This is a really short Troy-centered oneshot. I'm not really a big HSM fan, but for some reason this annoying little plot bunny kept being like "Write a HSM fic. About Troy. Do it. Now." So I did. Hope it's not too bad.

Pairing: Troy/Gabriella

Rating: rated K for slight teenage angst.

Stage Lights

When those stage lights go on, Troy Bolton becomes something he's been searching for his whole life: himself.

When those blinding lights sear over him, suddenly he is not The Most Popular Boy in School or The Basketball Star. He is simply Troy Bolton, who loves Gabriella Montez and singing in musicals.

His father is embarrassed that his son likes to sing. He thinks it is unmanly, and every once in a while berates the boy for it. He is worried Troy might be gay; Troy knows this and thinks it's ridiculous, because Troy has been dating Gabriella for a couple months now and Gabriella is not manly in any way, shape, or form. Troy doesn't know how else to appease his father; no matter how many times he goes out with Gabriella or how hard he practices basketball or how many games he wins, he still sees disappointment in his father's eyes.

At least Chad supports him.

And Gabriella. His beautiful Gabby, with her long black hair and large dark eyes and her clear, silvery singing voice. She likes when he sings with her, when their voices harmonize, rising and falling together. She encourages Troy to keep singing, to be himself and not be ashamed of it.

This is harder than it seems, this "be yourself" business, because Troy always has been and still is very popular. Everyone as school knows him and expects him to act a certain way. They had certainly all been thrown a curveball when they first heard him sing. Their perception of him shifted then, but for the most part remains the same. They do not understand why he loves singing, and if they ever knew that he considers singing to be right up there with basketball they would be shocked.

They don't understand that when he's on stage, he lets himself go. That when he's up there, in the limelight, he is not aware of the audience's reaction like he is during a basket ball game. During games, he hears the crowd cheering and takes encouragement from it. He keeps his eyes on the other players and on the ball, and his ears open for his dad's voice.

Onstage, he is aware only of himself, of the way he is breathing and singing and standing and being. Onstage, he doesn't worry about disappointing his father or getting an athletics scholarship or applying to college.

None of that matters when those stage lights turn on.