Title: Never Let Go

Rating: M

Disclaimer: I don't own High School Musical or any of the charaters. I also don't own anything from Disney. Each chapter has a different 80s song title, so I don't own the songs either.

A/N: So this is my knew story. I know the idea of Gabriella and Troy being best friends is used a lot, but I'm taking my own spin on this. This is a warning now to everyone who was getting frustrated with my other stories on how I took things slow. I tired to rush things in Don't Stop the Feeling and it didn't come out the way I wanted it to. So I'm saying right now, I'm taking this one slow. And I'm also warning everyone, this isn't going to be as fluffy Troyella-y as my past ones, but please be patient. It's a lot heavier, so please try not to get frustrated. It's not like anything I've ever written before. So anyways, thank you so much for giving this a chance!

Small water droplets were connecting onto the bare skin as they left the bright green blades of grass. The small bare feet hit the ground, one after the other after the other, as the grass tickles her dark olive skin. A giggle erupts from her mouth as her short, thin legs stride out as her bright yellow flowered dress opens up with each step she takes. Her head glances back, whipping her long almost black hair. Her deep dark chocolate brown eyes that seemed to be a little too far apart lock on the thing she was running from and suddenly, her legs pick up speed again. She takes a couple more strides before suddenly feeling a slap on her back. Her stomach flips as she turns around in disappointment. "Tag… you're it!"

The boy turns around and starts sprinting the other way. The girl narrows her eyes and crosses her arms across her chest and watches the retreating figure. "That's not fair!" She pouts as the boy stops and turns around.

"Is too!" The boy says while the girl continues to pout. She watches as he takes steps towards her, with his white shirt on and small black basketball shorts. His light chestnut hair that was short, stringy and parted down the center moves a little from the wind playing with it. The five year old continues to walk towards the girl and her dark eyes look up to meet his gorgeous, piercing blue ones that could cut through any object. "You're just mad I'm faster."

"Nuh uh!" The girl retorts while continuing to cross her arms.

"Uh huh!" The boy responds and stops in front of her. The girl narrows her eyes a little on the boy who was smiling at her. His teeth had a small gap between the two front ones, which the adults always said was the cutest thing they had ever seen. "So you lost!" He says while pointing his small hand towards the girl.

"I didn't loose!" She exclaims while narrowing her eyes again. "I quit!"

The boy shakes his head. "You can't quit tag! It's against the rules!" He says while the girl scrunches up her nose.

"You made that up!" She accuses.

"I did not!" He responds when suddenly another noise comes into the small girl's ears.

"If you two keep arguing, then I'm going to have to take Gabriella back." A woman with shoulder length hair the same color as the boy's says as she walks over to them. She had dark brown eyes as she stops in front of the two five year-olds and places a hand on her hip.

"Sorry Mom." The boy says as the woman walks back to her red and white blanket that was spread out on the grass. Other noise could be heard from the other people in the park, including children playing on the playground. But the two kids were off on their own in the grass. "You started it." He says while the girl pouts again.

"Did not!" She exclaims but then watches as the woman glances over and gives the girl a dirty look.

"Did too." The boy says quietly.

"I wanna go by the swings." She says and starts to head over to where the other's kids' voices could be heard.

"I don't… it's not as fun." He says while smiling at her.

"What are we gonna do?" She asks while he had a mischievous look on his face.

"Come on… I wanna go by the water." The boy says while grabbing the girl's hand. He drags her over to a small river that was running through the park with a fence of trees hiding it. Small twigs cut into her feet, but she does her best to hold back the tears that were in her eyes. He skillfully pulls the girl into the trees, with the girl trying her hardest to keep her hand held tight onto his.

"I don't wanna go!" She says while he was still pulling her closer to where the river was rushing from the amount of rain that had fallen recently. He looks back at her and shakes his head.

"Don't be a chicken." He says while finally pulling her through the trees so they were standing right next to the river. "Look… it's not scary!" The boy says while letting go of her hand and walking on the rocks towards the rushing water.

"Troy!" The girl calls his name as she takes a step back. "You're gonna get hurt!"

"Will not!" He responds and takes another step closer. The boy turns back to the girl and smiles, showing the gap in his teeth again. "See Gabi! It's not scary!"

But the girl wasn't listening. All she could see was the imagination of herself being pulled into the water and falling into the depths, without ever being found again. "Come back!" She calls with small tears forming in her eyes as the boy looks back at her. He grabs a stick that was sitting on the same rock he was on and pokes the rushing water. "You're gonna be in trouble!" Her finger points towards him as he turns back to her and lets the water carry the stick away from him.

The boy turns around again and walks on the rocks back towards the girl. "You better not tattle." He says while stopping in front of her again. The boy was so filled with adventure while the girl was sometimes too afraid to take the step forward. But usually, the boy could always get her to do things, as long as he did it with her. "It's not scary… come on!" He says while grabbing her hand and tries to drag her towards the river.

But the girl pulls her hand back. "We're gonna get in trouble!" She exclaims as the boy shakes his head and grabs her hand again.

"No we won't." He says while pulling her to the water again. Her bare feet touch the smooth surface of the rock as they walk closer to the rushing river. All that was going through the girl's mind was the image of her falling in again.

"Troy! Take me back!" She exclaims.

"Don't be a scaredy cat! I'll protect you." He says while still pulling her closer. He finally takes her to the edge of the rock and smiles at her. "See!"

The girl could feel the rush of water beneath her as her eyes peak over the rock to see the clear liquid swirling around. The boy looks at her with his piercing blue eyes full of excitement as he beams at her. But the girl couldn't help but feel a smile grow on her face as she looks into the reflection of both of them standing together. "It's so fast!" She says.

"Don't fall in!" He mocks with a smile on his face as the girl's features suddenly become frightened. "I'm just kidding!"

But the tears already were welling up in her eyes as she looks at him, more scared then she had ever been in her life. "I'm scared!" She exclaims while squeezing his hand so tightly the tan skin almost turns snow white.

"Come on." He says while the excitement filled eyes look at her and her pulls her back away from the rocks. The girl breathes easier as he looks at her with a smile again. "See? I told you I'd protect you."

"Gabs! Come on wake up… we landed."

The voice enters two ears subtly. A pair of deep chocolate brown eyes shoot open as the owner suddenly springs up and accidentally hits her arm on the plastic window that was now shinning a dim light into her lap. "Shit!" She exclaims while rubbing her elbow and listening to the girl sitting next to her try to suppress giggles. "Shut up Tay!"

The deep chocolate brown eyes look up to see that the girl who was sitting next to her a moment ago was now standing. Her black hair fell just below her shoulders with a curl at the end of each strand and bangs that were swept off to the side. Her skin was as smooth as a baby's which was also a dark color. She had an amusing smile on her face as she looks down at her best friend. "Sorry… we've landed." Taylor McKessie informs the girl.

"So you say." The soon to be junior says while standing up fully. Her skin was the same dark olive color that it was when she was five years old, along with the dark almost black big curled hair and the deep chocolate brown eyes, although they had now grown into her face so they weren't too far apart anymore. Her extremely thin body works its way around the airplane seat while grabbing her bag in the process and looking at her best girl friend. "Home sweet home."

Gabriella Montez watches as Taylor follows the other passengers off the plane. She was suddenly more then excited to get out of the airplane and back onto solid land. The two girls walk off the plane together as they walk up the gate towards a single door that was now open into the airport. She feels relief as she breathes in fresh, non-recycled air again while looking around the ugly grey colored walls. "Come on, I wanna get out of here." She hears Taylor say as they leave the circular room and walk more towards the center of the airport. "I don't care how good that vacation was, it's so good to be home."

Gabriella nods in agreement as they begin to walk past where people were checking into security on the other side. Her eyes skip past that, not wanting to think about flying anymore, since they had just gotten done riding on a long flight from San Francisco to Huston, where they had an hour layover where they picked up the next flight to their hometown, Albuquerque, New Mexico. And it was all because they had decided to go to Taylor's aunt and uncle's for the last three weeks of summer vacation.

They walk into the huge area with shops and fast food places. But Gabriella's soft lips form a smile when she finally sees what she was looking for. Standing in the middle of the shops were four adults and two young boys. Two of the adults along with both young boys were the same dark color as Taylor and the other two, combined together showed off Gabriella's features. "There they are!" Gabriella exclaims as she runs towards the two adults who were beaming at her. "Mom, Dad!"

She first jumps up into the woman's arms who was at least two inches shorter then Gabriella's 5'4'' herself, but she had the exact same hair color as her. "Oh sweetie!" She says while Gabriella could feel her body being squeezed by her mother, Maria Montez. "We're so glad you're home!"

Her mother finally lets go of her and Gabriella turns to the man that was standing next to her. He had short, jet black hair and a small mustache that played on his upper lip. He was tall, with deep chocolate brown eyes that were identical to his daughter's. He smiles and holds his arms out while Gabriella jumps into them. "Daddy!"

"Hey sweetheart!" Jose Montez says while pulling her to him and kissing the top of her head. To say that Gabriella and her father were close was an understatement. "How was it?"

"Amazing!" She responds and sneaks a glance towards Taylor who was beaming also. "It was so much fun."

"Good." Her father responds and he then looks at the McKessies. "Let's head down to baggage claim." He says while putting an arm around his only daughter. She was close to both parents, but it was something about her father that made them so much alike. They both were headstrong, and when you got in their way, you might have wanted to look out. But they also had a heart of gold, that couldn't be replaced for anything.

They all walk down to the baggage claim, Taylor and Gabriella telling their parents the amazing things they did at her aunt's house, who lived on a lake, while Taylor's younger brothers were playing tag against Mrs. McKessie wishes. After getting their suitcases, they walk out of the airport, while Gabriella feels the hot setting summer sun beat down onto her body. It was a good thing she was wearing a pair of white booty shorts and a long black boy's beater with a grey zip up hoodie over it. They get to the two cars and Mr. Montez turns to the other parents. "Since it might be squished, we'll drop Taylor off." He says with a smile on his face. Gabriella looks at Taylor. What? There was enough room for her in her parent's car.

"Um… dad there's room." She says but turns to Taylor.

Mr. Montez shrugs. "Oh well, come on Taylor." He says while the two girls look at each other and shrug. They hop into the car and the two adults wave to the McKessies who were driving off.

"I'm so glad you girls are home." Mrs. Montez says in the front seat. She was an insurance agent while Gabriella's father was an extremely respected lawyer, who had a reputation for never loosing.

"We are too." Taylor responds and turns to Gabriella.

"So… I say ten minutes before Chad calls." Gabriella says while Taylor tilts her head to the side, as if thinking for a moment before shaking her head.

"I'll give it five." Chad Danforth was Taylor's boyfriend of one year. He was also extremely close with Gabriella, but in the big brother sort of way. Chad was famous for being overly obsessed with basketball, since he played on the East High varsity team, and also for his huge untamable afro.

Gabriella smiles a little as she glances out the window to familiar spots in town. They drive past the movie theater, the ice cream shop, the mall, and then they finally start to make their way into the neighborhoods. She could hear her mother and father talking to Taylor about her Aunt and Uncle, but Gabriella had other things on her mind. She couldn't wait to see her friends again, and especially one person who she couldn't stop thinking about.

They suddenly pull up to a large house that was the Montez's. Gabriella looks at Taylor curiously who also narrows her eyes in suspicion. What was going on? "Uh… Dad?" Gabriella says while watching as her father turns off the car and opens up his door.

"I forgot my wallet. And we're gonna need gas." He says while getting out with her mother smiling also. But Gabriella's eyes travel to the side of the road, where a block away, she could see a familiar red car parked. Realization dawns on her face as she turns to her best friend and smiles. She nods to the car as both girls get out and Taylor suddenly nods in understanding.

"Let's just get your stuff out Ella." Mrs. Montez says while Gabriella and Taylor were giggling, finally knowing why her parents were acting so strange. Mr. Montez grabs one of her suit cases while her mother grabs the smaller of the two. "You girls can go inside. We'll meet you there."

Gabriella and Taylor look at each other smiling again as they walk up to the door and Gabriella pulls out her set of keys. "I bet it was Chad's idea." Taylor says while Gabriella shakes her head.

"You think Chad would plan a surprise party? Nah, it had to be Sharpay." Gabriella responds as she opens the door to the house to reveal a hallway leading to the kitchen.

The lights were off as it was close to dusk now so it made the house dark. Instead of walking down the hallway, she turns right immediately and walks into a familiar part of the house. Gabriella feels her way on the family room wall until she finally feels the light switch. She turns the on light, to suddenly find herself face to face with a gigantic banner that stretched across her fireplace as a smile breaks onto her face. Suddenly, six people jump out from the furniture as they all yell, "WELCOME HOME!"

Gabriella giggles as she turns to see that Taylor was laughing as well. "Next time you throw a welcome home party, make sure you park at least two blocks away." Taylor says while looking at the dark boy whose face falls. "We saw Chad's car."

Chad, whose hair had not changed, nor his face in the past three weeks they had been gone sighs as he takes a step forward towards his girlfriend. "Damn it!" He exclaims as Gabriella giggles while he wraps his arms around Taylor and gives her a light kiss on the lips. "Welcome back." He mumbles and Gabriella smiles at the two while he glances over and his almost black eyes lock on hers. "Gabs!"

A grin breaks out onto Gabriella's face as Chad lets go of Taylor and runs to Gabriella. She wraps her arms around him and he gives a tight squeeze while then letting go. "Hey!"

"Welcome back!" He says while smiling at her. "I missed ya!"

Gabriella smiles and hits his chest playfully. "Too bad, cuz I didn't miss you."

They laugh as Gabriella then suddenly feels two arms pull her into a tight squeeze. Her mouth was suddenly engulfed with a wad of blonde hair as the girl in front of her bounces up and down. "You're back!" She says in a high voice as she finally lets go of her and beams at her with her brown eyes. She had long blonde hair and was several inches taller than Gabriella was, but it also didn't help that she was wearing huge pink heels.

"Hey Sharpay." She says to one of her other best friends. Sharpay Evans was an extremely high maintenance girl whose parents owned a huge country club, which made them extremely rich. She could be obnoxious and snooty sometimes, but they were one of the things that made Gabriella love her. You also never wanted to get on Sharpay's bad side, or life would be a living hell.

Then there was the dark, but extremely tall boy that was walking up behind Sharpay. "Hey Gabriella!" He says while Sharpay runs over to Taylor. Zeke Baylor was also on the basketball team with Chad, but was more famous for his amazing bright white smile and his ability to bake anything and make it taste like heaven itself. He was dating Sharpay for about five months now, and most people would say that he was more then whipped.

"Hey Zeke." She says while giving him a quick hug. She then turns to the other two that were standing off two the side. "Hey Kels! What's up Jason?"

Kelsi Neilson was a girl who just reached five feet in height, but had a heart bigger than anyone else Gabriella had ever known. She had short, curly brown hair with glasses. She and Gabriella had just recently became friends during last winter, when Gabriella came in for choir practice and Kelsi was playing the piano better then anyone else she had ever heard. Gabriella, on the other hand, had an incredible voice and loved to sing whenever she had the chance to.

"It's so good to have you back!" Kelsi says while hugging her and Gabriella looks over her shoulder to see Jason Cross, another basketball player with black shaggy hair and was also dating Kelsi, as of a month ago.

"Hey Gabs." Jason says when his girlfriend lets go and gives her a quick hug. She smiles at the two as they walk over to where Sharpay, Zeke, Chad, and Taylor were. But Gabriella's body suddenly freezes as she hears someone clear their throat on the other side of the room.

Her heart suddenly stops beating as her deep chocolate brown eyes look up and meet a pair of indescribable drowning piercing blue ones. He had two hands on a table behind him as he was leaning up against it, while jutting his lower body out. His hair was the same light chestnut color it was when he was five years-old, although it wasn't parted in the middle anymore and fell right above his eyes, no longer stringy. He also came along with the same tan skin that seemed to glow through out the room. His mouth curves into a perfect smile while his bright white teeth show, revealing the gap that had been there closed up with two years of braces that were now off. Gabriella couldn't feel her body as he pushes up off the table and opens his arms to her. This was what she was waiting for during the three weeks she was gone. Nothing else, just this. "What? Are you just gonna stand there?"

A smile breaks out onto her face as she runs across the family room and feels sparks fly through her body as she jumps up into her best friend's arms. "Troy." The feeling of finally being home floods her body as he picks her up and spins her around in a circle. She clings onto his neck, never wanting to let him go as he sets her down gently. She could smell the warm, musky scent of his cologne that she missed so much from the three weeks that it was gone.

"I missed you." He says into her ear as she continues to cling onto him like she would die if she didn't. Another smile floods onto her face as he gently brings her around and looks down at her.

"I missed you too." She responds and feels a pang of disappointment as his hands drop from around her waist. But he reaches up and grabs her arms that were around his neck and pulls them down with Gabriella's arms burning at the impact point. "You have no idea."

Troy Bolton was everything any girl would want. If his appearance wasn't enough, he was smart, extremely smart actually but never liked showing it. He also loved people, loved being around people, and if Troy Bolton showed up to one of your parties, it was an immediate success. Everyone knew he was the most popular guy in school. Even the seniors this year wanted to be his best friend. Did anyone mention he was captain of the East High varsity basketball team? Well, he is. Which made perfect sense, because he was an incredible player. But Gabriella knew so much more about him then anyone else, since they were best friends since they met when they were three and went to the same daycare together. Troy Bolton was flawless. But there was only one problem…

Best friends weren't supposed to fall for each other, which was exactly what happened to Gabriella.

"So how was it?" Troy asks while dropping her arms and leaning up against the table again in a sexy way that Gabriella was pretty sure he didn't even know was sexy. That was the other thing about Troy. He did things in such ways that made him so irresistible, yet he didn't even know he did them.

Gabriella smiles up at him confidently. "It was amazing." She says.

Troy looks down at her and pretends to look sad. "So… it was that good not seeing me?" He says while nudging his hip against hers.

Gabriella shrugs while staring up at him. "Believe what you want." Troy looks at her like he's offended. But he quickly recovers and she watches as his eyes scan her body up and down. If it was anyone else, she probably would have flushed at the fact that a guy was checking her out, but he had a different look on his face. She tries her best not to roll her eyes. "Don't worry, Troy… San Francisco didn't do anything to me."

Troy looks at her skeptically for a moment before sighing and smiling a little at her. "That's good to hear." He responds and she shrugs at him.

"Thanks." She says while glancing back at where the rest of their friends were standing. "I think." She says as she starts to walk towards the rest of her friends when she suddenly feels a presence next to her as she feels an arm wrap around her shoulder. She smiles at the gesture, but this was nothing new. Troy always maintained body contact with her, even when they were little kids. It just felt natural for them to do it, so now their closest friends really never thought anything of it. "So who's bright idea was this?" Gabriella asks while she tries her best not to shiver at the fact that Troy's arm was still around her.

"Who do you think?" Zeke asks while looking down at his girlfriend.

"We were gonna throw a bigger one, but we figured that you guys wouldn't want to be around fifty million people. You couldn't come home and not have a party." Sharpay says to the two of them while Troy finally takes his arm off her, to Gabriella's dismay. "Especially since tomorrow's the last day of summer."

The teenagers all look at each other with depressed faces at the thought. Their junior year started on Wednesday. It was depressing to think about, since no one wanted to go back into their regular routines. But it had to start; it was just a way of life. "Let's not getting depressed about it now," Troy says while looking down at Gabriella and giving her a small wink. She couldn't help but feel her heart soar a little at the gesture, even if it was just because they were best friends. "We have a full thirty-six hours of summer left." He says, even though Gabriella was pretty sure it was less then that, but she didn't want to tell him that and sound stupid. "I wanna make the most of it."

Gabriella looks up at Troy's piercing blue eyes again and tries her hardest not to fall to her knees right there. She sighs as she watches a smile form on her face as he wraps another friendly arm around her and Gabriella does her best not to snuggle further into his grasp. Another sigh erupts from her throat as she thinks about how desperately she wanted to be with him. She was tired of being friends, she wanted more… so much more. No, she was praying for more.

It was the beginning of a long year.