Beauty and the Beast HSM Style

Chapter 2

The run back to the farm from the town was fairly quick. There wasn't as much of a crowd around town as there was while Taylor had been walking around nor did anyone seem to get in her way. Actually, she wasn't even the least bit distracted anymore. Upon arriving on the grounds, Taylor nearly frantically scanned the premises for her brother, though she shouldn't be surprised of the faint explosion; it happened at least thrice a week. Still, that didn't stop her from worrying. Her brother was responsible and all but sometimes he just got a little carried away.

Then, spotting some spoke escaping the crack in the basement door, she ran and opened it. Hint number two of what he had been up to. So despite her coughing and the fumes making their way into her lungs, Taylor wasn't caught off guard; it was merely something she was quite used to. The smoke began to fade and the basement became a bit more was cramped, as usual. Boxes laying all over, numerous piles of junk on the floor, not to mention it covered in a lot of dust…. What had he been up to this time, exactly?

"Troy?" she asked, trying to see him through the smoke. "Troy are you here?"

At that instant, a paler young man of around the same age as Taylor, or perhaps a few years older, rolled out from under the smoke. A few shaggy brunette bangs fell in front of his face, though it didn't prevent anyone, now or ever, from seeing his signature blue eyes. As for his attire, also considering he had just made a bit of a mess, his blue jeans were stained in oil or perhaps some other dark liquid substance and his sky blue shirt was very much dirtied.

Taylor knelt down as she tried to help him up. She moved some bangs out of her face once Troy was standing up. "Troy are you alright?"

"Three words: stupid invention," was his response.

"That's two words, Troy," she informed him politely. "'Invention' is three syllables."

"You know I get a little scatterbrained after working for too long," Troy sighed. "I've been up since six a.m. Well...ok, I took a break for breakfast so I guess I was technically only working half the morning this time."

"Well you have been working an awful lot lately," she observed. "And from the looks of it, too much for your own good. Have you ever thought about doing something different?"

"Of course not! If I can ever make a decent invention do you know what that means for us?" Troy asked. "We can get off this farm. Find a better life. No more raising chickens and growing peaches for a living."

"We grow corn, Troy," she corrected.

"My point exactly," he waved a finger. "But that's never gonna happen if I can't get my so-called invention to do anything! It's a fraud, a frig, a waste of time! It'll never even win third prize at that convention this weekend!"

Taylor couldn't help but playfully roll her eyes at Troy. While they were close, sometimes he just seemed a little too scatterbrained. He was a bright boy in his prime but Troy spent so much time doing things that didn't seem worth his while. But no one else in town seemed to understand. He and Taylor were the only family each other had left. So of course he wanted something better for the both of them. Taylor naturally understood, but had confronted him so many times about taking his life elsewhere. Maybe find another form of work or settle down with someone. Anything but waste his time with what, at points, seemed like useless inventions. Not that they all weren't worth it, of course, but it still wasn't Troy's best line of work. Even now he was putting down his work as he couldn't get it to work just right. He called it the "catapult". It was mainly made of wood, and, to put it simply, resembled half a table and half a spoon. A ball sat inside that spoon; Troy claimed that once a lever on the other side of the device was pulled the catapult would release the ball and it'd fly through the air. Supposedly it would be used to help kids enhance their speed and reflexes by chasing after the ball and catching it. Troy proclaimed the toy a "basketball". Unfortunately, that was one of the main reasons why he was dubbed as crazy. All of his inventions had to incorporate a toy somehow, preferable a ball. "Basketballs", "baseballs", "golfballs", etc, Troy used them all.

But Taylor knew so much better than to put her brother down. As a matter of fact, she never seemed to have the heart to. Not to her family. To rivals or enemies such as Sharpay, however, that was a different story.

"You say that about every idea of yours. You'll do great and you know it," she said.

Troy sighed. "Tay I've been feeding you that 'I'm the best at everything I do' speech since we were ten. You actually believed me?"

"Well...all except for the cooking," Taylor replied with a giggle.

Troy smiled and rolled his eyes, but turned his head away from her nonetheless.

"Come on Troy," she encouraged, "I know you can do anything. You're the greatest inventor in the world."

Troy couldn't help but smile. It slowly spread across his face as he turned his head back to Taylor. He chuckled slightly, as though he were making complete sure of her compliment.

"So you seriously believe that?" he asked.

"I always have," she answered with a warm smile.

Troy laughed and clapped his hands together. "Well why didn't you say so? We got a lot of work to do!" He ran back to work on his catapult. "Bring me over that whatcyamabobit that hooks and spins onto something over there."

Taylor's warm smile turned into a coy one as soon as Troy wasn't looking. She knew that would work. She'd been buttering him up like that since they were young; it did its job like a charm. Tucking her book back under her arm now, she walked over to Troy's toolbox and pulled out the wrench. Troy had names for everything. She'd spent long enough to learn his way with words. It wasn't like anyone else could learn his own bit of language, anyway. It was something Taylor had pride in herself for. Though once in a while she would still tease him about scaring off a girl with his confusing terms. Troy would just laugh and say a girl would be more likely to find it attractive. Then Taylor would laugh at that, saying she'd still love him even if no other girl did. But hey, what else were little sisters for?

Still, she couldn't help but be bothered by something. "Hey Troy?" she inquired as she handed him the wrench. "Do you ever think that I'm odd?"

"Odd?" he repeated, confused. He picked up his head from his contraption and looked at her. "What would ever give you an idea like that?"

Taylor held in a giggle. This was coming from the guy whose hair had become so messy that it was sticking up like a mad scientist's. Yes, Taylor wondered where anyone could get such an idea of her oddness with Troy around...

"Oh, just a thought," she shrugged. "But there has been a bit of talk around town...I just question in certain situations whether I really fit in around here or not."

"You look like you fit in there pretty well to me," Troy shrugged, ever so oblivious. Well, in most cases anyway. "Besides you've got friends around there. Don't you talk with Sharlene and Ryson?"

Taylor giggled. He really didn't get out much these days did he? But really, if Sharpay didn't see Troy as crazy and found out he called her a different name...well, she'd be fairly ticked to say the least. Ryan, on the other hand...he'd just get confused as to who they were talking about.

"Sharpay and Ryan," Taylor corrected with another slight giggle. "And they're not friends of mine. If anything, Ryan's an acquaintance and Sharpay's out to get me."

"Why would she ever do that?" Troy asked. "Tay if that girl ever lays so much as a hand on you-"

"I'm a big girl Troy. I can take care of myself," she cut him off simply. "Whether you want to realize it or not."

Troy sighed. His sister had the brains - he'll admit to that. But he was still older than her so he had a certain protective side to him. Troy knew very well that when the going got tough Taylor got tough. Good luck trying to stop him from ever worrying over that. But Troy could get tough too, though. Whether Taylor needed his help or not he'd do his toughening up and watch out for her.

"I know Tay," he admitted with a sigh. "But I just can't stand by and watch something happen to my baby sister."

"I'm not a baby, Troy. Not anymore," she shook her head. "But one day you are going to have to let me go. And I've love to have your support through it."

"You've got it," Troy agreed, nodding his wrench. Not like he needed any time to think on that one, anyway. "But I don't see how I'm ever gonna make it around here without you." He made a few last adjustments on his catapult as he continued speaking. "Besides, who else would keep me company around here?"

Taylor raised an eyebrow. "Do you really want me to answer that?"

Troy tapped the wrench on his chin, something he often did when he was thinking. "You know what, forget I ever asked." he decided before finishing with one last screw. "Well...guess that should do it."

"Pull the lever, Troy," Taylor said.

"I don't know," Troy paused, "maybe I should try one more last adjustment..."

"Stop questioning yourself and pull that lever!" she urged.

Without wasting another second Troy grabbed the lever on the catapult and pulled it down. The spoon of the device pulled back just a little each second until it leaned back all the way, then popping up at an exact ninety degree angle, letting the ball in its grasp soar across the basement and right out the doors. Taylor's eyes widened and a huge smile spread across her face. Troy seemed in much more disbelief before a smile slowly crept onto his face.

"It works..." he said to himself, admiring the distance that toy must have flown. "It works... It works!" he cheered loudly, beginning to jump up and down. "Taylor, my invention works!"

Taylor laughed and hugged her brother. "See Troy? I told you, you could do it," she congratulated him.

"You know what this means now!" Troy exclaimed. "Off to that convention! First prize might as well be as good as ours! Good-bye little farm, hello life of luxury!"

So the next day Troy was all packed up and ready to head off to the invention convention. He attatched a small wagon with his catapult on it to their Shetland horse and set everything up from the saddle to the reigns. The catapult was safe and secure, with a minor cloth covering most of it to protect it from rain and whatnot. Supposedly it wouldn't be a long trip, so Troy made sure to bring a small backpack with some consisting of food and a small bottle of water just in case, along with a map tucked under his arm.

"We won't be gone long, Tay," he said that morning. "Just for the weekend and then I'll bring home that prize."

"You're going to do fine, Troy," she reassured him. "I'll look after everything here."

"Alright," Troy agreed, "I'll get there and back in one piece. Jimmie will make sure of that." he added, patting the horse on his behind...which freaked the creature out just a bit."Whoa whoa Jimmie, whoa..." Troy gasped, quickly grabbing the reigns and calming his companion down.

Taylor laughed. "Pace yourself, Troy. Don't rush there or you'll get lost and scare the poor thing."

"Don't worry Tay. We'll be back home before you know it. Be a good girl and wait up for me," Troy replied.

"I will," Taylor nodded, hugging him. "Good luck."

"Thanks sis," Troy replied, hugging her back. They pulled away and Troy jumped onto the horse. "See you in a few days!" he called as he rode away, waving one last good-bye.

"Bye Troy!" she called back. "And be careful!"

"We will," Troy promised.

So Troy rode off on Jimmie into the distance and it wasn't long before the two of them were out of sight. The first portion of the ride was in a fairly straight path, and Troy took out the map as soon as he knew they needed it. Now it was just a matter of getting there. And with him in the saddle, absolutely nothing could go wrong.

At least, he thought so.

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