Disclaimer: High School Musical 3 is property of Disney and I make no money off of this; I'm simply destroying the sandcastles - or adding to them.

Title: Like Lightning

Author: Jade-Max

Summary: A series of Vignettes Set after HSM 3; Troy and Gabriella face the difficulties of College life and their growing relationship, attempting to balance life after high school and still keep what they share. This sort of follows "Confessions" and holds through with the themes addressed.

Notes: Rating is for eventual Mature, adult scenes

Like Lightning

College Welcome - Mid June

"Are you always the last one out of class, or is it a habit you've developed since coming to Stanford?"

Gabriella whirled towards the tree where Troy had surprised her on Prom night short weeks ago, almost dropping her book bag. His familiar voice was laced with amusement and carried almost the same inflections he's used that night. A smile creased her lips as she looked up at him in delight. "Is this," she waved to his perch, "going to become a habit, Wildcat?"

Troy sat on the same branch he'd used the last time, his legs stretched out comfortably on the limb, his blue jeans and blue t-shirt dark enough to partially blend with the shadows under the leaves. "Would you like it to? This is actually quite comfortable."

She laughed at him, holding her hand out to him, she beckoned him down - and he came willingly, scooping her into his arms and twirling her about enthusiastically before putting her back on her feet. "Did you miss me?"

The impish question was cut off by his lips settling over hers as Troy's arms went about her and hauled her close. Her eyes closed of their own accord as her arms wound about his neck, her fingers delving into his hair. Troy's grip was tight, his hands splayed across her back as his fingers bent, the fingers of one tangling in the ends of her hair.

"Wow, Gabi, who's the hunk?"

They broke apart with a gasp, Troy lifting his head in annoyance to look at the two young women who were standing at the edge of the small park but refused to relinquish his grip on her.

Even here, among strangers who knew nothing about them and their past, they were being interrupted. On the bright side, they'd spoken up after he'd stolen his kiss - the downside was that he'd wanted to sweep Gabriella off her feet and it didn't look like it was about to happen. Her fingers tightened on his neck for half a second before easing back and he did the same - but didn't let her go completely. He'd missed her, counting the minutes until his return to her side here in California and he wasn't about to let her go that easily.

Gabriella looked at the two young women watching them curiously and blushed. Both were rail thin, one dressed in black, the other in blood red - and both were part of her pre-law program. Her grip tightened as she caught Troy's hands at the base of her spine and their fingers twined together naturally. Glancing back to Troy, she caught his annoyance - and shared it.

As least before they hadn't been teased with a kiss, they'd simply been denied it.


"She can't hear you, Elaine," the one in red told her friend with a salacious grin. "Can you blame her with such a yummy distraction?"

"Do you mind?" Troy inquired dryly.

"Mind? Not at all handsome," Elizabeth fairly purred, her gaze wandering over his form despite the fact Gabriella was practically glued to him from hip to ankle. "Where've you been hiding - and are there more like you wherever that is?"

Troy almost rolled his eyes. Gabriella giggled at Elizabeth's obvious interest and wrapped her arms about his waist possessively - giving up their finger lock - before laying her head against his chest. "He's one of a kind and he's mine." Her possessiveness drew a quick squeeze from the object of her affections. "Elaine, Elizabeth, this is Troy. Troy, these are two of my classmates."

"This is Troy?" Elizabeth's jaw dropped. "Honey, his picture doesn't do him justice!"

"Picture?" Troy looked down at his girlfriend quizzically, clearly discomfited by their obvious admiration.

"The one on my phone." She explained with a smile. "These two nut bars have wanted to meet you."

"Friends of yours I take it?"

"Study buddies," Elaine clarified, her eyes twinkling. "We're supposed to have a session tonight - but I get the feeling Gabriella's going to cancel."

"Do you blame her, El?" Elizabeth drawled. "If I had that waiting for me back at my dorm, I'd be canceling tonight too."

"Do you guys mind?" Elizabeth and Elaine grinned at Gabriella's annoyed tone even as Troy looked at her in surprise. Gabriella waved them away with one hand, turning her gaze back to Troy, but still keeping an eye on them out of the side. "I'd like to enjoy my boyfriend without you two around."

"Good as gone; have fun!" Elizabeth's wink was full of suggestion as Elaine dragged her back the way they'd come.

Gabriella waited until they disappeared from view - and began to laugh softly.

"What's so funny?"

She tiled her head back to look at him. "We spent all of high school being interrupted whenever we wanted to kiss, and the first day you're here to stay we get interrupted the moment we start. I hope it's not the beginning of a pattern."

Her grin was infectious and his lips tugged into a reluctant smile. "Good point. Come on, I'd like to take you somewhere we won't be interrupted."

"Have you been in the city long?"

"Long enough." Troy informed her cryptically, his tone dry and drawing another giggle as he collected her bike and began walking it towards where he'd parked, Gabriella at his side. "How was your day?"

"The best one since I got back," she told him honestly, her eyes twinkling with unmistakable meaning. "How was the drive?"

"Long - but worth it." Rounding one of the nearby hedges, Troy stopped and lifted her bike into the bed of his truck. "It felt like it was taking forever to get here."

Dusting his hands off on his jeans, he pulled her back into his arms, drinking in the sight of her smiling face. Gabriella twined her fingers through his once again, and squeezed. "I thought classes would never end - but you weren't supposed to be here for another month or more."

Troy shrugged, his smile just for her. "I couldn't be away from you any longer - I missed you too much. I figured if I got here early I could look for a place to rent and a job for the summer before classes begin in the fall."

"This isn't just a visit then? You're here to stay?"

"If I can find a job and an apartment, yeah."


"Really. You and your mom might be the only people I know in the whole city, but there's nowhere else I'd rather be. There's nowhere else I should be. My place is here; with you."