Genre: Romance/Tragedy/Angst
Rating: T
Relationship: Troypay
Warnings: Character Death, heavy-Angst
Disclaimer: I own nothing High School Musical related!
Summary: An accident forces Troy to face his first love and what broke them apart before they could even start.

I Can Love You Like That

He couldn't believe her. He kicked a stone out of his path roughly, scowling down at the pavement. His hands were stuffed into his pockets and his head was bowed. He muttered angrily under his breath. She broke up with him! "We're just too different," she said. What a load of… He'd seen the way she was looking at Zeke lately. How her smile softened and her eyes seemed to be drawn to him whenever he entered the room. He snorted in annoyance, rolling his eyes at her obvious behavior. Did she really think he hadn't noticed? Like he hadn't seen the way Zeke seemed to show up with some new baked good for Gabriella's tasting. Every lunch hour she had something new from good ol' Zeke. The girlfriend stealing jerk!

It wasn't like he loved her, but she had been his. They'd been getting along well. They finally had their first kiss and, yeah, so it wasn't as great as he thought it'd be. He'd been expecting more of a spark, but that could grow between them, right? It didn't have to be there immediately, they could work on it. He sighed. His first kiss had a spark. It made him shiver from head to toe. His heart had sped up, his mouth tingled, and he found words had lost all meaning to truly express how great it felt. A small smile tugged at his lips. He was just a twelve year old kid, hanging out with the neighbor girl who was trying and failing to shoot a ball into the basket over her garage. She admitted that she had to learn or her P.E. coach was going to fail her.

He knew her from school. They ran in different cliques, but he knew who she was. Her and her brother had been going to school with him since kindergarten. This was the first time he'd ever wandered over to her yard; first time he'd ever really talked to her. There were the few, "Do you have a pencil I can borrow?" or "I'll trade you a peanut butter sandwich for your apple," but that was the extent of conversation between them. Since he was bored and he knew basketball back and front, he took the opportunity to get to know her.

So he spent the afternoon teaching her lay ups and free throws, until the sun set and she'd finally got it down well enough. They talked about teachers they didn't like and whatever the latest gossip was on the couples in their grade. General chit chat that was easy between them. He teased her about her sorely lacking basketball skills and then taught her how, pulling her arms back, bending her elbows and knees. He found he loved her laugh and her smile. That she was a fan of the Backstreet Boys and that she planned to be a famous singer just like the Spice Girls.

When they were all done, she turned to him, smiling thankfully, her brown eyes vivid and warm. He'd felt something flutter in his stomach. She was pretty and sweet and she smelled like apples. She leaned up, pressed her pink lips against his and he swore it felt better than any basket he'd shot in his life. Her mouth was soft and warm and while it was completely innocent, he felt like he'd just grown up in those ten seconds. When she pulled back, he grinned at her, wanting to say something, anything, to preserve that moment. But then her dad was calling her inside and he could hear his mom shouting for him to come back for dinner. So they parted ways with nothing but smiles and tingling lips.

When he and Gabriella kissed, there was nowhere near that tingle. In fact, out of all the girls since his first, he still hadn't found that same tingle. And he often wondered if maybe he'd just built it up, simply because it was his first. Maybe the shiver and the spark wasn't nearly as much as he thought it was. Maybe he was comparing all the girls to that first one and he couldn't admit that anybody could be better than his first. He wished back then that he'd had the courage to ask her out. To be his first girlfriend. But even elementary school had its separations and expectations and a guy like him wasn't supposed to like a girl like her. So he let the moment pass and later, in high school, he was forced to pretend he didn't like her. Then she changed and he wondered if maybe he'd taken the chance in the first place, she wouldn't have become as cold as she was now. Maybe she'd still be his girlfriend, and maybe she wouldn't have left him for Zeke and his confections. Maybe he'd still be happy.

Sighing, he pulled a hand out of his pocket and ran it over the back of his hair in frustration. He just wanted to go home, shoot hoops until he was exhausted and psyche himself up for the next day, when Zeke would probably ask him if he'd be okay with him dating Gabriella. And then they'd walk around, holding hands, and acting all coupley together and he'd have to pretend like he didn't care. He was more angry than sad. His mind was completely preoccupied with it. What did Zeke have that he didn't? What made him better material to be Gabby's boyfriend? Hadn't he done everything he could to be the perfect guy? He was nice and smart and he sang with her when she wanted to. He was a star basketball player, a good student, a great friend. He scuffed the ground with his foot, his scowl darkening.

He hopped off the end of the curb and continued across the street, ignoring the outside world to gripe to himself about his crappy day. His dad had been harder on him in practice, he failed his math test, Chad knocked his over on his lunch, and to top it all off, his girlfriend dumped him. He cursed the world for being so cruel to him.

It happened faster than he could've imagined. One minute he was half way across the road, the next a car horn was blaring and tires were screeching. He felt hands on his back and he was thrown forward, out of the way of the car. But it wasn't a clear miss. He could hear the shriek of the brakes, the shattering of glass, the cry of pain, and then the car was speeding away and a body was laying on the ground. He stood up unsteadily, his mind screaming at him in confusion. He'd nearly been hit by a car, but he was pushed out of the way, and his savior had taken the hit for him. Immediately, he decided whoever it was must be crazy. Then again, he was alive and unscathed except for a few scrapes on his hands, so maybe they were just really, really nice.

It was girl. She was laying in a lump, blonde hair sprawled out around her, blood dampening it. Her arms were laying funny and her legs were curled. One of her heels was snapped off and her clothes were dirty and torn. He made his way over to her quickly, his heart pounding and his mind still trying to wrap around all that had happened. They'd just left them there. Nearly hit a kid, seriously injured this girl, and they just left them here for dead or injured. What the fuck?

He reached out for her shoulder. She wasn't moving and he found his hand shook, while the rest of him seemed to still. He stopped breathing. Scared that she was dead and it was all because he hadn't been paying attention to where he was walking. He heard a cough, small and almost too quiet to hear, but it was enough to tell him she was alive for the moment. His shoulders fell in relief and he turned her over gently. She fell on her back and gave him the shock of his life.

He knew her. Had since he was five. She was his first kiss. First crush. The girl that was so wrong and yet so right for him. The girl that had saved his life. Sharpay Evans.

Her eyes were half closed and there was blood seeping out of her mouth. Her hair was matted down against the side of her face and gravel was stuck to her. She was breathing shallowly, her hands twitching as if reaching out for something. He let out a shuddering breath and then fumbled in his jeans for his cell phone. "Sharpay, can you hear me?" he asked her, his voice hoarse with worry. "You gotta stay awake. You gotta…"

He dialed 911 and cursed how it seemed to ring slower than any phone before. Finally, somebody picked up. "Please, I need an ambulance. My friend… I was… There was this car and it… It was supposed to hit me but she pushed me and- and it hit her and she's- she's bleeding a lot and the car just left. It just… Please, you have to help me."

"Sir, I need you to slow down. Can you tell me where you are?"

He looked around, searching for a street sign. He read off the name and told them the closest house number, his voice quivering.

"Can you tell me your name?" she asked in a calm voice.

He swallowed tightly. "Troy Bolton a-and she's Sharpay Evans."

"Okay, now I need you stay calm. Is she awake?"

He looked down at her, his stomach tightening. He grimaced. "Yeah, but she doesn't look good."

"You need to keep her awake, Troy," the operator told him seriously. "Keep her awake until the ambulance comes."

"Okay," he agreed, nodding though he knew they couldn't see him. They hung up and he turned his attention to the girl before him. He wanted to call his parents, they'd know what to do. They'd take care of her, but the ambulance was already on the way and he felt like it was his responsibility to make sure she stayed awake and alive.

"Talk to me, Sharpay," he asked, turning her head slightly so she was facing him. "Say something. Anything."

"Ow," she said, her voice rather choked up. Her lips turned up in a short smile, as if she wanted to laugh at her coy answer.

He chuckled, but it was strangled and mixed with the need to cry. "Cute."

"I know I am," she replied, wincing and letting out a pained moan. "Getting hit by a car reallllly hurts."

He sniffled, nodding. "I bet." Swallowing his guilt, he tried to smile at her. "Thank you."

She tried to wave her hand, as if to nonchalantly tell him it was nothing. "No worries. Anybody would've…" She broke off on a cough, blood spitting up from her mouth and her body curving in. Her arms wrapped around her stomach as she was forced to move muscles that were already bruised and battered. She looked horrible, but he knew if he told her that, she'd be more than a little pissed. Sharpay was rather conceited. Actually, really conceited. Her looks were very important to her. Which he could understand to some degree, because damn, was she beautiful.

"What the hell were you doing anyway? Didn't you mom ever teach you to look both ways when crossing?" she teased, her mouth half-smirking. She was trying to keep up her strong attitude, but it was a little hard to believe when looking at the beaten and broken girl before him.

He felt his eyes water and wanted to beg her forgiveness. He should've been paying attention. She wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him. "I'm- I'm so sorry. I'm so--" He broke off on a sob, his body shaking.

"Troy," she called, her voice rather chastising. "I said, 'no worries.'" She shook her head, swallowing audibly. "You made the choice to cross the road, the driver made the choice not to slow down, and I made the choice to push you out of the way." She shrugged, eyes rolling away from him. "Stupid is as stupid does."

He snorted. "You're a Forest Gump fan?"

"That movie has some serious wisdom!" she told him defensively.

He shook his head, smiling down at her. "You never cease to surprise me."

"I'm special that way," she told him, her eyes fluttering closed for a moment.

"Shar! Sharpay, stay awake! Keep talking," he told her, taking one of her hands and shaking it.

She hissed in pain, her eyes opening and slitting to glare at him. "Seriously, Bolton, a girl get hits by a car she should be allowed to rest a little."

He would've laughed if the situation were different. "You can rest later. Talk to me."

"'Bout what?" she wondered rather sluggishly.

He shrugged, his mind searching for a topic of any kind. "Anything. Your family, school, you. Just talk to me."

She nodded slightly, but her eyes closed slightly.

"Sharpay!" he shouted.

"I'm thinking," she told him, sighing. It was a silent for a moment and he got worried. He leaned forward to hear if she was still breathing, his ear hovering over her chest. "Trying to cop a feel, Bolton? Now's really not the time," she interrupted.

He flushed, lifting his head quickly. "I- I was just--"

"I know," she assured, smiling slightly. "You startle too easy."

He shifted, his knees were digging into the pavement painfully.

"You remember when we were twelve?" she asked, lifting her eyes to him.

He stilled, his eyes staring down at the ground. He'd often wondered if she didn't remember. "Yeah," he said, nodding jerkily.

"That was my first kiss," she told him, staring up at him fondly.

"Mine too," he whispered.

"It my best kiss."

He lifted his eyes to hers, glazed and burning. "Mine too," he reiterated brokenly.

"We could've been good back then." She wrinkled her nose in a way that was purely adorable. "Back when I was nice and we were neighbors. When life seemed simpler."

He nodded. "So much simpler," he choked out.

"I really liked you," she breathed, biting her lip, her eyes falling away from his. "I kept waiting for you to ask me to be your girlfriend. Had all these big ideas." She snorted. "I was twelve," she said, as if it explained it all away. "Naïve and always dreaming."

He shook his head, his throat tightening. "I wanted to. I liked you so much. But… My friends and your friends and…"

"There was always something, right?" She shook her head, a sad expression passing her face. "I wasn't the Gabriella of your twelve year old world. You weren't ready to break loose."

His eyes lifted to hers, a pain in his chest. "I was a kid, Sharpay. A stupid kid."

She nodded. "I'm not that girl anymore."

"I wish we were both those kids. Right now. In your driveway." He blinked rapidly. "I wish we never stopped being them." They had their own world for that one afternoon. No friends to tell them it was wrong. No expectations from anyone. Just each other, a basketball, the hot New Mexico sun, and the mutual interest that lay between them. Innocent and real. He wished he could rewind it all, go back to that day, do it all over again, change history. He'd tell everyone who questioned why he'd want to be with one of the drama kids that she was his Sharpay, and that was all they needed to know.

But he didn't have a time machine and she was choking on her own blood in front of him. He felt like it was all one giant nightmare. From the day after they kissed to now. Like everything had just been taunting him with what he could have had but didn't. She was on one side of life and he was on the other. He should've reached out, but he didn't. And now he was losing her, just like before, except they were older and they'd had their problems through the years. She'd become mean and icy and he became what everyone expected him to. The popular basketball star who seemed to have everything he ever wanted. Perfect life, perfect girlfriend, perfect arm for basketball. It was all falling apart or maybe it wasn't all that everybody thought it was. It wasn't easy having your basketball coach for your dad. Or having a genius girlfriend who liked your friend better than you. Or regretting a decision you made when you were just twelve years old, when you let the right girl walk away and never ran after her.

"So do I," she admitted, smiling shakily. "You know, I never really let go of that dream of you." He didn't know what to say, so he stayed quiet. She was shivering, so he took his jacket off and wrapped it around her. She clutched at it with her bloody hand, her body shuddering despite the fact that he felt it was still quite hot out. He worried what that meant. "Sad, isn't it? That I've liked you since I was just a twelve year old girl?"

He shook his head. "I should've picked you."

"Should'a, would'a, could'a," she murmured, shrugging ever so slightly. But he could see the small amount of relief that crossed her face. How long had she been waiting to know that he wanted her back? That it wasn't just some fantasy she made up. That he'd regretted not pursuing her.

"You know, I-I always thought those a-actors that played dying p-people were over-overdoing it with the c-cold thing, but… I… I'm really cold, Troy," she told him, her teeth chattering.

He reached out, rubbing her arms through the fabric of his coat. His hands were shaking, not from cold but from fear. What if she died? What if he lost her, here in the street, bleeding away in his arms?

"D'you th-think if we kissed n-now that…" she paused for a breath, "That it w-would still have that s-spark?"

His breath caught and his eyes raised to hers. "Of course," he choked out, holding onto her arms rather tightly.

"Wanna test it?" she asked, grinning with a shaky chuckle. Her teeth were stained red with blood, but her smile was still as dazzling as ever. "Can't deny a dying girl her final wish, can ya Bolton?"

He sniffled. "'Course not, Evans. What kind of knight in shining armor would that make me?" he asked cheekily, hoping the hoarse turn of his voice wasn't noticeable.

She chuckled, but it broke off in a cough, blood spitting up on her chin. He wiped it away for her, not caring that he was wearing so much of her blood. It seemed to be pooling down by her head, he could feel it soaking into his jeans. "I believe," she gasped, trying not to pay attention to the dire situation, "I'm the knight in shining armor!"

"Right," he breathed, nodding. "Well, you deserve a thank you then, huh?" His mouth was shaking, his smile feeling so fake.

She nodded, her eyes falling to half-mass. "A th-thank you, a farewell, wh-whichever," she whispered.

"You're gonna be fine," he assured, stroking her face, smudging blood across her cheek. "Th-The ambulance is on its way. I- I think I can hear them now. Yeah, they're coming." He looked around for help, but found none. His tears finally spilled forward, sliding down his face with force.

She shook her head, not believing his words of reassurance. "Just kiss me, Troy," she sighed, licking her red-tinged lips.

Wiping the tears from his face, he leaned down and kissed her, putting his all into it. Their lips slanted against each other, his tongue slipped out to trace her bottom lip. Her mouth opened willingly, and their teeth and tongue battled it out for dominance. A dance that had been played by many before them, came to life for them in a way he'd never imagined it would. Their innocent kiss when they were younger compared little to this. Sound seemed to drain away. The spark was there, full force, lighting his insides on fire. He tingled from head to toe, the butterflies in his stomach fluttering up a storm.

The kiss was marred only by the taste of her blood on her tongue, coppery and warm. His eyes scrunched, forcing more tears out. He kissed her harder, as if trying to get past the blood to taste the real Sharpay. She was sweet and hot and tasted vaguely of gummy bears. He could smell her body spray, it reminded him of cinnamon, which surprised him, as he'd always figured she'd smell like hairspray. When they kissed the first time, she smelled like apple scented shampoo, sweat, and grape Bubblicious. He'd held that memory close for so long.

They broke apart as she began coughing, blood spurting up from her chest and filling her mouth. He panicked, shouting for help, but getting no response. He cradled her head in his lap, stroking her blood dirtied blonde hair.

Her mouth curved, eyes fluttering. "Tell Ryan I love him," she murmured.

"I will," he croaked.

Her hand lifted, cupping his face. "It was worth it." He knew what she meant. Dying for him. Pushing him out of the way and taking the hit herself.

He shook his head. "No. No, it's not." He swallowed painfully. "It should've been me."

"If ours roles were reversed, would you have done the same?" Her voice was so quiet, it was hard to hear over the approaching help.

He clenched his jaw. He knew he would have.

She smiled knowingly. "That's why I love you, Troy Bolton." She shook her head ever so slightly. "You're a good person."

"So are you," he sobbed, his tears overwhelming him.

"Today I was."

"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, Shar," he cried against her.

Shaking her head, she wrapped her hand around his as it held tight to her hair. "Not. Your. Fault," she choked out, shaking her head slightly. "Do me a favor, Bolton?" she asked.

He could hear the sirens far in the distance and he feared they wouldn't make it in time. She was paling, her breathing becoming heavy, and the blood was so much. "Anything," he whispered.

"Sing me away?" She sounded so young. So innocent and little. He wanted to take all that pain away from her. It should've been him. He should've been the one suffering. It was his fault.

He swallowed the denial in his throat over her death and searched his mind for the right song. He stroked her face as her head lay comfortably in his lap. His fingers lightly skimmed her forehead as he sang down to her. He started off in a speaking-whisper, his voice too choked to sing just yet.

"They read you Cinderella, You hoped it would come true, That one day your Prince Charming would come rescue you," She smiled at him softly. "You like romantic movies, And you never will forget, The way it felt when Romeo kissed Juliet." He sniffled. "And all this time that you've been waiting, You don't have to wait no more…"

His voice kicked in and he let himself sing fully for her. Ignoring the pain of the situation. After all, this could be her big finale. His heart clenched.

"I can love you like that, I would make you my world, Move Heaven and Earth if you were my girl…" He could hear her humming to it softly. "I would give you my heart, Be all that you need, Show you you're everything that's precious to me, If you give me a chance, I can love you like that…"

Tears slipped out of her brown eyes, but her mouth was curved in a sweet smile. Her eyes fluttered, but she forced them open to stare up at him. He felt his own tears slipping down his cheeks, but he was determined to finish the song.

"I never make a promise, I don't intend to keep, So when I say forever, Forever's what I mean," he stroked her cheek. "I'm no Casanova, But I swear this much is true, I'll be holding nothing back, When it comes to you, You dream of love that's everlasting, Well baby open up your eyes…"

She squeezed his hand and he held tightly to it. God, he wished he could go back and change it all so this never happened. So they'd been that couple they were supposed to be. That couple that would've made it. He made the wrong decision. He should've picked her. They'd be happy now. They'd be in love now. She wouldn't be dying now.

"I can love you like that, I would make you my world, Move Heaven and Earth if you were my girl, I would give you my heart, Be all that you need, Show you you're everything that's precious to me, If you give me a chance, I can love you like that…"

The ambulances were getting closer, but she was already slipping.

"If you want tenderness, I've got tenderness, And I see through to the heart of you, If you want a man, Who understands, You don't have to look very far…"

Her hand was slipping out of his, her grip so light now.

"I can love you, I can, I can love you like that, I would make you my world, Move heaven and Earth if you were my girl, I would give you my heart, Be all that you need, Show you you're everything that's precious to me, I can love you like that, I would make you my world, Move Heaven and Earth if you were my girl, I would give you my heart, be everything you need, show you you're everything that's precious to me, I would love you like that…"

His voice trailed off on a sob. "Please don't go. Please…. Don't die on me, Sharpay. Please," he begged, rocking her in his arms, her blood soaking into him. "Oh god, please…"

"I don't like goodbyes." Her eyes were nearly closed. "Toodles, Bolton," she whispered, her mouth barely moving. He leaned forward, pressing a kiss against her forehead, panting through his tears. Her chest stopped moving, her body went limp against him.

"Toodles, Sharpay," he murmured against her blood dampened skin. His tears slid down to wash away some of the drying crimson liquid from her pale, soft skin.

She was torn away from him as the ambulance stopped and put on a metal bed. There were two men trying to resuscitate her and failing. He could hear their garbled voices speaking in medical lingo and his heart hurt. He stared down at the coat they'd pushed off her, the blood soaked Wildcats jacket he'd wrapped around her chilled body.

"We've lost her," he heard one of them say.

"Shock her again. One more time," the other told him.

"It's over. She's gone," he replied rather harshly.

They sighed.

"Poor girl."

"Poor guy." There was a pause. "We can't just leave him here."

"You think he wants to ride in the truck with his dead girlfriend?" the other asked scathingly.

"Keep your voice down."

"The cops will handle him. They'll be here soon. Have to ask him some questions about all this."

"You're so bitter, Mick. The kid just lost his girlfriend!"

"Somebody loses somebody every day, Tyler! This is my job. They live or they die. I have to face both of those. Now let's get her in the truck. We have work to do."

He heard the rolling of wheels before the metal bed Sharpay had been placed on was put into the back. Footsteps and the alarm being shut off followed. Then there was someone kneeling beside him. He assumed it was Tyler. "Hey kid, look I'm really sorry, but…" He sighed. "Is there anybody I can call for you? You want me to help you off the road?"

Troy jerked his head side to side, staring down at the blood around him. He could feel it, sticky and cooling against his skin. He felt a scream welling in his throat.

"Mick, I think he might be in shock!"

"I'm fine," Troy said in a monotone voice. "I'm just gonna call my parents. They… They'll come get me or… Yeah…"

"Uh, okay. Well, look, I'm… I'm really sorry about your girlfriend. We got here as fast as we could."

Not fast enough, he thought callously.

Troy just nodded, wishing he would leave.

She was gone and she was never coming back.

His cell was lying on the floor and he noticed the paramedic pick it up. "I'm just gonna look through here and call your parents for you, all right?"

Troy continued to stare downward. There was an earring on the ground, a little dirty and blood stained. He reached out for it, picking it up and holding it in the center of his shaking palm. It was dangly with pink jewels. He curled his fist, feeling it painfully bite into his skin, but he just held tighter to it. Tears silently fell from his eyes and he felt like curling up in a little ball.

"Hello, this is a Tyler Nestle. I'm a paramedic from Albuquerque Hospital, I-- No, uh, hold on," He covered the phone with his hand. "What's your name, son?"

"Troy," he whispered. "Troy and Sharpay."

He nodded before turning back to the phone. "Yes, sorry. I'm here with Troy and-- No, ma'am he's… He's okay. There was an accident. It seems a speeding car ran a Stop sign and Troy's girlfriend was hit in the collision." He paused and Troy could hear his mother's hysterical voice questioning it all. "I'm sorry, ma'am, she didn't make it. Sharpay was heavily injured and there was no way to help her." His mom's voice interrupted and he sat there, hugging his knees to his chest, clutching his jacket to him. "He's not in the best shape. He's not hurt, but he appears to be in shock. We considered taking him to the hospital, but felt that bringing him in the same vehicle as the young woman was, well…" He nodded, running a hand through his hair. "Yes, we're on…"

Troy tuned them out. His mom would be there soon. She'd hug him and kiss him and thank the heavens he was okay. She's express her sympathy over Sharpay, but inside she'd just be glad it wasn't him. Troy suddenly didn't want her there. Nobody was going to understand. He rocked back and forth, burying his face in his jacket. It smelled very faintly of her body spray and it made his tears fall harder. His cell phone was placed beside him and he vaguely heard the paramedic tell him the police and his mom would be arriving soon. Tyler then walked back to the ambulance and they left the scene.

Troy sniffled, closing his eyes and remembering her voice. Remembering the twelve year old her and the girl who'd died in his arms. The sweet, beautiful Sharpay that just wanted him to love her. If only he'd made the right decision.

His mouth fell open and he held tight to his bloody jacket, murmuring in a choked voice, "I can love you like that, I would make you my world, Move heaven and Earth if you were my girl, I would give you my heart, Be all that you need, Show you you're everything that's precious to me, I can love you like that…"

Author's Note: Song was "I Can Love You Like That," by John Michael Montgomery. It can also be heard from All 4 One. Hope you enjoyed this. It's one of a few Troypay's I have in the works. There's another one or two-shot coming out soon. And a few full stories. Lemme know what you think! Reviews are sustenance, people. Luv yas - Fina!