A/N: Don't ask where this sudden bout of inspiration came from for this chapter. I have no clue. I was all set to finish my "Star Crossed" chapter and my "Broken" chapter and then all of a sudden… out pops this beast!
I have started writing updates on my username profile so y'all know where I'm up to with my writing. At the moment, there's another HDJL in production - eep! - and chapter's in progress for "Broken", "Star Crossed" and "I Feel Sparks". All chapters should be up very soon so keep ya eyes peeled.
Until then… here's the proof that my spark is coming back for this fic! Wahey!
THIRTY-TWO - Making Sense
"Something's bothering you." Taylor McKessie was always one to be on the ball. The majority of the time - especially where decathlon competitions were involved - this was always a good thing. The rest of the time, it was plain evil.
Gabriella tapped her pen against her notebook irritably; sensing that Taylor's tone meant she wasn't going to let up on the subject anytime soon. "It's nothing."
"You pissed that Jess didn't get a better punishment?"
Gabriella sighed. "No."
"You want to dump Troy."
"What?" Gabriella looked up shocked. "No!" She seethed, annoyed.
Taylor huffed when she received a death glare from Ms. Falstaff, the librarian, which usually meant 'button it or die'. "Well something's bothering you, Montez. And you know I won't rest until I find out what it is."
"Why is it so important that you know anyway?" Gabriella lowered her voice when she too caught sight of the librarian. "What business is it of yours?"
Taylor held up her hands in defence; shocked that such a sharp tongue could exist on her once quiet friend. "Woah, woah, Gabs," she breathed. "What the hell was that?"
"It's me wishing that every damn person would just stop butting in on my life all the time. Like… the entire school for example. They see me with Troy and all of a sudden it's like everyone thinks they have the right to stick their noses into our business."
Taylor scoffed. "Actually, I think you'll find that happens in every high school around the globe with every single person who attends. Every clique has their hot news and every person wants to know about it. There's no escaping it - and yeah, I'll agree with you; you and Troy being an item is pretty hot news considering he's practically king of the school."
"But I don't want to be hot news. I'm fed up with being hot news."
Taylor's brows furrowed together, unsure of where her friend was leading. "Gabs? Is this about Troy?" A shrug of the petite brunette's shoulders more than confirmed Taylor's suspicions and in an instant, she had gathered up their books and pulled Gabriella away from her chair by her wrist.
"Taylor!" She shrieked a little too loudly. Ms. Falstaff narrowed her eyes dangerously at the two fleeing girls who were disrupting her library again and put a finger to her lips annoyingly. Taylor waved her off nonchalantly; continuing to pull Gabriella into the safety of the empty East High corridor and towards an empty classroom. Breathlessly, Gabriella dumped her shoulder bag on the floor. "What was that all about?"
"Girl talk time." Taylor heaved herself up to sit on a desk. "We're in desperate need of one."
"Tay, honestly, I don't know what to say." Gabriella ran her tired fingers through her curls. "It doesn't even make sense."
"You'll think I'm completely stupid and weird and freaky and--"
Gabriella huffed; she knew she wasn't going to get past Taylor so easily. Dejectedly, she hopped onto the table beside her best friend and swung her legs aimlessly back and forth, trying to find the right way to say how her mind had been spinning uncontrollably all morning. "This morning… I went to speak to Sharpay."
"You have a death wish?"
"I had to say thank you, Taylor. She did stop Jess from doing anything else at the dance -- and she stuck up for me. Whatever you think about her, she didn't have to do that."
Taylor shrugged her shoulders. "So maybe she does have a heart after all. That, or she's realised she does need some actual friends."
Gabriella stared at her swinging shoes. "She said some stuff to me -- guess I deserved it."
Again, Gabriella shrugged. "I don't know. Just what she said made me think about stuff. Like… the musical." Finally, her chocolate orbs turned to face Taylor. "Do you think I should be the lead, Tay? Honestly?"
Confusement was written all over Taylor's features but confidence radiated out from every word. "Well, yeah, Gabs. You can sing, you can dance, you can act. And you and Troy were brilliant in the last one. Why shouldn't you be the lead?"
"It's not about talent; it's about rights."
"You don't think you have a right to be the lead?"
Gabriella shook her head solemnly. "It's Sharpay's thing. She's serious about it and I just want to have fun -- to have some sort of release from being the smart one and the decathlon girl. That doesn't really give me the right to be the lead."
"That's bullshit, Gabriella," Taylor shook her head in disbelief. "It's not about rights at all. Yeah, sure, we're all in it to have fun and yeah, maybe Sharpay is in it for the serious stuff… but that doesn't mean she automatically gets the lead in every single show. Her problem is herself," she spat. "She wants to be lead so she can take over everything. Anyway," a small smile of reassurance appeared on her face as she nudged Gabriella gently. "Ryan and Kelsi wrote this part specifically for you because they know you'll do it justice and you'll give them the results they want for it. I don't know about you but that's some pretty darn clear rights."
"Maybe… but, Tay, Sharpay's really hurt by all this."
Taylor rolled her eyes dramatically. "She's got a secondary part - what more does she want?"
"She wants the lead."
"Well she can sit on this," Taylor held up her middle finger, "and she can swivel on it."
Gabriella had to let out a small laugh at that gesture. "You've been with Chad too long."
"Yeah? And you've been with Troy too long - worrying about stupid things that don't even matter. I hope you told Sharpay to fuck off."
"I didn't say anything - just offered my friendship."
"She didn't say anything… and then I left her alone. If she wants to hang with us, Taylor, she can; and I hope you won't make it difficult."
Taylor grinned triumphantly. "You calling me a stubborn cow, Montez? Because you'd be right. If by some miracle that ice princess does want to start acting like a human being and wants to hang with us, she can; but I'm telling you now, if she puts a toe out of place - one, single toe - I'm opening that can of whoop-ass." Gabriella giggled softly at her friend, just imagining that very scenario. "You okay, Gabs? Is that everything that's been on your mind?"
Gabriella just let out another long-drawn out sigh and stared back at her feet. After a short pause, the brunette looked back up and stared at the wall. "Tay, do you think Troy and me make sense?"
"In what way?" Taylor frowned.
"In every way. Like, do you look at us and think, 'oh yeah, they make sense' or do you think, 'oh hell, what are they doing together? They're like chalk and cheese'?"
"Where the hell is this shit coming from?" Taylor sounded angry. "Sharpay?"
"No. Well, yes. Well, not in that sense, no. She said something about the fact that it's wrong for me to be with someone like him and right for him and Jess to be together and… I've just been thinking."
"You listened." Taylor deadpanned. "You listened to that heap of crap? I thought you had brains, woman."
"It's nothing to do with social cliques, Tay. Just in general. For example, he's the basketball captain, right?"
"So, I've heard."
"And I know absolutely zilch about basketball. Zilch. All I know is that there's a ball and a net and you dribble the ball and throw it through the net."
Taylor frowned. "That is all there is to know about basketball, right?"
"I wish." Gabriella twiddled her fingers nervously. "I walked in Troy's bedroom the other day… and he was marking out tactics on this small white board of where he wanted players to be in next weeks game - and writing down various scenarios that West might throw at them and I realised that this sport was more complicated than I thought."
"So?" Taylor was amused. "So ask Troy about it. He'll feel more manly, more useful and have an ego the size of Texas when he's done telling you all about it."
"I guess. But it's other stuff too. I think homework is fun and he calls it the spawn of the devil."
"And we always argue when we're going to order a pizza… because he loves garlic and cheese and I hate it and refuse to kiss him after he's eaten it. And he likes to watch all these action-type movies with Chad but when we have a movie night at each other's houses, it's like he only watches the romantic ones because I don't like the action ones - but he says he's okay with it but I'm not always sure. And then there's decathlon meets. I know that kind of stuff doesn't appeal to Troy and I know he'll end up falling asleep at every competition we have. He'll want to be supportive but then he'll just fall asleep anyway. And there's--"
"Woah!" Taylor held her hand up to stop her friend with a laugh. "Seriously, Gabs! Slow down!"
Gabriella breathed deep and tried to clear her head. "Do we make sense, Tay?"
"No, you don't." Taylor ignored the look of shock and upset that radiated on Gabriella's face upon hearing those words. "You make no sense at all in the high school world and it's because of that little fact is exactly why you do make sense."
Gabriella frowned. "Tay, you're not making sense."
"Would you rather know every damn thing about basketball? Would you rather he knew every damn thing about science and math? Would you rather be the same in every way that your relationship is boring because you literally have nothing else to talk about? Come on, Gabs; you look at social cliques and yeah, he and Jess make sense as a couple. He's the varsity basketball captain; she's the head cheerleader… sounds perfect, right? Except a real relationship isn't based on status, is it? It's based on trust and loyalty and just loving being with each other. You and Troy have that, right?"
"Well, yeah, of course we do."
"So why the fuck are we having this retarded conversation? What you and Troy have is real; everyone can see that. You've even gone onto the next level; told each other you love one another… again, Gabs, why are we talking about this?"
All Gabriella could do was shrug her shoulders pathetically. "I guess I just had a moment where I didn't think I was good enough for him."
"Uh huh," Taylor smiled softly, bringing an arm around her best friend's shoulder. "And there he is, thinking he's not good enough for you. You two are seriously fucked up," she chucked. "Just enjoy it, Gabs. It's not about which freaking flavour of pizza you each prefer! It runs much deeper than that and you know it does; you're living it."
Gabriella gave a bashful smile and looked at her friend gratefully. "I'm sorry; don't know what came over me then. Thanks, Tay."
"Can we keep this between us? I really don't want to make an even bigger fool of myself around Troy."
Taylor scoffed with a small laugh and hugged her friend. "Sure. It would only confuse the lunkhead anyway!"
Both girls laughed; unaware of the figure standing at the door.
"I am so syked for this game next week. Dude, are you syked?" Chad prodded Troy's shoulder continually. "Dude, hello? Dude… are you syked? Dude!"
"What?!" Troy spun around irritably, throwing his gym bag into his locker.
Chad held up his hands. "Someone's touchy today. Who got your knickers in a twist?"
Troy calmed himself down slightly and turned back to face his locker. "Nobody."
Chad raised his eyebrows but let them fall back into place before Troy turned back to him. If there was one thing Chad Danforth had learned from years of friendship with Troy Bolton, it was to never push him when he was in a bad mood. "So, uh, what happened to Jess then? Did Matsui expell her ass?"
Troy shrugged his shoulders heavily. "How the fuck would I know? Apparently, as the boyfriend, I'm not entitled to support my girlfriend when she needs me to. Apparently though, Ryan Evans is entitled. So if you want gossip, you need to ask him."
Chad blinked and watched as Troy threw his chemistry textbook harshly into the locker. "You haven't seen Gabriella since the meeting then?"
Chad casually leaned against the lockers beside Troy's, trying to keep the conversation as light as possible. He wasn't as stupid as people made him out to be - he knew that his best friend had major issues with Gabriella's latest friend. He and Ryan hadn't exactly bonded in the same way Chad had with him after summer and the bushy-haired basketball player had noticed the way Troy tensed up whenever Ryan was around. He'd tighten his grip on his girlfriend as if trying to make sure she'd never leave him; as if showing the world that they were a couple - as if the world already didn't have any idea. Chad didn't know what to say to his friend - he knew it was Gabriella's job to reassure her insecure boyfriend and he also knew that if he took up a conversation on the subject, Troy would only push him away and get in a bigger mood.
"Sucks you weren't allowed in," he finally responded. "I mean, you're the reason Jess has a stick up her ass anyway. She's just insanely jealous. Still, I'm sure Gabriella was okay. Ryan's a good friend to her; sure he was fighting your corner."
At Troy's short response, Chad sighed and decided to stop on the topic altogether. It was always best to let him stew and realise himself that he was being a dickhead. But this thought was short-lived and Chad winced as he spotted Jess bouncing towards the pair; a small smirk on her face.
"Oh god," Chad groaned as Jess approached them. "What do you want?"
"I got two weeks worth of detention," Jess stated, not in the least sounding sorry. "Painting dressing rooms. Such fun. Still, I guess it's a grand opportunity to get revenge on Evans for sticking her nose into my business."
"She was sticking up for Gabs," Chad squared his shoulders. "As we all would have done in that situation. You were out of order, McLean, so piss off and annoy someone else."
With a dramatic roll of the eyes, Jess stepped forward and in between Chad and Troy, fighting Chad's resistance. Troy just groaned in the back of his throat as the blonde came into his sight and smiled flirtingly at him.
"Can't you take a fucking hint?"
Jess chuckled softly and threw her hair back over her shoulder, hitting Chad square in the face as she did so. "I get it, Troy. You don't have feelings for me, and that's okay."
"Thank fuck for that."
"But I'm still head cheerleader and you're still captain and we've got to work together, right? I'd love it if we could be friends."
"Tempting, but I'm sure I'll cope without you."
Jess rolled her eyes again and laughed at his blatant sarcasm. "Oh, come on, Troy! No hard feelings, right?"
Troy stared at the cheerleader, annoyance still lingering in his eyes. In the back of his mind, he told himself to head straight up to the rooftop after he got rid of her and Chad; needing some time alone. "Jess, you hit my girlfriend. So as for me and you being friends? Thanks but no thanks."
Jess folded her arms tightly against her chest and huffed. "You'll be thanking me for hitting her soon enough. Just wait, Troy, and you'll see what she's like."
"Okay," Chad stepped in, subtly nudging her out of the way. "That's enough poison out of you for one afternoon."
"I'm only trying to help him. I thought you were his best friend - you should care about what I've just heard."
"And what have you just heard?" Chad smirked sarcastically. "Gabriella's pregnant by Johnny Depp? She's really a forty-year-old man disguised as a seventeen-year-old girl? She didn't get an 'A' on her latest test? She's really a 'D' student and she has us all fooled? Oh, come on, Jess, we're dying to hear this."
Troy had to laugh along with his friends; suddenly thankful for his presence. Jess had a face like thunder but stood her ground. When the two boys stopped their laughter, she smiled softly and glared at Troy. "Gabriella's in one of the empty math classrooms with Taylor McKessie. I heard them talking."
"Poor you," Chad continued to joke. "When those two talk about math I just wanna snooze."
"They weren't talking about math. Actually, they were talking about this musical shit she's starring in… and how she's upset Sharpay by taking the lead role off her."
"Yeah, so." Jess mimicked. "It sounded as though she was gonna pull out of it - but I guess she's still doing it now. I guess Ryan is counting on her and she just doesn't want to let him down. Anyway, then she started talking about you," she looked at Troy intently. "And she was asking Taylor if she thought you two made sense."
Troy shook her words from his mind, telling himself they were poison and completely not true. "Fuck off, Jess."
"If you don't believe me, ask Taylor. Although, Gabriella made her promise not to tell. But ask Taylor if they were talking in the classroom and she can't deny that. They were talking for ages about your relationship and your girlfriend was doubting every last ounce of it." Jess tried to keep the smirk off her face when Troy unconvincingly shook his head. "She was even talking about how much she hates it when you order garlic and cheese pizza… and about your movie nights when you tell her you don't mind watching the rom-coms, she knows you're lying." It was even harder not to smile when she knew she'd put him on the spot. Details of their relationship no one at school knew about - as insignificant as they were - were her weapon. "She doesn't know if you both make sense. She didn't say she was going to dump you, Troy, but the way she was talking… well, it's definitely not for the long haul."
Chad stared at his best friend then looked at a triumphant Jess. "Back off," he spat to her. "Take your fantasies elsewhere."
Jess glared at him as though he was something she had just trodden on. "Oh yeah? Wehy don't you ask your girlfriend, Danforth? See if she's the loyal bitch she makes herself out to be. She tells you any different, then she's a lying cow. Not half as bad as Montez, but pretty damn close."
Chad opened his mouth to retort in defence of his own girl, but was stopped when Troy slammed his locker shut and headed down the corridor at a fast pace. "Troy!" Chad called out to him but to no avail. Looking back down at the satisfied cheerleader, he looked at er disgustedly. "Do you get off on trying to make people miserable? Keep the fuck away from us all, McLean."
Jess just smirked her response as Chad strode off to try and find his friend.