She wasn't a mean person. Not truly. Just a spoiled little girl; someone who had never been given a reason to not be selfish.
Her parents had always doted to her. When she threw tantrums, she was immediately consoled, showered with gifts and kisses until her screaming ceased. When she cried, the rest of the world seemed to silence, horrified that a creature as beautiful as she knew she was could be allowed to suffer for even a moment. Her family, and even strangers on the street would all stop whatever they might be doing to offer her their best efforts of appeasement.
It was only natural that she developed a knack for manipulation. When she grew old enough to realize how well her real cries were received, she began to employ fake tears to assist her in gaining whatever she wanted, no matter how ridiculous.
She would sit in her room, alone, and stare into the mirror. Her bottom lip would begin to quiver first, and she would widen her brown eyes the same way her puppy did when it wanted a treat.
"B-b-but." She began, and her eyes quickly moistened, "I just want..."
The first tear would fall then, quickly followed by more, and she would hang her head now while her body shook, only occasionally glancing back up to the mirror to admire her work.
She was a natural. This practice paid off, and the rare occasions in the past when Sharpay Evans was told 'No' quickly diminished. No request was too obscene; no demand too impossible. All was done to keep her from shedding tears, a sight that disturbed all who witnessed it.
Her own brother suffered the most from these displays. He would fall over himself, in his rush to comfort her by any means possible. She was well aware of this, and her conscience never kept her from taking advantage of it.
When they were five, all toys in their shared playroom quickly became "hers." He was allowed access to them only after a quick grovel, and he lost the rights to them once again as soon as playtime was over. Birthdays and Christmas became less romanticized for him soon after, realizing that any toy he unwrapped was just another prison sentence, something that could only be enjoyed under sharp supervision.
He snapped once, after a fight between the siblings one Saturday that resulted in her stealing and hiding all of his favorite playthings. He grew so angry with her tyrancy, that he denied her of all her self-appointed power, marching into her own bedroom and snatching her favorite Barbie doll out of her hands while she was playing with it, snapping the head off and throwing it back at her. She sat there, her mouth agape, looking so stunned and frightened that for a brief moment he felt a surge of power and thought that perhaps from now on, the roles would be reversed. But then a high pitched noise admitted from her mouth, and he watched her face quickly give way to dozens of tears, real ones, and every trace of anger within him was replaced with incurable guilt in a matter of seconds.
"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry Sharpay." He quickly knelt beside her, and had tried to put his arms around her, kissing her cheek a few times, and repeatedly appologizing, "Please forgive me. I didn't mean it. I'll fix her, I promise."
For a moment, Sharpay had sat on her floor, cross-legged and defenseless, while her body racked with sobs and her brother begged for her mercy. But then, she sprang to her feet, shoving Ryan off of her, and ran out of her room shouting for their mother.
Sharpay was pacified with a trip to the toy store for a new doll, while Ryan served a time out upstairs in his room. He tiptoed down the hall back to Sharpay's room, however, to retrieve the mutilated Barbie and took her back to his own room. He filled her head with Elmer's glue and tried to stick it back on the body, but everytime he set it down, the head lolled back due to the weight. Eventually, he sat in a chair, holding the head to the body himself, waiting for the hefty amount of glue to dry. Even after his father came upstairs and told him he was free to do what he pleased once again, he continued to sit still, holding both halves of the Barbie for over an hour, a unit of time which felt like a lifetime for a five year old boy.
Sharpay returned from the toy store with much more than a new doll, and when Ryan crept down the stairs to greet her, she was smiling at her father while she showed him each new item, the day's earlier events seemingly forgotten.
Ryan presented her with the bandaged doll. Her head was now fixed to the side as if she had a broken neck, and there was a large clump of glue dried in her hair, but he still felt proud for fixing it to the best of his abilities. Sharpay accepted the Barbie without a smile, saying, "Thank you," to him before retreating to her room with it, along with her shopping bags.
Ryan later found the doll in her garbage can, no longer wanted now that her beauty had been compromised. He retreived it himself, taking it back to his bedroom, and hiding it safely on a shelf in his closet. Even as he grew older, and Sharpay was too old to play with dolls, he never had the heart to throw it out, convincing himself that she may want it again some day, and that he would be her hero when he presented her with it a second time.
Ryan hadn't always had a passion for song and dance either, contrary to popular belief. In fact, when Sharpay had first insisted that he begin to assist her with musical auditions, he had been less than enthused. They fought over it to a point where he physically ran away from her, hoping that if she went off to her room to practice alone, she would realize she could do it just fine by herself.
But she had hunted after him, to find him locked in his bedroom, and began to beat on the door, demanding he let her in that instant. Ryan had refused, until he began to hear sniffles coming from beyond the door.
"Please. I don't want to do it alone. I'm scared."
He had opened the door to find her slumped against it, and she immediately went toppling into his arms. She dropped like dead weight against him, like the dramatic actress she was, and it was all he could do to support her with his eight year old body.
"Fine. I'll practice with you Sharpay." He gave in, like always, even while knowing he was playing right into her hands like she planned.
Sharpay had wiped her nose on the sleeve of her dress, and then replied, "It's called rehearsing."
Ryan helped Sharpay daily, and quickly grew to learn that she was quite the klutz. Ryan found that movement came natural to him, and he would invent dance steps of his own, quickly memorizing them and teaching them to his sister. Sharpay tripped all over herself trying to move her feet in the same patterns, and would then find a way to blame it on him. He spent so much time trying to help his sister learn to dance, that he soon came to realize how passionate he felt about it. He did one musical with Sharpay, and then another, surprised to learn his muse was at least in the same area as hers.
Still, he limited himself somewhat for Sharpay's benefit. Their mother stuck them both in dancing classes soon after they began their venture into musical theater, and it didn't take too many sessions before Ryan was envisioning large pirouettes and jete grands in his head. But dance like that was not right for Sharpay. In fact, in a matter of three months, she had dropped out of ballet, insisting that she would only need the training if she intended to be a background dancer on Broadway, which, clearly, she did not. And so, Ryan contended to restrict his choreography to simple steps Sharpay could master easily: routines that consisted mostly of her shaking her hips and moving back and forth across the stage while she belted out solos.
The truth was Sharpay did not have discipline, something Ryan was well practiced at. Maybe that was another reason he had to be grateful for her dominance throughout their childhood. It was not just ballet, but also piano, something both Ryan and Sharpay were intended to learn at their mother's request. Sharpay threw fits every time she was asked to practice, and was eventually permitted to stop learning the instrument entirely. Ryan, however, practiced daily, so that his musical ear soon surpassed his sister's immensely as well as his dancing, something she would never admit no matter how painfully obvious it became as they grew older.
Yet, no matter how much time Ryan spent mastering the art of music and dance with strict control of method, while Sharpay ran around in her room singing into a hairbrush and reciting lines from "Gone With the Wind" to her mirror, he always remained overshadowed by her. Whatever quality there was in Sharpay that made her stand out, perhaps an unknown gene that Ryan had not recieved, it made her a star, something she possessed without effort, and something Ryan could not quite reach.
While Ryan loved his sister, and did what he could to make her happy, knowing deep down she was a good person, it wasn't unbeknown to him just how nasty she could be.
When they were young, she blamed him every time she fell into trouble with her parents or teachers, and he often took the fall for her, as the loyal brother he was.
When they were ten, she snuck into their mother's closet without permission, stole six designer evening dresses, three of them being one of a kind vintage pieces, and cut the hems on all of them in an attempt to fashion them into something she could wear herself. When their mother found them missing, she confronted Sharpay in a fury, growing angrier still when she found the remains of the dresses.
Ryan had unfortunately come running to Sharpay's room to find the source of the commotion, and came into his sister's line of vision just as her mouth was gaping in lack of excuse.
Sharpay quickly blurted out, "Ryan did it."
Their mother didn't look as though she believed Sharpay, but she turned to face her son anyway, and asked him if that was the truth. Ryan peered over his mother's shoulder at his sister, who nodded her head vehemently, and clasped her hands together in plea. He glared at her, but then saw the the threatening moisture forming in her eyes, promising tears at any moment.
"Yes, I did it." He had bowed his head down in shame.
When asked for a reason why, he claimed he had wanted to give them to Sharpay for their birthday, which, conveniently, was only a few weeks away at the time. His good intentions lessened his mother's anger towards him, but he still served a weekend of what she refereed to as "restrictions." Sharpay's every whim was catered to as usual, going out any place that struck her fancy, while Ryan was confined to the home and backyard.
He had hoped she would be gracious enough for what he had done to stay at home with him, but she had instead attended a sleepover of one of the girls in her class Friday, and spent the full day Saturday shopping with her mother. Ryan watched with jealousy when she returned home, happy, and completely unaware of his suffering.
Sunday, he was outside playing on their swingset, and she finally came out to join him. Ryan was hopeful she would finally apologize for blaming him for her wrong doing, or at least thank him for taking the heat. But she only smiled at him, and suggested they spend the afternoon acting out some of her favorite movies, an activity that always consisted of her claiming all the best roles, and leaving him the rest. She was completely remorseless.
Ryan wanted to knock her to the ground in anger, and demand that she stop taking advantage of him, but he nodded half heartedly and agreed to do as she wished. Whenever he had fantasies of pushing her face in the mud, he would instead focus on how lovely her hair looked when it shone in the sunshine. Whenever he wanted to explode and scream every curse word in his ten year old vocabulary, he would instead bite his tongue and get lost in how beautiful her smile was as long as he was keeping her happy.
Their relationship evolved this way. Every time Ryan missed a step when rehearsing, (or more often, when Sharpay was off and tried to cover by accusing him of being at fault), after she yelled at him she would reach over, and gently touch his wrist or arm, a comforting gesture that usually worked. He would stifle the hatred that bubbled inside him towards her and her unjust admonishes, managing to suffer silently through it as he waited eagerly for her soft touch.
She held control of him so easily in that way. He learned to lick the foot that kicked him repeatedly, as long as her abuse was counteracted by the smallest gestures of affection. He wanted her to understand how much he loved her; the reason why he continued to let her shove him around. But it never seemed to register with her. She was never appreciative of his everlasting loyalty, the awe and admiration behind his eyes every time he looked at her, and his overall adoration for her. It seemed he was destined forever to be her sidekick, tagging along while she chased her larger than life dreams.
But fate worked in mysterious ways.
Ryan was awarded a scholarship to Juliard, the coveted art school desired most by his sister. Sharpay was not so fortunate.
She was wait-listed, a fact they both knew to be a death sentence. What student deemed glorious enough to attend the oh so exclusive school would be idiotic enough to pass the opportunity by?
She hugged him in congratulations when he received the scholarship at the school ceremony. She had even smiled and tried her best to act happy for him. He said act, because he knew his sister, and he knew how devastated she had to be on the inside.
And she was. When they got home that night, she ran upstairs to her bedroom, shutting the door, and immediately breaking down in tears behind it.
Ryan heard her, and begged to be let inside, but she refused, and spent the night in miserable solitude. The next day, he had tried again in vain to get her to talk about the matter, but she shut him down immediately, and did the same for most of the summer, every time he even dared to mention college.
The subject was avoided until the day came where college was mere weeks away, and he decided it was time to begin packing his things, the items that would arrive there before he did.
Somehow, Sharpay ended up in his room, watching, stony-faced, as he withdrew items from his closet, placing them in boxes and bags, while he hummed a happy tune, and tried to ignore the ever present frown on his sister's face.
Reaching to the back of a top shelf, his hand met with something foreign, and grabbing it, he withdrew the battered doll he had mended for Sharpay more than a decade earlier. He walked back into the room with it in his hands, and placed it beside her.
"This is yours." He muttered.
Sharpay picked up the doll with disgust, and then slow realization dawned on her, "I threw this away!"
"I know." Ryan ran the toe of his shoe over the carpet, "But I thought you might want it again some day, and you'd be thankful I kept it. But I guess you never did."
Sharpay studied it a minute more, and then looked up at her brother again.
Suddenly, she jumped from the bed, wrapping her arms around his neck and burying her head in his chest.
"Oh Ryan." She cried, "Please don't leave me. You can't! We're twins. I need you around. Please, don't leave."
She pressed her face hard against him, and he could feel her wet tears seeping through his shirt to his skin. He wrapped his arms around her in a comforting embrace, and rubbed her back gently. He still hated to see her cry, more than anything.
She was more than just his sister. She was his twin, someone he had shared a womb with. He had been with her since before birth. He recalled a few months back when Sharpay had been talking about dreams of Broadway, and he had asked her about the likelihood that they would not both be admitted to Juliard, at the time worried the rejected one would be him. Sharpay had replied with the illogical reasoning, "We're twins. They have to take us both."
Evidently, the admissions board at Juliard was not made up of people who thought the same way.
"Please stay with me." She'd begged again, "I need you here."
He loved his sister more than theatre, more than dance, more than a prestigious arts college and all the opportunities it could have brought him.
And so, he found himself replying, "Okay. I'll stay."
It was as simple as that.
Ryan withdrew his admission to Juliard the very next day. In the back of his mind, he was unhappy. He was sacrificing his dreams, giving up what he had pursued throughout his entire high school career. But his family, his twin, meant more to him, and he would go where they would take them both: University of Albuquerque. The college Sharpay had settled for, and for which he was now doing the same.
Sharpay's mood, which had been practically terminal for the majority of the summer, seemed to improve afterwards. Her smiles became genuine once again, and she was laughing freely. He was relieved to find their relationship returning to normal, and he decided that was reason enough to stay in Albuquerque with her.
Less than a week later, the letter came.
He could hear Sharpay's squeals from upstairs, and he came down to find her standing in the kitchen with their parents, clutching a ripped envelope in one hand and a typed paper in the other.
"We're very proud of you, Princess." Their father stated, beaming at his daughter.
"What's going on?" Ryan smiled at them, and Sharpay looked up in surprise, her face suddenly falling.
Ryan frowned when he saw his parents exchange looks, and Sharpay silently held the letter out to him.
Congratulations! You have been admitted to-
Ryan stared the paper, forgetting to blink until he felt his eyes begin to burn. It seemed so surreal. Surely there were others who were unable to attend the school. It wasn't as if Sharpay had been literally handed his spot. But yet, the letter had come so late in the summer, a week after he had declined to attend Juliard. And Sharpay had been the very next person on the list? It just seemed like too much of a stretch. And yet, it was really happening.
He had looked back up at his sister in disbelief.
"Are you going to go?" He asked softly.
Sharpay lowered her head in shame, and he knew her answer.
"Congratulations." He said quietly, and he handed the letter back to her.
Sacrifice. It was something he had done for his sister since day one, and this wasn't any different. He learned his best coping mechanism was to live vicariously. When she was happy, he lived through her, and found himself happy as well.
At least one of the Evans twins would be able to follow their dreams.
Their parents had each given him a small sympathetic smile, and he realized that for once, they understood. He had always felt as if they were on her side, defending her holiness to the death even when all evidence contradicted this belief. But this time, he was sure they knew of her manipulation. They knew the thoughts running through his mind, the feeling of being robbed, by his own sister no less.
He also knew, by the way she avoided eye contact with him, and the way her laughter slipped away again in the days to follow, that she was aware of his secret feelings as well. She wore a face of guilt every time Ryan looked at her, and he wondered if it was genuine, or a mask she merely put on in his presence for his benefit.
On the day she left, she leaned in and gave him a hug, and he couldn't help himself from stiffly returning it, his eyes gazing coolly into her own when she pulled away.
And then, she left him. He didn't cry and dive into her arms and beg her to stay with some bull shit about family ties. He just stood still and lifeless, staring at the ground, and trying to ignore the taunting thoughts in the back of his mind that it should have been him. He should have been leaving now while she stood behind feeling worthless and heartbroken.
But if that were the case, there would be one large difference. Ryan would never be happy, either way. If she was suffering, then somewhere, on some level, he always would be too, and that was a fact he had realized years ago, when he broke that stupid doll in a fruitless pursuit of revenge.
Now he is home again. He walks in his room, trying to brush off the eerie feeling of emptiness and silence his house now seems to possess.
Sitting on his bed, as if part of some cruel joke, is that mangled Barbie, the one he gave back to his sister a couple of weeks ago.
He doesn't know what made her hold on to it up until now, or why she decided to give it back to him before leaving. He sits down on the bed beside it, and picks the doll up, studying it. He tries to decipher the quality in it that feels so familiar to him; the connection he felt to it when he was a child that made him pick it up out of the garbage can and carry it back to his room.
It's just plastic, he reminds himself. There's nothing to keep him from throwing it away now, and forgetting it ever existed. It's only a doll, a child's toy, and it will never know the difference.
But he still feels an attachment to it, even now, even knowing deep down that there's no emotion behind its smile, that it felt nothing when he broke its neck years back.
Gradually, he thinks he's beginning to understand.
The doll's only plastic, but it can't help that. It had no say in what it was to be, something forced to carry on the appearance of a living person, but empty and lifeless on the inside all the same.
He broke it. It is his fault that despite the doll's pretty hair and frozen smile, there is something defected, something that prevented it from going back on the shelf beside the rest of Sharpay's dolls. It was his fault, he realizes, and no matter how long he sat in this room, trying to glue the doll back together, it would never be the same again; it would never be like the others.
That's why he had to hang on to it for so long. He couldn't let it go, not when it represented to him in so many ways, someone so close to him; someone he had also deflicted, even with his best intentions.
He's stroking the doll's hair, absentmindedly, repeatedly stopping at that clump of glue, and starting again at the top. He looks down at it again, staring at it for a moment, and suddenly he's filled with disgust.
He's too old to be holding on to children's toys, justifying it with some sentimental bull shit, feeling attached to a plastic doll who can't feel, who doesn't even know that he's holding it now.
In a fit of anger, something he feels rising from beyond his anguish, he holds the doll up. Hands shaking, he heaves it, watching it fly out of his hands and hit his bedroom wall with force.
The doll splits again, all of his handy work years ago for nothing.
His attachment, unfortunately, does not break.
A/N: I hope somebody actually gave this a chance and read it.