Fandom: High School Musical
Summary: Someone's playing Cupid at East High.
Author's Note: The plot for this story was shamelessly plagiarized from another story I wrote in 2005. (If you're a fan of Stargate: Atlantis and Valentine's Day mush, you can read it here. It's the only McKay/Sheppard I'll ever write. For something even more sappy, try this.) Personally, I despise Valentine's Day, but posting a mushy and sweet ficlet is something of a tradition. How did that happen?
"Morning, Chad," Gabriella said as she approached the locker where he was standing. Chad didn't hear her, however. He had just taken his jacket out of his locker and was trying to pull something out of the pocket that normally held his iPod.
"What the hell?" he muttered as he pulled out a piece of red paper. Unfolding it, he saw that it was a red heart about six inches high and completely blank. Chad frowned at it wonderingly. "A heart? Where did this come from?"
"I see you got one, too," Gabriella said. "I found one in my math book this morning and Taylor found one inside her English book."
"I found one in my locker this morning, too," Kelsi said as she joined the pair. "I think someone is trying to spread a little Valentine's Day cheer."
"Well, I think that's cute," Gabriella replied. Chad rolled his eyes.
"You would." He shut his locker and looked down the hall. Everyone seemed to be holding a heart or discussing one. Chad frowned and looked in the opposite direction. "Whoever did this, he sure got around."
"Apparently," Kelsi agreed as she watched Zeke pull a rolled-up heart out of a cookie tin.
"I found one on my desk this morning," Ms. Darbus said to another teacher with a slight blush as they walked by.
"I found one in my attendance book," her companion replied, giggling.
"Did you guys get them, too?" Taylor asked as she arrived with Martha and Troy. Gabriella, Kelsi and Chad held up their hearts, Chad rolling his eyes as he did so.
"Someone's been really busy," Troy said, eyeing Gabriella suspiciously.
"Hey, it wasn't me," she insisted. She saw Sharpay and Ryan coming down the hall. "Maybe it was one of them. They're big on grand gestures."
But as she spoke, Sharpay opened her locker and squealed when she found a heart. She ran off to catch up with her little clique as Ryan shook his head and went to his own locker. A moment later he frowned.
"I didn't get one," he said dejectedly. Gabriella and Taylor exchanged sad looks, but Chad swaggered over to the crestfallen youth.
"Hey, Evans. You can have my heart," he said with a smile.
"That's really…nice of you," he replied, delight and surprise evident in his face.
"Is it just me or did it just get warmer in here?" Troy teased as the bell sounded. Gabriella hit him on the arm.
"Troy! I think it's really nice of Chad to give up his heart like that."
"I think it's a little weird," Troy said, shrugging. "Let's go, people. They probably want to be alone." He laughed at his own joke and the others gave him odd looks as they walked off to their respective classes.
"Here," Chad said, pressing the heart into Ryan's hand. "Enjoy."
"Thanks," Ryan said, gently refusing it. "But this was clearly meant for you and I'd really prefer to have my own." He hoisted his backpack and started to walk away, leaving Chad gaping at him. He waited till the others were out of earshot before he spoke.
Ryan turned around.
"I just offered you my heart and you rejected it!"
"So?" Chad repeated angrily.
"All right; if it means that much to you, I'll take it."
"Don't do me any favors," Chad said as he stormed off after the others.
"Why the long face?" Sharpay asked Ryan over lunch. "And why is Danforth glaring at us?" she added, glancing over in his direction and doing a double take.
"He's not glaring at you," Ryan replied sullenly. "It's me. I didn't get a Valentine's Day heart this morning."
"Oh, and so he's glaring at you because no one loves you?"
"No," Ryan said, looking up at her irritably. "When he found out I didn't get one, he offered me his. I didn't take it." Sharpay slapped the back of his head so hard that his hat flew off his head, nearly ending up in his soup. "What did you do that for?"
"Hello? The guy you've been mooning over since last summer just offered you his heart and you rejected it? What's wrong with you?"
"It's just a piece of paper, Shar. He wasn't really--. I mean--." Ryan paused and looked up again. Chad had turned away, but he could see that he was still angry. Ryan swallowed hard. "He does seem to be genuinely upset, doesn't he?"
"Well, at least now you believe me," Sharpay said, smiling. She thought back to the day of the staff party at Lava Springs when she first discovered that Chad and Ryan had become good friends. She questioned her brother about it and he told her that they'd bonded over a game of baseball. He'd insisted that there was nothing more to it than friendship, but Sharpay saw something more. The two had an evident chemistry that seemed to set off sparks whenever one of them smiled at the other. Ryan refused to believe it, unwilling to get his hopes up. Now it was all too obvious that Sharpay had been right when she suspected that Chad returned his feelings.
"I'm an idiot," Ryan confessed.
"Maybe it's not too late to undo the damage," Sharpay said reassuringly. He looked up doubtfully. "Come on, Ryan. I'm sure you'll think of something."
Ryan thought all afternoon about how he could fix things with Chad, but by the end of the day he hadn't come up with any ideas. As the final bell rang and students began streaming out of the building, Ryan came to a decision. He grabbed his bag and ran out of the classroom, hoping to find Chad before he left.
He reached the front entrance of the school and saw Troy driving off in his truck. Ryan sighed and turned back the way he'd come, certain that he'd missed his opportunity to catch Chad. His dreams and hopes were crushed.
He'd left some books in his locker that he ought to take home. Sighing, Ryan went to his locker, collected his books and returned to the entrance once again. When he pushed the door, it only moved a few inches. Frowning, he pushed harder.
"Ow!" Chad stepped back, rubbing his forehead. Ryan stepped through the doorway and winced when he realized what he'd done.
"I'm sorry, Chad," Ryan said. "I didn't see you."
"I bent over to pick up my pen," Chad said as he quickly zipped his backpack shut. "No big."
"I thought you left with Troy."
"And be a third wheel on Valentine's Day? You've got to be kidding."
"Can I give you a ride?"
"Thanks, but no, thanks," Chad said, avoiding his eyes. "I think I'd rather walk." He started to leave, but Ryan stayed him with a hand on his arm.
"Wait. I owe you an apology," Ryan said. He took a second to gather himself before he spoke. "You made a very thoughtful and generous gesture this morning and I foolishly rejected it out of hand. I didn't mean to insult you by refusing your offer. I just--. I wasn't thinking."
"You weren't thinking? Oh, you'll have to come up with a better excuse than that," Chad replied, tearing his arm away from Ryan's grip.
"Hey, even I have my moments," Ryan said, "and as moments go, that was a lulu. I mean there you were offering me your heart and I unthinkingly rebuffed it with absolutely no consideration for--."
"Yeah, I remember," Chad said pointedly.
"I am sorry, Chad."
"Swell," Chad said turning to leave. Ryan grabbed his arm once more.
"If your offer still stands..."
"Why? I thought you said you'd prefer your own heart to mine," Chad replied. Neither man pretended to be discussing paper valentines and Ryan knew that the answer to this question would determine what, if anything, happened next. He averted his eyes and rubbed his hands together nervously. He squirmed for a moment, and then his answer came out in a spill of words.
"I'm an Evans: rich, pampered, spoiled. I'm used to getting the best of everything. Why should I settle for anything less?" Ryan said. "You have the best heart I know. It's open and honest and big as all outdoors. It's a heart that's generous and beneficent and hopeful." He dropped his backpack to the ground and stared at his feet. "It's a forgiving heart, a gentle, loving and warm heart that--. Yours is clearly the superior heart, Chad. Yours is a heart worth having," Ryan continued desperately. "Mine... mine is useless without a heart like yours to guide it." Chad tried to suppress a smile, but he failed miserably. Ryan paused and scratched his head. When he looked up and met Chad's smile, he knew what it was to hope. "So if you're still willing to give your heart I'd accept it gratefully and treat it as the precious gift it is."
"You silver-tongued charmer, you," Chad said softly. "My heart is yours. Just don't expect chocolate and flowers." Smiling, he headed for Ryan's car.
"So," Ryan said as he ambled after him. "Since you don't plan on coming across with the chocolate and the flowers, I suppose it falls to me to provide the romance."
"Why Ryan Evans, whatever do you have in mind?" Chad asked as Mr. Matsui breezed past them, a bright red heart in his hand. Chad turned to watch him walk to his car. Ryan also smiled at the scene. They'd never seen the principal looking so giddy.
"I wonder where all those hearts came from, anyway."
"I don't know, but I have a theory," Chad said.
"Not important," he replied as they reached Ryan's car. "The important thing is that we all got them and it's a beautiful day." Chad's smile outshone the sun and for a moment, Ryan reveled in it. Then he remembered something.
"Hey, I didn't get one."
"Yes you did," Chad said reaching into his pocket. He passed Ryan the scrap of paper.
"Oh yes, that's right," Ryan said smugly. "I did." He unlocked his car and opened the door for Chad. "How about an ice cream sundae to celebrate the day?"
"Sounds good," Chad said as he slid into the passenger seat. He tossed his backpack onto the backseat. The zipper was only partially closed, revealing the two dozen or so hearts he hadn't had time to distribute that morning.