Merry Christmas!

Hey everyone! So, it's been a millenium and a half. I've been out of the tryan scene for over two years. Two! That's madness! Can you believe it? Anyways, it's 3:47 Christmas morning, so I thought I would celebrate by finishing a story I've been working on. It's quite a departure from my normal stuff, but it's something that I've been meaning to do for, well, years now. It's been a very long time since I've written anything HSM, let alone tryan, so I hope this story does the illustrious duo justice.

Be warned: This story is gay. Just sayin'.

Dance With Me

Written by tryanforever91

Ryan doesn't understand high school dances. He can't begin to comprehend the joy teenagers take in rubbing their sweaty pubescent bodies against each other, writhing about to music with the bass cranked so high, the speakers will be in no fit state for the spring musical. He frowns in confusion and dismay as he watches a girl from his psychology class, strutting around in strappy heels and a dress barely long enough to call a shirt. At her side is her dance partner, with one hand clenched around her backside. His lecherous sneer makes Ryan sick. That, and the rancid miasma of ripe BO that saturates the room. Evidently, most of the "men" at East High have yet to discover deodorant.

Not Ryan, though. He stands at the edge of East High's gymnasium, holding a cup of punch and basking in Calvin Klein Eternity. He isn't terribly fond of the fragrance; it was a gift. From where he's standing, Ryan gets a clear view of the school's hierarchy, as the lesser-knowns rock and sway on the periphery of the massive mosh pit of a dance floor. Only as one delves further into the throng will they ascend the social pyramid, as it were. And in the very heart of it all, the epicentre of grinding chaos: the elite. Here, Ryan might find the likes of Troy Bolton, or his own sister, mashed up so tightly against another person they'd might as well be a single being, rocking back and forth to a beat that's slowly boring a hole through Ryan's skull.

Though he questions why he is here, Ryan already knows the answer. It certainly wasn't by his own will, or for his enjoyment. His idea of a dance entails much less crotch contact, and maybe a chandelier instead of strobe lights. At the very least, it would have proper music. He doesn't care what anyone says, "Tik Tok" is not music. Of course, Ryan is too much of a pushover. It only took a little bit of begging to get him here tonight. So here he stands, pressed against the wall for fear of being run over, and checking his watch every now and again.

He jumps when a loud bump disrupts him. It's followed by a muffled moan, and Ryan discovers with some horror that what is now pushing up against his left side is the back of some girl, attached at the mouth to her slobbering boyfriend. He suppresses the urge to yelp, and shuffles away. Again, Ryan is at a loss. Why his peers deign to subject him to these disgusting acts of public depravity is far beyond him. Ryan would never; there is a time and place for that.

Too busy being appalled at the sight, Ryan fails to notice the dance floor slowly emptying, and the music easing up on its relentless attack on his ear drums. Icy white spotlights shine in the centre of the room, catching Ryan's eye as they filter through the smoke of the school's ancient fog machine. There are significantly less people dancing now, and they're all couples of some sort, Ryan notices with a prickle of regret. Some slow R&B song emanates from the DJ's booth. Ryan doesn't know the name of it; he doesn't listen to the radio. Boys snake their arms around the hips of the girls they're dancing with, slowly swaying back and forth to the mellow rhythm. They're illuminated impressively by the light, but they all fade away into nothingness when two figures glide into view.

Troy Bolton stands a good six inches over Gabriella Montez, but their difference in height does nothing to hinder the graceful movements they make on the dance floor. They turn in perfect unison as Troy guides Gabriella through a simple yet elegant dance; the same one they danced for the winter musical, the very same one Ryan taught Troy in the first place. Gabriella is smiling beautifully as she looks up into Troy's diamond blue eyes, while he cradles her gently in his arms. They seem to fit so well together; Troy's hand rests comfortably in the small of Gabriella's back like it was made to be there, their fingers interlock in what could only be the softest, gentlest of holds.

Ryan is only one of hundreds, staring in awe of the picturesque pairing. While he wills himself against it, nothing can deny the ache of longing that slowly wraps itself around Ryan's gut and wrenches it. He doesn't want to be jealous. He doesn't want this to be a big deal. He just wants to turn away and leave the two to dance in peace. He can't.

Ryan's gaze falls on Troy's hands, and he longs to feel their weight on his own body, guiding him, holding him. How he wishes he were Gabriella, staring into the stunning face of Troy Bolton, to see the subtle smile that graces his facade, to lose himself in the captivating beauty of his eyes.

It is overwhelming, and it's all Ryan can do to stay standing on his own two feet. He feels his desire pulling at him. He wants Troy so much. Too much. If he could help it, he would throw away all pretence and follow his heart.

But he can't do that to Troy.

Every second longer Ryan keeps looking is more agonizing than the last, and he knows he has no one to blame but himself. It's not Gabriella's fault that she's dancing with Troy, or that Ryan is watching them in rapt fixation.

A fear grows in Ryan that Troy will never know he is even standing there, waiting for him. Ryan is so scared that he's just another indistinct face in a darkened sea of onlookers. His faith in Troy wavers. He questions why he is here.

Then, shock impales Ryan's gut and stops his heart. His wide eyes forget how to blink, and he's staring so hard at Troy, they're watering. He doesn't know what was more foolish, hoping for Troy to look, or believing that he wouldn't, but it's immaterial now. Troy is looking. Troy is seeing Ryan.

With breath stilled and heart pounding, Ryan looks back into Troy's eyes with deepest longing. Troy's no longer in the spotlight, with Ryan admiring from the sidelines. They're together on a level no one else can conceive. Ryan wants to tell Troy so much, but he only has a breath in time. He wills Troy to see all his longing, all his desire, all his never ending hope. He wants to Troy to see him.

It's too much for Troy. He looks away.

Their moment, their split-second eternity, is over, and now all Ryan can see is the back of Gabriella's head, her glittery silver headband twinkling in the spotlight she's sharing with Troy. The gavel of reality bears down on Ryan's chest; he's out of breath, and out of here. He pushes through the crowds he suddenly realizes is surrounding him. He notices how hard it is to see in the dark, in the nebulous shadows outside the circle of light. He doesn't care. He'll trip over a thousand feet before he stands there another minute.

When the gymnasium door shuts loudly behind him, the bassy slow song is suddenly muffled, but it's still not quiet enough in the hallway. Ryan pushes through the exit doors at the end of the hallway and sucks in a liberating breath of crisp evening air. Total silence falls soothingly on Ryan's ears. He closes his eyes to feel the slightest whisper of wind ghost across his eyelids. He really wishes he wasn't here.

Ryan didn't come outside to have a little cry. He didn't leave to sit by the wall and hug his knees like some broken-hearted freshman girl, cursing some higher power for such a grim turn of events. He's out here because he's feeling stupid – really stupid – and looking at Troy is only reaffirming the feeling.

He won't be outside for very long. He didn't come all the way back to school to skulk outside in the dark. Once the song is over, and the hordes of students convene again in their animalistic ritual of "dancing," (Ryan uses the word with a grain of salt), Ryan will put his game face back on and continue being the wallflower he was before. He might even catch a glimpse of Sharpay, although he realizes the chances are slim. Nonetheless, it would be his head if her own brother was not in attendance, and of all places, Ryan doesn't want to incur her wrath at the Spring Dance.

There's no rush, though. The song has to be at least four or five minutes, so Ryan takes him time, and indulges in the simple pleasure of his aloneness. It would be a good time for a smoke, Ryan muses, if he partook in that disgusting habit. Which he didn't, lord forbid. If he let a cancerous blend of chemicals rot his lungs and destroy his singing voice, his life would be over. So Ryan decides to just stand, staring into the violet night sky, trying to look contemplative and deep, but actually feeling kind of bored. He checks his watch for the umpteenth time that night, and droops. He anticipates the pounding beat of another mindless pop song in thirty seconds or less.

Before Ryan can even think of turning around and heading back inside, he's jarred out of his thoughts by a sound he was not expecting. Ryan hopes it's just a random couple that's just stumbled through the door, looking for a quiet spot to suck each other's faces off, but then he second guesses himself. He would rather face Troy, even if it was the last thing he wanted to do.

There's no sound, not a hint of movement at all. Ryan wishes Troy would just go back inside and dance with Gabriella some more, but Troy's just standing there, staring into the back of Ryan's head. Ryan doesn't want to turn around.

"Sorry for staring." Ryan finally says. He hasn't spoken to anyone since he arrived, so it comes out a little raspy. He can't see Troy's face, but he knows Troy is grimacing. He doesn't want Ryan to apologize.

Troy's at least eight steps away from Ryan, but Ryan only hears one before Troy is standing behind him. He doesn't know how Troy moves so swiftly and quietly, but if he knew, it would save him from Troy always sneaking behind him and scaring him. Ryan sighs a little as two arms wraps gently around his midsection. He feels guilty. He doesn't want Troy holding him.

"I feel bad enough as it is," Troy murmurs. It's not a whisper – Ryan hates it when Troy whispers. Troy's voice was one of the first things Ryan fell for, and he always wants to hear it when Troy speaks to him. "Don't apologize."

Troy's chin is resting on Ryan's left shoulder, and the warm skin of his cheek nuzzles Ryan's tenderly. Two soft lips press lightly against Ryan's ear. Ryan closes his eyes. It's moments like these that he wishes could last forever.

Troy inhales deeply. Ryan can feel the air rushing past his ear, and he can feel the smile that spreads across Troy's face. "You're wearing the cologne I bought for you."

"I had to. You're the one who asked me to come in the first place."

"Wish you wore it more often. You smell breathtaking." Troy takes in another breath, slower this time, and sighs contentedly.

Ryan didn't come out here to cry. He also didn't come out here expecting Troy Bolton, and yet, here they were. He loves this so much, and he would give anything to spend every moment of his life like this, wrapped in Troy's arms so closely he can feel every breath the boy takes, every beat of his heart. He wants to hear Troy tell him how amazing he smells every day, even if it means wearing that cologne. And he wants to know that those lips – the ones that brush so lightly across his cheek and murmur 'I love you' in his ear – will only ever be kissed by Ryan's, and no one else's.

He wants everything so badly, and yet here they stand in the dark, with no witnesses but the stars.

"I'm sorry," Troy finally says. Ryan hopes to god Troy can't tell he's crying. "She was alone. I felt bad."

"I know, Troy," Ryan whispers. There's no sound to his voice. His throat is too tight. "I know. It was good of you." Ryan doesn't mean it, even though he knows it's true.

"I saw you," Troy says. "When I was dancing with Gabriella."

"Did you?" Ryan asked, trying his hardest not to sound bitter.

"Yes. I saw you, and... and damn it, I know why you there. I saw what was in your eyes. You know I want that too."

"Then why don't you show it, Troy?" Ryan knows he sniffled through a word or two in that sentence, and he curses at himself. He doesn't want to do this.

"Ryan." It's the first time Troy says his name. "It's not that easy."

"You think it was easy for me? You think it is easy for me?"

"I never said it was," Troy says, and suddenly, there's a hint of indignation in his voice. "You know there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not in awe of you, and your bravery."

Ryan snorts. "I'm not brave," he says dejectedly. "I'm... I'm just me."

"And I wouldn't have you any other way."

Troy almost wins Ryan over, but this is too much to be fudged over with some corny line from a chick flick. "Talk is cheap, Troy Bolton. Why don't you try telling someone else."

"I have," Troy says seriously, and Ryan starts. He has what?

"What are you talking about, Troy?"

"I told Gabriella, while we were dancing. I told her about us."

Ryan's still not quite up to speed. "You... you did?" he stutters. "But why? And how did she react?"

"Just like I thought she would. She smiled at me and pretended to know all along."

Ryan is completely thunderstruck. Of all the things Troy could have said to save himself, he had not even considered this. He's frowning as he tries to think of something to say. Troy must have felt him tense up, because he's squeezing Ryan now. He hugs him briefly before carrying on.

"She knew it was never going to work between us. She gave up a long time ago. We spent a lot of time together during rehearsals, but all I could think of was you. She took the hint. She thinks it's really great that we're..."

Troy's voice drops, and Ryan raises an eyebrow. "That we're what?" he asks. Troy sighs.

"I don't know, Ryan," he says exasperatedly. "Why are you asking me? You're just trying to make me look bad now." Ryan's stomach twists and immediately, he feels guilty again. He shouldn't have said that. He let his annoyance at Troy get in the way of the fact he was treading on very thin ice, and he had just fallen in.

"I'm sorry Troy. I know. We haven't quite worked out what... this is. I'm... sorry. That was stupid."

Ryan could feel Troy let out another sigh, and he was pretty sure Troy was rolling his eyes. He took that as forgiveness and added, "Thank you for telling Gabriella. It means a lot to me."

Troy is silent for a moment, and Ryan's afraid he may have said too much this time. "You're welcome," Troy says, and relief washes over Ryan. "I thought she would be a good person to start with."

Ryan frowns. "Start?"

"Yeah. Look, I don't have the balls you did to just tell everyone at once. It just wouldn't go well. But I want people to know. Maybe not everyone, but I want people to know."

Ryan thought he was done sniffling and crying, but suddenly he has the urge to start again. He doesn't know if he can express how much what Troy has just said means to him. He humours the idea of just breaking down into tears and letting Troy hold him while he pours his heart out, but he would never actually do that. If nothing else, Ryan still has his dignity. He tries conveying his gratitude anyways, but nothing coherent comes out. He falls silent when Troy lets out a soft 'shhh' into his ear.

"I get it Ryan, it's okay," he says, and Ryan smiles because he knows Troy gets it one-hundred percent. "I'm just sorry it's going to take me even longer."

"As long as you're willing to try," Ryan says, "I'm willing to wait. We don't have to do it the way I did it. We'll do it one step at a time."

He pulls away from Troy, who seems confused at first that Ryan's trying to worm out of his arms. He gets it though, when Ryan turns around so he's face to face with Troy, for the very first time that night. Ryan practically melts at the sight of Troy's face; he's beaming so beautifully. Ryan has never seen Troy so happy, and he knows he must look just as elated.

He can't hold it in any longer. The night has been so long – even though the dance just started – and he's quite through with holding back and waiting. He cradles Troy's face in his hands and leans in swiftly, gently pressing his lips to Troy's. He's been waiting all night for this, and he's letting Troy know.

As always, Troy's lips are slightly chapped – he refuses to use Ryan's coconut lip butter – but they're warm, they're soft, and they're kissing Ryan like they're facing the end of the world. Ryan kisses back with all the passion he can muster. He doesn't stop to breathe, and he can feel the hot breath from his nose mingling with Troy's. The gentle sounds Troy makes, the tiny moans and grunts, feeds Ryan's lust, and he's bent on hearing more.

They go on for a full minute and a half before they slow down, Troy smiling as he and Ryan slowly draw their faces away from each other. Ryan's eyes are still closed. He never wants their kisses to end. He never knows how long he has to wait for the next one. A gentle stroke of Troy's fingers against Ryan's cheek is enough to lift his eyelids, and he's glad he does, for the smiling face of Troy warms his heart. He smiles back.

"So," he says, feeling a lot lighter, "I guess that's it then."

"Guess so," Troy says. "I'm sorry, you forgive me; you're sorry, I forgive you; I love you, you love me, all that jazz." Ryan laughs.

"Yeah, pretty much." It's only now as their coming down from their lustful high that Ryan starts to notice a familiar pounding coming from the wall behind them. He tries not to grimace. "Shall we go back?" he asks, nodding towards the gym. To his surprise, Troy shakes his head.

"Nah. It's way too stuffy in there."

"What, you don't like being the middle of that sweaty mosh pit?" Ryan asks teasingly.

"Pfft, yeah right. I was standing by the punch bowl the whole time. Come on, Ry, let's go."

Ryan's frowning at Troy. He's not sure if he believes him. Whatever the case, Troy's holding out his hand and smiling expectantly at Ryan. He doesn't need to ask twice. Ryan gladly takes Troy's hand and all but skips along beside him as Troy leads the way to his truck.

"Your place?" Troy asks as the two clamber into the cab of Troy's rickety pickup. "We can have a proper dance."

"No grinding?"

"A little grinding?"

Ryan sighs, but concedes. "Fine. But no Ke$ha."

"Aw Ryan, you're killing me!"

The End

Et voila.

I hope you enjoyed that. Like I said, its quite a departure from my normal writing style. First and foremost, it's my first story written in the present tense. I've dabbled in it here and there, but this is the first time I've published anything like this. I've found it makes for a very different narrative voice. How do you think it turned out? It's also a lot... angsty seems a bit strong... more somber than my usual upbeat sunshine and rainbows stuff. I just had the idea kicking around in my head, and I thought it had a lot of potential for a very serious conflict.

Speaking of, the inspiration for the story comes from a very odd and obscure source. I don't know how many of you have seen it, but at the time, I thought the 2007 valentine's day chick flick Music and Lyrics (starring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant) to be quite cute and charming, so much that I bought the soundtrack. One particular song on said soundtrack entitled 'Dance With Me Tonight,' served as inspiration for this story. If I remember it correctly, the song very little to do with the story, and originally it wasn't even a tryan story - or an HSM story - and a lot of the story was written three years after I had seen the movie... but yeah, that's where the idea came from.

There are a lot of things I'm proud of with this story, but there are also things I'm concerned about. It became embarassingly apparent to me one day that I write incredibly cheesy stuff, a revelation courtesy of two guys in my creative writing class who said so. And it's true, my writing can get really really cheesy sometimes. One reason I resort to humour in my writing is to avoid cheese, but since this wasn't a humourous story, I couldn't fall back on that. What do you think? If I'm feeling particularly self-critical, it sounds pretty cheese-tastic at some parts. Is it so? Is it justified? Thoughts?

And I realize the plot is kinda cliche, but I didn't really set out to write a groundbreaking plot. This was really more of a character piece, showing a conflict between Troy and Ryan, and how they deal with it. Again, any feedback on that would be lov-e-ly.

And as usual, I've gone off on a big tangent. Anyways, again, I hope you all enjoyed this work, my first tryan fic in two years. Also, there's a reason this story was a oneshot. I've come to the sad conclusion that I just can't commit to anything more than a one-shot, or a very small chaptered story at best (think From No ID to Me). I just don't have the dedication anymore to write a full fledged story. It's for a lot of reasons. I like High School Musical a shit-tonne less, I'm busier with life, the fandom kinda died etc. etc. The point is, if I do come out with more stuff, it'll be more oneshots or shorter stories. I hope you'll look forward to them just the same.

And while I'm talking about that, here's a shout out to all my fellow tryan authors; the people whose stories I worship. I loved your stories and still do! I hope this small effort on my part my inspire you to update something. Xian Chan, Spectator101, Tertiary Genesis, I'm looking at you! If you read this, I wan't ya'll to know that I'm still a huge fan, and I hope you'll update before we're another decade into the 2000's. And this goes to everyone else too. I'm always game for a good tryan, if you've written or read one, send it my way! I'd love to read it.

Anyways, it's 4:19 AM and my laptop's about to die, so that's all for now, I suppose. If you liked this story, or if you have any critiques, please don't be shy and review! Spread a little holiday cheer :)

That's all from me for now, folks. Happy Holidays!