This is my first fanfic, hope everyone likes it... just so everyone knows, it might take awhile for me to update. I want to make this story as interesting as I can, and to do that, I need to spend a lot of time on one chapter. In the meantime though, I'd like it if everyone would review! Thanks!

Chapter 1: Moments Slipped Away

Troy Bolton searched the crowd that was taking over the gym, trying to find her. He couldn't leave without seeing her one last time that night. He had to spend just a little more time with the girl who had taken over his never-resting thoughts, sending him to a world he never dreamed he could've been so unexpectedly thrust into. He didn't fully understand why he was so driven to find her in the sea of faces, each one smiling and excitedly discussing the two important events that had taken place that night - the victorious championship basketball game, and the performance no one would be likely to forget anytime soon… Troy and Gabriella's winter musical callback.

The school musicals had always been something to be proud of at East High, with it's wisely-chosen selections from the drama teacher, Mrs. Darbus, and the talented students who starred in them. For as long as anyone could remember, Sharpay and Ryan Evans had automatically landed the lead roles in every musical the school had put on. They had everything a good musical needs. They could sing in perfect harmony, their acting skills were captivating by all, they could transform their entire personality to fit that of their characters, making their performances so incredibly lifelike and real… they were made for theater, and everyone was absolutely positive this year's picking would be no different than the year before and all the previous years before that.

Everyone was caught off guard when the two most unlikely people showed up at tryouts, willing to sing together for the lead roles. Sharpay and Ryan had been the most shocked to learn there was a chance that their roles would be snatched out of their grasp and handed over to the newcomers, who'd had no experience whatsoever in performing school musicals. Troy Bolton - the basketball star, and Gabriella Montez - the freaky math girl, just didn't belong on the stage.

Everyone soon learned to accept them for who they really were and began to experiment and expand into different groups as well. The entire school was transformed because of two people, just trying to let the world see them in a way different than who everyone wanted them to be. And much to Sharpay's dismay, Troy and Gabriella won the lead roles of Arnold and Minnie.

Troy continued to hunt for Gabriella, politely pushing past people, keeping his eyes open for Gabriella. After almost half an hour of searching, he wandered out of the gym down a familiar hallway, his high spirits sinking slightly.

He climbed up the stairs wearily, feeling his energy drain with every step. The basketball game had taken a lot out of him, and singing on stage in front of half the school drained almost all of his energy. Somehow, he found the strength to climb the last stair and push the doors open to the roof of his secret hiding place. He jumped with sudden surprise when he laid eyes on none other than Gabriella, leaning forward on the balcony and staring into the distance. She was obviously completely unaware of Troy's presence.

Troy felt his stomach turn. He quickly ran his fingers through his hair, trying to smooth it down. He could feel it sticking back up and finally let it be, hoping it didn't look too bad. Then as he straightened his jacket, he took a deep breath and made his way towards her.

"Looks like we both had the same idea of where to hide." Troy said casually.

Gabriella turned around at the sound of his voice and smiled. "Great minds think alike I guess." She said as she watched him stand next to her.

Troy put his hands in his pockets as he smiled. "I had a hard time getting away from everyone. It's a mob scene back there."

"Tell me about it." Gabriella said. "People I didn't even know were coming up to me and giving me compliments, asking if they could hang out sometime like we were best friends."

"Does this mean I can't tell you how amazing you were tonight?" Troy asked.

Gabriella blushed and looked down.

Taking one hand out of his pocket, he lifted her chin to look at him. Gabriella's heart began to pump at the feel of his warm hand on her face.

"You were amazing tonight." Troy said softly. "You shined like the brightest star in the sky. You sang so beautifully and perfectly and flawlessly. You conquered your fears, you rose above the status quo, you showed them all that you can be anyone you want to be. You were so incredible, I can't find words great enough to express it."

Gabriella's face grew warmer and warmer with each word he spoke. Her instinct tried to force her face down out of pleased embarrassment, but she found that with Troy holding her gaze, there was no way she could.

Silently, Troy pulled his hand away from her chin and stuffed it back in his pocket, afraid he had said too much. He didn't know what he was feeling at that moment, and he didn't know why he felt this way.

"Troy…" Gabriella said. "No one's ever said anything like that to me before. No one's ever taken the chance to get to know me, to look behind the stack of books and see the girl hiding behind them. No one's ever tried to see me for anything but a math freak… No one but you." She took a step closer to him. "Why me Troy?" Gabriella asked tentatively.

Troy was frozen with fear. He had never been filled with so many words, and yet so at a loss for them. There was so much he could say, but what if he said too much and something went horribly wrong? He looked down and gulped, knowing she was waiting for an answer. Looking back up, his eyes connected with hers, making him shake inwardly. At that instant, he suddenly found the words pouring out of his mouth in an unplanned rush.

"Why?" He said. "That's not the right question to be asking, Gabriella. If you would look at yourself in the mirror, really look, you'd see all the reasons why someone would want to be with you. You're beautiful, not just on the outside, but on the inside as well. When you smile, I can't help but smile. When you laugh, the world seems to be laughing too. When you walk into a room, all eyes should be on you, not the plastic Barbie doll girls we see everyday. Because you're not plastic, you're real. Gabriella, 'why?' is not the question. The real question here, is 'why not?.'"

He took a deep breath and looked at her. Her eyes were wide and shiny and she seemed to be shaking as well. Although he couldn't hear it, her heart was pounding a mile a minute.

"Troy… I… I don't think I mentioned anyone wanting to be with me." She said shakily.

Troy couldn't breathe. Oh no… what've I done? He thought to himself. He hadn't meant for that much feeling and passion to explode from his mind, it just happened. He hadn't felt any doubt or hesitation in his words though. He believed in them one-hundred percent. They had come to him like the most natural thing in the world.

Gabriella turned back towards the balcony, staring at the stars. She didn't want to look at him, for she knew her cheeks were red. "Right before I came up here, a guy asked me out." She said slowly.

Troy was so surprised by the randomness of this statement that he couldn't speak for a moment. When the words finally sank in, he felt his heart pummel towards the ground. "Oh?" He said quietly.

"He just walked up to me, out of the blue, and asked me to go to a movie sometime." Gabriella said incredulously. "I don't even know his name… it's just so weird, I mean, no one's ever asked me out before. I never expected it to be like that."

"What did you say?" Troy asked as he stared at her intently.

Gabriella looked up, eyes shining with stars in her eyes. "I said no, Troy."

Troy almost breathed a sigh of relief. Then a thought came to him. "But, uh, why? I mean, I'm sure he's a good guy… and, he could be… um… nice."

"He might." Gabriella said thoughtfully. Troy was suddenly afraid he had talked her into changing her mind.

"But he's not the guy for me." Gabriella finished.

"How do you know?" Troy asked. "After barely meeting him, you decide without another thought he's not the right guy?" Troy wanted to kick himself as soon as the words left his mouth. Why couldn't he just shut up?

Gabriella paused before she spoke again. "I don't know how I know. I guess… when you meet someone, you automatically feel something - something different from anything you've ever felt for anyone else. It's like a new part of you that's been set free in that first moment of meeting the right person. And… I didn't feel it with that guy.

Troy was silent, and then slowly reached for her hand before setting it down on the balcony, inches away from her own. "Have you… have you felt that feeling yet?" He asked softly.

Before Gabriella could answer him, the door to the roof flew open, causing both of them to jump apart.

Troy's dad appeared. "Troy, come on son. We gotta get going. They're about to lock up in a few minutes."

"Ok dad…" Troy said.

" Oh, and congratulations again, Miss. Montez." Mr. Bolton said with a smile.

Gabriella smiled sadly. "Thanks."

The door closed and all was silent once more. Troy and Gabriella looked at each other, each feeling awkward at the interruption.

"Well, I guess we should get going." Gabriella said, beginning to walk towards the stairs.

"Yeah." Troy replied as he followed her "Second time today." He said under his breath.

They walked out of the school, each silently wishing they could have just a little more time with each other. They reached the edge of the sidewalk and stopped, turning towards the other.

"Troy…" Gabriella began.

"Gabriella! Come on honey, it's time to go!" Mrs. Montez said from the parking lot.

"Ok, I'm coming!" Gabriella said resentfully. She looked at Troy sadly and then smiled. "I just want to say thanks, for what you said up there. And for everything… I-"

"Troy! Let's go!" Mr. Bolton said from their car.

"In a minute!" Troy said. He looked back at her. "I should be the one saying thanks. You helped me in ways I can't even begin to explain. Because of you, I'm not just the basketball guy. I'm -"

"So much more." Gabriella finished without thinking.

Troy smiled sheepishly, looking down to the ground for a moment. "What I mean to say is -"


"I'm coming!" Gabriella yelled back.


"Ok!" Troy said to his dad. He looked at Gabriella one final time. "I'll talk to you tomorrow." He said, wishing his dad were more patient.

Gabriella wished the same for her mom. "Yeah, ok… bye Troy."

Troy took her hand in his own and gently kissed her cheek. Giving her one more smile, he took off and jogged towards his dad, leaving her speechless.

Gabriella walked to her mother's car, trying to hide her smile and failing. As she got in, her mother smiled. "Troy is a very nice boy. I approve."

"Mom!" Gabriella exclaimed, feeling herself grow hot. She was about explain that she and Troy were just really good friends and that there was no reason to think differently. But as she touched the spot where he had kissed her, she smiled and couldn't bring herself to voice those unspeakable words.