DISCLAIMER: I do not own 'High School Musical' or any related characters.
A/N: Well, as those who have read DF, you'll already know that I'm aiming to finish my unfinished stories before starting any new ones. So C&M having only one chapter left, seemed like a really good place to start the finishing business, after DF of course, but that has so many more chapters to come, so this one was easy! Anyway, please enjoy this chapter, its probably not exactly great but I hope you enjoy it anyway!
Cat and Mouse
HAPPY WITH THE GAME
Troy glanced around the room, his eyes flicking over the hoards of students dancing against each other, noticing, assessing and then dismissing. This was the party of the year and he was sitting in a corner, feeling bored. It didn't matter that the party had been thrown for him and his team or that he shouldn't be proving how grateful he was by sitting in a corner, dismissing people and sulking because she'd been swept away from him the moment they'd stepped into the party, what mattered was that all he had wanted to do when he'd gotten there was to chose a lounge chair and sit with her snuggled up next to him. Instead, she was somewhere in the house with Taylor and he was standing in the freaking corner sulking.
Was simply being with his girlfriend after everything that had happened too much to ask?
Apparently, Troy thought bitterly, it was. Taylor didn't care that maybe he wanted to be with her. Instead she had taken his girlfriend God knows where and Troy found himself wishing he'd opted for taking her back to his place and celebrating in a more intimate manner. Just thinking about doing that made Troy want to bang his head against something. Hard. For some reason, a misplaced sense of duty had overshadowed his desire and, as he took a sip of the beer that had been shoved into his hand the moment Gabriella had let it go, Troy wished his conscience and sense of duty to hell and back.
"No offense Troy, but your scaring people." The sound of Chad's voice had his head snapping up and Troy glared at Chad for a moment, before sighing and shrugging.
"Good." Troy muttered darkly, if he was scaring people maybe he could get out of there sooner, with Gabriella in tow of course.
"So, where's your better half? Cause I'm pretty sure you wouldn't look like you want to kill someone if she was here." Troy glanced across at Chad as he leaned against the wall next to Troy and looked out at the crowd of people as well.
"Why don't you ask your better half? I'm pretty sure that she'd be able to tell you." Troy snapped and watched as Chad choked on another sip of beer. Instead of laughing, like he would have done if he hadn't been sulking, Troy just frowned as he watched Chad recover.
"What gave you the idea that Tay's my better half?" Chad asked and Troy raised an eyebrow at the shortened version of Taylor's name.
"Tay?" He stated as if it was an answer to Chad's question. Chad shook his head at Troy's eyebrows and knowing expression.
"Don't give me that look. Nothing happened and nothing will happen. We're just friends who bonded over a mutual impatience and annoyance at our friend's obliviousness and your idiocy." Chad stated causing Troy to chuckle slightly.
"Well, she must be a really good friend if she's teaching you all those big words. What does she do, pat your head every time a big one leaves your mouth?" Troy asked with a smirk and Chad frowned at him and Troy tried not to laugh as he watched Chad wonder whether or not to take what he'd said for face value or not.
"Whatever Bolton. You're just cranky because your girlfriend was hijacked the moment she walked into this party and you haven't been able to do anything about it." Chad snapped and Troy's smirk dropped from his face at the mention of his missing girlfriend.
"Or maybe it's because I want to celebrate a little differently with my girlfriend." He snapped and it was Chad's turn to chuckle.
"Right. That doesn't change the fact that she's not here and you're pissed." Chad pointed out and Troy rolled his eyes at him, shrugging slightly as he took another sip of his beer and once again scanned the party in search of his girlfriend.
"Whatever. Do you have any idea where they went?" Troy asked, suddenly curios as to where his girlfriend had gone. It was Chad's turn to shrug and Troy frowned. What if she had left the party without telling him? Would she do that to him?
"Dude, do you think that they left the party?" Troy glanced at Chad, wondering why he was thinking the same thing if Taylor was simply his friend.
Raising his beer to his lips again, Troy took another gulp and then nearly choked when his eyes fell on the one person he'd been sulking over for the past half an hour. Gabriella made her way towards him, somewhat nervously, as Troy's eyes dragged down her body, noting that despite the fact that she was still wearing his letterman jacket, she'd changed out of the conservative skirt and shirt she'd worn to school and was now clad in tight, black jeans and, from what he could see beneath his jacket, a deep red shirt that clung to her curves. Her hair had been straightened and curled at the ends and, from what he could see now that she was close to him; her make-up had been redone to emphasize her eyes.
"Hi." She said quietly and Troy felt himself smirk at her as she fiddled with the bottom of his jacket. Apparently nervous about something he couldn't quite put his finger on.
"Thank you for gracing us with your presence Montez." He said, trying not to sound annoyed with her and Gabriella frowned at him, giving Troy the impression that he'd failed at it miserably.
"Aw, did I make someone cranky?" She snapped at him, still fiddling with the edge of his jacket. Troy narrowed his eyes at her, not appreciating her sarcasm.
"No. You just made him sulky." Chad cut Troy off before he could even voice anything and Troy found himself refusing to smile when Gabriella's lips curved at Chad's words. She glanced back at him curiously and Troy simply shrugged at her unasked question and Gabriella giggled slightly at his response.
"Did I? Wow, I never thought I would be able to do that." She stepped closer and tugged at the arm he had folded across his chest, grinning slightly as his arm fell limply to his side and she sidled up to him.
As soon as she pressed herself against his side, Troy softened, wrapping the arm she'd tugged down around her shoulders and pressing a kiss to her forehead.
"Yeah well, I don't like it when my girlfriends dragged off by her best friend without telling me where she's going." He murmured against her hair and felt her shoulders shake in what he knew was laughter as she wrapped an arm around his stomach.
"Sorry. Taylor said I needed to look hot at this party." There was something in the way she said it that made Troy tilt her head upwards and kiss her softly. He felt her relax slightly as she kissed back and wondered what had made her feel so uncertain.
"Okay. I'm going to go if all you two are going to do is make out." Chad's voice broke caused Troy to break their kiss and he glared at his friend without any real heat. Chad just rolled his eyes and snatched Troy's beer out of his hand before walking off.
"This is the first party I've been to since you and I…happened." Gabriella murmured against his mouth. Troy smirked as he kissed her mouth again and then frowned when he remembered what had happened at the other party.
"You don't want to be here, do you baby?" Troy pulled away just enough to see the flash of relief in her eyes. Troy ignored the swell of pride in his chest at being able to read between his girlfriend's words. Gabriella shook her head.
"No. Not really. I don't…I don't-" Troy cut her of before Gabriella could fumble with her words anymore.
"It's okay, baby. Whose place do you want to go to? Mine or yours?" Troy asked gently, pulling her a little more tightly against his chest. Gabriella snuggled into him even more, her other arm slipping around his waist so she could link her fingers together and reassure herself that he wasn't going to go anywhere without her.
"Mine. Mom's not at home tonight." Gabriella replied, tilting her head up towards his face.
Troy raised his eyebrows. "Really? So we can celebrate in any room?" He asked and Gabriella blushed, unlinking her hands to slap his chest.
"Eww, I want to at least walk into one room of my house and not be reminded of things that leave me red in the face." Gabriella leaned up to kiss him even as she spoke, giggling slightly when Troy rubbed his nose against hers teasingly before catching her in a kiss that held a hint of promise that made Gabriella moan softly against his mouth.
"Aww, isn't this a pretty picture?" Troy jerked at the sound of Greg Henderson's voice. His surprise morphed to anger when Gabriella let out a nearly soundless whimper of fright.
Deliberately, Troy placed his beer down onto the table that sat next to him, making sure it was in the right position even as he struggled to control the temper that was threatening to snap. He doubted it would look good to the coaches if East High's captain beat up one of the accused.
"What do you want Henderson?" Casually, Troy placed himself between Henderson and Gabriella. He felt her hand grip his shirt even as the other slid down to grasp his.
Greg Henderson watched this carefully; something inside him tugging as he saw the way Gabriella leaned into Troy, her eyes wide with fright he had caused. Guilt and shame, two emotions he had become close friends with over the past couple of weeks, washed over him. He'd never meant to hurt Gabriella, he'd spent so long mooning over her, watching her to see if she would ever show the slightest interest in him that to see her hurting killed him. It really did make him ashamed of what he had done to her at the party. But nothing, he thought, nothing was going to compare to how stupid he'd felt and how sick he'd felt when he'd gotten caught in Andrew's web. There was no excuse for what he had done, though his strong dislike for Troy may have had something to do with it, and he couldn't imagine what he had put her through in those few weeks before the championship.
It was his entire fault she was looking at him like he was going to hurt her again.
"Henderson, I asked you a question, what do you want?" Troy snapped, tightening his grip on Gabriella's hand as Henderson stared unseeingly at the brunette. Something about the way Henderson was looking at his girlfriend made Troy very uncomfortable. He felt Gabriella press a kiss to his shoulder, even as she pressed closer.
"I came to apologize." The words stopped any verbal attack Troy might have been planning on him. Greg shifted uncomfortably at their incredulous stares. "We have to apologize anyway, cause you know, of the championship. But I kinda figured you guys might want to know I'm sorry for what happened. Especially with all the stuff about me and Gabriella." He stepped forward and Gabriella squeaked even as Troy's hand shot out to stop him coming any closer.
"Babe, why don't you go out to the car?" Troy murmured it, knowing that it might be easier for her if she wasn't there.
For a moment, Gabriella debated the pros and cons of leaving the situation and then realized that being in the presence of Greg Henderson scared her. Even with Troy there, Gabriella wasn't game enough to spend even more time in his presence.
"Yeah, okay. Fine by me." Troy smirked slightly, digging into his pocket for his car keys as he reassuringly placed a kiss on her forehead. Gabriella snatched them from his hand and Greg watched remorsefully as she hurried out of the room, keeping her eyes on the floor as she walked past him, not looking back at them at all as she left the room.
They both stared after her for a moment, before Troy turned his hardened gaze towards Henderson.
"Henderson lets get this straight. I don't give a shit about what you did to me. Frankly, I really don't like you. You and Reynolds deserve each other as far as I'm concerned. You're both idiots who thought you could beat me and you both got beaten at your own game." Troy studied him as he spoke and was satisfied when he saw Greg's fist curl. "What I care about is the girl who just left this room because of you-" Troy was surprised when Greg cut him off, his own eyes cold.
"So do I. Just because you have her Bolton doesn't mean no-one else cares about her. It just means she's been blinded by you and can't see anyone else outside of you." Greg snapped and Troy chuckled, shaking his head slightly at his words.
"No Greg, she was never going to get with you. She didn't even know who you were, did you know that? She had no clue you were into her and even if she did, I doubt you would have had a chance." Troy shifted slightly when he saw Greg's fists curl at a truth he couldn't deny. He waited, knowing that, if necessary, he could beat Greg up as quickly and efficiently as he had the first time he'd ever really crossed paths with Greg Henderson.
Shame goaded him into refraining from violence. Despite knowing Troy could flatten him if he tried something, Greg still wanted to take a swing at his former captain, just for the heck of it. Then he did something that Troy hadn't expected. His fists relaxed and he sighed, rubbing a hand over his face.
"Look, Troy, I didn't come here to fight. Whether you want to believe it or not, I really did come here, by myself, to apologize for all the crap I put you guys through. I never wanted it to get so out of hand." Greg looked down at the floor, nudging a stray bottle with his foot as he spoke. "I was pissed at you for going home with her and I got really pissed when I found out you cared about her, cause Gabriella Montez was meant to be my eventual girlfriend and she wasn't meant to be into you." Troy snorted at his words.
"So, what? Attacking her at that party was meant to be your way of declaring your feelings?" He snapped and Greg winced at his words, knowing he probably deserved it.
"No. Look, will you just take the apology? I don't want to explain this to you." He snapped uncomfortably.
Troy fell silent, studying him and wondering if he really was sincere. Then he didn't care. All he wanted was to go back to Gabriella's place and fall asleep with her in his arms. It had been a very long couple of weeks and Troy found that the energy he was used to having was wearing thin and what he really wanted was a good night's sleep.
"Henderson. I don't give a damn about your apology. I just told you that. But I'll tell Brie what you said because she's the one that's important to you. I doubt she'll forgive you cause, truthfully, she's terrified of you. Good enough for you?" Troy didn't wait for an answer and he didn't care that perhaps he could have been a little more gracious. Greg had hurt Gabriella and tried to beat him at his own game and Troy found that it was enough for him to never speak to Henderson again.
As he walked past Henderson, Troy glanced back. "Henderson, she's mine. Get over it." Troy stepped out of the room, looking forward to lying next to his girlfriend more than anything else he ever had.
"What did Greg really want?" Troy shifted at Gabriella's question, nuzzling deeper into her neck as he pulled himself back from the brink of sleep.
He hadn't realized how tired he was until they were in Gabriella's room and he'd taken one long look at the bed and told Gabriella all he really wanted to do was sleep. She hadn't even questioned him. She'd just nodded and, after she'd slipped into her pajamas, had crawled into bed beside him, snuggling close.
"He really wanted to apologize. Shocking, huh?" Troy mumbled against her neck, placing a slow kiss there even as Gabriella wiggled around so she was facing him. She stroked his hair away from his eyes even as she raised an eyebrow.
"Shocking. I'm not going to forgive him." She said it so decisively that Troy felt a faint smile curl at his lips.
"I told him that you probably wouldn't." Troy said, waking up a little bit more as Gabriella placed a kiss on his lips. "He only did it because he was pissed off at me and had a thing for you, you know." Gabriella jerked away from him, her eyes widening at his words.
"No way." She gasped and Troy nodded.
"Way. It was mainly me going home with you and caring about you when you were meant to be his property." Troy said, wondering if she was going to let him kiss her again or be outraged by Greg's reasoning.
He wasn't surprised when she was outraged.
"I can't believe him! What am I? A piece of meat?" Troy groaned when Gabriella propped herself up, he attempted to pull her back down and groaned again when she resisted.
"Brie, baby, it's not the end of the world. Besides, I didn't exactly treat you the way you should be treated after the party anyway." Troy pointed out and then winced when Gabriella slapped his arm and glared down at him.
"Yeah. Putting me through those weeks of hell for a stupid game wasn't the way to treat me." Gabriella agreed viciously and Troy wondered if now would be a good time to pretend to be frightened of his girlfriend. "In fact, I can't believe you said half the things you said to me! Remember telling me about your three speeds? I couldn't believe you actually said that to me!" It would, Troy thought, probably be more productive to be sorry about what he'd said to her and let the rant run its course.
Too bad he couldn't help but smile up at her stupidly, finding her totally adorable as she glared down at him.
Reaching up, Troy twined a curl around his finger, still smiling stupidly and for the first time in a long time admitted to himself how happy he was. He wasn't happy because maybe he and his father were taking a step towards getting along. He wasn't happy because he'd beaten Reynolds at his own game. He wasn't even happy because they'd won the championship.
He was happy because he way lying in bed with a girl who was glaring down at him, mad at him because of things he'd said and who loved him.
It was, Troy mused as he tugged a little on the curl, strange because he'd never expected to become as involved with her as he had become. He never expected to care about her the way he did and he supposed he had Henderson to thank for that.
"…are you even listening to me?" Gabriella demanded, bringing him out of his thoughts as she stared down at him. Troy shrugged and heaved himself up onto his elbow.
"Not really. I was thinking about me, if you want me to be honest." Troy replied and Gabriella stared at him, her eyes narrowing as she realized that she'd been rambling on for the past couple of seconds without anyone listening to her.
"Really?" Troy grinned at the tone, knowing it meant she wasn't impressed at all with him and the explanation better be worth him not listening to her at all.
Tugging on the curl that he had wound around his finger Troy leaned up to kiss her, smiling into the kiss slightly as Gabriella slid her hand over his side. Troy pulled away reluctantly, knowing that she would only badger him later about what he'd been thinking about and knowing that he might not be able to really tell her later.
"You want to know what I was thinking about when you were rambling?" He asked when her lips began to form a pout before she realized what he was asking.
"Uh-huh." Gabriella slid back down, snuggling her head on his shoulder as Troy let his elbow give out and he flopped back down onto the bed.
Turning his face into her hair, Troy kissed the top of her head. "I was thinking about how happy I am at the moment. Its really cliché, but I don't think you have any idea how happy you make me. It would be easy for me to tell you, or anyone, that I'm happy about winning the championship or that I'm happy about beating Reynolds. I am and I bet I'll be happier about them when we fight about something. But right now, I'm happy because I have you." Troy knew if Gabriella chose to look now his face would be suspiciously red and he would never live it down.
Gabriella was silent as she allowed his words sink in. Her eyes were stinging with tears that wanted to fall and Gabriella buried her face deeper into his shoulder, breathing in deeply to control the tears Gabriella pressed a kiss to his shoulder before turning her face towards his.
"I love you." She whispered and Troy ran a hand through her hair. "And as cliché as that is and as horrible as half the things you said to me were, you make me happy. I'm happy now that I have you." Troy grinned again, running his hand through her hair and tangling his hand in the ends of her hair as she drew circles on his stomach.
"I love you too." Troy closed his eyes as Gabriella tangled their legs and kissed his shoulder again.
It was easy, he realized it was easy to lay here with her and not have to worry about anything else. He didn't have to worry about his reputation, he didn't have to think or try and figure out how to make sure Gabriella didn't get hurt because she had become tangled up in him.
Then there were the games. The games, Troy thought, he didn't have to worry about anymore. It occurred to him that he wouldn't be able to play anymore games now that Gabriella was his. But then again…Troy glanced down at his girlfriend, shifting slightly to bring her attention back up to him.
"Do you regret it?" He asked gently and Gabriella blinked up at him, wondering what he was talking about. Her eyes widened when she realized he was talking about the game she'd stumbled through and he'd smoothly won.
Troy waited, wondering if she really did regret it and then he heard her giggle.
"No. If we hadn't I doubt we'd be lying here. I don't regret the game we played." She replied and Troy grinned.
"Nah. Neither do I." Gabriella settled against him again and Troy, closing his eyes, let that stupid smile he had when she was ranting spread across his lips as he realized how grateful he was for the game they'd started.
The game of cat and mouse, Troy thought, had been the most rewarding game he had ever played.
A/N: I'm sorry if it didn't seem up to par, but I honestly couldn't remember what I had planned for this chapter, which was strange cause I generally know how I'm going to finish a story when I start it. The in between gets me. Anyway, I hope it wasn't too terrible although I know its not my greated piece of writing but I am happy that this story is finished! I hope you enjoyed.
Now, I need to say a huge thank you to all my reviewers! You were all fantastic in the time it took me to finish this story and I have to say thank you for all of your comments and prompting to update. Every single one of your reviews are appreciated and I wish you could all know how much they all mean to me. You are all fantastic and I hope I can read your reviews in any of my other stories (stories that'll be finished before the beginning of a new year!) because I really appreciate all your comments and prompting! Thank you all so, so, so much!