One Step Back
by Pure Vowels aka Auie

I literally made a step backwards and I found myself coming back to him. He was gone forever in my life – emotionally and physically. He was gone and yet he came back. And all it took me was one step backward to this silly game he invented to fall for him again. This silly game was called The Truth or Dare Board Game.

Hi! The name's Gabriella Montez – the resident science geek in East High and official clique breaker. Oh, wait. That was me and my boyfriend - oops… ex-boyfriend, Troy Bolton - who were the official clique breakers in school. He's a jock, basketball varsity captain and the most popular guy in school. Me? I'm a geek, member of the Scholastic Decathlon team, and a brainiac. But we broke the rule of the status quo just to be together.

We were together for a year when all of a sudden there had been lack of communication in our relationship. I started to doubt him so I confronted him. He told me he needed time to think as he was confused of some things. He also said he needed privacy and time alone. There was nothing wrong between us and that was why it hurt - in my part. So, without totally thinking, I gave him what he needed. I broke up with him. And next thing I knew, he left. Without asking why I broke up with him or begging me not to. He did not try to stop me or even felt sorry about being an ass. He just left for… oh I don't know. He just left after first term of junior year.

Anyway, forget about it. It was the week of winter break and we were at Lava Springs. It was also the same day Troy returned. Or at least that's what we heard from the words Chad Danforth, his best friend. We had no idea if he was back just for the winter break or for good. All we knew was that Troy's back.

We were at Sharpay's enormous pink room talking and laughing. Well, I was more like reading the whole time we'd been there. I was sick and tired of hearing things about Troy Bolton. They were excitedly talking about him the whole time and never changed the subject! I would sometimes roll my eyes when they squeal. (Honestly, did my best friend Taylor squeal over Troy Bolton? Nope, she was squealing every time Chad was mentioned in the conversation.) But I was completely buried in the book I was reading trying my hardest not to mind them. But, to hell, I was wrong.

"Gabs? Gabi? Gab? Brie? Ella?" Sharpay said as she waved her polished fingernails at me trying to get my attention. To her luck, she did. "Stop the fuck with the book already and join us." Sharpay hated it when I'm buried in my books during girl's night. Who wouldn't, right? You're spending time with your friends alone with no parents around and you're not paying attention! Rude of me, I know. But what am I suppose to do? Listen to them talk about my ex-boyfriend? Hello?! Ripped heart here!

Okay, fine… I only told them about the break up once and never pushed the subject again. They didn't know what happened because I left so many details. And since I never explained, they might have thought I moved on from my whole break up with Troy. So they probably have assumed that I'm all okay with anything Troy related. So I acted like I wasn't at all fucked up with the subject.

"Sorry Shar." I apologized insincerely. "It's just that the book was really good. I got caught up with the story. Sorry." I tried to come up with something believable. Thank god it is because Sharpay nodded. I closed the book and placed it on Sharpay's night stand.

"Well, the guys are almost here. Ryan just called." Sharpay said as she stood up from her pink bed. I guessed maybe Troy was all over my head lately and how I hated him so much that I missed Sharpay's phone ringing.

"Oh" was all I could say. Well, the boys were about to arrive and that only meant Troy's almost here. I let out a sigh and fortunately none of the girls heard. They were too busy straightening themselves for the arrival of their boyfriends.

I stood up and straightened myself as well but I wasn't really in the mood to get all 'ready'. I lazily brushed my tank top and hand-combed my curly dark hair after I yawned and stretched. Gosh, hours curled up reading a book was totally aching.

Kelsi opened the door and went out. She was followed by Martha and Taylor. Sharpay glanced back at her reflection in the mirror before following the girls out and went downstairs.

I sat back on the bed and took a deep breath. I honestly didn't want to go down. I wanted to stay there and lock up. I had no idea what was with me. Maybe, I wasn't ready to see Troy again. It's hell if I see him again. I could feel myself burning in anger as I thought about him.

I sighed again and then finally stood up to go down stairs. The boys weren't there yet but I found the girls already piled up around the coffee table in the living room. I searched and saw various chips, cookies and snacks on the table. The girls were sipping their soda drinks so I went to the kitchen to get myself my own chilled drink before joining them.

I walked to the girls who looked like they were setting something up. As I got closer I saw they were setting up a board game. I thought it was Scene It because the DVD and TV were open. I wondered what the category of Scene It was.

"Hey, what are we playing?" I asked as I positioned myself between Taylor and Kelsi on the couch while taking a long sip of my soda making me not see what the game was. But I was pretty sure it was Scene It.

"You'll love this game." Sharpay squeaked and clapped her hands excitedly. Okay, I'm not really that excited about Scene It. But… What the f--

I almost sprayed the soda I was drinking when I saw what they were setting up. It was the Truth or Dare Board Game that Troy created when he was in freshmen year. Actually, he Chad, Ryan and Sharpay started it. It was Troy's idea and The Evans' and Chad's silliness that built the devil game. Seriously, you thought it was just some game like the typical Truth or Dare. It wasn't! It was the reason all my secrets were out… And the reason Troy found out I loved him. And at the same time, I embarrassed myself in front of him after I admitted I liked him. I swear! That game was a devil!

The game was like this: like a typical board game; 2 dice, 3 piles of cards, and different characters representing the player. When they started it, there were only four characters: a basketball (on some kind of platform to make it stand) for Troy, a microphone for Sharpay, a car for Chad and a trophy for Ryan. Those weren't real objects. They were actually really cute miniatures of the particular objects. Thanks to Sharpay's artistic skills and money, she helped it looked exactly the same, only smaller.

When Zeke and Martha joined, a cupcake and a bling were added. Kelsi and Jason joined next, which explained why there were a hat and a dog in the set. I actually had no idea the dog was Jason's character at first. He said he just couldn't think of what to represent him. And Sharpay once told me that she complained it was the hardest she built, so she had it done by someone else. And Lastly, Taylor and I joined the game. She was a beaker and I was a book.

The board was like a road leading to a Wildcat logo. It was colored red, white and black. It wasn't an official East High game but the four just thought that putting up East High would be cool and corny at the same time. And in the future, they wanted to be reminded that East High was the reason the gang and the game existed. According to Sharpay's motor mouth, the logo was supposedly a star and colored in pink but since she was the only girl at that time, she got three no's.

There were various 'Truth's and 'Dare's written on different boxes. There were ten blank boxes (that represented us ten in the gang), which meant loose a turn. And there was one box that said "Truth and Dare". That one was easily avoidable but totally dangerous. Only few stepped there. I remembered Ryan was its first victim.

Getting a double dice meant faster move in most games, like backgammon. But in here, once you got a double dice, you had to move one step back. No matter what number as long as they were the same. The reason for this, Chad told me, was to keep us playing the game longer. The more we got a double dice, the longer the game would go.

Unlike the usual truth or dare game, there was no way you could control the dares and questions because there were cards that will tell the player what to do or ask a question. Troy, Sharpay, Ryan and Chad wrote the first few cards and as soon as people joined in, they gave their own questions and dares. And as we thought of something funny, cool, stupid, sweet and really daring, we would write it down and slipped it inside the box. We were also required to put name so the game master would tell everyone who dared or asked. We literally made almost a hundred cards for both dares and questions. But there were only a few cards from the third deck. It was the Truth and Dare deck, which has the most dangerous dares and questions. It wasn't physically dangerous. But it was really nerve racking type of sets. We couldn't remember what we wrote there.

The very last time we played this game was before first term of junior year started. After that, it was completely forgotten. The boys, except Ryan, were too occupied and serious about their basketball games. The Evans twins plus Kelsi were too busy with drama productions. Taylor, Martha and I were too dwelled in our Scholastic Decathlon contests. We were just in junior year, but we were too hyped up with our studies and extra curricular activities. And during a get together in whoever's house, the game was totally forgotten.

So that's what I wanted to know…

"How? Where did…? Why…?" I struggled to find my words as I tried to understand where that devil came from.

"We found it here," Taylor answered easily, getting the hint of what I wanted to know, and pointed in a black tinted glass door below the TV. "It had been hiding there for years!"

Geez, Tay, it was only a year. I wanted to tell her but I didn't

The game was all set up and all we needed was the boys to start the game. Oh gosh! I wish they were stuck in traffic. Yeah, right?! Traffic in Albequerque? Or maybe they stopped for a beer or something.

I wanted to smash the set and ruin what they just set up. But I couldn't. I mean, I was always the type to just agree on things even if I hated it. I could just probably not join… Maybe… but it would still be cool to play the game again with my friends. But… Oh well, the night would end up in a silly game anyway. All I had to do was to avoid anything and wish that I get the easiest dares and questions.

Spongebob was playing on TV as we waited for the boys to arrive. None were really paying any attention on the television. We were talking about random girl stuff as always. Laughing, joking, not to mention, squealing.

I drank the last of my soda. Woah? What took the boys so long? Or was I just too thirsty that I finished my soda at once. After all, the girls' soda cans were still half full. I stood up to get myself another soda can when I heard a car pulled up outside.

"Finally, they're here!" I heard Sharpay said impatience was evident in her voice. The door opened and I heard the loud voices of the boys coming in. There were "Hey babe" and "Hi my girl" echoing in the room as the boys greeted their girls. I even heard smooches and loud mwahs from the girls as they approached their respective partners.

I rolled my eyes and concentrated on the fridge. I decided on another can of Coke Zero. I took it out and opened it before closing the fridge. And as I was about to go back to the living room, there was someone on my way. I looked up and met with a pair of crystal blue eyes. Oh my god, they were bluer than I remembered! It was… Wait! I hated him, right? Yeah! I did.

"Hi" I said a little unemotionally. No 'welcome back' or 'nice seeing you again'. Nope. I just said hi and marched my way back to the living room without hearing him say hi back. But he nodded. Or at least, that's what I saw he did when I walked away.

"Troy!" the girls said in unison. I had no idea he was trailing behind me. I stopped and as the girls ran at either side of me and squished myself so as not to be hit by the girls who were approaching the golden boy. I rolled my eyes and continued walking towards the rest of the boys.

"What the hell?" I heard Sharpay said as I sat on my original position earlier. "Why did you leave? Where the hell did you go?"

I looked up and saw Troy grinned sheepishly. He scratched the back of his neck guiltily. He probably had no idea how to explain why all of a sudden he left. I rolled my eyes once more and started playing with my canned drink.

"Gabster? You cool?" Chad asked concerned but with a smile on his face. I guessed he was excited to see Troy again. Why was everyone excited to see him back? Then again, I was the only one who broke up with him, right?

I nodded and did not say a word. I could feel Ryan looking at me intently. He came over and softly whispered to my ears asking if I was all right. Actually, we were kind of looked like we were together. I nodded again and flashed him a fake smile. I looked back at the girls, still sporting my fakest smile, and saw Troy's face fell. He might have thought that I was dating Ryan after him.

"Hey! Girls," Zeke called out. "We're a bit jealous here!"

The girls giggled.

"Oh sorry baby" Sharpay said and pouted her lips then went to Zeke. She sat on his lap and planted a kiss on his lips. "We just missed the dude."

Zeke did not reply. Instead, he gave his girlfriend another peck on the lips.

The girls started to spread out towards their desired position - next to their man - around the table. Thankfully, Ryan did not move and Kelsi sat on the couch beside me. But Troy was right in front of me. His face was wearing a fake smile, which I recognized because that wasn't how he smiled. Oh my god? I still knew who he was? Impossible!

"Okay, you probably know now what's set up on the table." Taylor began.

"And we're hoping you still remember the game." Kelsi added.

"Woah? Where did you find it?" Troy said as he sat up from his slouched position as if not believing what he was seeing.

"Inside that drawer" Martha said as she pointed on the black tinted glass drawer behind Ryan. Everyone looked behind him but I did not move. I was still playing with my canned drink trying my best to get lost in my thoughts. Except that, my thoughts were all over the place, I had no idea which one to focus on.

"Cool. I didn't know it was here all along." Ryan said. "I thought Troy brought it with him."

"I completely forgot about it after-"

"Last day of summer before junior year" I said without realizing I finished Troy's sentence. I guessed I really got lost in my thoughts after all.

I felt my face heating up. I looked up and saw everyone's eyes were on me. I was confused why they were looking at me intently. "What?" I acted innocently. Troy and I would usually finish each others sentences. Oh god! I just finished his sentence. Dang it! "Oh come on, you seriously forgot the last time we played the game?"

"No… we were just…" Sharpay began. "Whatever. Can we just play the game?"

"Sure" everyone replied except me. I just smiled acting like I was excited about the game.

"Okay…" Sharpay said fixing he position on the couch next to Zeke. "The first to get to Wildcat will have the privilege to use the new Jacuzzi and the last to get there would clean the mess afterwards."

"Fair enough" Ryan said. But everyone knew there would always be someone to clean the mess afterwards. So everyone agreed.

"Let's start." Sharpay rolled the dice and got the number 1 and 2. Zeke took the dice and rolled it getting two 3s. Martha was next and she got 6 and 5. Ryan took the dice and got double 6. I took the dice and I got 1 and 1. Mine's smallest, so I would be the first to make a move, unless someone gets another double 1 then we redo the throw. Kelsi threw the dice next and got 3 and 4. Jason got 2 and 6. Troy got the same as mine, 1 and 1. Taylor threw one dice first and got 5 she threw the other and got 4. Chad was last to throw and got double 3. It was either me or Troy who'll make the first move. Whoever gets the smallest makes the first move and then the circle will turn clockwise.

Troy and I took the dice together on the table. We made a slight contact with our hands but I removed my hand at once. I might have felt something in that short contact. But I wasn't sure. Oh, his touch… Gabby! Focus!

"Sorry. You go first." I said trying not to blush.

"No, you go ahead."

"Alright" I took the dice and, after a few shakes in my hand, I threw it. I was a bit nervous as the dice were making its stop. I really don't want to go first. Who would want to be the first to answer a question or do a dare? No way!

What luck! As the dice made its stop, I got 3 and 5. Hopefully, Troy gets something lower.

He took the dice from the table and threw it one at a time. I feel invisible sweat pouring down my face as the first dice made its stop. It was 3; same as my other dice. I hoped the other one was lower. My face slowly lit up as the dice showed two small dots. Ha! His number was lower!

Phew! I mentally wiped my invisible sweat on my forehead. He groaned and I stuck out my tongue at him. I was starting to feel a bit in the game now. At least, I didn't get to do the first dare or answer the first question.

"Here goes," he said as he threw the dice. 4. He moved the basketball four moves from the starting line. It was a dare.

Sharpay, being the master of the game, took out a card from the dare pile and read what was written on it out loud. "From Zeke. Dare you to drink -"

"Easy" Troy said without letting Sharpay finish.

"- a mixture of all drinks available around." She finished and looked around. There were cans of diet and regular cokes, a Mirinda Cherry, Sprite and some beers. Sharpay took out a glass and poured the drinks all together. She gave it to Troy who had a disgusted look on his face but shook it at once. He took the glass and drank the whole mixture in one gulp.

"My turn" Taylor said and threw the dice. She made 10 moves from the starting line and got a dare.

Sharpay took another card from the deck of dares and read out loud. "Dare you to strip off your top. From moi!" She giggled.

"I'll kill you Sharpay!" I gave out a little giggle at Taylor's reaction. I knew Taylor wasn't up for things like that. She's very conservative. But to everyone's surprise, she would rather strip off than get avocado stain on the face (it was the other consequence if you pass). Poor Taylor... She was only wearing a bra and it was winter! Thank god for the amazing heater that the Evans had.

"Whoa… Babe! Hot" Chad said and gave her a kiss. Taylor pushed him away and reminded him that it was his turn. He took the dice and moved the car nine moves. He got truth.

This time, it was Ryan who took the card from the Truth deck. I peeked in the card and laughed. He read out loud "Did you ever admit in your life that you're a chicken? Jason's"

Everyone knew that he was afraid of heights and once we dared him to come with us on a rooftop of a building. He went all the way up but never left the elevator. Taylor made him go out and as we pushed him towards the edge of the building he started shouting "Mommy… No… No… please have mercy… Don't" and began teary eyed. If he lied about this, he surely gets avocado stain from all nine of us.

"Yes, yes, yes… I was a chicken! Happy?" He shouted out and was turning a bit red. Everyone laughed as the certain memory flooded everyone's mind.

Sharpay was laughing hard on the couch. She tried to compose herself as she threw the dice on the table. She moved the microphone six steps. Dare.

I took a card from the dare deck and read out loud. "Dare you to… oh it's yours." I put the card under the pile of dare cards because a player can not do a dare that came from him or her self. I took another and read "Dare you to say 'Troy Bolton is the hottest next to my boyfriend… or girlfriend' with a wink."

"Who was it from?" She wanted to know.

"No idea… No one wrote the name." I lied. It was my dare. But I put it under the pile already and hoping that they believed me.

Sharpay looked at Troy assuming it was his but he shrugged. She bit her lip. She looked at Zeke telling him it was just a dare and closed her eyes before saying "Troy Bolton is the hottest next to my boyfriend." And then she stuck out her tongue in a disgusted way and everyone laughed.

"Hey" Troy said and threw a pillow at her.

She blocked the pillow and it flew behind her. "Was that yours, Troy? It was completely lame!" She said teasingly.

"Hey! It's not yet my turn to answer a question. But no! It wasn't my dare." Troy said defensively.

Martha threw a dice and moved the bling 9 steps. Truth.

Ryan took another card and read out loud "What would you wish if you caught a shooting star? From Kelsi"

She thought about her answer seriously and then answered "For the love of my life to notice me."

There were oohs heard in the living room as she answered. I looked at her and noticed she was staring at Ryan as she answered it. Martha was always to answer truthfully and seriously no matter what and how silly the question was.

I looked at Ryan who blushed as he threw the dice to reveal 4 and 5. He placed his trophy next to Martha's bling. I saw him blushed once more.

Sharpay took out a Truth card and read out loud. "Honestly, who's the love of your life? From Martha"

Everyone stared from Martha to Ryan back to Martha then back to Ryan. They were both blushing. What a coincidence.

I waited for Ryan to say something. He was definitely hesitating to answer. I was the only one who knew about his feelings for Martha. He looked at me and I gave him an encouraging nod. I saw Troy's sad face from the corner of my eyes but I didn't mind him. I gave Ryan another encouraging look as he sighed.

"Gabriella…" he took a deep breath. I heard gasps from everyone and everyone's jaws literally dropped. My eyes widened a little bit shocked at what I heard. I totally didn't see that coming. I saw Troy's eyebrows furrowed, his hands curling. Ah... Ryan. What are you doing? I wanted to ask but I didn't. I was in a panic mode. I didn't know what to do. I could see Martha in verge of tears but was trying hard to hold it back. Thankfully, Ryan spoke. "…was the only one who knew about it."

I eased up. Everyone finally closed their mouths and Troy loosened up a little. I swear I was a bit scared. I thought the game will start a fight. (See what the devil could do!). Thank god Ryan came to his senses and talked before any damage.

He faced Martha and continued, "You're the love of my life, Martha."

Martha smiled widely. At least, Martha's shooting star heard her after all. Ryan hugged Martha and Martha hugged him back. I looked around and everyone had dreamy looks on their faces - everyone but Troy who was looking at me all the time. He, probably, was thinking of the same thing. It was like how we both found out about our feelings for each other. I looked away and stared at both Ryan and Martha who was still in a hug.

"Ok!" I said and the two pulled away from each other. "Moving on, moving on." I threw the dice and I got 4. Great way to start my game! I moved my book from the starting line next to the basketball. I heard false coughs across the room but I ignored it and waited for Kelsi to read a card from the Dare deck. I was fidgeting. I hoped it was easy.

"Cool! You got a dare from Troy!" She said happily. There were another fake coughs heard around the room but I just rolled my eyes. "Dare you to wear something sexy."

I raised an eyebrow. Troy really had a dirty mind. I had nothing in my duffel bag that was sexy. I should just pass. After all, it's just an avocado stain. So what? Gag! Dirty avocado stain! I looked around and realized everyone who cam first did their dare. I would be a total wimp if I don't do this.

Fine! Troy wants me to do this? Then he'll get what he wants. But this is for the freaking game only!

"Sharpay!" I yelled.


"Come with me." I stood up from my Indian seat on the rug and ignored her confused look and pulled her away from Zeke. "Be right back in a minute."

"Ah? Planning on bailing?" Sharpay asked.

"No! Planning on borrowing from your closet," I answered. Her face removed the confusion and followed me. "Troy wants something sexy? Oh he'll get it alright!" I said with a bit of irritation in my voice.

Few minutes after, Sharpay and I found the group talking to one another still around the coffee table. No one noticed we arrived so I flipped my hair back and tucked it under my ear. Sharpay walked ahead of me and cleared her throat to get everyone's attention. When everyone was ready, I walked in.

"Want something sexy, huh?" I said as if I outsmarted him. I loosened the knot of the see-through robe I was in and twirled as I reveal myself wearing Sharpay's red bikini. I was wearing black pumps to add more sexiness in the look.

Everyone gasped. I knew they totally did not see that coming. Even I was surprised I did the dare and did more to it. I felt hot in this bikini and the cold winter wind was nothing compared to this and the heat of the heater. Bad ass much, Gabby? I thought to myself.

I stood for a while and did various sexy poses to entertain my friends. Troy's eyes were bulging out in his eyes. He was totally stunned in his seat. Never, since we dated, had he saw me wear anything as such. Even during summer vacations because I would always wear one piece bikini during beach outings and swimming parties. Well, I got to come out with a wild side sometime. It's better to come out and show a different me with my trusted friends and not to somebody else.

"Sis! You're freakin' hot!" Chad said. I saw Troy's face showed a huge smirk on his face as if thanking him self he wrote the dare.

"I usually nudge you when you say that to somebody else but this time I'm totally agreeing." Taylor said and I giggled.

"Yeah! I was totally stunned myself. She was the one who just put it on. I have nothing to do with it." Sharpay said in a slight defense. She made it sound like I'm all grown up now.

"Woah, Gabby! There really is just one word to describe you now: hot!" Ryan said and they all nodded in agreement. Troy slightly groaned in his seat. He must have thought of saying the same thing but Ryan beat him.

I sat back beside Ryan with a huge smirk on my face. First dare: completed.

Okay! Now I felt my self shivered. Not hot anymore. I was absentmindedly rubbing my shoulders up and down to keep my warm as Kelsi made her move. Ryan took off his jacket and placed it around me. I looked at him straight in the eye "Thanks. Guess I'm not hot anymore." I said laughing. Kelsi smiled as she heard the comment and Martha laughed with Ryan. I focused myself on the game but saw Troy's eyebrows met as he straightened his own jacket. Maybe he was about to offer it to me, and again, Ryan beat him to the punch.

"Question from Chad" Martha began reading the card for Kelsi. "Who was the first person you French kissed?"

"Jason." She easily and proudly answered giving her boyfriend a peck on the lips.

Jason smiled after they pulled apart and took the dice and threw it. He moved it eleven boxes and got truth.

"When was the last time you cried? Random question by Taylor," Sharpay read.

"Last week" answered Jason, embarrassed. Everyone looked at him with great interest and waited for him to tell why. "Because," he gulped and held his breath and continued, "I was watching A Walk to Remember." He buried himself in his hands not wanting to see the look on everyone's faces, which was in a verge of laughing out loud. They tried to keep their laughs to themselves but wasn't successful when Chad suddenly let out a small laugh and everyone followed.

The game went from a boring start (in my side, anyway) to a very fun game. I shivered a lot but thankfully Ryan was there to give me a hug once in a while. There were laughter, serious confrontations, and even crying as everyone did their dare and answered the questions bravely.

Everyone took turns in reading the cards. As the game went on, the line up went like this: Chad was on the lead followed by Kelsi. Troy came next with Sharpay trialing him by three boxes behind followed by Ryan. Martha wasn't far behind as well as me as we shared one box. Zeke was behind me who was ahead of Jason by one box. Taylor was left behind.

We found out that Sharpay hated pink when she was little and would throw anything in the trash that is very pink. Jason also confessed that if he could marry anyone the next day, he would marry Kelsi, who blushed afterwards. Taylor admitted that she cheated once on a chemistry exam not long ago. Ryan truthfully told us that he once stole a perfume in a store.

We also made sure that Martha drank her first beer as one of her dares. Zeke was forced to kiss Chad on the lips. Kelsi called a random number and told the receiver he was a 'freakin asswhole' then hung up immediately. Troy exchanged clothes with Sharpay while everyone watched and laughed. And I was dared to look for a golf ball out in the cold in my current outfit without Ryan's jacket.

Chad was also the first to get a double dice. And to his luck, he moved one step back to a blank box and he lost his next turn.

My last move was very nerve racking. I almost ended up with the Truth and Dare box. Thankfully, I got 5. So that gave me one box ahead of the Truth and Dare box from my previous position. I sighed in relief and was asked to answer a question from Sharpay: "Are you a virgin?" My god! Seriously, the type of questions and dares I got were too over the top for me. Was it just a coincidence, or they planned it? I'd like to think it was just a coincidence.

I bit my lips before telling the truth halfheartedly. "No" I said in a sigh.

"Seriously Gabs?" Kelsi asked after a long silence in the room.

I nodded but did not look at anyone. I could see from the corner of my eyes that Troy was slightly embarrassed. Only the two of us knew that we both lost it together during the last day of summer before junior year. We both agreed on not telling anyone as it was really something special.

I could see them look away from me and looked at Troy. I knew they will figure it out. He was the only one I dated my entire life. And they knew I did not date anyone after him.

I could sense the nervousness in Troy's smile. I was nervous myself as well. All the girls told me about their first time and I never told them mine. And it has been a year since that happened!

"When?" Sharpay asked eagerness to know was evident in her eyes.

"Sorry, I only landed on a dare box. Not eligible to answer a question." I said trying my hardest to keep quiet about the whole thing. "Can we move on with the game now?"

I was relieved that the gang did not bring it up. But I could see that the girls were interested to know and that they'll confront me later before sleeping or tomorrow before breakfast. I wasn't too excited about the game anymore. That was one secret I intended on keeping but it's that or the avocado stain.

Okay, let me explain why everyone chose to do a dare or tell the truth instead of avocado stain smudged on the face. After all, it was just a stain, right? But no. We put on mud, dirt and all undesirable things you can imagine in it. Thanks to me and Taylor, we successfully covered the smell using lots of flower extracts but wasn't successful in hiding its color and texture. When Chad chose it as alternative punishment, as he always put it, we told everyone what was in the avocado mix. And since then, no one used it. We called it the avocado stain because majority it was avocado.

When it was Troy's turn, he landed on a truth box. Sharpay was the one who read the card but was too eager to get the dish out. "When did that happen?"

"Nice try, Princess" Troy said calmly. "But that wasn't what was written on the card."

"Yes it is." She said trying to use her acting skills. Troy raised his eyebrow not believing her so she gave up. She looked at the card uninterestedly. "Okay, fine. When and to whom was the last time you said "I Love You"? Question by Gabby."

He looked at me. I felt my self in shock but I was hoping it wasn't clear on my face. I couldn't remember writing that question. I mentally scratched my head as I searched for the memory of writing that question. I gulped the lump in my throat as I waited for Troy to answer without looking at him.

"First term, junior year" Everyone was half satisfied with his answer. They all waited for him to tell who the person he last said those words was. But wait… really? He didn't find anyone to his mysterious journey outside Albequerque? Was I the last person he said I love you to? And like he was reading my mind, he continued "To the person who asked the question."

I blushed, I knew I did. I was the last person he said I love you to? I looked at him and saw truth in his eyes and at the same time there was hurt engulfed in the blue crystal. My heart twisted as I look at his eyes more deeply. He was hurt. But, why? Was it because of the breakup? Was it because I never looked at him all the time he was there? Was it because I hate him? Or at least he thought I hated him. Why? I wanted to know.

Not long enough, he looked away from me and focused on the game. I was still looking at him not minding the game anymore. Questions flooded in my head and I needed answers. I just wanted to know why? Why did he leave? Why didn't he stop me from breaking up with him? Why didn't he beg me not to? Why didn't he open up to me when I confronted him? Why was he so secretive?

My head was hurting. I should hate him. He left me with all these questions and now, he reminded me of them again. I hated it. I couldn't find these answers in any book. Unless there's a book called "Guide on how to love Troy Bolton", then I guess the answer would be there. But there's no such book. Oh! I hate him. I hate him for leaving me, for not trying to stop me from breaking up. For making me feel lost. For making me feel sad. He was always the one who would cheer me up, make me laugh all day, make my life a paradise just him beside me. But now, he was the major reason I was lost. And I hate him! I totally utterly hate…

"Gabs, your turn" Ryan nudged me from my deep thoughts.

"Oh, sorry" I took the dice from him and threw it. I was trying to focus on the game and forgot about my thoughts earlier. And to my dismay, I got double 6. The highest number showed as a pair. It's a double. And it only meant one thing: I have to move back one step. I looked at my position and again I was shocked. I have to go back to the 'Truth and Dare' box.

I composed myself and tried to act as if it wasn't a big deal. I did not look up so I had no idea what my friends' faces were like at that time. I noticed Sharpay took the card so I waited to hear her read the dare or the truth first. My heart was pounding. I know this was going to be huge and serious. But I knew it was nothing dirty. But I had a funny feeling I wouldn't like what I'll hear.

"Dare you to-" I heard Sharpay said the first words in a sigh then continued excitedly. She planted a smirk on her face and said "-kiss your ex."

I looked up fast at Sharpay. Was she serious? Was that what was written on the card? Or did she just make it up?

Ryan sensed the disbelief in my face so he looked at the card. "Yep, Gabs. That was the dare."

I heavily took a gulp of air. Well, it's just a dare. I could just give him a small kiss and go back to my original position. Yeah. I could do that. Just a simple kiss, I reminded my self.

Ryan's jacket slid off from my shoulders as I stood up. But I did not bother to pick it up as I was too nervous on what I was about to do. I felt the wind in my back, the see-through robe swaying behind me. My thighs were shaking as a mixture of shivers and nervousness ran through it. I was hoping I would faint so I could get out from this dare. But my knees failed me because my feet kept walking.

I reached Troy who wasn't looking at me. I sat next to him that made him look at me. This was the very first time that day that I was really close to him. I could smell his signature perfume. I could observe the inches added to his hair. I could see the ocean deep blue in his eyes. He was… gorgeous.

He did not move from his position. He was just letting me do it. After all, it was a dare I had to do. But I could feel that he wasn't pushing me to do so. He was totally respecting my decision, I could feel it.

"Well, for the dare." I said in a low voice not above a whisper. He showed a little fake smile and nodded. I moved myself a little fast towards him as my lips touched his and planned on pulling away. It was supposedly just a peck. But as soon as I pressed my lips on his, my heart woke up and began pounding faster. I missed the feeling of his lips on mine. I missed how he kissed me. I missed the sense I felt as I passionately kissed him. I pressed my lips harder on his to a deeper kiss. I totally forgot it was just a dare. And I didn't care. It just felt good to finally kiss him again after a year of hunting for it in my dreams.

I could feel his warm hands on my back as he snaked it around my waist. My hands were now snaking around his neck. We did not pull apart from the kiss. His tongue was pushing its way inside my mouth and I let it in. Our tongues touched as we French kissed not minding everyone staring at us and that it was just a dare. We were kissing, and that was it. I knew there was something in the kiss and that it meant something… for both of us.

I could feel my lips curl into a smile as I continued kissing him. My hands were now brushing his hair. He was now leaning on me. His right hand supporting my back while the left was on my head pushing me closer to him. I let him push me close to him effortlessly.

I didn't want this feeling to end. I missed him so much. And I knew now I wanted him so badly. I knew now that I have fallen back to my ex. Forget about what he did... No! Wait! I can't. This was serious. I could not just let him kiss me and everything was forgiven and forgotten. No.

I pulled away from him as I went back to my senses. There wasn't a smile on my face. It was covered in confusion. The room was pin drop quiet. And I knew everyone was staring at us. But whatever! This couldn't happen. I just couldn't let everything back without explanations.

Once again, all the confusion darted in my head. It was beginning to hurt again. I needed answers first before I could let him in or forever out of my life. And to slowly ease the pain, I need to let out… by crying. Tears were now forming in my eyes, but I held it back.

"Sorry" he said guiltily. Maybe he saw the hurt in my eyes because he looked away.

I stood up to go back to my original position on the rug when Sharpay cleared her throat. "Still want to continue?" Sharpay said sincerely.

I nodded my head but honestly, I didn't want to continue the game anymore. Once again, this devil game did something to me. The last time I told the truth it was a good thing. Will it be this time?

"Was there… something… in that kiss?" Sharpay hesitantly said in between sighs. I heard her gulped the lump in her throat. It wasn't her fault to ask the question. It was part of the game; she was just reading the card. And I don't blame her and I'm not angry at her.

"Was there… I… Yyyyy… Nnnn…" I didn't know what to say. Will I lie or tell the truth. Either way, they'll believe me, right? Or at least I think they will. I didn't want to lie, but I also didn't want to tell the truth. I was stuck in the middle. The feeling was like a wall pushing its way towards me and I have no way out. Will I tell the truth? Will I ever answer the question?

Everyone was staring at me. All eyes were on me. I could feel the heat of their stares as they looked at me intently. All, including Troy, were waiting for an answer. But… Will I give them one simple answer?

Tears were now threatening to fall from my eyes. It was blurring my vision. My heart started pounding heavily in my chest. I didn't know what to do.

"I…" My voice was trembling. "I'm sorry" I simply said as tears fell from my eyes and I darted off away from the group. They stood up but I ran fast away from all of them - in my high heels. I ran as fast as I could without minding the hurt in foot. I ran up the stairs to Sharpay's room and locked myself in. I fell on Sharpay's bed and covered my head with both my hands. I was now crying a river. Tears weren't stopping from falling from my eyes now. I let it flow and did not bother to wipe it off.

I was confused. I couldn't help it. I just wanted to cry. The moment I saw Troy again from when I was in the kitchen, I wanted to hug him. I wanted to kiss him. But I raised my pride and told myself how much I hated him for leaving. I didn't know that one stupid step backwards will lead to a total confusion. I know I hate him but I think I fell deeply back to him. Oh god. I'm confused. I didn't know what to do.

Tears were still falling from my eyes as I got up from the bed. It was chilly inside Sharpay's room and I was still wearing her bikini. I went to get the clothes I left on the edge of her bed when I changed earlier. I slipped it on me without removing the bikini.

"Gabby! Gabby!" Taylor called from behind the locked door.

"Are you alright Gabs?" Kelsi shouted.

"I'm sorry Gabs. I didn't mean to." Sharpay said guiltily.

"Gabs let us in please." Martha said.

"Sis!" I heard Chad called out. Great! Even the boys followed.

I didn't want to face anyone at the moment. I looked up and was greeted by a clouded dark sky. Maybe the weather was with me right now. It looked sad like me.

I stood up ignoring the calls from behind the door. I opened the door to Sharpay's balcony and allowed the chilly breeze dry off the waters from my face. But my eyes were still teary. I went out letting the calls from my friends to fade away.

Sharpay's room wasn't in the second floor. The balcony didn't have a dead end unlike the one in my room. It led to the green of the golf course. I stepped out of the balcony and allowed my feet to drag my body anywhere away from the country club.

I drowned myself in deep thoughts and cries. I just wanted to be alone. I thought I was ready to see Troy and that nothing will come back. But it did. Everything did. But he still left me with unanswered questions. Should I go talk to him?

I found myself walking on a cemented path. I looked up to see where it led and I saw the bridge. I decided to stop by there and think.

When I was in the middle of the bridge, I rested my folded arms on the railing. I watched the fountain in the middle of the lake as it sprinkled waters all over the lake. This place brought up lots of memories with Troy. This was our favorite spot here in Lava Springs next to the golf course. This was the place where the special night started. And this was also the place he last told me he loved me before he left. This place was also the place where we first fought and fixed it at once. Now, it is also the place I cried alone.

"Gabriella" someone said from behind. I knew who it was even without looking. That deep voice I've been waiting to hear call my name. I waited so long for that day to hear him call me again.

I closed my eyes and a tear fell from my eyes. Without another thought, I rushed to him and started hitting him as hard as I could with both my hands. But my strength was failing me. It wasn't as hard as I wanted it to be.

"Why, Troy? Tell me why were you so distant before I confronted you? Why did you need time and privacy? Why were you so secretive? Why didn't you bother stopping me when I broke up with you? Why did you leave me with these unanswered questions? Why did you leave me Troy? Why did you let me be alone all by myself? Why, Troy?" I asked him everything that was confusing me earlier in a trembling voice. He was keeping himself steady as I continued to hit him. He wasn't stopping me. He just allowed me to hit him.

As I was now lost of words and question, my hits died down as well but my cries were starting to get louder. I buried myself on his chest and soaked his shirt. He raised his arms to give me a hug but was still quiet. But I felt water dropped on my neck. I knew it wasn't rain. It was his tear.

I cried there for a moment on his chest and he engulfed me with his strong arms. When my wails died down he pushed me away from him to look at me in the eye. I wasn't looking back but I could see him trying to make an eye contact. When he gave up, he held my chin and gently pulled it to make me look at him. I gave in. I was now locked eyes with him. My eyes were teary and red and so were his blue ones. They weren't a relaxing blue. I could see hurt in his eyes. I could feel the hurt he had inside by just looking at him. I wanted to look away but he locked my face with his hands.

"Gabriella" He began seriously. "I'm sorry. I-"

"That's all you can say Troy? You're sorry?" I cut his words as I spat out.

"No Gabriella. Please just listen to me." Oh my… He wasn't stopping on calling me Gabriella. He was definitely serious. I shut my mouth up and let him talk. I didn't want another day of confusion. I wanted this to end now.

"Gabriella… I know it was hard for you and it even harder for me. You have the gang with you the whole time. And I had no one with. I was in New York the whole time, Gabriella. And I didn't like it. Not without you. I didn't get to see and enjoy the beauty of New York because I didn't get to spend it with you. It was nothing.

"Dad needed to go to New York for this huge basketball deal he got. He'll be coaching the Knicks and it was his shot. He won't move there unless the whole family went with him. I didn't want to leave but I didn't want to bring my dad down either. I didn't know what to do." He sighed before he continued.

"I tried to be away from you, which was why I was distant. I wanted to know if I can live a life without you. It tore me apart, Gabby. It was hard. But then you confronted me and I didn't know how to explain it. You did most of the talking, I fell into silence. I knew I should have said something or at least given you a hint. But I didn't. I was a jerk." He said. His eyes were now full of tears. I knew it was hard for him but he had to tell me. I nodded my head telling him to proceed.

"When you broke up with me, the world ended for me. But I used it to help me decide on going with my parents. I did not stop you because I knew there was no more reason to stop you. I'm going no matter what. So I hurt myself and I hurt you. I'm sorry." He said his voice cracking as sobs came in between his words. He looked at me straight in the eye and I could really tell he was very sorry. He was hurt. Those blue eyes turned into grey of sadness.

"Gabriella… I completely understand if you hate me because of not being totally honest with you; for not telling you why I left; And for leaving you all alone by yourself. I am deeply sorry. And I hope you forgive me even if it won't lead us back together again." He stopped. His voice trembled. But I just stared at him. He was a coward. He wasn't strong enough to tell me the truth. But I needed to know something else.

"Why are you here? Are you here just for winter? To just tell me this? Or for good?" I asked without breathing.

"I came back to, yes, explain why I left. I don't know if I'm here for good. If you want me to, then yes. If not, I'd rather go back and disappear totally. Live a life I don't want – a life without you." He said in a low voice as he finally let go of me and looked away. He wanted my decision? I was to decide for him? I didn't know what to say. I guess there's only one way to find out.

"Troy… the kiss? Did it mean anything to you?"

He looked back at me. His blue orbs met my chocolate ones. Whatever he was about to say, I knew it was the truth. I knew it'll be from the heart. I could tell it from the look in his eyes. I just hope what he'll say was what I wanted him to say.

"Yes" Troy said proudly as he looked deep into my eyes. He placed a small kiss on my lips and I felt sparks flew inside my heart. My lips curl into a smile. He smiled too. "It meant love."

Not soon enough I felt his warm lips pressed against mine once again as we kissed passionately. I knew right then and there I'd fallen deeply back in love with Troy Bolton. The man of my dreams, the man meant for me. He was the man that I fell for after that one little step backward in the game he invented.

A/N: hehe... I tried. Watcha think? Leave a review! It's my second and it's just a one shot. I couldn't help it, I just wanted to upload it. I was planning on waiting like 3 days after uploading the last part of my first story... But what's the wait for when I have the time today. Anyway, hope you like it. 2 down a lot more to go. I'm working on Blue Moon right now and then if I get my Romeo & Juliet inspired story in order, I'll work on it as well. And some one shots along the way. XD

Disclaimer: I only own the idea of the story and the storytelling.