Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters, actors, plotlines, locations, props or anything else remotely related to High School Musical. Apart from the DVDs and posters of Zac Efron. Nor do I lay claim to be in possession of the genius required for the creation of such things.
Summary: Troy is the Troy we all know and love. Gabriella is the same Gabriella. But she isn't the new girl. What would happen if they had always been at the same school? How long can the inevitable be avoided?
So have you ever wondered what happens when you mix insomnia, acute boredom and an intense desire not to learn 300 German words related to agriculture? If you have than this may well be to your liking…
"Okay, are you ready?"
Troy Bolton grinned, resting his head on top of his folded arms before turning his expression serious. "Eyes peeled and ready…"
"On the count of three. One…two…three…" Gabriella nimbly turned the tap of the burette, ready to switch it off again as soon as Troy gave the word.
"Stop!" Gabriella reacted automatically, the liquid ceasing to fall into the conical flask almost immediately after it had changed colour, indicating the completion of the reaction. Sitting up straight again, Troy nodded his head in approval. "Good work, team."
"Indeed." Gabriella's mock seriousness dissolved into giggles as she sat back down again, much to Troy's undoing. Was it seriously possible for anybody to be as infectiously happy as the girl sat opposite him? She was adorable. And stunningly beautiful. And intelligent. And witty… "Bolton…" He snapped his eyes back to hers at her probing tone. "We need to write up the results, I refuse to do your write up for you, lunk-head basketball player or not…"
Troy clutched his hand to his heart, knowing that her insult was unintended; one of their private jokes. "Yes, Miss freaky genius girl…" He grinned at the rolling of her eyes as she scribbled down the results before picking up his own pen, pretty sure that before this year chemistry had never been so enjoyable. The first week of September they had been paired up as partners and never looked back; to the extent that Troy found himself migrating ever closer to her in their English lessons as well.
"So are you going to my cousin's party tonight?" Gabriella broke the comfortable silence more hesitantly than her voice belied.
"Now what sort of a question is that, Montez?" Troy teased, taking slightly more delight in her faint blush than she was aware. "Am I to presume that you will be there tonight too?"
"I think that I might…if I can't find anything better to do…" She sent him a small smile.
Setting his pen down Troy smirked, staring at the girl opposite him intently. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Gabriella, but would this be the second party in a month that you will be attending? That's only one less than me…"
Gabriella laughed. "It might be. And you were camping last weekend…that's the only reason that you weren't running riot at some hormone ridden party…"
"That's beside the point." Troy shrugged, before allowing Gabriella to continue.
"And even I need to let my hair down every once in a while. The exams start soon, anyway, so need to get it out of my system…"
Troy's eyebrows were raised. "They don't start for eleven weeks, Gabi…" He winced inwardly as he let his nickname for her slip. He usually only referred to her like that in his head (daydreams). If she was bothered she didn't show it though, hiding the shock with a pointed look in his direction.
"Eleven weeks is relatively soon. The earlier I start revision the more prepared I'll be…"
Tilting his head to the side, Troy smiled at her. "If you took the exams tomorrow you would still do unfairly well…"
Gabriella smiled, feeling a sudden urge to sigh, or would it be swooning? Troy Bolton was a pretty great guy. She couldn't help but giggle at the look of joy on his face as the bell rung and they began to gather their things together. "If I didn't know any better I'd think that you couldn't wait to leave this lesson…" she mused.
Laughing, Troy shrugged again. "I don't think that I will ever be a die-hard chemist." He leaned against the row of lockers as Gabriella opened hers. "So don't tell anybody, but I may have read 'The House of Seven Gables' on my camping trip…"
Eyes widened, Gabriella paused in what she was doing. "Really?" He nodded sheepishly. "The Wildcat superstar read a book that wasn't on the reading list?" He nodded again, his grin widening. "For fun?" Another nod of agreement. "And did you enjoy it?"
"I actually did. Once I got over the language…you tempted me when you were going on about it…"
Gabriella smiled. "Well I'm impressed. Everyone seemed to hate 'The Scarlet Letter' in class…" She pouted slightly.
"Well you're love of it and insistence that I too gain some sort of enjoyment actually worked…I feel enlightened…" he added the last bit cheekily.
"I assume that this information is to be taken to the grave?" She sent him a wry grin.
"If you don't mind." Troy glanced over his shoulder warily as his eardrums detected a slightly too high-pitched giggle; Gabriella preferred to think of it as a cackle. His suspicions confirmed, Troy winced, sending Gabriella a pre-emptive apology, to which she just smiled before turning back to her locker. She wasn't unpopular, despite her brains. She was lucky that one of the members of the basketball team, Jason, lived next door to her and that her cousin was on the football team; factors that managed to move her slightly higher up the social hierarchy than might have otherwise been the case. Unfortunately, the cheerleaders, not quite possessing the mental capacity to treat anybody other than themselves with respect, did not waste any of their energy attempting to be nice to her.
"Troy, baby…" The silky (sickly) voice assailed the pair and Gabriella deliberately fixed her eyes on her locker as Lana Metcalfe leaned up to place a kiss against Troy's lips before smirking at Gabriella smugly. "Gabrielle."
"You know that it's Gabriella…" Troy corrected his girlfriend tetchily.
"Ooops my bad." Gabriella rolled her eyes. "So I thought that I would come and rescue you…"
"Rescue me?" Troy questioned distractedly.
"From boring talk…"
Ignoring the conversation taking place behind her, Gabriella closed her locker before turning to Troy. "I'll see you later, Troy!" she brightly declared before turning away.
"Bye, Gabi…" Troy called after her retreating back, hoping that the abbreviation might serve as some sort of apology. "Have you ever heard of manners?" He asked his girlfriend frustrated.
"I don't know what you mean, babe. How was chemistry?" With that Lana changed the topic of conversation, urging Troy towards the rest of their friends.
Troy's eyes narrowed slightly as he stepped into the crowded kitchen and noticed one of the guys in his year with his arm around Gabriella's shoulder. He had been waiting for an opportunity to talk to her all evening, but she hadn't once ventured into the living room, leaving him feeling ever so slightly deprived of her company. At the same time, Gabriella happened to raise her eyes from the boy that she was talking to and noted Troy's entry. Was it possible for your heart to jump and sink at the same time? Although it leapt first and then sank, if she was honest. Why did he have to have a girlfriend? Hoping that Troy hadn't noticed her looking at him, she turned back to Lewis, trying to muster up the enthusiasm to pay more attention to him than the basketball captain.
Grinning in victory when the boy –Jason? Ryan? Ben? – distanced himself, Troy pushed his way through the crowd before tapping Gabriella on the shoulder.
"Are you drunk?" Troy questioned, smiling stupidly.
Gabriella turned around, "No…" her answer was wary. "Why? Do I look drunk?"
"Not at all. You've just been in here all night. I thought that maybe you were guarding the alcohol with your life or something…"
A grin may have made its way onto her face. He'd been looking for her. "There's too much peroxide in the other room." She winced, gasping as the sentence escaped before she had chance to stop herself. Stupid alcohol for loosening her tongue. Think before you talk, Gabi. "Sorry…" she mumbled, glancing cautiously at Troy who appeared more amused than anything else.
"What are you apologising to me for? Do you honestly think that I believe that my girlfriend's hair is naturally that colour? I feel so mentally underestimated…" He pouted at her, nudging her gently with his shoulder.
Gabriella shrugged. "Ah yes. Underestimating the mental capacity of basketball players…I always slip up there…" She moved to open the door, gesturing outside before continuing. "Anyway, I'm going to get a bit of air, I think that Lewis was trying to flirt with me so I'm going to escape outside for a bit…"
"Well," Troy offered his arm to Gabriella, emboldened by the alcohol giving him a slight buzz, "I think that I should accompany you. Just in case he tries to follow…"
Raising her eyebrows at him, Gabriella counted to three before linking her arm through his. No need to appear too eager.
"So I'm sorry…again…about Lana before, it was really rude of her…"
Gabriella scoffed, leaning against the wall. "Yeah. Because I am completely torn to bits by the fact that a cheerleader is rude to me." She managed to disguise the slight worry that had begun to recently creep into her mind.
"Well there's no need for it…"
Gabriella sighed, debating whether to broach the topic with him. "Hey, Troy…" her voice was soft, half hoping that maybe he wouldn't hear and would steer the conversation in another, less awkward, direction.
"Yeah," he turned his body to get a better view of her.
"You don't have to say, but, well… I mean Lana really doesn't bother me, she's just being a cheerleader, but, I mean, does she actually dislike me? Because she's getting worse. And I can't believe I'm talking to you about this because she's your girlfriend and, Lord, I really need to stop talking. Ignore me. Do you think that Chad has a thing for Taylor?" The last bit came out as a muddle of words.
Troy's gaze had become concerned as he listened to her, and he sighed. "I don't know. I think, I don't know, I think that she feels threatened by you; especially because she knows that she has no reason to be bitchy to you, and because you always ignore her…maybe she's just trying to get a rise out of you…"
"Yeah, I suppose. And I'm sorry for bringing it up…"
"Hey," Troy slipped a finger under her chin, lifting her head up to look at him. "Don't be. I didn't realise that it was getting to you. You always act so composed around her…I would have tried harder to get her to stop…"
Gabriella smiled softly at him. "No. I can cope if she's just being…her…" she shot him an apologetic glance. "But, I don't know, if she actually doesn't like me, then…" she paused. "I think maybe all the peroxide did get to me, I'm being all insecure…" Shrugging, Gabriella rolled her eyes and attempted to brush her concern off with a grin.
Not at all fooled, Troy stared at her intently. "You don't have any reason to be insecure…" his voice was soft, but both were becoming increasingly aware of the depth of such sentiments.
"So…speaking of the delightful Lana," she winced again at the sarcasm lacing her words, "I haven't seen her tonight…" Or, rather, heard her cackle…
Troy shrugged. "Unfortunately she had to go to a wedding or something in Colorado or somewhere…"
Gabriella snorted. "Wow. That was precise."
Another shrug of his shoulders. "Yeah. I'm finding it more and more difficult to pay attention when she speaks…"
"That's not the boyfriendliest thing to say," Gabriella remarked as she picked at the grass, trying not to feel too happy about his remark.
"I guess not. It's just easier not to get on her bad side…"
Truth be told, Troy was having an increasingly difficult time trying to remember why he was going out with Lana. He knew that he was the captain of the basketball team. And that she was the captain of the cheerleading team; blonde and thin and every other cliché that came with it. But did he really want to be in a relationship with her? The first couple of months had been fun. However, since they had come back to school that term she had grown increasingly obnoxious, and disparaging towards other people (Gabriella); something he knew that had more to do with jealously than anything else. As a result, they had grown further and further apart and he was seriously beginning to question his choice of girlfriend.
Simply shrugging at the slightly vacant expression on Troy's face, Gabriella slid down the wall until she was sat on the grass. "I knew that I would regret being distracted by the shininess of these shoes. They're really just the devil's torture instrument of choice; I'm convinced of it…"
Laughing, Troy sat down beside her. "I thought that you seemed taller…" He glanced at her out of the corner of his eyes, inspecting her appearance properly for the first time that evening. He had only caught a glimpse of her at the beginning of the party, not having sufficient opportunity to take her in before his team mates had demanded his attention. She was wearing grey skinny jeans with a silky midnight blue top, and her facial features had been accented by slightly more make-up than she would usually wear. All in all, she looked gorgeous; temptingly so.
In a bid to distract himself, Troy grinned: "I so caught Chad checking Taylor out in gym last week…"
"Really?" She smiled as she straightened up. "I reckon that she's crushing on him. She totally denies it, but I reckon that the bickering is a sure sign…"
Troy chuckled. "Yeah, I know what you mean. Chad's always moaning about her. I think that he's in denial…"
"Do you reckon that anything will ever happen?"
Troy sighed. "Honestly? I don't know. I mean Taylor never comes to parties and stuff. I don't know when they'd have chance for something to happen…I can hardly see Chad building up the courage to approach her at school, even if he does stop living in denial…"
Gabriella giggled. "You mean that yet another Wildcat superstar is really a big scaredy cat?"
"Taylor's scary!" Troy exclaimed. "And what do you mean 'another'…tell me who it is and I'll kick him off the team!"
"I wonder who I could mean…" Gabriella mused amusedly. "You know the blonde haired, blue eyed one…I've heard he's kind of cute, despite being a complete wuss…" Why had she said that?
The inevitable could only be delayed for so long.
Reflexively Troy's grin widened at her admission, before he leaned conspiratorially closer to her. "Really. I think I heard that too…Troy something is his name, right?" He flirted back; his subconscious battling fiercely against the rational part of his mind, forcing any thoughts of a girlfriend back into the furthest crevices of his consciousness.
The inevitable could only be delayed for so long.
A shiver ran down Gabriella's spine as Troy's warm breath hit the side of her neck. "I think that might have been it…"
"Erm…" The hazy part of her brain telling her to keep her stare fixed upon the ground was becoming more and more dulled with every second that passed. Heart pounding, her head lifted almost of its own accord, her eyes coming face to face with a pair of startling blue orbs as she turned to look at the boy next to her. "I…"
The inevitable crept ever closer.
Troy's breath caught in his throat as he fought to tear his gaze from Gabriella's eyes; patent anxiety colouring the dark of her pupils. They needed to break their stare. Someone needed to say something; to move away; to break the spell. Neither did. The blaring noise of the music seemed to be sucked back into the house, time stilling as their gaze intensified.
"I…" Gabriella tried to speak again; the oblivion of longing snatching the words from her mouth before she had chance to utter them.
Troy wasn't sure how has hand managed to raise itself to brush his fingers across her cheeks; but it did. Her eyes drifted close at his touch, only opening again as his thumb gently traced her lower lip, leaving a tingling sensation in its wake. Their eyes met again, this time closer, knowledge reflected in both pairs. Their faces inched closer together, lips brushing tentatively, noses rubbing against each other as the kiss grew in certainty. Gabriella sighed, Troy's tongue sliding gently between her parted lips and engaging her own in a slow, but dangerous dance. Until realisation dawned. Jerking backwards, Gabriella's hands detached themselves from their resting place on Troy's shoulders. Eyes widened she fled.
Troy watched her retreating form, eyes closing in awareness as the door closed and shielded her from his view. That had been very wrong; but oh so right. His head sunk into his hands as he contemplated the mistake that he had just made; his life had just become a lot more complicated. The inevitable could only be delayed for so long.
A/N: So what do you think? This isn't going to be an epic, possibly a two or three part story if you want me to continue…