages.

Will not let you go

Never, never, never let me go, Ryan shook his head, realizing the futility of his attempt to escape.


Their voices filled his ears until they rang, making the younger Evans twin sick.

Oh mama mia,

Mama mia, he lamented, tears filling his eyes

Mama mia,

Let me go, the choir mocked him

Then, they all moved in to face him, closing in on him in a tight circular formation. Their hands covered his body, the visible circle of light above their heads growing smaller. The air around Ryan tightened. He could hardly breathe. He knew that this was it, and yet, he still had to sing. Their voices joined his.

Beelzebub, has a devil put aside for me, he gasped.

For me, he couldn't…. The musical score dropped out.

For me!

Blackness slammed down on him.

Ryan's eyes flicked open. The sight of his bedroom ceiling that greeted him, was surprisingly welcomed. He lay there for a moment, until he was assured that his arm was unharmed, and that he could breathe. At last, throwing aside his covers, he stumbled out of bed, careful not to disturb the sleeping calico form of his pet, Hollybell, whom was snoozing contentedly on a t-shirt that had been left on the floor.

The blond peered through the blinds, squinting at the blinding sunlight. He blinked to give his sleep-blurred vision a moment to adjust to the sudden contrast. While doing so, he absent-mindedly stroked the tiny cat's head, and heard the creature acknowledge his touch with a quiet "mrrr."

He smiled softly at his pet, then turned his gaze back to the clock on the nightstand. 8:27 am, he could just make out through bleary eyes. Maneuvering around the bed, he reached for his cellphone which also sat on the nightstand. He wondered if Troy had roused to greet the day, as well.

- Don't Let Me Drown -

Ryan stood before the full-sized mirror in his bedroom, making last minute adjustments and reparations to his appearance. Gone were the days that he had to apply cover-up to secrete the dark circles of recurring insomnia, and the abrasions, that had marred his pale face. Before his reflection's torpid stare, he brought his hands to his hair and began rubbing gel into his soft blond locks, his fingers ruffling along his scalp. His own touch did not incite shivers of pleasure, as Troy's did.

- Plunging In -

"Hey, fag!"

Ryan refused to give his would-be tormentor the satisfaction of acknowledgement. He continued on in his sashaying stride, his pace unaffected even as his pulse skyrocketed.

"Yo, faggot! I'm talking to you!"

Scowling, and giving a roll of his eyes, the blond remained adamant on getting to his destination, and ignoring the brute and possible crowd of lemmings that had made it their goal to make his day hell. The fact that he was the addressee was obvious, even if there had been anyone else in the hallway.

"I said, "I was talking to you"!" With one swipe of a cumbersome arm, the great, hulking adolescent flung the petite actor into a row of lockers.

"What do you want?" Ryan straightened his spine, his posture set on masking his fear and preserving his dignity. Damn empty hallways, he observed balefully. He cast a quick look around him at the bulging biceps and thick bodies of the boys -or men, perhaps?, as they looked a little old to be referred to as "boys"- around him. He was outnumbered four to one.

"Looks like the cumbucket can use his mouth for something other than sucking Bolton off," a broad necked member of the group, whom sported a crew cut, taunted.

"Are you jealous?" Ryan retorted. There was another movement from that huge arm, and then he was pinned between the locker and the biggest of the jackals.

"What the fuck did you say?" The proportionally gigantic boy? man? bellowed, bringing out his "enforcement", and breathing his foul smelling breath into the theater king's face.

"I think you've dug yourself an early grave, fairy boy," another member of the pack, this one having a ghastly complexion, put in. With the four hulking masses surrounding him, there was no feasible way that Ryan could escape.

"Well, in that case, it looks like you guys will have to dig me one, too."

Ryan's heart leapt, and sank into the bowels of his stomach simultaneously, at the bold declaration from the voice that he knew so well. Troy!

"Bolton?" The attacker diverted his attention, the lemmings following their leader's actions.

Past the bull-shouldered group, Ryan could just discern a familiar mop of shaggy brunette hair. He realized that this was his chance. Slowly, he pressed himself to the locker and began edging his way out of the enclosure.

"Another fairy to rip the wings off of!" One of the huge boys rejoiced.

"Not if we've got anything to say about it." As if on cue, Chad, Jason and Zeke emerged, the latter two flanking their captain, while Chad stepped up beside Troy.

Ryan watched as the four brutish boys exchanged glances, realizing that the odds were no longer in their favor. His heart was in his throat as he finally squeezed past, and lowered himself to the ground, preparing to dash away to spare Troy and his friends.

Troy's blue eyes caught sight of him. Ryan let out an internal sigh of relief, however, as the brunette athlete let his expression give nothing away. "Alright," Troy spoke up. "You're going to let Ryan go. Now."

"Or what?" One of the brutes sneered.

"Or you'll have to deal with all of us." Chad's brown eyes narrowed, and he cracked his knuckles.

There was a moment of silence. Tension leadened the air. Ryan held his breath, ready to take off sprinting if it would buy Troy, Chad, Zeke and Jason time to get away. Finally, the leader of the pack growled out, "Come on. It ain't worth it," and he lead his group off. One of the hulk-like bullies tossed a glare at Chad, and the bushy-haired boy bristled, looking like he was ready to spit in the big bruiser's eye.

Once the coast was clear, Troy ran to Ryan's side. "Did they hurt you?" He prompted, helping right the blond boy.

"I'm fine," Ryan assured the athlete with a gentle murmur. "Thank you." He gave Troy a lingering look, his heart melting at the pride glowing in the golden boy's blue eyes, then turned out, letting his gaze encompass the other three athletes, who were shooting each other congratulatory grins. "All of you."

"You know that it's no problem, Ry," Troy said, taking his boyfriend into his arms.

"Yeah, don't sweat it," Chad added with a friendly smile.

"I've gotta look out for my girl's bro," Zeke inputted sheepishly.

"That's what friends are for, you know?" Jason smiled one of his signature absent-minded smiles.

Ryan's heart swelled. He could hardly believe it. Friends?

"Believe it, or not, Ry," Troy moved in, butting the smaller boy's head gently with his own, "they're your friends, too."

These words had stayed with the younger Evans twin, their truth or fallacy evading his comprehension. Chad, Zeke, and Jason were Troy's closest friends, and their near effortless camaraderie made them the core of the basketball team. Troy was undoubtedly their captain, and they generally gave him their full support and acceptance with all of his actions and decisions.

Now that Troy and I are together, does that mean that his friends are my friends, as well? His gaze slid to his sleeping cat, and he recalled the days when the tiny animal had been his only ally in the world. A half-smile crept across his face. "Thank you for looking after me, so well. I guess I was right when I said that you were "overprotective", huh, Holl?"

The cat flicked an ear in response. Ryan interpreted the action as the feline's way of saying, "You're welcome."

Returning his attention to the mirror, the adolescent pondered how it was that someone as insignificant in the grand scheme of things as himself, had come to affect the lives of so many people. How someone like him had forged a bond, a union, with the boy who was the center of their high school's universe. "Me, skinny, ugly, flaming queer, Ryan Michael Evans…the love of perfection incarnate: Troy Alexander Bolton's life."

"I think it's a perfect match."

His reflection had company in the form of a taller, defined brunette with sun-kissed skin, shaggy, side-swept hair, and striking blue eyes.

"Do you, now?" Ryan smiled, arcing a brow in curiosity at the reflection that had joined his own.

Troy shrugged. "Yeah," he admitted with a half-smile. "Well, aside from you calling yourself, "ugly", and me being, "perfection incarnate".

Ryan ducked his head shyly under the weight of the intense stare that peered into him. Troy could see into him, through him, in a way that no one else could. And he wanted it no other way. "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,", he began reciting in a low, level voice, "creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time."

He raised his head to face his reflection, a passionate fervor stealing into his alto-tenor voice, his blue eyes a light. "And all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!" He waved his wrist in a dismissive gesture. "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more." The fervor diminished until it was replaced by something akin to melancholy. He gave a sullen shake of his head. "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury… signifying nothing."

Troy's hands came gently down on his shoulders, turning him away from the mirror. His brows were angled sharply, his forehead creased. "Ry, everyone has the power to make their lives mean something. Everyone means something to someone. You do, too."

One look into those eyes, and Ryan knew. The words of anguish and despair uttered by Shakespeare's Macbeth upon hearing of his wife's suicide, a pain that he would never again think of putting Troy through, could not be applied. "Yes, I know."

The two of them kissed at each other's lips. The union was meaningful, every brush of lips lingering. It was one of those unparalleled moments, nowhere was a fault to be found.

Ryan hummed with quiet bliss as Troy eagerly preoccupied his mouth and tongue. They clung tightly to each other, hands roaming down each other's backsides. The theater boy slid his first two fingers into the back pockets of the basketball team captain's blue jeans.

Troy let out a soft groan in response, and deepened the contact, pressing his hips against the other boy's. Ryan arched into the touch, goosebumps creeping along his flesh at the tantalizing sensation.

"Ryan, Troy, Zeke and I are taking Boi for a walk!" Sharpay's voice filtered through the door, causing both of the boys to jump at the unprecedented interruption.

"Alri-ight," they chorused, irritation seeping into the two syllables.

"Behave yourselves, and stay out of my room," she added, no doubt smirking knowingly to herself on the other side of the door.

Both boys blushed, Ryan stammering, "Y-Yes, Shar."

"Come on, Boi-boi!" She cooed to the tiny Yorkie.

The two boys waited in silence, listening intently until the clicks of the girl's heels dwindled off. Once they were confident that they were the only occupants of the second floor of the mansion, Troy implored with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows and a smirk to match, "Where were we?"

"I believe we were… here," Ryan guided Troy's hand to his belt buckle, smiling guilelessly.

At the soft groan that the blond emitted when he was touched, Troy acknowledged with a huskiness to his voice, "Yeah… that's where we were." He slid the strip of leather out of the buckle, hands trembling in anticipation and slight trepidation. He turned his ocean colored eyes, half-veiled by long, thick lashes, to the blond, requesting permission.

Understanding, Ryan assured him in a barely-there, lilting voice, "It's okay. You don't have to if you don't want to."

"I want to, Ryan." At the nod he received, Troy locked eyes with his boyfriend and proceeded, pulling down the petite boy's clingy khaki dress pants and dark blue boxers.

Ryan's muscles stiffened in preparation for the impending contact, his pelvis arching slightly toward Troy's talented appendages. It wasn't until Troy's lips brushed against the head of his member that the eye contact was broken. Closing his eyes, Ryan cried out, his manhood pulsing under Troy's touch with desire every bit as immense as the love that pulsed like blood through his veins.

When Troy's mouth closed over the head, that extraordinary, warm, moist, marvelous mouth that he had explored every crevice of with his own mouth, he knew that love was reciprocated.

- Don't Let Me Drown -

There were still jeers. They still faced taunts and insults being hurled at them every time they were seen together in the halls of East High, but overall, ever since the near showdown in front of the lockers between the group of brutes and Troy and his friends, people had grown to tolerate them.

Although Ryan and Troy, and several others on their side, wished for more, and in a perfect world, they would have had it, they knew toleration was the most, and maybe even more, than they should expect.

Acceptance would be asking for too much.

They remained on civil terms with Gabriella, refusing to forgive her entirely, but unwilling to put her, or themselves, through anymore unnecessary grief.

"It's an unspoken truce," Ryan had dubbed it.

"Yeah," Troy had agreed. "We've come to a ceasefire, and I prefer it stayed that way."

"I couldn't agree more."

If Gabriella spoke to them, they spoke to her. Other than that, interactions with her were limited to only those of necessity. They did their best, however, to ensure that Allison Finch, an innocent who did not deserve any aftershocks of the hostility her partner had sparked, was not exposed to any. Everything that Gabriella had pretended to be while with Troy, she honestly was with the younger girl.

And that made putting those events behind them that much easier.

- Renewal -

Kelsi and Martha became Ryan's self-proclaimed "BGP"s.

""Best Gal Pals"," Martha clarified when the performer's confusion made itself visible.

"We can share secrets, and be there for you. We can even talk about clothes, and you can help us with our hair!" Kelsi listed excitedly.

"Yeah, it will be awesome!" Martha chipped in cheerfully. "We can even invite Taylor to hang with. I heard through the grapevine that she and Gabriella aren't besties anymore."

Frowning at the odd terminology, Besties?, Ryan remarked, "I see." He had already heard of the absolving of Taylor and Gabriella's friendship from both Chad, and the scholarly girl, herself. Taylor was someone who strived for the end of all forms of prejudice. After Gabriella's egregious insult to the credibility of the school newspaper, which Taylor headed as the chief editor, and the personal betrayal that came with such an act, the theater king couldn't blame the ebony-haired girl for making the decision to disassociate herself from her dark-haired best-friend.

It was Taylor herself who had warned him and Troy of the degrading and humiliating bullshit story.

"It's been hard on her, finding out what kind of person her best friend really is," Kelsi murmured.

Ryan's heart gave a sympathetic twinge. He bit down on his lower lip in acquiesce. "Yeah, it's fine. Taylor can hang out with us."

Kelsi and Martha exchanged a glance. Ryan held his breath, exhaling when the girls' eyes lit up with understanding. They threw their arms around him, enveloping him in an ecstatic hug.

- DLMD -


Dear Diary: I know that I vowed that the previous entry would be my last, but lately, my outlook on life has changed.

I realize, now, that I am not evil, and that I am capable, as everyone is, of contributing a lot of positive and wonderful things to society, by staying alive and trying.

The bond between my sister and I, has been fortified. We can tell each other almost everything, once more. We sing along to songs on our Itunes together, and we shop. And yes, she looks at me.

When my parents are around, they do their best to be part of my life. They ask about my day, and give my relationship with Troy their utmost support. I attend yoga classes every now and then with my mother, and my father plans to take Troy and I out on a camping trip with him sometime in the future.

I have more allies than I ever could have hoped for. And it's wonderful.

True, sometimes, I find myself getting upset. There are moments when, seemingly out of nowhere, I'm overcome by grief and tears begin streaming uncontrollably from my eyes. In those moments, when I desperately need foundation, stability, a shoulder to cry on, someone murmuring soothing words into my ear, and comforting hands rubbing down my backside until my tears ave ceased, he's always there.

Troy Alexander Bolton: the boy that I owe everything to.

Everything, and yet, nothing, at the same time. Because, as he says, while nuzzling into my neck, "You're my reason to live, as well. You're my life, Ryan."

And with these words, my chest swells with joy that extends beyond description. My heart is lighter than air.

I am alive.

- Breathing -

Ryan nestled into Troy's chest. The two of them had been sitting against the tree, their tree, in the Bolton's backyard for a little over an hour, alternating between chatting about school work and life, and sitting in contented silence. As sleep began weighing down his eyelids, the blond recalled something of importance and sat up. "Troy."

"Hmm?" The brunette opened his eyes and pulled away from his arms, which were folded behind his head.

Ryan tugged his messenger bag to him and removed a spiral notebook. "I-I wrote something for you."

"Oh yeah?" Troy shifted closer, his eyes sparkling with curiosity.

Ryan gave a nod, heat creeping across his face and coloring it a light pink. "Can I read it to you?"

"Of course," Troy smiled encouragingly.

"Alright." Ryan lowered his eyes and began reading aloud, his voice calm, collected:

"A river, clear, cool water, reflecting empty eyes.

Unneeded, worthless, evil.

Wishing for the river to wash him away from those he's convinced he has harmed,

He longs to sever all of his ties.

Then, he comes to the broken boy,

Skin of sun-kissed gold, penetrating the dark as sunshine.

"I'm a genie," the newcomer says, taking the boy's hand.

The boy says, "I wish for you to be mine."

With his new companion, the boy realized that

It's funny, sometimes, how long it can take for the truth to sink in

But one look at that beautiful face,

And the boy knew that he had to change the way that he was thinking," Ryan paused briefly to breathe. He could feel his hands shaking as he held the notebook.

"So he vowed to himself that he would whisk his friend away

To a far off place

He couldn't protect him from lies, and pain,

But he would do his best to try

He would hold his companion tight, be there for him all the while,

Sharing his tears

And sharing his smiles,

Because that beautiful boy with sun-kissed skin of gold would always,

And forever, be his life." Ryan's voice broke, and he turned away, feeling tears prick his eyes.

"Ryan. Hey," Troy said softly.

And then Ryan was being held safely in those arms, pressed to that warm chest. "Do you like it?" He prompted softly.

"I love it." Troy pressed a kiss to the blond's temple. "I love you."

Ryan buried his face in Troy's chest, letting his tears streak down his face. He knew that their existence was not due to sadness.

- Mine Forever -

Kisses were littered along Ryan's creamy throat. He arched into the heated contact, loving the stirring it evoked in his lower body. "Troooy…" he moaned softly.

Pants and boxers were removed in pursuit of a far deeper, more fulfilling connection.

Then, Troy was inside of him. Ryan let out more quiet moans as ecstasy darted along his body with every thrust.

Troy murmured words of love, his voice thick with desire. Ryan's slender hands worked their way down the brunette's front side, tantalizing every inch of flesh they encountered. He, in turn, worshipped the blond's body with his hands, his manhood, and everything that he had.

- Afloat -



"Have I ever told you that you're amazing?"

"You might have said it once or twice."

As he turned to face Troy, and took in the boy's smile, Ryan's lips curled up into a smile, as well. He raised his hand, dragging his knuckles gently over the virile boy's cheek, relishing the warmth of the smooth flesh there. If there was a part of him that was still convinced that this was a dream, it was singing a different tune, now. "I love you," he relayed, his voice barely more than a whisper.

"I know." Shifting closer, Troy took Ryan into an embrace, Ryan nuzzling into Troy's firm, sculpted chest. They inhaled at the same time, their eyes closing briefly.

Ryan's eyelids slowly lifted, curled unveiling his sky blue eyes. He never wanted this, any of this, to come to an end. "We'll never stop, right?" He asked, looking up into the face of the boy that he loved, that never thought would ever be anything more than a far away fantasy to him.

And, now…

A thought remained unspoken between them, Forever is forever.

"No, Ry," Troy promised, taking the blond's smooth face into his big warm hands. "We'll never stop."

Ryan Evans kissed Troy Bolton, the lovely action conveying all that he needed to say, that we would ever need to say.

Drowning was no longer a concern. He had found a life-preserver in the least likely source. And, together, they had found a life-preserver to keep the both of them afloat.


A/N: Thank you all for sticking with me, and seeing Ryan's story through to the end. If you are feeling empty after finishing this chapter, remember that I have plenty of other Tryan fanfictions on this website.

Soon, I will be posting the epilogue to my sort of "High School Musical 4", "Introspective", a story told entirely from Troy's point of view.

Then there will be a oneshot, or two. I'll be starting on the sequel to "Introspective", and I have a few other story ideas lined up.

So, my dear readers, it is with sadness in my heart that I bid you farewell, for now. Please, stay safe, and take care of yourselves. I hope to hear from you again, soon.