Title: In True Wildcat Fashion

Author: demander-of-logic

Disclaimer: I do not own High School Musical, its affiliate characters, titles and plot lines, or any products and/or brands mentioned in the story to follow. Please do not sue – I got nuthin'.

Author's Notes: Hello, and welcome to the madness that is the mind of Demander-Of-Logic! This is my first High School Musical fanfic – NOT my first fanfic ever. Just wanted to make that clear.

This is not a one-shot. There is actually a plot. I'm working on it chapter by chapter, so please be patient with me, grazie! Now! On to the story!

In True Wildcat Fashion
Chapter One: Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

"I can't do this…I'm sorry, I have to go."

She attempts to get up, but he grabs her hand, pulls her back down into her seat.

"No, please, don't leave, we need to talk. Why can't we talk? Like last year? Like Twinkle Towne?"

"This isn't Twinkle Towne. It's completely different." She does not look up, tucks a strand of long dark hair behind her ear. "We're completely different."

"But why? Why do we have to be different? We're meant to be together, can't you see that?" His blue eyes desperately try to catch hers, searching for something he is not quite sure he can name.

She shakes her head emphatically, struggling to keep the tears from streaming down her face. "I...I did once. I'm not sure now."

"How can you not be sure? Gabi, this is – "



Gabriella Montez laughs aloud. "My name, Arnold, is Minnie. Not Gabi."

Troy Bolton groans aloud, slamming his head on the table. "I'm going to choke. This is the defining moment of my high school career and my head is not in the game. I'll be the laughing stock of East High."

She laughs out loud, ruffling his hair affectionately. "Such a drama king."

Troy's head snaps up, and his amazing blue eyes widen. "Oh, no, please, anything but a drama king."

Gabriella grins and raises an eyebrow, setting her script down on the table. "Why not?"

"Because that's what the guys on the team call Ryan." He blushes sheepishly as she throws her head back and laughs the famous 'Gabriella laugh'.

The two young clique-breakers are sitting in Gabriella's dining room on a Sunday afternoon, practicing their lines for the Winter Musicale. The curtain is set to rise on Darbus' pet project in a little less than two weeks, and the male and female leads are getting more and more excited – and more nervous – with every passing day.

And before you ask, dear readers, no, Troy and Gabriella have not acted on their obvious and intensifying feelings for each other.

Do not worry. All of East High is frustrated, too.

The two oblivious teenagers are the only ones who seem not to see their chemistry and attraction. They are also completely blind to the entire school's endeavors to unite the two – and to the betting pool the basketball team created to profit from predicting when and where the two would finally get together. Ten dollars a pop from the entire student body has built quite an impressive prize pool – nearly two thousand dollars stand to be gained.

"Fine, Wildcat then. You're going to blow them away. We both know it," she says, eyes sparkling with mirth, "So stop doubting yourself and accept your destiny!"

Troy laughs at her dramatic terminology. "Now who's the drama king?"

Gabriella simply rolls her eyes at him and glances up at the clock on the wall across from the table. 5:47. "Wow, it's almost six o'clock! Are you hungry?"

Troy's stomach growls loudly in answer, and Gabriella giggles again. "I guess that's a yes. Come on, Wildcat, let's go find something to eat."

"That's the best idea you've had all day," he teases, following her into the kitchen.

He is blown away, however, as he enters the room. "Whoa!"

She does not look up, continuing in her path towards the fridge. "What?"

"Gabriella, this kitchen is amazing!" That is an understatement. The kitchen is top of the line, all marble countertops, stone tile, frosted glass, cherry wood cabinets, and stainless steel state-of-the-art appliances.

Gabriella just shrugs. "My mom and I both love to cook. This kitchen is the reason we bought this house."

Troy whistles appreciatively. "I can see why. So, Miss Freaky Genius Girl Turned Gourmet Chef, what options have we for dinner?" He takes a seat at the island buffet, watching as Gabriella rummages through the shelves and drawers.

"Not much. My mom is out grocery shopping, after all. Ah-ha!" She triumphantly holds up a nearly empty bag of bread. "Sandwiches it is! Troy, check in the pantry and see if we have any potato chips or something." She gestures to the door directly behind him as she sets the bread on the island and begins pulling various sandwich materials out of the drawers.

Troy rolls his eyes when he opens the pantry; 'not much', my butt! They've got a whole Safeway in here! He spots a bag of Lays potato chips on one of the shelves and pulls it out. "Gabriella, if this is your cupboard bare, I'd love to see what it looks like fully stocked!"

Gabriella laughs again as she opens another set of cabinets and pulls out plastic plates and glasses, setting them on the island, too. "Go ahead and start making your sandwich. What can I say? We like being prepared for anything."

"I'll say." The cellophane bread bag rustles behind her, followed shortly by the sound of the plastic lunchmeat container popping open.

"What do you want to drink? We have water, iced tea, lemonade, practically every Pepsi product known to man…" Gabriella asks, returning to her position nearly inside the fridge.

"Water's fine, thanks." She grabs two bottles of water, shuts the door, turns around – and stops short. "What are you doing?"

Troy looks up from where he's about to finish constructing his sandwich, confused. "Making a - "

"I know what you're doing, why are you doing it like that?" She asks strangely, setting the water bottle down in front of him and reaching for her own plate, which bears two slices of bread already.

Troy looks down at his creation, a stacked masterpiece. It is layered twice: bread-ham-American-potato chips, then bread-ham-American-chips-bread, slathered with mustard. "Oh! I've always made my sandwiches this way. Even with peanut butter and jelly – I always had to have bananas and an extra piece of bread in there, too. I call it – "

"The Double Decker," Gabriella breathes, a smile spreading across her features.

Troy looks surprised. "Yeah, how'd you know?"

She giggles as she sits at the island beside him. "My dad makes his sandwiches in the exact same way. Right down to the potato chips and mustard."

The Wildcat superstar's eyebrows shoot up to his hairline. "Seriously?"

"Seriously! Troy, that's just plain freaky!" Gabriella laughs, taking a bite of her own turkey-and-Swiss-with-mayo sandwich. "My dad would die knowing someone else shares his strange and disturbing habits!"

He laughs, too, finishing his masterpiece and taking a bite. "Sounds like I should meet your dad. Where is he, anyway?"

Gabriella unscrews the lid of her water bottle. "Back in San Francisco. He and my mom split up when I was three because he was an alcoholic. My mom got custody of me when it all happened, since the court said my dad wasn't fit to be a father."

Troy swallows hard, instantly contrite. "Oh, god, Gabi, I'm sorry, I didn't – "

She waves a hand, smiling sweetly. "No, Troy, it's okay. My dad went to rehab, cleaned himself up. Now he and my mom are good friends. We moved out here with his blessing. He's a big part of my life - I still talk to him every day before school." She takes another bite and swallows. "I think you'll like my dad, Troy. He's coming out for the musical – he can't wait to meet you."

Troy grins his famous heart-stopping grin. "Your dad knows about me?" he asks, mentally cheering that she would tell her father about him. Dude, she so likes me…

Gabriella blushes prettily. "Um, well yeah. I had to tell him the whole story when I asked him to come down and see it. He was really excited for me – and for you, which reminds me that he told me to tell you congratulations. He wants to meet you and maybe take us to dinner to celebrate. Of course, he thinks – " She cuts her rambling off abruptly, blushing a tad darker.

Troy struggles to keep his grin from splitting his face in two. "He thinks…what?"

She takes a long gulp of her water. "Um, he kind of thinks we're dating." When he's silent for a second, she hurries to amend the situation. "I told him we weren't, but he didn't believe me. So I'm sorry in advance for his ideas and questions. I really did try to tell him that we were just friends, but – "

He laughs at her nervousness. "Gabi! It's okay, we'll just tell him otherwise when he gets down here, right?" He assures her, though inside he is screaming, NO! Don't tell him otherwise, Bolton, ask her to be your girlfriend and prove him right!

Gabriella is positively Wildcat red as she grins sheepishly. "Okay. Sorry, I tend to ramble when I get nervous or excited." Of course, I wouldn't have to be nervous if we were boyfriend and girlfriend…

Shaking the thought away, she brushes crumbs from her hands and stands back up, taking her plate with her. "Well, want some dessert? We have ice cream."

Troy grins as he polishes off the last bit of his gigantic sandwich. "Do you really have to ask?"

She giggles. "No, I guess not." She takes his plate and places it in the sink beside hers, then turns to pull two bowls from another cabinet. "Strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate chip?"

He grins wider. "Yes please."

Gabriella rolls her eyes and proceeds to take out all three cartons of the frozen confection out of the freezer. "You're going to weigh four hundred pounds when you get older, did you know that?"

"Hey, I'm an athlete! With a high metabolism! I gotta eat to stay awake!" he defends himself, taking the spoon she hands him and dishing out a huge scoop of each flavor into his bowl.

Gabriella groans good-naturedly, taking her own scoop of chocolate chip and smothering it with Hershey's chocolate sauce. "Oh, god, that's frustrating," she mock-bemoans, shivering a little as the ice cream slides coolly down her throat.

"But you love me anyway," he says, only half-teasing. He covers his blush by eating a spoonful of strawberry.

She reddens, too, biting the inside of her mouth to keep from agreeing wholeheartedly. "Yeah, yeah," she grumbles around her mouthful of ice cream. Then she grins and proceeds to lick the remaining hints of chocolate syrup from her spoon. "Mmm. I'd forgotten how much I love chocolate chip ice cream." She closes her eyes as she takes another bite, grinning with pleasure. "Yep, pure heaven."

When she opens her eyes, however, she is stunned to see Troy watching her intently. She blushes even more, quickly covering her mouth with her hand. "Oh god, do I have ice cream on my face or something?" When he is still silent, she quickly rubs at her nose, seeking to wipe off the offending dairy product. "Troy, did I – "

"I'm still hungry," Troy announces suddenly, catching Gabriella off guard. She raises an eyebrow, temporarily forgetting about possible ice cream smears.

"You're already finished with all that ice cream?" she asks incredulously, and Troy nods mutely as she sees that he is indeed done. "Well, the kitchen's open to you, Troy, feel free to help yourself to anything you want," she says as she stands up, picks up her bowl.

His intense gaze never waivers. "Anything?"

She nods. "Sure, why not? Unless you want raw meat or something, but I don't think you – "

He cuts her off by pressing his lips to hers.

Her words die on her lips as she sets the bowl back on the counter and instantly throws her arms around his neck, kissing back without a second thought. He in turn stands up, never breaking their liplock as he wraps his arms around her tiny waist and gets a better angle on her mouth. I take it back…this is pure heaven.

A few moments later, Gabriella pulls back, flushed and dazed, her eyes glowing as she opens them. "…Wow," she whispers breathlessly, unconsciously biting down lightly on her thoroughly kissed lower lip. "I guess you weren't hungry for more food then…"

Troy chuckles a little, his gaze alternating between her eyes and her mouth. He brushes a strand of her curly dark hair out of her eyes before returning his hand to its position around her waist.

He rests his forehead against hers, grinning gently. "I wanted chocolate chip ice cream," he whispers, before capturing her lips again in a smiley kiss that tastes of strawberries and chocolate chips.

I guess we can tell Dad he was right...

About ten miles away, Chad Danforth wakes up abruptly from napping on his homework, sits bolt upright, a huge grin stretching from ear to ear.

He may not have the best timing, but his senses of prediction and intuition are exceptional.

He is now nearly two thousand dollars richer.

A/N: If you like, please review! Constructive criticism only, please - flames will be fed to my killer cat. ;-) No pairs bashing! Stay tuned for Chapter Two: In Theory. Arrivederci!