Disclaimer: I don't own High School Musical

Reason to Celebrate

At precisely 7:30 in the evening, a young man stepped out of his car, slamming the door behind him. Two similar sounds followed, and his parents left the vehicle. His father tossed the keys to a young valet, who promptly slid into the car and drove off to find a parking spot.

The teenager took a deep breath of the crisp evening air and brushed down his clothes, making sure that there were no visible wrinkles. He was wearing a navy button-down shirt underneath a black leather jacket, and his legs were encased in a pair of dark-wash jeans. His hair fell into his sparkling eyes, no matter how many times he brushed it away. He started up the pathway and flashed his ticket to the bouncer. The man nodded at them, permitting them to enter the building.

The "building" was actually Albuquerque's banquet hall, a place called Sunset Terrace. While it was easily one of the largest structures in the city, it had a comfortable, home-like feel that made it popular for holding parties. East High had rented it out this year for its after party.

There was much reason to celebrate. For the first time in years, the East High Wildcats had won the city basketball championship against their rival school, the West High Knights. But this year, the Wildcats had snatched victory from the gauntlets of the Knights, thanks to a shot by the Wildcat captain in the final seconds of the game. In addition, on the other side of the school, the Scholastic Decathlon team had finally won its own competition against the Knights.

Strangely, in a move that had defied the rules of East High society, the basketball captain and a member of the decathlon team had befriended one another. Even stranger was the fact that they had decided to audition for the school musical, daring to challenge the drama powerhouses that were the Evans twins, Ryan and Sharpay. But the strangest thing of all was that the captain and the decathlon member had actually beaten them, and had won the lead roles.

He pushed open the door and walked in, taking in the atmosphere. The doors opened up into a grand ballroom that had been arranged to look almost like a club. There was a bar that served non-alcoholic (the school was very firm on that issue) beverages, a DJ playing music, and even an area that was cleared away for a dance floor. Students were milling about in their dressy-yet-casual attires, bass sounds were pumping throughout the room, and everyone was still hyped up from the day's victories. Above it all, a chandelier was suspended from the ceiling, its crystals glinting in the lights from the DJ's booth.

"Troy!" A shout attracted the young man's attention. He turned his head to see his best friend, Chad, coming towards him and wearing a big grin. "Man, you're finally here!" All of a sudden, a big cheer went up among the crowd, and Troy found himself being lifted onto the team's shoulders.

Why did he receive such a warm welcome?

Because he was the captain that led the Wildcats to victory, of course. And the captain that befriended the decathlon member, Gabriella, and auditioned for the play.

After a few minutes, Troy was put down. As the rest of the students drifted away, his friends crowded around him. He heard Sharpay and Ryan talking about the grueling rehearsals that lay ahead, and Taylor McKessie, another member of the decathlon team, laughing with Chad. But he didn't see Gabriella.

"Uh, guys?" They all turned to look at him. "Have any of you seen Gabriella?"

The four of them exchanged sly looks. "No..." Taylor said slowly.

Sharpay's face lit up. "But you will soon!" Then they dove back into their conversations.

Troy blew out his breath in an exasperated manner. He really needed to talk to her. He couldn't stop thinking about her, couldn't stop hearing her laugh repeating again and again in his brain, couldn't stop feeling the need to grab her and kiss her senseless.

He would've done it right after the game, but Chad, with his wonderful sense of timing, had ruined the moment. Troy would never, ever forgive his friend for that.

Suddenly, Taylor and Sharpay spotted something. "Gabriella!" they squealed, waving excitedly. Troy snapped to attention, immediately whirling around to see what was going on.

His stomach turned over. Walking toward them was Gabriella in all of her shy and timid glory. She wore a pair of dark, snug jeans that were tucked into brown cowboy boots and a simple white T-shirt imprinted with silver swirls. Her hair gleamed in the light and her eyes were alight with excitement.

Gabriella's face lit up as she approached them. In response, something tugged at Troy's gut. He watched as Gabriella hugged Taylor and Sharpay, blushing as they gushed over how "cute" her outfit was. Next, she turned to Ryan and tipped an imaginary cowboy hat, as he tipped his own. Then she and Chad did a funky little handshake, which ended in an exclamation of "Get'cha head in the game!"

Although Ryan and Chad were his friends, Troy couldn't help but feel a twinge of jealousy as Gabriella greeted them. But finally, she turned to him, and said softly, "Hi, Troy."

"Hey yourself." Then he added, "You're late, ya know." He couldn't resist poking a bit of fun at her. He loved to see her swell up with false anger, especially since she knew he was joking.

"Am not! It's only 7:45!"

Their friends watched this with amused expressions. They glanced at each other, as if saying, "Here we go again..."


Two hours later, after many songs, crazy dance moves, and cups of punch, Gabriella excused herself from the group, saying that she needed to get some air. Troy's eyes followed her as she darted through the crowd, finally going through the door labeled 'Rooftop Terrace.' He turned back to his friends, only to find that they were looking at him strangely. When he questioned their stares, they merely replied, "Oh, nothing," and went back to dancing.

Why would she have gone there? Troy wondered. He knew that Gabriella was a quiet and shy person, but he couldn't help but feel something was wrong.

"Guys, I'll be right back. I have to go to the bathroom." With that, Troy made his escape. He made sure to swoop by his table and grab the leather jacket, which he had removed earlier. But instead of heading down the bathroom hall to throw them off, he immediately pushed through the terrace door.

Troy rushed through the short corridor that led to the roof. He ran up the short flight of stairs, finally opening another door. He stepped out into a small garden that overlooked the city of Albuquerque. At the edge, by the railing, stood Gabriella.

She was looking out over the city. Overhead, the stars winked, little diamonds in an ebony sky. A gentle breeze blew by, lifting her hair from her shoulders and blowing it out behind her. She rubbed her hands on her arms, trying to warm herself and dispel the goose bumps on her arms.

Why didn't I bring my jacket? It's freezing out here! Gabriella shivered, scolding herself for forgetting to bring her jacket. While it was New Mexico, nights tended to get chilly in the winter. But suddenly, a something warm was draped over her shoulders, warming her arms instantly. She looked behind her and saw Troy standing there, a smile on his face.

Her stomach warmed, and she was pretty sure that it wasn't from the warm jacket. Quickly, she turned her nose and sniffed the collar. It smelled of faint cologne, Troy's scent. She grinned, but fought to keep it down.

"What are you doing here?" he asked.

Gabriella turned to face him. "I could ask you the same question. You're the man of the hour; you're the person everyone wants to see at the party."

Troy shrugged. "Eh, it was getting boring," he said nonchalantly.

She giggled. "I needed some air. It was getting kinda stuffy in there." She paused for a second, then said in a softer voice, "Thanks for the jacket, Troy."

His smile grew wider. "You're welcome." Then he stuffed his hands into his jean pockets and walked forward towards the railing. "You know, there's something with us and gardens. I don't know what, but I kinda like it." Gabriella smiled at this. "So, how 'bout today? Seems like a dream, huh?"

"Yeah. It's almost surreal."

Troy leaned on the balcony and looked at her. "I still can't believe we won the game. East High hasn't won the championship in years." At her raised eyebrow, he added, "Oh, and of course the Scholastic Decathlon Team did an awesome job too!"

She chuckled softly. "And I can't believe we got the parts..."

"Me neither. No one's beaten the Evans twins out for a musical since kindergarten. So, I guess you and I just made East High, history, Ms. Montez. Of course, this means that we have a long road of rehearsals ahead of us, headed by the crazy psycho that is Mrs. Darbus...don't tell her I said that though!" Troy knew he was rambling, but he didn't care. He also didn't see Gabriella shake her head to hide her growing grin. "Anyway, Ryan was saying that some of the rehearsals last until 8:00 at night, with no dinner breaks! I don't know about you, but I can't work that long without food. I just can't. I've tried before, ya know. And just to warn you, I get really, really cranky and irritable if I don't have food in my stomach. So I understand if you don't--"

He was cut off by a pair of warm lips against his. Gabriella pulled away, flushed and embarrassed. "S-sorry," she stuttered nervously. "I couldn't help it. You were talking so much, and it really wasn't making much sense, and oh!" She ducked her head.

A finger gently lifted her chin, and Gabriella found herself looking into Troy's deep blue eyes. "You don't know how long I've waited for that," he said huskily. "I've wanted to kiss you ever since the game, even before Chad interrupted us." Her eyes grew wide. "But now, I'm kind of glad he did. 'Cause now, no one's here, we're all alone, and I have more of a reason to do this..."

Troy took Gabriella into his arms and pressed his lips to hers. Her right hand came up to cup his face, while his hand wound around her small waist. Gabriella smiled into the kiss, and Troy felt fireworks exploding in his mind.

They separated when oxygen became a necessity, but never broke their gaze. Troy was breathing heavily, still shocked that he'd finally kissed her. Gabriella's fingers reached up to touch her tingling lips, still feeling the intensity of Troy's kiss.

"And you don't know how long I've wanted you to do that," she whispered. "Ever since you appeared at my balcony, begging me to sing with you. I wanted to kiss you right then and there...but I was afraid." Then, after a moment, she whispered, "There's no one I'd rather do the musical with than you."

Troy leaned down and captured her lips again, catching her off-guard. But she quickly caught on and started kissing him back with a fervor that he didn't expect. Gabriella ran her fingers through his hair, and his fingers traced random patterns on the small of her back. He pulled away after a few minutes and asked her, "Are you still afraid?"

"Not anymore." He drew her into a warm hug, which eventually turned into a dance position. His right hand and her left hand were clasped together, his left arm was around her waist, her right arm was draped over his shoulder, and her head rested on his chest. Everything felt right; as if that was the way it was supposed to be.

That night was indeed a special night. The East High basketball team had triumphed over West High, the Wildcat Decathlon Team had defeated the Knights, and the school drama club had been turned upside down. But two certain people, who were now dancing under the starlight in the Sunset Terrace garden, had another reason to celebrate.

Author's Note: This oneshot was originally written for Round 2 of the HSM FanFiction Idol competition, and Reason to Celebrate was inspired by this prompt:

3. It's the After Party right after the movie ends. You can write about anyone, but it must be about the after party and the events that take place at it. It must contain description and emotions about how the party turned out, and the events that took place.

However, the competition has been abandoned.

Author's Note updated on August 5, 2007.