Title: Fistful of Love
Verse: High School Musical
Genre: Romance/Angst/Hurt/Comfort/Family/Friendship
Pairing: Sharpay/Zeke & others in later chapters
Rating: T for suggested violence and possibly M in the future for actual violence
Disclaimer: I do not own anything.
Summary:Moving back to New York City with her boyfriend, Sharpay runs into old friend, Zeke Baylor. With their growing friendship they show each other life's possibilities and help one another through their darkest hours.

A/N: It's mentioned in the story, but incase you didn't get it, this story is placed eight years after High School musical 3.

The blonde laughed as her boyfriend continued to tell her the story of how his colleague ended up with the shot end of the straw and ultimately having to approach their boss with the demand of letting them have the weekend off. Ending with their boss, Jim Crosse, throwing multiple baseballs at his friend's head.

She had just finished moving in with her boyfriend of two years, Daniel "Danny" O'Riley, the infamous baseball pitcher, at his New York City pent house. She had to admit when he first asked her to move to New York with him she had her doubts. There were so many memories of that island that she needs not reminding. However, all of those were brushed aside when he looked at her with his doe-like eyes and said, "Come on Babe… With you by my side we can take over Manhattan. I really need this…" Not thinking about anything other then the fact that he really needed this for his career, she quickly nodded her head in agreement.

Three months later and she found herself in the city that started her career. Well, she couldn't give all her praises to New York, because she knew there was a certain teacher back in New Mexico who deserved her fair share of credit.

After getting her degree in the Creative Arts for singing, dancing, and acting she was quickly on her way to stardom. However, four months in search for a major role on television in California told her that she just couldn't cut it. Losing hope, she called her manager planning on telling him she quit when he told her she got a call back for the main role in the theatrical musical production of The Goodbye Girl.

It wasn't a soap opera or a future five star film, but the small musical production soon became a large hit. Sending her career in theatre to the top. When she was young, she was always under the assumption that she would be a huge movie star. But now, she could care less because she knew she was happy in theatre.

She lived in California for the better part of three years when she met Danny. He was charming, sweet, sensitive, witty, a little rough around the edges, but otherwise wonderful. She can still remember their first encounter when he was flabbergasted that she had no idea who he was.

"Danny O'Riley? You know… California's own Los Angeles Angels pitcher… this really isn't ringing any of your bells, is it?"

"Sorry" She giggled at the astonishment on his face and confusion in his eyes. "I'm not a big sports fan."

"Well, we'll have to do something about that now wont we?" He stated, giving her a devilish grin.

She would never tell him this, but the grin he gave her when they first met scared her a bit. It wasn't a smile or a smirk. She couldn't pin point it, but there was something off putting, almost murderous about that grin, that always seemed to give her the chills. He still did it from time to time, but she willingly brushed it off as him thinking of something dirty she'd rather not know about.

They continued to date, Danny the star baseball pitcher and her, the rising theatrical actress. They may have not been the perfect fit, but they were getting by. Which is why when he asked her to move with him to New York City she was hesitant. Well, part of the reason. The secondary reason was because she knew her brother lived in New York and she wasn't sure how she'd feel bumping into him just yet.

All in all, three months and twelve days later she was officially moved into Danny's – their – pent house. As a celebration Danny decided to take her to one of the most exclusive restaurants in New York, Cajun Kaos. Which is where she found herself during his hilarious baseball stories.

"So Babe, I bought you a iPad application that tells you all the Broadway shows that are active now and which are holding auditions. So that way when you're ready to show Manhattan what a real actress is like you wont have to waste your time looking around the city." Danny said while looking over his shoulder and the hand that just tapped him. "Hi, I'm so sorry to interrupt, but would you mind if I got your autograph Mr. O'Riley…?"

She couldn't help but smile at him. It was times like this when she remembered how much she loved him. For all the dumb stunts and hurtful words he's ever told her, it was when he recognized her love for her job and actually put an effort to help her, she remember why she was with and loved him. She loved that even with his adoring fans hackling him for autographs during their private moments he was able to consider her and still smile at her while signing his name on a waitress's napkin.

Reaching across the table to take his hand in hers, after he finished his signature, she held on tight before whispering a very genuine "Thank you, Dan." And then the moment – like many others – was ruined by that damned grin.

"So, does this mean we're finally going to break into the new mattress…?" he said while lifting his eyebrows suggestively.

"Dan, hush up. We're at a restaurant." She remarked while pulling her hand away. Before continuing their delightful dessert.

"EH chicken boy, where are my chickens!"

"Dude, chill. I just finished cleaning them, y'a mind laying off a brothers back…" Joe, otherwise known as chicken boy, replied to the head chef.

"Joe, listen, if you want to be a chef you have to learn to do things fast and thoroughly… Which is why you should clean practically all the chickens before we open the restaurant." The chef replied before grabbing the chickens from Joe's hands while Joe stood there pondering his newly acquired knowledge.

After he finished sautéing the chicken and putting them on the stove the head chef turned and looked at the people around him. Everyone was busy cooking, sautéing, cutting or cleaning to notice his eyes wandering from face to face. He couldn't help but smile because after eight years he had finally achieved his goal; Zeke Baylor had become head chef at a world-renowned restaurant.

He had wasted most of his high school life playing basketball and not being true to himself about his true passion; cooking. Nevertheless, he graduated, went to university and then a culinary school so he could get a degree to be able to cook in restaurants all over America. Granted he hadn't done it alone, he had his friends to thank for giving him the push to apply to culinary school and it was because of that push that he would forever be grateful to them. Without them he would most probably be stuck behind some desk filling paper work, hating every minute of everyday instead of waking up each morning exuberant at the prospect of going to work.

Just as Zeke was snapping out of his little life review he noticed one of the waitresses walking towards the table dividing the kitchen from the dinning room. She looked excited, which surprised him considering she was usually the most straight-faced person he knew… No, that's not true, he thought to himself as he walked towards her, unless she changed A LOT since high school, I could recall a certain drama fanatic more – "Hey," he said, not finishing his thought so he can focus on the waitress, "what are you all excited about?"

"Danny O'Riley is in the dinning room and I just got his signature!" She boasted while waving a signed napkin around.

"The baseball player, right?" He asked confusion lighting his facial features.

"Duh baseball. Come on, you're a guy. Aren't you supposed to know all about sports and stuff?" She asked and he couldn't help but laugh while replying, "I'm a basketball fan. Now ask me who's in the Lakers team and I can most probably name you every single player…"

"Oh, well I'm a baseball fan and the newest addition to the New York Mets baseball team, formally a Los Angeles Angels pitcher, is our restaurant!" She shrieked, before ducking her head apologetically when the maitre d' walked towards them, scowling at the young girl for being so loud.

"Hi Zeke, there's a couple at table six that wants to give compliments to the chef. So get out here and look charming." The maitre d', Veronica Baxter, said before winking at the chef and walking back to her post.

"Wow, one week in as the head chef and you're all ready beating David at the amount of compliments taken by costumers. That's impressive, head chef." She said in a somewhat teasing tone, "'No get out here and look charming'" she mocked before sauntering off to get the menus from another table.

"Hey Joe!" He called walking back to his cooking area, "You ready for your first real lesson at cooking?" When instead of getting a reply he got a perplexed looked cross the young man's face Zeke passed his spatula to Joe and started walking away, "You better not burn anything!" he called behind him before turning and in a more hushed voice told the sue chef "Watch him, I'll be back in ten." Once the chef nodded his head in acknowledgement he walked out of the kitchen.

"I'll be right back babe, just going to get the bill." Danny stated before rising from the table and walking over to the maitre d'.

She knew he didn't have to go pay for the bill, especially at such an elite restaurant, but she didn't want to think about what he was most probably doing or saying with the maitre d' at the front counter. Like always his flirtatious manner always brought verbal fights between the two and she just was not in the mood to spar with him tonight. Especially after the amazing evening she just had. She would not let this ruin her evening.

"Thank you very much…" She heard from behind her. She couldn't pinpoint who was talking, but she knew the voice. It was vaguely familiar and she couldn't help her curiosity as she turned in her seat to see the backside of a chef thanking a couple. "Well, I hope you enjoyed your dinner and come back soon." The mysteriously recognizable voice said as he turned to leave and that was when she saw his face. Her breath caught, is it really him? She mused and she hurriedly got up from her seat to intercept him before he could disappear into the swinging doors dividing the kitchen from the dinning room. "Zeke…?" She asked tentatively. At his pause she put more force into her voice, "Zeke Baylor?"

Zeke knew that voice. The tiny voice made him pause, it was recognizable, yet it didn't fit the person he thought it to be. But then she said his name again with more demand and he couldn't help the smile that pushed at his lips. Turning, his breath caught when he saw her. "Sharpay…" She was beautiful, not that she was never beautiful, but now she didn't have all that make up and fancy clothes that she thought enhanced her beauty.

She couldn't hide the smile that spread across her face when he said her name. She honest to God thought she'd have to remind him who she was and that terrified her because, yes she was a bitch in High school and people where probably trying to forget her, but she couldn't fathom the idea of him forgetting her. She had been mean to him quite a bit, but Zeke… Zeke had been nice to her, not always agreeing with the other jockies when they called her The Ice Queen and not continuously trying to ignore her. He was sweet.

Realizing that he had been staring at her he quickly coughed the lump that formed in his throat and smiled back at her. "How have to been?" He asked before moving in to give her a hug, but then he caught himself because he realized he was covered in filth and she most probably didn't need his stink all over her. Realizing Zeke's hesitation Sharpay quickly took the final steps towards him and embraced him in tight, yet comforting hug. "Don't worry about the dress, I'm leaving soon anyways." She whispered into his chest, still holding onto him.

His smile faltered with her words and then he pulled back. "What are you doing here?"

"I came for dinner. Sort of a welcome back slash we're finally finished congratulatory dinner."

"Oh?" His eyes widened, what was she celebrating and where was she? "I don't really understand, last I heard you were in New York getting your acting degree and now you're celebrating your return…?"

She laughed at his statement and he couldn't help but do a little victory dance in his head, because he, Zeke Baylor, made Sharpay Evans laugh. "I'm guessing you were living under a rock for six of our eights years since we graduated." At his confused expression she continued, "I graduated with my degrees and moved to California six years ago and instead of becoming a big movie actress, I became a big theatrical actress. The part about me moving back to New York City, well that's only three months old news… Actually, now that I think about it, you're the first person to find out about it." She said and he couldn't help but notice the tiny glimmer of sadness in her eyes. But just as he saw it her smile flashed and her eyes twinkled in delight. "I had no idea you ended up becoming a chef and at this kind of restaurant. Congratulations Zeke!" She said before hugging him for the second time. "So what's new wi–".

She wasn't able to finish her question before someone's not so subtle cough brought her to a complete halt. Zeke looked up to notice a man staring at him, jealousy clearly written all over his face.

Noticing both men's changed demeanor from friendly to aggressively alert she quickly left Zeke's side to stand next to the new member of their little reunion. "Ah, Zeke this is my boyfriend, Danny. Danny, this is a friend of mine from high school, Zeke. I haven't seen him in eight years and just realized that he works here as one of the chefs." She stated rather quickly trying to defuse the tension that built between the three of them.

"It's nice to meet you Danny. How long you two been together?" He asked looking away from Danny to smile at Sharpay once more.

"Almost three years," Danny replied before Sharpay could even open her mouth. Pulling Sharpay closer to his waist Danny smiled down to his girlfriend, "Listen babe, we should get going. I have that early morning practice and you said you wanted to start looking for work. So…?"

She didn't know why, but she didn't want to leave. She wanted to stay and reminisce with Zeke. Wanted to forget about everything, just to have a few more hours with an old high school… friend? Yes, friend. She thought. "Uhm, yeah. Do mind getting the car? I'll be out in a second." She said with a fake smile plastered on her face to placate Danny's jealous temper.

Danny hesitated for a second before ducking his head and placed his mouth on her lips. Not wanting to cause a scene, Sharpay ended the kiss promptly and kissed him once more on the cheek. Once he understood that that was all he was going to get from her he stole a glance back to the quiet African American who was looking around the room, obviously uncomfortable by their affectionate embrace. With that, Danny left to get the car and let his girlfriend say her goodbyes.

"So… That was your boyfriend?" He asked dumbly.

"Yeah, sorry. He gets a little protective."

"A little!" He scoffed, but then realized her embarrassment and scowled himself for being so insensitive towards her feelings. "Well, yeah. I guess I can understand the guy. A beautiful women such as your self talking to the breathlessly handsome man that I am, what boyfriend wouldn't get jealous and a little protective?" He joked, trying desperately to brighten her mood because he really didn't want to be the reason for the frown that formed on her face. Mission accomplished, because all of a sudden she was laughing. Not a fake or forced laugh, but genuine laughs that brought out his own hundred-watt smile.

"I see you're still full of yourself, Baylor." She smirked. A comfortable silence – as silent as they could get in a packed restaurant – settled between the two. "Well, I better be going. Dan and I still have some things to clean up at the our new home." She paused to look him in the eyes; "I was nice seeing you again Zeke."

Before his brain could think of a reply to her sincere words he found himself walking towards her and embracing her in a tight hug. She hugged him back with her cheek resting against his chest and he wished he could hold her for a few more minutes. Because Sharpay offered him a release on life and a remembrance of life before the craziness caught up with them. She was a remembrance of the past, of a time where nothing really mattered because you had everything handed to you. When she started to pull away he was reminded of life and all the work that had to be put into it. How everything wasn't just handed to you and how you had to work for the things you wanted. "It was really nice seeing you again too, Sharpay."

With one last hesitant smile, Sharpay turned and walked away from the still figure of a man she once knew. A smile tugged at her lips when she walked out the door and turned to see him still standing there, Mhm, I wondering if I'll ever see him again…? With that thought in mind she turned back and walked to the awaiting car on the other side of the street.

Unknown to her that Zeke was hoping he would see her again.

Author's Note:


So, this is my first FanFict. Please let me know what you think Criticism is always welcome. However, I'd appreciate it if you left any truly hurtful words to yourself. If you do not like my writing you may let me know what is bothering you. No slander or inappropriate words are necessary.

You are probably wondering why the rating is so high. Well, I don't plan on making it very aggressive, but throughout the story I have been laying little hints of possible violence, only later in the story will this violence hit its peak. In the mean time, if you have not picked up on my hints well don't ask 'cause I wont tell. I guess it will just be a surprise for some of you.