Friday Night Lights

Disclaimer: I don't own/affiliated with the cast, movie, music, and all that jazz.

Chapter 1 - Wandering the Streets

Wandering the streets in a world underneath it all
Nothing seems to be
Nothing tastes as sweet as what I can't have
Like you and the way that you're twisting your hair 'round your finger
Tonight I'm not afraid to tell you
What I feel about you.


"Hey, you know what I just realized? You and I have never seen a movie together."

The petite brunette looked over to the owner of the voice. Troy. Gabriella was busy with an English essay when he had called her up right outside of her house and invited her to come out for a walk with him. Of course, she accepted. Just before grabbing a light hoodie and heading out the door, she wrote a note for her mother in the event that she came home to an empty house.

It had been about nine months since Troy and Gabriella performed in the East High winter musicale, Twinkle Towne. Things had gone off without a hitch. The auditorium was completely packed on all four nights of the show. According to Kelsi, that was something that not even the Evans' siblings had been able to experience in all their years in the theater.

The friendship between the Wildcats' basketball guy and freaky genius girl had continued throughout the summer, and contrary to popular belief, that was all they had - a friendship. It wasn't surprising to know that the kids at school thought there was more than what the two were letting on. There were a few times when the two would play up the idea for their amusement, but nothing too overt - some arm linking here, a long hug there.

For Gabriella, a part of her used to (and sometimes, still did) think that there really was something more between her and Troy. He always seemed to bring out the feeling of liberation, confidence, that she was ready for anything, whenever she was with him. He managed to crack her shy exterior, and from it, she emerged more confident as she had ever been. But as the year continued, little by little, it became apparent that they were to remain friends. Frustrating? Yes. Upsetting? Quite. Despite all of this though, she decided to adopt the philosophy that it was better to have Troy in her life, even if it was just as a friend, than to not have him in it at all.

As for Troy, he believed in the same thing as well, that there was something else between the two of them. Never had he felt the way he did when he was with Gabriella. She was the only one who didn't seem him as "Troy Bolton - superstar athlete of East High"; she didn't treat him with adulation or envy like every other person at school. He didn't feel like he had to live up to the expectations of his parents or his school. Through her, he experienced a sense of comfort and relief that he never knew existed - normalcy.

Unfortunately, he didn't seem to treat her in the same respect. To Troy, Gabriella was just too good to be true. He knew he wasn't the only pay attention to this. (He still remembered Jason taking clear notice of Gabriella the minute she walked into their homeroom at the beginning of the year.) She was everything and more - intelligence, humor, grace, to name a few - all packed into one stunning beauty. It was difficult to not feel like it was impossible to live up to someone as astounding and as accomplished as Gabriella.

They were now in the midst of their senior year. Just like the rest of their class, they were immersed in the process of college applications. It seemed like everyone was on the verge of pulling their hair out should they come across the question of where they see themselves in five years ever again. To say things were hectic was an understatement.

Yet, somewhere in between listing extracurricular activities, writing essays, and begging for recommendations from teachers, Troy and Gabriella still managed to make time for each other. Lately, it was particularly done with afternoon walks.

They walked around the neighborhood, spending the time talking about the day's events at school and whatnot. At one point, the pair had gotten into a jogging competition to see who would last longer. Troy had led Gabriella around for about a mile and a half until he gave up. Not only was he surprised, but she amazed herself at her own ability to keep up with him. Maybe forty-one points in a league championship game wasn't such a far out idea if I could keep up with the Wildcats' superstar, she mused.

After what almost seemed to be an hour, the two teens had finally found their way back to Gabriella's street. Slowing their pace, they walked in silence. It was a comfortable one; not the kind where both parties are frantically racking their minds to find ways to kill the quietness. It was nice - no expectations whatsoever.

Gabriella's concentration was fixated on the McFarland's collection of lawn gnomes when Troy spoke up. "I'm sorry, Troy, what did you say?"

He flashed a quick smile and looked downwards at the sidewalk before repeating his statement. "I figured that since we have Thursday and Friday off from school, that we can go check out a movie or something."

She looked at him with a confused expression. "Wait a minute. We have Thursday and Friday off?"

"Yeah, remember? There's a teacher convention on those days. I would've thought for sure you knew that." Troy looked at her with a raised eyebrow and a smirk. "You losing your touch there, Montez?"

Gabriella pondered for a moment and a look of realization came about. He was right; they DID have those days off. And in all honesty, she really was kind of losing her touch. She explained to Troy how it had been almost a week since she lost her organizer. It had everything in it - birthdays, dates for doctor appointments, special dates like her parents' anniversary, everything. It kept her on top of her schoolwork and whatever else she'd invariably find herself busy with. And now it was lost in only God knows where, she thought. The only way she was able to keep up with her schoolwork now was because she had Taylor and Jason to refer to since they all shared most of the same classes.

Troy offered her a reassuring smile and stroked her back in a consoling fashion. "Don't worry, Gabi; it'll turn up eventually. Probably when you least expect it."

"You're probably right," she replied with a sigh. "I guess it doesn't help that I'm expecting to find it every five minutes I'm in my room, huh?" she added with a half-hearted smile.

"Probably not," he chuckled. "You're lucky that thing doesn't talk. It probably thinks you're the most horrible owner in the world for losing it..."

"Hey, I didn't mean to lose it!" she declared loudly. "It just happened! Sometimes a person can't he-"

As soon as she felt herself rising into an epiphany, she was immediately brought back down, literally, with a pair of hands placed firmly upon her shoulders. They were Troy's. A warmth radiated into her from those pair of hands. Ironically, it caused her to shiver just a little bit.

"Gabriella, I was just kidding. You are probably the nicest person I've ever met in my life." Incredible is more like it, he mentally corrected. "And I'm pretty sure that I can say with confidence that your organizer would agree with me if you had it and if it, you know...talked."

Troy gave out a little laugh at the thought of an inanimate object talking, and looked at the girl in front of him. Through his eyes, he tried to reassure her that what he just said was sincere, that his previous comment couldn't be further from the truth. It wasn't an aggressive or urgent look; it was gentle more than anything else. Please believe me, he thought desperately.

A few seconds had passed when Gabriella realized that she was still looking into Troy's eyes. She looked downwards, a sheepish grin escaping her (half because she caught herself in a daze from his eyes, half because of her overreaction from earlier). Jokingly, she rolled her eyes and said, "All right, Bolton, you're off the hook this time."

They shared a laugh, and as their laughter echoed throughout the air of a mid-November afternoon, Troy and Gabriella continued their pace. Within a few minutes, they reached her house. The end to their afternoon excursion was drawing to a close. They had both noticed Gabriella's mother's car in the driveway, which provided more of a reason for things to end.

Upon reaching the Montez doorstep, a noticeable change had taken place in the air. As they stood in front of the door, Gabriella couldn't help but notice that Troy was looking down, hands in his pockets, swaying from side to side - all telltale signs that he had something to say but wasn't coming out with it.

He's cute like this, she thought as she watched him. It was if Troy transformed into a four-year old little boy who was nervous about telling his father that it was his fault that the vase broke. He always sported confidence, but he very rarely let people see this side of him. To be the one to witness him in these moments made Gabriella feel special, as if she was being let in on a secret.

"Troy? What's up? she asked.

He looked up and smiled bashfully before looking down again. A few minutes had passed with nothing but carbon dioxide passing between them. Finally, he found his voice.

"Okay," Troy started, "remember that thing I mentioned before? That thing about us having Friday off?"

Gabriella gave a simple nod in response.

"Yeah, about that..." he trailed off.

She shook her head in an expectant manner, still unsure as to what he was referring to exactly. "What about it?"

Troy's nervousness became more evident when he let out a heavy sigh. Oh, come on. You're the smartest girl at school. Don't tell me that you can't figure this one out. He only half smiled at his thoughts. It became apparent that he would have to explain himself a little more. Closing his eyes, Troy took in a deep breath and exhaled. Once he opened his eyes, he shook his head quickly and looked at Gabriella again with a face of new determination.

"Well, I was thinking that you and I could check out a movie or something if you didn't have any plans for that day. I mean, not that I think you don't have any plans for Friday night, not at all. It's probably something important too that'll keep you busy." He paused quickly. "So I completely understand if you can't go. I just thought I should throw it out there if you weren't, you know?"

Oh. THAT'S what he was talking about, Gabriella realized. A sudden wave of emotions quickly washed through her. She felt like the biggest idiot in the entire planet for not catching on sooner. She felt surprised because that been the fastest she had ever heard him talk. She felt overwhelmed because of the sudden invitation that he had extended. She felt ecstatic because the invitation had finally been extended.

Yet another current of silence passed over them (and this time, it was one of the awkward variety). Troy's head hung downwards, but his eyes watched her warily to gauge her reaction. Before he had the chance to say anything, he watched her tuck a piece of hair behind her ear and heard her speak. "What movie?"

He immediately lifted his head. "What?" The range of emotions that he had seen on her face left him in confusion so her response had taken him aback.

"You heard me. What movie are we gonna see?"

"Uhh, well, I didn't really have anything specific planned yet..." he started.

Suddenly, the polyphonic melody of "Start Of Something New" played throughout the air. Gabriella looked up apologetically at Troy, and read the screen of her cell phone. It read Incoming Call - Home. She picked up and answered the call. "Yes, Mom, I'm coming in...I'm right outside the front door right now actually...okay...bye." She looked back at Troy.

Understandingly, he smiled. "Ah, yeah, and I'll take that as my cue to leave," Troy said. "Look, I'll call you up later and we can figure out our game plan for Friday, all right?"

"Fine by me, Wildcat," Gabriella answered, returning the smile back at him. She took a step forward, grabbing the knob, and inserted a key into the lock. At the same time, Troy took a step off her doorstep and a few steps forward. They took one last look at each other, smiled, and continued in their opposite directions.

Song Credit: "For You I Will (Confidence)" by Teddy Geiger.

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