Disclaimer: High School Musical is a Disney channel original; I am not nor will I ever be Disney channel, thus, I do not own it. I am borrowing the characters and plot for purely recreational purposes and am earning nothing other than an hour or so of enjoyment. And maybe some reviews. ;)
A/N: Yes, I know, my title is so original, isn't it? XD
They never told us if they finished the game and the Decathlon on the same day as the callbacks. For the sake of this story, they did.
Because I know I'm not the only one who was disappointed when they didn't do this:
Gabriella hadn't thought the night could get any better.
It seemed too good to be true, that both she and Troy could have led their respective teams to victory, but the scoreboard above their heads – clearly reading sixty-eight to sixty-seven – was testimony to Troy's winning shot, and Taylor's beaming face was all the proof Gabriella needed to know that she hadn't imagined the ending to the Scholastic Decathlon, either.
The Wildcats' celebrations had lasted long into the night, with both sports fans and intellectuals ecstatic about the double triumph over the West High Knights. The school staff had given in to the inevitable and opened the building to the festivities, and the gymnasium and cafeteria, its tables shoved to the side, were now home to hundreds of screaming, dancing teenagers. Someone had brought in a stereo system that blasted music so loud the words were indecipherable, and enough food had been supplied that they would be eating leftovers for a week.
When all this was combined with the results of the call backs, she couldn't have kept a smile off her face even if she had wanted to.
Even the Evans twins couldn't resist letting the festivities improve their spirits. After recovering from the shock of being out-sung by two apparent amateurs, they had accepted their defeat with a grace neither had shown before. After Sharpay had extended her congratulations and Ryan had promised to teach the two new stars the finer points of performing in front of an audience, Gabriella couldn't help but hope that she had made two new friends.
Gabriella was used to being looked down on by her peers, yet here, far from being Freaky Math Girl, she was accepted for who she was. Surrounded by friends, she let herself get carried away, laughing and dancing with the rest instead of huddling in the corner with her book.
She hadn't thought the night could get any better. That was until Troy took her hand, gently pulling her away from the crowd.
He led her away from their boisterous peers, following the well-known route up to the rooftop terrace that held the biology club's secret garden. Cool night air greeted them and they smiled at each other as they sat down on the bench.
They remained silent for a long time, content to enjoy each other's company. Troy's arm was around her waist, and she found herself leaning into the embrace. It felt right; the only times she had ever felt like this, as if her spirit was soaring through the air, breaking free of the bonds that held it to the earth, had been in his presence. Stifling a yawn, she laid her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes, a small, content smile on her face.
"Tired?" Troy asked her, his quiet voice breaking the silence.
Eyes still closed, Gabriella nodded.
He reached up and hesitantly brushed a strand of hair out of her face. "It's been a long day," he agreed, his voice giving her a hint of his own exhaustion.
"I still can't believe it," she murmured, opening her eyes. "I can't believe we pulled it off."
Troy grinned. She expected a wise crack, but all he said was, "You were amazing."
A blush spread across her cheeks. Mumbling slightly, she replied, "So were you."
"Yeah..." He stared off into the distance, remembering. Gabriella mimicked the action, recalling their foray onto the stage earlier that day. It had indeed been amazing. With the sweet notes from Kelsi's piano weaving through the air around them, she had sung and danced as she had never done before. Despite the enthusiastic clapping of the audience keeping time to the song, she had felt as if she and Troy were the only people in the world.
Returning her attention to the young man in the seat next to her, she was startled to find him watching her. Brown eyes locked with blue, and Gabriella's heart began to race in her chest as she noticed how close they were.
"We make a pretty good team, don't we?" Troy whispered. She wanted to reply, but she couldn't manage even the slightest nod, rendered completely helpless by the love she could see in his eyes.
Their lips were almost touching; each leaned in to close the remaining distance...
With a simultaneous gasp, they sprung apart like startled rabbits, whirling around to face the stairway. The only trace of their previous intimacy was Troy's arm, still wrapped securely around her waist.
"Troy?" Coach Bolton emerged from the stairway, looking around at the little garden. His eyes settled on the two teenagers. "Ah, good. Chad said I might find you here."
"Hey Dad," Troy said, careful to keep his voice from showing the disappointment he could feel like a lead weight in his stomach.
Gabriella forced a smile onto her face. "Hi, Coach Bolton."
Troy's father nodded to her. "Miss Montez." The basketball coach shifted, looking a little uncomfortable. Everyone present was aware that he had not been exactly polite to the pretty Latina the last time they had met.
Coach Bolton cleared his throat. "That was some show you two put on earlier today."
Surprised, Troy and Gabriella traded a look.
"Uh... Thanks, Dad." Troy hadn't even known his father had seen the call backs, much less enjoyed them. The last he had known, the coach hadn't even wanted him to participate.
Coach Bolton nodded again. "Are you ready to go, Troy? It's getting late."
Troy glanced at Gabriella. "Um... Yeah, just... just give me minute."
Coach Bolton's eyes, so sharp when it came to watching the basketball court, suddenly noticed how close together the two sat and the way his son's arm was wrapped around the girl. Realizing what he must have walked in on, the coach nodded. "All right. Don't take too long."
He left them alone.
Troy ran his free hand through his hair. "I guess I'd better go."
"Yeah..." Gabriella agreed reluctantly. She didn't want him to leave her.
"Hey, I've got an idea!" The star basketball player suddenly grinned excitedly. "Are you doing anything tomorrow?"
"I don't think so." She gave him a curious look.
"Let's go see a movie," he suggested enthusiastically. "And maybe then get some dinner? I mean, if you want to," he added hastily.
Gabriella smiled. "I'd love to."
Troy beamed. "Great! I'll call you tomorrow so we can work out the details – I don't know what movies are playing."
"Sounds great," she replied, returning his smile.
He nodded, sighed, and stood. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow, then."
She rose as well. "Right. Tomorrow."
Troy gave her one last smile and started to walk away. She found she missed him already, missed the closeness of their bodies and the way he had held her. She hugged herself as she watched him walk away, as if trying to recreate the feeling without success.
Before he reached the stairs, Troy suddenly stopped, turning back to face her. "Oh, and Gabriella...?"
Before she could respond, he had crossed the distance between them, wrapped his arms about her, and pressed his mouth to hers.
She closed her eyes, surprised but not protesting. All too soon, he broke the contact. As her eyes opened, he murmured, "I guess it really was the start of something new."
Smiling, he kissed her again and then released her. "And now I really do have to go."
She nodded, also smiling. "See you tomorrow."
He nodded, waved, and disappeared down the stairs, whistling. Gabriella grinned; she recognized the tune.
Quietly, she sang the words under her breath. "This could be the start, of something new... it feels so right, to be here with you..."
She sat on the bench again and gazed out at the stars. He was right... and she couldn't wait to find out the future held for them.
A/N: They really should have "fluff" as a genre...