Disclaimer: Don't own High School Musical. If I did, would I be sitting here writing fan fictions? Well… probably...

This one-shot is a break from "Out of this World". Don't worry; I'll get back to working on it! Meanwhile, hope you enjoy this!

Lightning flashed, illuminating the balcony, and the young girl standing on it. She was staring out into the distance, her hand resting on the gnarled oak tree growing next to the balcony.

Lightning flashed again, this time accompanied by thunder rumbling. It was not the ideal weather for you to be standing out on your balcony, but for Gabriella, it helped soothe her mind.

Small drops of rain started falling from the heavens. She turned her face to the sky and closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of the rain against her face. As she stood there, the rain fell harder, cold against her warm skin.

She ran inside her room and pulled on a light pink sweatshirt over her t-shirt. She grabbed her rope from under her bed and ran back outside. The falling rain obscured her visibility, but she managed to tie the rope somewhat securely on one of the tree limbs. She pushed her soggy hair out of her eyes and climbed over the railing.

No matter how many times she did this, it always brought the same adrenaline rush. Troy could climb up and down without the rope, but then again, Troy was a jock.

She smiled when she thought about him. Him and his gorgeous deep startling blue eyes…

Without warning, her hands slipped on the wet rope. She yelped and tried to catch on to it, but failed. She closed her eyes and waited for the impact that would probably take her life, but it never came. Instead she fell against something warm and soft.

"Gabriella! How many times must we go through this?" she heard Troy say. She opened her eyes and smiled innocently at him.

"Go through what, Troy?" she asked, batting her eyes. Troy sighed and set her on her feet again.

"Never mind. But I'm taking that rope home with me," he said, crossing his arms. "Why are you sneaking out anyway? I thought your mom was returning really late from her meeting today."

"She was," replied Gabriella, wringing out her sweatshirt. "It's just more fun this way." Troy rolled his eyes and grabbed her shoulders.

"Come on. Let's go inside and get you dry."

"Of course. Troy Bolton cannot risk catching a cold," teased Gabriella, tweaking the sleeve of his raincoat. He steered her to the door and took out the spare key from under a flowerpot on the windowsill.

When they were both inside, he locked the door and turned to Gabriella. She immediately let out a series of sneezes, at the end of which her nose was red and her eyes were watery. A concerned expression was etched on Troy's face.

"Go change, Gabi," he said in a much softer tone. "I'll get the fire going in the living room." she nodded and sneezed before heading upstairs.

She entered her room and went straight to her wardrobe. Peeling off her wet clothes, she chose dark blue sweatpants and a light blue sweatshirt and pulled them on. She got her hairdryer out and started drying her hair, regretting her decision to go outside in the first place.

Downstairs, Troy had hung up his raincoat and entered the living room. He lit all the candles scattered about the room and turned off the overhead lights. Walking over to the fireplace, he added a few logs to the already flaming fire and watched the flames leap upwards. Just like his heart did whenever he saw Gabriella.

Speaking of Gabriella, he wandered out of the room and into the hallway. She was taking way too long. He was just about to climb upstairs to look for her when she emerged, almost dragging herself down the stairs.

"I feel lousy," she said, stopping in front of him. He laughed and she managed a smile.

"I don't blame you. Come on, I got the room ready for you," he said, gently leading her into the living room. She gasped when she saw all the candles. Her reaction caused Troy to become rather uncomfortable, and he stuck both hands deep into the pockets of his jeans.

"Troy… it's amazing," she whispered, going to sit on the couch. He followed, taking a seat next to her.

"Thanks," he said, glancing at her. They sat in silence for a few minutes, enjoying each other's company. After a while, Troy moved to the crackling fire, readjusting the logs. Gabriella watched him from her seat on the couch, smiling softly to herself.

After he was done and the fire was burning smoothly, he stood up, pulling back the sleeves of his dark blue sweatshirt. He felt her gaze on him, and turned to look at her.

Their eyes met and he felt a bolt of electricity flow through his body. Was it possible for someone to feel as strongly as he did? He held her gaze before clearing his throat and turning away.

"You want something to drink, Gabriella?" he asked, his voice strangely hoarse. She nodded slightly, the blush creeping up her cheeks barely visible in the firelight.

"Hot chocolate, Troy. It's on the stove." Troy nodded and made his way to the kitchen. He checked the temperature of the hot chocolate and found that it was slightly cold. He lit the stove, set the timer and leaned against the counter.

She was without a doubt the best thing that had ever happened to him. He loved her… loved her with all his heart, but they were just best friends. Nothing more, nothing less. He couldn't feel this way about her… it just wasn't something one best friend did to another.

Besides, he knew she didn't feel the same. Sometimes in class, he'd just space out staring at her beautiful face, smiling to himself. His friends teased him about her, saying he'd never been this serious about a girl. Even when she claimed to have a terrible hair day, he still found her beautiful, both inside and out. She always managed to bring out the best in him and make him feel special. He just really truly loved her and had no idea how to stop his feelings from surfacing every time he saw her. Now he realized it just wasn't possible… she had some sort of power over him.

The ringing of the timer tore him from his thoughts and he poured the hot chocolate into a mug for her.

Gabriella was sitting on the couch, her legs folded underneath her, gazing into the fire. The dancing flames cast an ethereal glow on her face. Troy paused in the doorway, the mug in his hand, staring as she played with a cushion on her lap. God, she was… perfect.

She turned around and noticed him standing there.

"Troy? Everything ok?" she asked, a sly smile on her face. Troy chuckled and walked up to her.

"Here's the hot chocolate you ordered, ma'am. Anything else?" Gabriella giggled and patted the space next to her. Troy went and sat down, removing his shoes and putting his feet up on the coffee table. She scooted closer to him and rested her head on his shoulder. After a few sips and sighs, she turned to him.

"Troy, when you think of the word 'love', what's the first thing that pops into your head?" Troy looked down at her, utterly confused. He put his arm around her shoulders, pulling her close while thinking about the best way to answer her question.

"Well, I think of how amazing it would be to love someone and have them love you back," he said carefully. She frowned and set her mug on the table.

"Has that ever happened to you?" she asked.

"Not yet, Gabriella. I'm hoping it will someday." She seemed to accept that and didn't ask anything for the next few minutes.

"What do you think about?" he asked softly. She looked at him for a second, and then turned away, a light blush coloring her cheeks.

His heart ached as he thought about how beautiful she was.

"You," she answered finally. "I think about you." Troy froze. They sat silently for the next few minutes, his arm still around her shoulders, his face portraying utter shock. Finally, he got off the couch knelt in front of her, taking both her hands in his.

"I'm sorry, Troy. I shouldn't have said anything…" she whispered, tears slowly making their way down her face. He shook his head, wiping her tears gently with his thumb.

Slowly, he inched forward and captured her lips with his.

It was all he had ever imagined and more. She tasted of chocolate and he held her close. Finally, they pulled apart, gazing into each others eyes.

He raised his hand to wipe away her remaining tears and pushed her hair away from her flushed cheeks.

"I love you," he whispered, meaning it with every fiber of his body.

No words were needed as she pulled him back up onto the couch and wrapped her arms tightly around his waist. He ran his hands rhythmically through her hair, falling more deeply in love with her with every passing second.

They sat like that for over an hour, holding each other. Gabriella never felt happier in her life as she pulled back far enough to look into his eyes. The firelight danced in his deep blue eyes and she reached out her hand to cup his face.

"I love you too."

Well… that's it! Hope you guys liked it! Review and let me know.