PLAY IT MY WAY

Summary: Troy battles with himself, his perfectionist tendencies threatening to engulf him as he embarks upon the quest to achieve his goals. Troy centric; TxG; M for explicit language, drug/sexual references

AUTHOR'S NOTE:

This is a follow up to Here With You; however I don't believe that reading Here With You is completely necessary to appreciate this story.

The nutshell. It's after HSM, before HSM2. It's after Twinkle Towne. Troy is in the New Mexico state basketball team. Troy and Gabriella are dating. If haven't read HWY but are also the kind of person who just reads and doesn't need to understand every little bit of the context, then go ahead and just read this story.

On the other hand, for some of you, you may find the following tools within my profile interesting:

1. There is a slightly more comprehensive nutshell to Here With You, written specifically in the context of what is fumdamentally important to understand for Play It My Way.

2. I have also included a bit of a ramble about my opinion in relation to how this story sits within the canon, and about why I wanted to explore the issues that I'm exploring to help justify the canon. Because if I didn't get it all out then you would wind up with more crazy author's notes like in HWY. I thought if I just got all of my justifications out in one big ramble, then maybe I can save you the grief of my random commentary haha. If you are reading and are having issues with characterisation and not understanding how this plot falls within the larger scheme of HSM and HSM2, go read my thoughts before you criticise. If you're still puzzled, let me know. I am more than happy to discuss my thought processes and opinions.

3. I had taken down the more detailed outline of Here With You temporarily so I could update it. But it's back up now, temporarily. I will take it down again, I can't stand my profile being eight million pages long. Do me a favour – if you haven't read Here With You and wind up on this page and then wind up reading the lengthy outline of Here With You so you can read this story – can you review and let me know that this tool has been useful. If I think that the outline is actually something people have used then I will leave it there longer. This outline is still really brief – HWY is like 130000 words long. No summary gives justice to the intricacy and detail that I have included.

YES THERE IS TROYELLA. Hence putting in the TxG in the summary. But it is Troy centric. But in a Troy centric story where he is dating Gabriella and he has strong feelings for Gabriella– by default, THERE WILL BE TROYELLA.

This is a bit darker and more mature than Here With You. There will be some fluff (more so in later chapters) but there will be less fluff than Here With You. The pace is quicker, hence there is less opportunity to just randomly add fluff.

Anyway. Enough talking about the story and I'll just let you read, shall I?

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PLAY IT MY WAY

PART ONE – SUCH A SCARY PLACE

Disclaimer: I am a poor university student, not a millionaire like the individuals responsible for HSM would now be after the mass production of HSM paraphernalia plastered with Zac's soulful eyes gazing at me. The point being – I acknowledge that I am borrowing the characters and just playing with them.

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Troy Bolton sat in his Intermediate Acting class – more commonly referred to as 'drama' – gazing longingly at the clock on the wall. There were just eighteen minutes and ten seconds until the final bell of the day.

Eighteen minutes and nine seconds.

Eighteen minutes and eight seconds.

Eighteen minutes and seven seconds.

Eighteen minutes and six seconds.

He stifled a yawn for what seemed like the eighty seventh time since arriving in the class. The yawns weren't a response to the content being droned on about by the ever theatrical Miss Darbus – although certainly, Troy didn't find Hamlet particularly enthralling. Rather, it was a response to the sleep deprivation he was currently experiencing.

He felt a blunt object poke against his shoulder blade from behind. He swivelled around to see Chad holding a small folded piece of paper, his name labelled clearly on front, placing it on the front of his desk. Troy snatched it when Miss Darbus was facing the other direction.

What time does your meeting with your geography project group end? Do you want to walk home with me and Tay after our decathlon meeting? We finish at 5:30.

Gabi xo

You in your usual room? I'll come meet you there

- Troy

Troy quickly turned around in his seat again to place the reply on Chad's desk, to be passed behind Chad to Taylor, back to Jason and then across to Gabriella. He turned back to the front momentarily and then glanced over his shoulder to check that Gabriella had received the note. She caught his eye, giving him a small smile and a nod.

"Mr Bolton, seeing as you look so enthralled to be here, perhaps you would like to volunteer to identify the themes of Hamlet?" Miss Darbus suggested.

Troy cleared his throat. "Uh… no thanks, I'll be right."

The class tittered at Troy's response.

Miss Darbus narrowed her eyes. "That was not a question Mr Bolton, it was a request."

"Sucker," Chad said under his breath with a laugh.

"Mr Danforth, I take it you are volunteering to assist Mr Bolton? Either one of you? The themes of Hamlet?

"Love," Chad quickly proclaimed, a smug smile on his face.

He really didn't know what the themes of Hamlet were, he wasn't even particularly sure what a 'theme' meant. However love seemed like a safe option.

"Uh… okay. And?" Miss Darbus prompted.

"Insanity. Revenge. Incest. Corruption," Troy supplied, surprised at his own knowledge of the material.

Miss Darbus nodded curtly. "Very good."

"Dude, you've read it?" Chad's hissed whisper came from behind.

Troy shrugged. "Yeah."

In fact, Troy had been up until two the night before reading it. He'd been up until at least two every night for the last week, since the closing night of Twinkle Towne. Even on Saturday night in Rio Rancho, where he had spent the weekend training with the state basketball squad, he'd stayed up to study.

So much for high school years being carefree and filled with memories of friendship. Those days were gone. Troy's life had become a 9-5 grind; that was really a 5 – 2 grind. Every morning for almost a month, Troy (the notoriously lazy late sleeper that he was) had dragged himself out of bed at 5 in the morning to go for a run and do some weights training. His hours at school didn't provide a mechanism to unwind, instead they had become a monotonous drag. Six months ago, he would perk up the days by making paper fans with Zeke in history, or tickling Jason with a feather when he fell asleep during Geography.

"The ability to interpret and comprehend Shakespeare is a promising indicator of your performance in the verbal element of your ACT exams in senior year," Miss Darbus's voice droned throughout the classroom.

Senior year.

ACT exams.

Grade Point Average.

College admissions.

These were words which were being used frequently throughout each of Troy's classes as they approached the end of junior year. It didn't help that Jack Bolton would covertly leave open web pages about college scholarships on the Bolton family computer. Troy was very aware that a basketball scholarship was going to be dependent upon their season in senior year. He was also very aware that being good at basketball alone wasn't going to be enough, that a decent GPA would also be desired. He understood with perfect clarity that dedicating the next few months of his life towards improving his GPA could be instrumental toward his entire future. Troy wanted to keep his options and doors open.

The result was that Troy actually paid attention during class. It meant that he diligently spent many of his free periods and lunch hours at the library, often allowing his girlfriend to patiently explain the difference between a positive semi definite matrix and a positive definite matrix. After training for a few hours after school, suddenly the hours that were once filled with lengthy phone conversations with Gabriella, leaving random MySpace comments and destroying villains via PS2 were now filled with History and Algebra and Chemistry and English and Geography.

With a constant focus on the long term result.

"Now. My final announcement for today is in response to a meeting of the drama club which was held today. Following the enormous success of the winter musicale, we have been inundated with enquiries and interest from students wishing to participate in our next production. I am very excited to announce that for our spring musicale, we will be performing Les Miserables. The calendar of key dates for auditions, rehearsals and performances can be located on the bulletin board – I placed it up right before coming to this class today."

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Troy rushed through the corridors, knowing he was late meeting Gabriella and Taylor outside the science lab after their meeting.

"I was beginning to think you weren't going to show," Taylor remarked as Troy sprinted around the corner.

"Sorry!" Troy said, a little breathlessly. "I ran into Coach Mason on my way here from the library."

"The golf excellence coach?" Gabriella enquired.

Troy rolled his eyes and nodded. "He's been hounding me for a week. I told him I'd think about joining the team after Twinkle Towne."

"And?" Taylor asked.

"I caved. I said that I'll play for them but that I can't do it every week, that I need to be able to pick and choose which tournaments I can compete in. Since I'm not available lot of weekends for the state squad and all."

"You must be good for him to agree to those terms," Gabriella remarked.

He shrugged, and responded humbly. "I guess. I don't know. I did okay last season. Dad thinks it will look good on my college application, he was going on about versatility and stuff."

The truth was that the summer before last, he'd been out playing his first game of golf ever with his dad and a family friend; the consequence being the family friend enquiring as to how many years Troy had been playing golf. It was the first time he'd picked up a club in his life – with the exception of miniature putt putt. Of course Jack Bolton had informed the golf coach at East High of his son's natural talent, and of course this had led to Troy being recruited onto the golf team in the basketball off season. And doing rather well for himself, adding a series of trophies to his collection.

"Are you away for basketball this weekend?" Taylor asked.

"Nah. We meet up a few days before spring break and then head to Phoenix for the south western regionals together."

"We should totally hang out on Saturday!" Taylor exclaimed.

"We? Me and Troy and you and…. Say Chad?" Gabriella enquired, feigning a look of innocence when really her comment was filled with innuendo. Troy smirked at Gabriella, understanding her implication.

"Well if that is what you are suggesting, then I think that I could go along with that," Taylor said, a sly smile adorning her face.

"But I was going to ask Gabriella if we were going to make plans for Saturday night," Troy said with a bit of a pout.

"We can still do something. We'll just hang out with Tay and Chad during the day," Gabriella suggested.

"I have golf Saturday morning," Troy informed them.

"Okay, Saturday afternoon we hang out," Taylor said.

"You really want this social activity to go ahead, don't you?" Troy asked teasingly.

"Yes," Taylor said bluntly, not caring that every word she spoke was going to be passed onto Chad via Troy. "When I hang out with all of you together, you and Gabriella pair off and then I just become one of the boys with Chad and the others. I would like to get to know Chad WITHOUT Jason and Zeke as accessories."

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Troy hated group assignments with a fiery passion. Lots of kids would enjoy them – the principle that you would do less work and still get the same portion of a grade was the appeal. But for Troy, they had always been a pain in the ass. He didn't like relying on someone else to make sure he got a good grade, and equally didn't like being relied on. He'd always been heavily involved in the athletic extra curricular programs – with basketball, and the previous year golf, and he'd dabbled in baseball and a bit of track and field in freshman year. This meant that when kids he was allocated to work on a project with would toss around meeting times – Troy would be the pain in the group informing them 'that won't work for me, I have practice.'

And so on Wednesday lunch, Troy sat in the library, doing even more research for their project. Research that was beyond his allocated share. He was deeply immersed in one of a pile of books he had stacked up on the table in front of him, so much so that when a hand was placed on his shoulder, he jumped.

Troy turned around, seeing his friend and one of the people in his geography project team, Paula, with an amused look on her face.

"Hey there," Paula greeted him. "Sorry to startle you."

"Sup?" Troy greeted her. "Wouldn't expect to see you here at lunch time."

"I would have said the same for you last semester," she countered.

"Touché."

"More research for our geography project?' Paula enquired, observing the notes he was taking.

"Yeah. I know I haven't put a lot of work in so far. So I thought I'd pick up the slack. I know we said we wouldn't need to research this stuff but I figured that I might as well."

"Troy, you've put in more than your fair share, even amidst all of your training and stuff."

He shrugged. "I felt like I could be doing more so, I did it. Nothing better to do."

"Umm… go chill out with your mates and girlfriend?" Paula suggested.

"Chill out? What is this, 'chill out' you speak of?"

"Seriously. You can't have just suddenly done a complete 180 and become this whole other person."

"It's not about who I am Paula, it's about what I want."

"And what do you want?"

Troy stared his friend straight in the eye.

"I want us to get an A on this project. I want to bring up my GPA. I want the New Mexico team to take out the championships so maybe my dad will stop hassling me about scholarships and college scouts." He paused, before adding, "And I get what I want. Whatever it takes."

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Troy stood still under the boiling hot streams of water which ran over his body. He'd just finished an afternoon training session at the school gym, his muscles aching a little from the workout. Maybe adding the extra ten pounds to his dumbbell lunges wasn't the brightest idea. The scalding water of the shower was helping to loosen up his tense muscles. Of course, the increased testosterone from his frequent workouts and a smoking hot girlfriend were also significant contributors to his tension, although it was tension of a somewhat different sort.

It occurred to Troy that the only moments of complete peace he may have had for the last week had been in the shower following a work out. Moments of peace which he savoured. Normally though, the work out would be at home and he would be in the privacy of his own bathroom, as opposed to in a shower cubicle in a public building. Troy peered over the top of the door and glanced around. He knew he was the only one in the shower room at the time, however there were a few guys still around in the weights and cardio room. Troy was contemplating whether he should wait for added privacy or relieve the tension there and then. He was heading straight to the night golf course for a quick nine holes in preparation for the following mornings tournament. So he would be waiting a while. He grasped onto his semi with his right hand, close to making the decision.

"Troy, you in here?"

Troy dropped his member, hearing his father's voice. "Yeah?"

"You want a lift to the golf course?"

"Sure, that's be great."

"Come by my office when you're ready."

"Okay."

He sighed. Waiting for privacy it was.

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Troy soon emerged from the showers and into the locker room, pristine white towel sitting snugly around his waist. There was a time when he would finish a weights or cardio session and feel fulfilled and satisfied. Now, he just felt completely and utterly rooted. And not to mention, tense. Scott, one of the seniors who had been on the Wildcats basketball squad, was in the locker room.

"Hey Scott, hows it going buddy?" Troy greeted the older boy.

"Hey man, not bad, how you going? Feel like I haven't talked to you in ages!" Scott remarked.

Troy dragged his gym bag out of his locker, dumping the contents out onto the bench in the middle of the room, searching for his golfing clothes he'd brought along.

"Tell me about it. Life's pretty crazy at the moment."

"Hows the state team going?" Scott enquired.

Pretty much the entire school was well aware that the varsity captain was on the New Mexico rep team and in the process of preparing for the national high school competition.

"Yeah, pretty good. We had another training weekend in Rio Rancho on the weekend. These guys are GOOD, you've got no idea man. Make me feel like I have to run in circles just to keep up."

"You've been training a lot, haven't you? Jason said you guys have been playing two on two after school heaps."

"Nothing new there," Troy remarked. "We play two on two all the time."

"Make sure you don't burn out!" Scott advised.

Scott had formed an important part of the varsity basketball squad, but his real talents were in the track and field arena, doing rather well for himself in the higher ranks of the competition at not only a state but also a national level.

"I know my limits. Every bit of training counts."

Scott looked warily at Troy. "You look tired."

Troy rolled his eyes. "Okay, you sound like my mom."

"Well the bags under your eyes give you away."

"You know this time of year with school work man. It's shithouse."

Scott glanced covertly from side to side in the locker room. "So lots of weights training huh? Trying to build up your muscles?"

"Yeah, weights and also sprinting. Trying to work on my vertical leap, figure if I have more muscles in my legs it should improve."

"What if I told you that I have something that would help with that?" Scott asked, his voice lowering, as he rifled through a side pocket in his gym bag.

"You gonna spruik some protein shake to me man? I'm already on it, planning to go buy some on Sunday."

"No. Not a protein shake."

Scott grasped the package he was searching for, seizing it and shoving it into Troy's hand. Troy glanced down, eyes widening as he saw the little plastic zip lock bag and the tiny white pill contained within. He grasped his hand around it, hiding it from the view of anyone who should walk into the room.

"Is this a rhoid?!?!" Troy hissed, looking around wildly.

"Yeah," Scott said casually.

"Are you fucking nuts?"

Scott shrugged. "It's not a big deal Bolton."

"Yeah it is a big deal, it's a huge ass mother fucker of a big deal! You know if you were caught with these during the season…"

"I didn't take any during our basketball season," Scott said emphatically. "I know the risks, I didn't want to bring the team down. Besides. It's not like I take them all the time."

"Dude, I don't want to hear this shit," Troy said, flabbergasted.

"It's up to you. You've got it if you want it. Let me know if you want more. Anyway, I have to pick up Jacqui soon so I'll see you round."

Scott disappeared from the room, leaving Troy staring wide eyed and open mouthed at his closed fist. He opened his fist momentarily, taking a moment to stare at the packet. It was real. He wasn't dreaming – or rather, having a nightmare.

The sudden noise of talking from the hallway caused Troy to quickly shoved the item into the pocket of his jacket, which was lying on the bench in front of him.

"Troy, you just about ready?" his father's voice called from just beyond the locker room.

"Yeah, in a few minutes," Troy called back.

He swallowed, and proceeded to get ready like it was any other after day. He should have had some sort of reaction. Worry for his team mate. Excitement at the prospect of a new training method – as questionable as it may have been. A logical thought process consisting of weighing out the pros (muscles) against the cons (death, incarceration).

But Troy barely had the energy to pull on his clothes and go and play a round of golf. He didn't have the energy to do anything else. So he repressed, and pretended that it was any other day.

It may have started out like any other day.

But it wasn't any other day. Not now.

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Author's Note: (Bites fingernails) How are you feeling about this? Hating me? Intrigued? Wishing I'd just write more random pointless shit and forget about trying to be more mature? Salivating because you're thinking about Troy in the shower? I can recommend a really great Link wankfic if that's what floats your boat.