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FIC: Assumptions - Hotitudinosity
fiction by jalabert
jalabert
jalabert
FIC: Assumptions
Title: Assumptions
Author: Jalabert
Fandom: High School Musical 2 (Oh, shut up!)
Rating: Everyone
Category: Friendship, possibly pre-slash
Summary: Chad gains support from an unexpected quarter. (Part of the Coming to Terms Series)

Author's Note: This was finished weeks ago. It has been languishing on my hard drive for want of a decent title. I decided to post it because the longer it sat the longer it became (it has actually grown by three pages). Still don't care for the title, but at least it won't turn into an epic.


"Dumb assignment," Troy groused as he and Chad strode into the classroom. "Why do we have to talk about ourselves?"

"A little introspection is good for the soul," Chad replied absently. Troy paused and looked at him oddly. Not that he disagreed in principle--he just never expected Chad--or any other seventeen year old of his acquaintance, for that matter, to admit as much aloud.

"Introspection? I thought we were supposed to write about what others thought of us, not what we thought of ourselves," he replied as he took his seat. He quickly pulled out his notebook and checked the assignment. He read it over and turned to Chad. "Yeah; we were supposed to prepare a three-minute speech on--."

Mr. Davison called the class to order and quickly took attendance. Troy turned around as Chad squirmed uncomfortably in his seat. He hated oral presentations and, for once, he was determined to follow his mother's advice and get it over with as quickly as possible. Of course, she had no idea that Chad's speech was about, but his mother was the least of his concerns at the moment. He just wanted it to be over and done with. So when Mr. Davison asked for volunteers Chad practically leapt out of his seat to be the first to present.

He strode to the front of the room and stood before his peers, nervously clearing his throat as his eyes swept around the room. Chad raised his hand and then dropped it. He was empty-handed, a fact that did not go unnoticed by his classmates.

"Hey, Danforth, you forgot your homework--again," someone teased. Several students snickered at the remark. Chad shot him a glare, then shut his eyes for a second. He opened them again, took a calming breath and began to speak, remembering that he was being graded on the quality of his presentation as well as the speech itself.

"People assume I'm stupid," he said, meeting the eyes of the classmate who'd just teased him, "just because I sometimes drift off in class or fall behind in my homework. The fact is I have the highest academic average of any member of any varsity team at East High. I actually stand a better chance of getting an academic scholarship than an athletic one."

The snickering stopped. Troy and Zeke exchanged surprised looks and Chad continued, projecting his voice with confident ease.

"People assume that just because I live, breathe and eat sports, I'm no good at anything else. The fact is that I have a lot of interests that have nothing to do with sports."

"Name one," someone in the back of the room challenged.

"Astronomy," Chad replied with a shrug. "Philately, too--my uncle got me into it."

A chorus of "what?" ensued.

"He studies stamps," Ryan volunteered in a world-weary tone. Surprised looks and more confused murmurs filled the room.

"Go on, Mr. Danforth," Mr. Davison said, drawing the class back to the topic at hand. "I believe you have three more assumptions to discuss."

"People assume that I'm poor, because I don't wear designer clothes to school, I don't have a car, or maybe just because I'm black," Chad said with a tinge of bitterness. "The truth is that I come from a family with a very decent income, thank you very much. My parents didn't give me a car when I turned sixteen because they believed that I would appreciate it more if I earned it myself. They were right. I know the value of things because my parents have always made me earn them. And I don't wear designer clothes because I think wearing someone else's label on your chest is stupid. I don't want to be Tommy Hilfiger. I want to be me."

Mr. Davison nodded approvingly, and Ryan shifted in his seat, regarding Chad with new interest. His sister, on the other hand, sniffed disdainfully.

"You must be a stupid slogan tee shirt, then," she said. But Chad was unfazed by the barb.

"That brings me to my next point. People assume that I'm slow, some dumb jock," he said with a glance at Taylor. "They think that I don't know things…that I don't understand or don't want to understand certain things. I'm a human being. I have feelings, even if I don't show them," he said frowning. "I wish people would quit treating me like I'm an idiot." He flicked a meaningful look at Sharpay, who feigned surprise. Ryan averted his eyes and smiled wryly.

"People assume that I'm a follower. And I have been, most of my life," Chad said, turning his gaze on Troy. "But I've begun to learn to march to the beat of my own drum. I'll strike out on my own someday, when people least expect it."

"Dude, what does that mean?" Jason asked. Chad ignored the question. He could see Troy's questioning look but he ignored that as well.

"People assume that just because they see me day after day, year after year, they know everything there is to know about me. That's probably a dangerous assumption to make about anyone, but it's definitely the wrong thing to assume about me."

"Hey man, I just assumed you could count to five," Zeke quipped. Chad didn't take the bait.

"No, you assumed that I only had five misconceptions to talk about," he replied calmly. "Mr. Davison asked us to come up with at least five mistaken assumptions people make about us. I came up with seven." His courage failed him, then, and he took the easy out before he had a chance to rethink things. "But I'll cede the floor to the next student," Chad said, looking over to Mr. Davison. "I know we've got a lot of presentations to get through."

"Thank you, Mr. Danforth," he said. Chad nodded curtly and returned to his seat as the teacher randomly selected another student.

"Nicely ad libbed," Troy whispered as the next student began to present her list. Chad sighed and resisted the urge to swat the back of his head. Just another example of how even his closest friends underestimated him. He noisily rattled a few papers until Troy looked over his shoulder. Chad held up his assignment, neatly typed and ready for submission. "Oh."

Troy turned back around and Chad set down the essay. He began to read it over and bit his lip worriedly. He slumped in his seat, staring at the words in front of him. When the student's speech provoked laughter among his classmates, he took advantage of the noise to quickly tear the last page off his essay. Mr. Davison noticed the action and frowned curiously. When class ended he waited for Chad at the front of the room.

"Well done, Mr. Danforth," he said as the student reluctantly handed over the essay. "You obviously put a great deal of thought into your presentation."

"Thanks," Chad said flatly. He sighed heavily as he turned and left the room. At the door, he drew a wad of paper from his pocket and dropped it into the trash. The teacher waited until the remaining students had gone before bending to retrieve it. He smoothed it out and slipped it into the stack of essays on his desk. Meanwhile, outside the classroom, Troy accosted Chad as soon as he crossed the threshold.

"What was that all about?" he demanded.

"What?" Chad replied, feigning insouciance.

"All that stuff about us not knowing you and being a follower and stuff? Where did that come from?"

"My brain!" Chad spat angrily.

"Dude, chill out! I'm just--."

"Just what?"

"I just didn't know you had it in--."

Chad turned and walked away. He wasn't in the mood to hear it. Nor was he in the mood for Zeke's teasing. He flipped him off and kept walking until he was outside, ignoring Troy and Zeke and everyone else demanding his attention.

He took a few gulps of air and sat on a low wall, running his hands over his face.

**

In a quiet corner of the teacher's lounge, Mr. Davison pulled the wrinkled sheet out of the pile and read the last page of Chad's essay. He sat back and sighed empathetically, then carefully tore up the page.

**

"Danforth."

Chad lifted his head and saw Ryan standing a short distance away. He lowered it again, without acknowledging the interloper, but Ryan sat down beside him on the wall and assumed the same, thoughtful pose. After a few minutes, Chad spared him a look.

"What?"

"Why didn't you go through with it?"

"Huh?"

"You were going to tell them, weren't you? You were going to come out to the class."

"You--."

"Weren't you?" Ryan said gently.

"There's no way in hell you could possibly know that," Chad spat angrily, averting his eyes.

"Except that I do."

"How?" Chad replied after an awkward silence of several minutes. He turned his head to look Ryan in the eye for the first time. Undaunted by the smoldering glare, Ryan only shrugged.

"The way your speech was building: don't underestimate me…I'm not the person you think I am…I'm striking out on my own path--. It was like reading a road map," Ryan concluded, "…to someone familiar with your destination."

Chad's mouth fell open but he quickly snapped it shut. Ryan slid his messenger bag off his shoulder and lowered it to the ground.

"I've known for a while," he said, unable to sustain eye contact. "Since the summer. I knew when we became friends--."

"Is that why we became friends?" Chad asked bluntly.

"I didn't think so," Ryan replied. "I thought we just found some common ground."

"What, because we're both gay?"

"No," Ryan said, growing slightly annoyed at Chad's defensiveness. "Look, I didn't come out here to hit on you. I just wanted to see if you were okay."

"Why shouldn't I be?"

Ryan fought the urge to just rise and walk away.

"No reason at all," he replied with a lightness he didn't feel. "I just thought--. Look, coming out is a very big deal and doing it in front of all your friends took a lot of guts."

"I didn't do it," Chad pointedly reminded him.

"I know," Ryan replied. "But you wanted to and that was pretty courageous."

"It was pretty dumb. I must have been insane to think I could pull it off."

"You probably thought you'd be among friends who would be supportive of your decision to come out."

"Maybe. Maybe I thought I should just tell everyone at once and get it over with, rather than have it run through the rumor mill," Chad said bitterly. "But when the time came I realized that--."

"You weren't ready."

Chad shook his head.

"I realized that telling them wouldn't really change anything. They'd know what I am. They still wouldn't know who. I'm not sure I even know who I am anymore."

Ryan nodded.

"I know the feeling," he said. "Look, if you want someone to talk to about this--any of it…"

Chad glared at him and Ryan left the rest unsaid, opting to escape after all. He hefted his bag and slowly rose, giving Chad ample time to change his mind. After a few seconds, he gave up and walked away. He was halfway across the lawn before Chad called his name.

"Can I have your number?" Chad asked sheepishly. "You know--in case I do decide I need to speak to someone." Ryan smiled wryly and walked back over to the wall. He took the offered phone, put in his contact information and handed it back.

"What about yours?" Chad asked as he hooked his phone back onto his belt.

"Mine?"

"Suppose you need someone to talk to?"

"I've got Sharpay," Ryan said, backing away. He immediately regretted the flippant remark. After all, he'd followed Chad outside to help him, not make him feel worse. One glance at Chad's expression told him how badly his words had stung. Ryan sighed and sat down again. "One of the assumptions I addressed in my essay was that people act as though Sharpay and I were born conjoined and she got the brains when they separated us. Sometimes I give people good reason to think that," he said apologetically, digging through his bag. "But the fact is," he admitted, as he handed over the phone, "we're not the same person. We don't see eye to eye a lot of the time. In fact, there's a lot about me that she just doesn't get."

"Or maybe stuff she doesn't know about you?"

"She's not stupid, just oblivious," Ryan replied. "She knows and accepts the fact that I'm gay, but she doesn't really understand. She thinks she does, but there's more to being gay than having great fashion sense and sharing her taste in boys. It's not something she can really relate to, you know?"

"Yeah," Chad said flatly.

"I've never really talked about it with anyone," Ryan admitted. "That's why I thought--. Well, I just thought that you shouldn't have to go through this alone, like I did."

"Maybe it would do us both some good to talk," Chad said, before lightly elbowing his companion. "Look, I'm sorry I jumped all over you before. You're all right, Evans."

"Yeah," Ryan said softly. Having forged a tentative bond with the longstanding object of his desire, he suddenly felt shy and slightly giddy. But he'd meant it when he said he wasn't there to flirt. He had offered Chad friendship and the more he thought about it the more Ryan realized that he wanted that friendship, too.

Ryan smiled to himself as the pair sat in companionable silence, each lost in his own thoughts. Troy's voice suddenly pierced the air, distracting the pair and causing them to turn and look back toward the school.

"Chad! You've missed nearly half of lunch period and I've missed nearly half of it looking for you!" Troy shouted.

"You'd better go," Ryan said, collecting his phone and stuffing it into his bag. Chad rose to his feet, somewhat reluctantly.

"You coming?"

"Yeah; I'd better find Sharpay," Ryan replied with equal reluctance. Chad nodded.

"Hey--thanks."

"No problem."

"I'll call you."

"Cool," Ryan said as they walked across the lawn. "Later." They parted when they reached the outdoor eating area, Chad to join Troy and Ryan to seek out his twin sister.

"Where are the rest of the Wildcats?"

"They're inside. I thought--maybe--you'd want a little space."

"Thanks," Chad said gratefully.

"Are you okay?" Troy asked as Chad took a seat beside him.

"Yeah, I'm fine."

"What were you and Evans up to?"

"We were just discussing assumptions."

"Look," Troy said. "I apologize for what I said earlier." Chad looked at him quizzically. "When I heard your speech in class I wondered where it all came from. I mean I knew you were smart and that you had cool hobbies, but that other stuff… What's going on, buddy?"

Chad looked up and located Ryan at the far side of the patio.

"Nothing that can't keep," he said. He smiled for the first time that day. "I'm more interested in what you had on your list."

"You heard my speech, man!"

"No, actually, I had dozed off by that time," Chad lied convincingly. "Come on, tell me what was on your list!"

"Well, you already know everything there is to know about me," Troy began, but he nonetheless proceeded to recite his list to Chad, who looked across the patio once again. This time his eyes met Ryan's. He nodded curtly before returning his full attention to Troy, making a mental note to call Ryan as soon as he got home.



The End

On to Dad Knows

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Comments
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queenitsy From: queenitsy Date: January 27th, 2008 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Mm, I like it a lot, definitely. The movie really doesn't give us much of Chad; seriously, we know he...likes...sports. And wants a car. And that's about it. Playing off that into a fic is really good. The conversation with Ryan was just fantastic, and so was the short bit with Troy at the end. So, you know, basically all of this was great. :)

Also, kudos for *not* ignoring the fact that Chad is black and that people do make assumptions based on that. It was a tiny element of the fic, but I think an important one, and you handled it really well.
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 27th, 2008 01:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you!

I always write minor characters because it gives me wide latitude to explore. There's virtually no canon to constrain me and I have essentially a clean slate to work with. Chad could be whatever I make him. You and I see eye to eye on Chad Danforth (I read your wonderful manifesto yesterday) and I've been writing a long rant about the way his character (and Ryan's and Sharpay's) have been badly distorted in fic. I could never ignore the fact that Chad is black--that's why I chose to write him! ;)
morena_donn From: morena_donn Date: January 27th, 2008 05:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad you posted this! I love this pairing, but I haven't actually gone looking for any fic, because I'm rapidly approaching 40 and it's a little embarrassing - well, that and I didn't really care for the second movie, except for the Chad/Ryan interactions. I just don't understand why they cast Ephron in the lead, when he can't dance *or* sing. Corbin and Lucas are so much more talented. Just because he's white and standardly handsome. It's a *musical* for gods sake. And Corbin's way prettier, to my eyes.

*hops off soapbox* Sorry about that. Anyway, great job, as usual. I'm always glad to see you post!
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 27th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have no business in this fandom, either, because I already crossed that line. But I accidentally encountered a piece of fic and was embarrassed to read it, but I discovered the fandom and then... Slippery slope.

I agree about the talent. I think a whole fandom is based on Kenny Ortega's decision to exploit the talents of the only two people in the cast who could sing and dance and generate sexual tension carry a major production number. It must have been a refreshing break from the two rather banal leads.

elenauial From: elenauial Date: January 27th, 2008 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I enjoyed this, I like the depth you added to Chad's character.

I'd love to see you continue it though! More Ryan/Chad! Please?
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 27th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed this.

I really had no intention of continuing this, although there's an undeveloped plot idea in the back of my mind that sort of builds off of this story. I've been undecided about whether or not to write it... I'll have to see if it grows into something writable.
coffeewordangel From: coffeewordangel Date: January 27th, 2008 09:09 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I'm not sure I can express how incredibly happy this fic makes me. There's this prevailing impression in fanon that Chad is an idiot and I don't understand it. Being a teenage boy and completely oblivious to the fact that someone is crushing on him? Oh yeah. Understandable. But stupid? Not even close. I'm not saying he's a genius or anything, but stupid people don't use phrases like "essential to culture". Just sayin'.

Also, god. Coming out is terrifying. Liberating, but terrifying. And I just want to squish Chad and offer him cookies for even thinking about coming out in class.

I don't even know. I'm a mess of incoherence right here. Just. Chad's my favorite and he gets the shaft a lot. And this fic is made of win.
elvensorceress From: elvensorceress Date: January 27th, 2008 09:25 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm going to be intrusive for a minute to tell you that I love you for this comment. I agree with everything. This fic and finding people like both of you is so refreshing and wonderful.

elvensorceress From: elvensorceress Date: January 27th, 2008 09:19 am (UTC) (Link)
I love you. And I love this so much I think I'm going to cry. Seriously. I can't even tell you.

Your Chad is amazing and I love that he's so smart and aware and brave. It was perfect, perfect Chad. We must send you to Disney so that you can write him.

♥♥♥
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 27th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
We really need to form a mutual admiration society. :)

I tend to write the characters I want to read, if that makes sense and I want to read a fully-fleshed out character. I can't say that he's a perfect Chad (or any more perfect than your adorable sweetie pie version), but if either of us influences the way Chad is written in future, I'll be very happy.

Thank you! (And I love that icon!)
desinere From: desinere Date: January 27th, 2008 01:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved the new side you gave to Chad's personality and--most of all--his brain capacity. *applause* And Ryan was so cute when he attempted to comfort Chad! :D

Are you thinking about making a follow-up to this, by the way? Of course, I'd be up to reading it if you do. xD

Keep up the good work!
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 27th, 2008 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! My entire impetus for writing this was to present a different Chad. I'm really pleased that everyone picked up on that.

And yeah, I am thinking... I had ac idea in my head. I may have to carry through with this...

From: ry_girl Date: January 27th, 2008 04:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Wow loved your fic! It seemed so real...great job, you wrote the boys very well
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 27th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you very much! That's just about the best compliment anyone can give about my work.
(Deleted comment)
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 27th, 2008 11:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, this was destined to be exactly what it was. I had a very specific agenda in mind; anything that happened beyond that point is another story. Thank you for appreciating my Chad; good characterization is always my primary objective.
coloursofsouls From: coloursofsouls Date: January 27th, 2008 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

thank you!

I absolutely love this one. Part of the reason i gave up on fics was because of the portrayals of both Chad and Ryan as an imbecile and some sarcastic whore respectively. Thank you for finaly portraying them the way they ought to be portrayed!
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 27th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: thank you!

I decided to write this specifically for that reason. I wanted to write a story that showed Chad and Ryan as two real, normal young men with more on their minds than basketball or the theatre. Thank you for your kind words.
bloodanna From: bloodanna Date: January 28th, 2008 12:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, this is really wonderful.
I love how you write Chad because it's just him or at least the way I see him, he may be a little clueless/distracted about some things, but I really do think he is a very smart, middle class (I include this only because lots of people write him as either poor or rich) boy who goes a whole lot deeper than most think.
Just a brilliant story all the way around, I really hope we'll be getting more Chad/Ryan or even just Chad fic from you. ♥
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 29th, 2008 01:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Comments like this just make my day. I write about things that work for me and I'm always jazzed to hear that it works for others as well. Thank you!

And yes, I've succumbed. There will be more.
From: anandrine Date: January 28th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Hopefully this isn't too rambly!

I really, really enjoyed this. I don't think people have to make Chad a, y'know, outright genius or anything, but he's not an idiot either; so this was very well done and pointed out a lot of great things. (Like a couple other people mentioned, I definitely noticed his comment about assumptions based on his race, and appreciated that -- you'd think this fandom would be bit better about that, but it's not, so it's nice to see that included in small ways.) Props to Chad for even getting close to coming out to his entire class -- geez, that would be terrifying.

And oh, Chad and Ryan! *draws hearts* ♥ That's perfect there, too. How Ryan is so Ryan, and he's there for Chad because he knows how it is. Really wonderful.
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 29th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Not rambly at all. In fact that was pretty wonderful. ;)

Thank you so much!
(Deleted comment)
jalabert From: jalabert Date: January 29th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for those lovely words of praise. They make me want to write a few more thousand words. :D

yenetai From: yenetai Date: February 4th, 2008 11:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's late here and I'm tired so I apologize for this short review, but I loved this, your Chad is so, Chad, and the interaction between Ryan and Chad is wonderful :)
jalabert From: jalabert Date: February 5th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the story.
From: shrutidusaj Date: February 23rd, 2008 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)
This is quite possibly my favourite Chyan fic, right up there with Boy Disease, maybe even more.
Just because... ah, it's just so good!
jalabert From: jalabert Date: February 23rd, 2008 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I am quite proud of it and it thrills me to know that others have enjoyed reading it.
nonemohead From: nonemohead Date: December 18th, 2008 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)
"The fact is I have the highest academic average of any member of any varsity team at East High. I actually stand a better chance of getting an academic scholarship than an athletic one."

Shit. I love you. :|

No seriously, your Chad is awesome. I hate it when people make him stupid. I know there's more than him than basketball, and while it's okay for disney to just portray him like that (come on, it's disney home of the stereotypes) I expect more out of fanfiction. Lol. Call me picky. Thanks, though.

I could totally pick apart this chapter and tell you why I loved each and every line, but I don't think I should waste your time. Plus I have more chapters to review and declare my love your writing anyway. So I'll leave this chapter for this.

:)

P.S. I love your Ryan too! But I'll talk about him more in my other comments. Lol. I promised I was going to review every chapter in this series, so bare with me as I flood your inbox! I promise I'm not a stalker. Lol.
jalabert From: jalabert Date: December 18th, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hate stereotypes, too, especially the ones that have been built up around Chad and Ryan. Don't start me...

Stalk away. I love it when people enjoy my work! I write for your pleasure and I am sincerely thrilled when people praise my stories. :)
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