Author: jillrocca </lj>
Fandom: High School Musical (That Disney franchise-thingy)
Pairings: Not giving away anything until it’s written in the passage.
Summary: They all thought they’d never see each other again … at least that’s what they thought after they all fell out of touch during college. Somehow all their journeys fresh out of the undergrad-level lead them to Philadelphia where they meet each other again one more time … what’s going to happen now?
Chapter 1: High School Reunion
Part I. Thursday
Troy Bolton stepped into his new apartment with a sigh. In his hands he held the last of his moving boxes. It had been one hell of a haul driving to here all the way from California, but as his new boss told him, “it’ll all be worth it, Troy.” Yeah, so he said, but Mr. Big shot executive producer slash director in Hollywood had a private jet he could fly to his place and pay someone else to drive his stuff for him. Troy was stuck with his truck and a moving pod-thing he had rented for about a week. At least he had help with his couch and bed and the like. That guy had left after they had successfully moved all his furniture and heavier boxes in to return the … moving pod? Troy could never remember what the thing was called, but as long as all his stuff was still in one piece that was all he cared about.
He put the box down in the small foyer and fell on top of his couch. Twenty-two shouldn’t feel so old. The only reason he was here was because the show maker he had interned for almost all his college breaks was moving to Philadelphia to set up a production company there. He had told Troy it was highly unlikely for anyone in Hollywood to move somewhere not New York, but he was “ready to take a risk,” he had said.
He had also said, “Troy, I want to offer you a full time job to become an assistant director and a writer for my company … at least to start,” which, Troy having no other prospects other than to apply for grad school (which he planned to do … eventually) said yes and here he was. New city, new life, it felt strange and also strangely exciting.
He had managed to get a pretty awesome place under his budget that he could totally afford. His parents had covered most of the expenses as part of his graduation gift, along with buying him a new truck to help him move all the stuff. He would be comfortable until next month’s pay. The only unfortunate thing was that his job would begin in four days and that was probably not enough time for him to get all his stuff set up all by himself. But! He would have to try and try he did. By midnight he was satisfied enough with his kitchen and living room, had set up his bed, had put some clothes in his closet, and set out his toothbrush.
“Great,” he said. He ate the rest of the Thai food he had bought at a place around the corner and went to bed. He’d worry about finding a grocery store and the other stuff later.
Gabriella Montez sat nervously at her new job. She was the personal secretary for some lawyer in Philadelphia while she paid her way through law school at the University of Pennsylvania. She went to her classes in the morning and had one class at night on Tuesdays and had her job sandwiched in between. She had thought that this would get her closer to the actual cases, but not really. She sighed. She supposed this was how it would all begin. She would get through law school handling files and calls for other professionals before she became one herself.
The guy she worked for burst through his office door. Having come to expect this every morning, she turned to face him in her chair instantly. He was kind of a hard-ass by the way he was always asking her to get up and do things as if he enjoyed seeing her struggle. He smiled at her in a funny way as he said good afternoon to her. She replied with a good afternoon and then of course …
He slammed some files onto her desk and said, “Ms. Montez, I want you to go through all these case records, copy them, scan them and put them onto your hard drive then run the copies to Bill, let him look at them and then when he’s done give the copies to—” and on it went … a simple e-mail might have sufficed, but no, he wanted it a specific way and if she had any inkling of hope at keeping her job, she would just have to do it. Damn.
“Sir,” she said, “Why don’t you just have me e-mail them to everyone?” She asked politely.
He smiled a little, “Because Bill, Mary, and all the others only need specific files,”
“Why can’t I just give it to them in an e-mail?” She asked again.
“Well, that’s why you have them on your hard drive, give them whatever files and copies they need and then just in case, e-mail the rest to them. Make sense?”
“Yes,” She said, trying not to let her frustration show on her face. What would happen if she looked for a new job? Perhaps an internship somewhere else maybe? God, she knew this guy was a jerk when she interviewed for him, but she had no other options. Now that she was settled in the city, maybe now she’d better know what to look for?
But she was always picking up and moving somewhere else … it was like a bad habit that wouldn’t go away. Maybe she should stay with this guy who liked to make her go all the way out of her way to do random things for him … damn, what was she going to do?
Chad Danforth stared around at his new life in awe. How and when had he become so fortunate? When did this happen? He couldn’t believe the size of it, look at all this space! And the chairs! It was like nothing he had ever dreamed of!
Someone tapped him on his shoulder. He turned around beaming at his new basketball coach. The man held up a jersey with the number 8 on it. Chad was officially a Philadelphia 76er. Basketball was his life and while he had studied growth and structure of cities at the University of Albuquerque, this was what he really loved. He could deal with city planning later … or not, whatever. He would not screw this up.
The Wachovia Stadium was huge! Just … so many rows of seats, he could not imagine how it would be when an actual game was going. All the screaming people, the cameras and the film crews. Just so much! He could picture it in his mind if he closed his eyes. It made him smile more. He was too excited. Although he was already twenty-two, he felt about fifteen years younger.
“I’ll see you at practice on Monday,” he coach said, and left. He knew Chad was relishing the triumph of his new job. The kid was something special, he could tell.
Chad could not wait. He wanted to find someone and share his news with them. He needed to share this moment with someone and someone with a face right in front of him for the instant gratification of knowing what emotions played across their face. Well, at least he’d hoped they be happy feelings. Then his face fell as he realized he was pretty much alone here in Philadelphia. He hadn’t made any new friends yet. He’d been so focused on those try-outs for such a long time and then he’d been counting on just getting to know his team and that’d be it, except that he hadn’t really met-met the team on a personal level yet. They were there when they’d signed him to the team right out of college, but not so much right now. Maybe later, when they were actually practicing and they could see his skill …
And Chad knew he also couldn’t be that self-important … it was just the adrenaline rush of actually being able to play in the NBA, his dream since early childhood. Was it too much to do to take himself out to dinner? Yeah, he would do that … tomorrow, on Friday. Even if he felt lonely, he wouldn’t for long. New city, new job, new life, and with all that newness there must be some new friends involved. Right? It was part of the four “news” that came with moving to a completely new place right? Maybe there were five news … of who knew.
Part II. Friday
Taylor McKessie smiled broadly and shook the hand of the Mayor of Philadelphia.
He said, “I look forward to working with you Ms. McKessie!” to which she almost shivered with excitement. As a recent Yale grad at the top of her class, an impressive resume of internships, and now attending grad school at Villanova University, here she now was acquiring an official public service job! It was wonderful. The governor said how much he liked her in her interview and how much he needed her skills …
It was just too much! After how hard she had worked through high school and college to get here … well, it was sort of anti-climactic. But she was still looking forward to her new job and her new classes even if she did have to attend those classes right after work on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. At least not on Friday! And she didn’t have to work Saturday or Sunday, which was an added bonus to her new job. Her tasks at the Mayor’s office were a little smaller than she had hoped, but they were still large and an asset to the community. She was basically working under him and some other officials to help them get things done. If she wanted to be President by the time she was thirty-five, she needed to start somewhere, right?
“I look forward to working with you too!” She said happily.
“All right, you take care now.” The Mayor said.
“And you! I’ll see you on Monday!” And she left.
She checked her watch. It was about seven in the evening, how long had she been talking to the guy about her job? Geez. It was time for some dinner, but where? This city, while not as huge as New York, was still pretty big. She had explored around her neighborhood a little, but there weren’t any real restaurants there.
She asked the receptionist if she knew any good places to eat.
The receptionist said, “Why don’t you try Walnut Street or Sansom. Oh! Chestnut Street has some good restaurants!” Taylor thanked her. She sat in her car five minutes later thinking, now how to get there …
Ryan Evans held his cell phone about an arms length away from his ear. The voice at the other end of the line was saying, “I can’t believe you! I can’t believe you! I got this place in Society Hill and you go get some place on Walnut Street! Walnut! Ryan, you said you were moving to Chestnut!”
He brought the phone back to talk to the other voice, “Sorry sis, we’re not that far apart. Besides, you live with your boyfriend now, do I really want to be that close? I like my place.”
“Yeah, wouldn’t you like a boyfriend of your own …”
Ryan’s mouth twitched, “It would be nice to have someone who cooks for me, yeah.”
“Speaking of, where are we going to eat again? I’m starving.” Sharpay’s longtime boyfriend was working a dinner shift at his restaurant job.
“Fogo de Chão—it’s a Brazilian steakhouse.”
“It smelled good from outside the shop, you’ll like it!”
“As if that’s a basis for planning where you go to eat! Has living in New York taught you nothing?” Sharpay snapped at him. She feared as if he might need a high society tune up again. Maybe she could find Ryan a date and they could double date their way up to the Evans’s house in Newport, Rhode Island. Not only had he moved away from New York to pursue an acting job here in Philadelphia, but turned down a job in Hollywood! She was only in Philadelphia because she had snagged a musical part at the Kimmel Center. She was playing a minor character, but with a lot of lines. She was born for this. She would have this role, everyone would see her genius and then it was off to stardom.
She rolled her car around onto Chestnut Street almost colliding with someone who was obviously lost. She rolled her eyes and told Ryan she’d be there in a minute; just needed a parking space. She could see Ryan standing idly outside of some restaurant that looked fancy enough. She sniffed; maybe he’d done a good job after all for their little meet-up.
Ryan caught his sister’s eye in her car and waved at her. He could see her looking at the restaurant with a critical eye. He knew she was having trouble finding a fault with it. It was a particularly windy day in September. He adjusted his Jeff cap smiling a little. After a year of being apart, Sharpay had said she couldn’t take attending U of A and had transferred to NYU to study acting. Ryan knew she wouldn’t last long in their theater department. It would never be up to her standards even though their father had spent so much to go into the program (the school had even named their auditorium after the twins), but he still happily paid her tuition at NYU, where she had—to Ryan’s amazement and delight—succeeded in starring in two big productions put on by the school, which was where she might have landed her new job as a performer at the Kimmel Center.
After graduating Julliard himself with a degree in acting and choreography, he had auditioned for a new television series they would be producing and filming her in Philadelphia and he had landed the part of a major character. He was excited, but even as he thought this, he smiled listlessly to himself watching his sister park her car in a spot near the restaurant (which she had effectively stolen from someone who looked a little lost).
He contemplated feeling a lonely in this city even with his sister thinking about just how single he was around when someone else caught his eye. A young guy … tall with dark brown hair. Hot body accentuated by his fitted jeans and that blue top … so cute. He looked a little lost too. Well, it would only be so unkind for Ryan to not help the guy out and maybe ask to go for a drink later … or right now. Ryan would also make it a point to know what guys’ name he might be calling for later … but then as the guy came closer Ryan realized that he already knew his name.
“Troy Bolton?” Ryan was astonished.
A car horn blared and Troy—he was sure it was Troy—had turned around to see Sharpay climbing out of her car and waving frantically at him saying, “Troy! Troy!” She ran over to him as fast as her four-inch heels would allow giggling all the way.
She practically threw herself on him and grabbed him for a hug. “It’s been so long! We must have dinner! Ryan!” She snapped at him, her tone going from sweet to saucy. “Get them to put us at a table for three!” She hissed.
Troy had no time to actually say or do anything. Sharpay steered him towards the door of Fogo de Chão.
Ryan was at a loss for words, but then he saw the woman whom Sharpay had stolen her parking space from get out of her car in a huff. She looked and saw the back of Sharpay’s head and started walking towards it. But then another voice caught her attention from Ryan’s other side.
“Taylor? Taylor McKessie?”
The woman turned. Ryan saw that it was Taylor; she had definitely grown up. She looked so … stately in that business suit. And to his right was Gabriella Montez holding her blazer close to her against the wind. She smiled as Taylor began to recognize her. Taylor’s initial anger at Sharpay had dissipated and she was now running towards her former best friend. They kept screaming, “It’s been so long! It’s been so long!” What had happened to those two, Ryan wondered. And here were Gabriella and Troy on the same street ... were they meeting each other or something? Damn. If possible, Troy had gotten even hotter since high school.
As he turned his head back to the right as the two girls hugged right in front of him, he saw a just-as-hot-as-Troy black guy coming up the street and smiling in his direction. Taylor looked up from her vice grip with Gabriella and said, “Chad?” breathlessly. Okay … were they together too? By her tone of voice this sounded like another haphazard encounter. Or was she just so happy to see him after a long day at work? Damn. Troy also whipped his head around to look at the person coming towards them all.
“Chad?” He said. He managed to peel himself away from Sharpay’s grip and walk towards him. The two men stared at each other and then grabbed each other’s hand as if to shake and then pulled each other in and into a ‘man hug’.”
“No basketball under the arm?” Troy asked. They both laughed.
Gabriella looked shocked and a little hurt, but still she said, “Troy?” Taylor who had looked happy at the sight of seeing so many of her old friends together looked a little downcast at Gabriella’s expression and Ryan could tell she too was wondering what had happened to those two in California.
Troy turned slowly and disengaged out of his man hug with Chad to face her. He looked a little perplexed and said, “Gabriella.” A little surprised, but also his reply was curt and it sort of held in the air. It was easy to tell Troy was not expecting to see him
Gabriella had seen a brown-haired guy and a blonde woman about to walk into the restaurant and now she looked past Troy to better see just who that blonde woman was. She started with, “Who is … Sharpay?” She said Sharpay’s name sounding a little on edge.
“Sharpay Evans?” Chad said as if wondering what the hell East High’s Drama Queen could be doing here in Philadelphia.
Ryan was more wondering how the hell everybody ended up in the same place. And why the hell no one was happy to see him! He had been their friend … hadn’t he? Were all those nights spent at Gabriella’s house over the summer after work at his family’s country club before senior year for nothing?
To break the tension, or maybe to contribute to it, Ryan finally spoke up. He asked the group at large, “This is too much. Am I really going to be the one to say it?”
They all finally turned to him. They all looked so shocked to find him standing there the entire time.
“What the he—you know what?” Ryan said. He changed his mind half-way through; he knew they were all thinking it. An idea suddenly struck him, “Dinner. Let’s have dinner. On me and Sharpay.”
Sharpay gaped at him and he walked into the restaurant without. He didn’t look back at her.