A/N: This is slightly connected to the last chapter. So in case you don't remember know this: In the last chapter a friend of the Wildcats (she was closest to Gabriella) named Lauren was killed one morning before school when she was hit by a car as she crossed the street. This chapter isn't as sad as the last one but it's sort of the aftermath of everything.

"Lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, pickles and roast beef. Mmmm,Troy Bolton you are holding a masterpiece in your hands."

Seated amongst his chatting friends at a red and white, and rather sticky, lunch table, Troy lifted an unusually large sandwich to his mouth, his taste buds already watering at the thought of it. As his teeth bit through the soft, white bread he felt a foot touch his under the lunch table. Troy placed the "masterpiece" on top of his brown paper bag, which Jason was momentarily ripping up for spitballs, and wrapped an arm around his girlfriend. He gave her a smile as he rubbed her arm, and then brought both his hands back to his lunch. This however, was not enough for Gabriella. She wiggled closer to Troy on the bench until their sides were touching and she leaned her knee against his. Normally Troy loved when his body touched Gabriella's, whether it was their linking pinkie fingers or her sitting on his lap, but today was different.

"You okay?" he asked her after swallowing a bite of tomato.

"Mmm-hmmm." She nodded as she reached for her water bottle and flashed him a small smile, but something about it was off. Troy could read her like a book, and he had taken notice over the past few days that something was not right, something was different.

"You sure?" He whispered to her kindly, his face only inches from hers.

"Yeah, I'm fine Troy."

"Okay, good." He responded quietly. He reached for her hand and gave it a squeeze, then began to stand up.

All of sudden a worried look crossed Gabriella's face, "Where are going?"

"I'm just going to get a cookie." He held up a one dollar bill as proof as he looked at her quizzically.


"Is that alright?" Her new mood confused Troy, everything he did seemed to frighten her a bit and he was clueless as to why.

"Of course." She told him popping a French fry into her mouth.

As he walked towards the lunch line his face scrunched up in confusion. Three days ago while watching a movie at Taylor's house she had held onto to his shirt throughout the entire thing, then didn't leave his side as he played pool with Chad and Zeke. And the past two days she had worn something of his to school, on Monday it was an Adidas sweatshirt, today it was a "Wildcats Basketball 2005" shirt tied on the side with a rubber band. It wasn't that her need to be with him was annoying, as many people might assume, it was that she was worrying him. She held onto him like a small child which was completely out of character for the smart girl.

"Do you want a piece of la cookie?" Troy asked lowering himself onto the bench after his extravagant purchase of one chocolate chip cookie from a lunch lady named Delores. He slid the chocolate chip cookie out of the small plastic bag and held it up to Gabriella. She scrunched her nose and shook her head.

"Oh yeah" he smiled "I forgot about your cookie fear."

"I don't have a cookie fear! It was just one time and I was choking thank you very much!" She tapped the end of his nose with a single finger causing him to laugh at her little quirk. She smiled back at him while very slightly moving her hip over to touch his. This quickly changed his expression from amused to puzzled, but he said nothing and plucked a chocolate chip out of the baked dough and swirled it around his mouth.

"Do you think Miss Marzelos is actually a man?" Gabriella blew a strand of hair from her face and reached for a "World of Chemistry" book from her locker.

"Without a doubt. It's really only the explanation for her, um, unusually deep voice."

Gabriella laughed at her boyfriend and the heavy book slipped from her hands.

"Woah Gabby!" Troy's hands shot out to catch the book as it opened and the pages sprawled on his arms.

"Nice reflexes." Gabriella raised an eyebrow and took the book from Troy, fixing a folded page and sliding the book into her bag.

"Well I am part cat you know."

"Ew, I'm dating a cat?"

"Okay, so maybe scratch the cat part."

"Mmm, okay." She giggled and closed her locker. He gave her a smile and linked his fingers with hers as they began to make their way down the hallway towards the high school's front doors.

"So I got a 93 on my French test, I forgot to tell you earlier."

"Troy! That's amazing. Je suis très fière!"

"Um, thanks."

"Do you even know what I just said?"

"Something about fire?"

"No, it means I'm proud of you." She squeezed his hand and he laughed with a pair of twinkling baby blues.

"How did you even pass the test if you don't know what that means?"

Troy smirked and cocked his head, "I'm a good guesser?"

"You're a good lot of things." Gabriella gave a shy smile and looked to the ground, a mass of brown curls falling over her shoulders. She then reached over and rubbed the hem of his shirt between her thumb and pointer finger.

"Oh man." Troy clenched his fist and looked at her worriedly. So quickly had she turned from happy Gabriella to the Gabriella that held onto him as if he were about to run away.

"Uh Gabs, listen-"

"Do want you come over this evening? For dinner? My mom promised me we'd have tacos tonight." She wiggled her eyebrows at him, he loved tacos, more than anyone she knew. He ate five in a row one evening and she had watched open-mouthed as he shoveled in it like a starving man. He had called it "talent", she had called it "male teenagerism".

"Yeah, I don't really have any homework so my parents will probably let me. What time?"

"My mom will be home around six, so six-thirty?"

"Is that when you're going to tell me what's going on?"

She gave him a smile, waiting for his response as the she continued to grasp the soft white fabric held between her fingers.

He nodded and gave her a smile, "Oh yeah, cool."

"Mooooom!" Gabriella looked up from the fridge and shouted upstairs to her mother. "You told me to put out olives but I can't find any!"

"Check the bottom drawer!" Anna Montez yelled back from her upstairs office.

Gabriella sighed and rolled her eyes. Squatting down she jimmied the drawer open, and after sorting through bags of vegetables came across a can of black olives.

"Found them!"

She pulled open a cabinet drawer and rummaged around until she found the can opener. But just as she had it placed onto "Harrison & Harrison's Premium Black Olives" she heard the sound of a knock from the front door.

Dropping the can opener onto the tile counter she hurried to the door and pulled it open.

"Hi." She smiled at Troy and reached up to kiss him. "Come on in."

Troy stepped into the house and walked beside her to the kitchen where he saw plates and bowls of taco makings.

"I love coming here." He said eyeing the salsa and grinning.

"I just have to open the olives then when my mom comes down we can eat."

"I'll open 'em."

Gabriella raised an eyebrow at him, "Really?"

"That was one little accident! And as I remember it didn't actually take you that long to get all the sauce out of your hair. And you have serious hair!"

Standing beside Troy as he maneuvered the opener around the can, Gabriella laughed at the memory and placed her head against his arm after the top of the can had successfully come off. Troy pulled her close and kissed the top of her head. She wrapped her arms around his middle and closed her eyes, squeezing him tightly.

"Oh Gabs" he thought resting his chin on top of her head, "what's going on with you?"

Seconds later Anna Montez walked into the kitchen and the three made their way down the counter, piling the many toppings into their taco shells and then sitting down at the table where Gabriella and her mother each had one taco, and Troy downed three.

Later, after the dishes had been cleared and the leftovers put away in the refrigerator Gabriella and Troy stepped outside into the cool night air and laid together on the hammock.

With darkness settling in and the stars out in the night sky the only noise was the chirping crickets. Gabriella had settled into Troy's side, where she fit perfectly, and draped an arm across his stomach. She had actually begun to drift off and her eyelids had shut when she felt the body beside her begin to move.

She whimpered and quickly grabbed onto his shirt where her hand was laying.

"Brie, hun, I have to go. It's almost nine and my parents want me home."

"No, stay here." She whispered sleepily, a trace of sadness in her voice as she gripped his shirt and held him tightly.

"Brie, I'm sorry but it's late and I have to go."

"No Troy! Don't leave." She said suddenly, tightening her hold on his shirt.

"Brie…what's wrong?"

She didn't respond but he looked down to see small tears forming in her eyes as she shifted her body closer to his.

"Oh Brie, listen sweet girl, you have to tell me what's going on."

Gabriella sat up, supporting herself on her arm and Troy saw that the tears in her eyes were now coming down her cheeks.

"I don't want you to go." She cried, wiping her damp cheeks with the back of her hand, which had surprisingly let go of Troy, although only for a second.

Troy's face broke into a horribly worried expression as he then sat himself up and looked at her sadly.

"Gabby, why are you so upset? This isn't like you at all."

"I just don't want you to go!"

"Oh Gabs." He pulled her into his chest and leaned back to hold her as she cried.

"Why is this making you cry? For the past few days you've been like this and I need you to tell me why."

The silence of her heavy breathing made him think she wasn't going to answer, but then he heard her sadly say, "I don't want you to leave me."

"Brie, I'm just going home. I'm gonna see you tomorrow morning."

As a few tears wet his shirt he softly ran his fingers down her long curls.

"Gabs?" She didn't say anything and he moved her to see her face. "Gabs, listen, please, please tell me what is going on."

Gabrielle just watched him as she cried and he could feel his heart break at the sight.

"Brie please, talk to me!"

"I just…" she let out a hiccupped sob, "I just don't want you to leave me. I need you."

"I know, but you're getting so upset about this. I mean, I'm just going home and it has you in tears."

"I don't want you to leave me!"

And suddenly it clicked. All the pieces came together and he realized why his leaving had her hysterical, why she had to hold onto him and stay by his side. She was afraid of losing him, like she lost Lauren.

"Gabby come here." He opened his arms and she fell into them. Troy rubbed her back as she cried and kissed the top of her head before speaking, "I'm here, okay? I'm not going anywhere. Whether we're at school, or at home or wherever, I'm always here."

"I don't want to lose you." She mumbled into his chest.

"Gabriella you have to listen to me," he put her hand on his heart and placed his on top. "I love you, and even if something were to happen I will always be here. Okay?"

Troy felt her nod, then sniffle back some tears.

"You can't live being so afraid like this. It's not right and you don't have to worry."

He sighed and rubbed the hand he placed on top of his heart.

"I will always be here."

His words were a promise, a promise that he kept forever just as he had said he would that night on the hammock.


A/N: Okay wow, my first story is over. sniff, sniff First, I have to thank all my readers; you guys completely surprised me with your amazing reviews and kindness. Thank you so much! I've been reading fanfiction for awhile and a few months ago I decided I was ready to submit some. I had no idea of what an incredible response I would get. Writing this was an adventure and I learned so much. So thank you all a million times over for making this story so special to me. You have no idea how much I appreciate it. I love you all! Also, I've got some other work you can check out and hopefully (fingers crossed!) I should be starting this new project that's been in my mind for awhile.

I hope you all liked the ending, it's actually my longest chapter ever and I really love it, so I really hope you all do too.

I love you all hugs



PS. A shout-out to Kathy because I said I would use her name but I couldn't find a way how! I'm sorry :( And a shout-out to Katie, you know how special you are and I love you! I found you through this story and you have become my best friend here ♥