Title: Between The Lines
Summary: If life is but a musical, you have to read between the lines. A series of HSM3 missing moments, written for the ZA Angels Write-Off Challenge: Ellie's Theme
Disclaimer: If I owned High School Musical, I wouldn't have set the Australian release date six whole weeks after the US release date…*cries at the unfairness of it all*
A/N: Sorry for the delay everyone, work's been kinda crazy lately! But after finally getting to see the movie on the big screen yesterday, my muse has piped up so here's another (short and sweet) missing moment, one of Troy and Gabriella's phone calls during those two weeks apart. Please read, review and enjoy!
Gabriella threw the pen down in disgust, dropping her head against the paper with a groan. Opening one eye, she glanced down at what she had just written again in the hopes that it had only been her imagination but no such luck. She really didn't think Professor Whitaker would be pleased if she handed in her very first essay at Stanford with every second word being some variation of her boyfriend's name, no matter how nice the Professor seemed to be.
Rolling onto her back with a huff of frustration, she threw her hand over her eyes. She'd been here only a few days and already she missed Troy with an ache so deep she could feel it in her bones. During the day she managed to distract herself with classes and meeting new people but at night, curled up in the unfamiliar bedroom, her thoughts inevitably turned to her blue-eyed Wildcat. She missed everything about him; the way he'd always open doors for her, the way he'd wrap her in an embrace that she never wanted to leave and that little smile and twinkle in his eye reserved for her and her alone. A part of her was afraid of how much she missed him and she refused to think about what was coming, about their inevitable oncoming more permanent separation.
Glancing over at the clock on the bedside table, she saw her cell sitting innocuously on the dark wood and a sudden urge overtook her. She needed to hear his voice, she needed him to tell her that everything was going to be okay, she needed him to make her laugh and forget about the slowly growing misery creeping into her soul.
Gabriella grabbed the phone before she could convince herself otherwise, pulling up his number and pressing the call button with slightly shaking hands. She didn't know why she was so nervous but couldn't help holding her breath till the ringing stopped and his voice came over the line.
"Chad, for the tenth time, I'm not playing hoops with you tonight! I'd like to actually pass my finals on the first attempt."
Blinking at the outburst, Gabriella tried in vein to hold in a giggle, her anxiety already washing away.
"Hmmm, I'm sorry, I must have the wrong number. I could have sworn I called my homework-hating boyfriend not his apparently study-obsessed twin."
"Gabriella!" Troy exclaimed in surprise and she heard the shuffling of papers in the background, "Sorry, I thought you were Chad," he continued sheepishly.
"I heard, though I don't know whether I should feel insulted that you couldn't tell our pictures apart on your cell screen," she teased, shifting to find a more comfortable spot on her bed.
"Well you know, you both have curly dark hair and pretty eyes, so it's an easy mistake to make," Troy shot back and she could hear the smile in his voice before he changed the subject, "Oh, speaking of studying, you wouldn't happen to know the square root of Pi to five decimal places off the top of your head now would you?"
She shook her head, and let disapproval colour her tone, "How are you going to pass if I give you the answers Wildcat?"
He heaved a big fake sigh and she felt another giggle well up.
"Fine, fine, I'll just muddle through myself. But if I fail my math final by one mark, it's all your fault," he paused, then asked softly, "So tell me Miss Montez, how are you enjoying the California sunshine?"
I hate it, I want to be back in Albuquerque with you.
"If I'd had the time to bask in it, I could tell you but I don't think I've had a spare second since the minute we arrived."
Even with the slightly evasive answer she knew she hadn't been able to keep her voice steady and she wasn't even exaggerating either. In between settling into the new house and classes, her life felt like it was stuck on permanent fast-forward mode.
"Are you okay?" he asked softly, all humour gone from his voice as he picked up on her obvious unhappiness to her chagrin. She wasn't going to worry him by admitting how hard she was finding it and instead scrambled for an answer which would both appease and distract him.
"I'm fine Troy, just feeling a little…dumb, I guess. Everyone here is so intelligent and I feel a little out of my league."
"Hey," he protested, "You're the smartest girl I know, way smarter than you ever give yourself credit for. I bet half of the other honours students are in awe of you but just won't admit."
Gabriella's heart melted at his faith in her even as she felt slightly guilty for not being entirely truthful.
"You think?" she questioned softly.
"I don't think, I know," he said firmly, "And if anyone there makes you feel any different, I'll get Jason to bombard them with crank calls all night so they're sleep-deprived and unable to function properly."
His words had their desired effect and Gabriella found herself muffling laughter into her pillow so she wouldn't disturb her mom.
"Oh Wildcat, what am I going to do with you?" she exhaled when her giggles died down.
"Tell me I'm the thing you miss most about East High so I know I'm still loved?" he suggested teasingly and Gabriella drew in a breath at the word they still hadn't sound the courage to say to another in a romantic context. Pushing down the sudden sadness, she kept her voice steady.
"I could, but I'd be lying."
"Gabriella!" he cried out indignantly, "You mean to tell me you miss something else more than your handsome, witty boyfriend?"
"Yep," she replied with a grin, pausing dramatically, "The tuna surprise."
There was silence on the other end of the line before Troy whispered with fake incredulity, "You miss a fishy meal more than me? That hurts Gabi, it really does."
She could just imagine him holding a hand over his heart with the words and she fought to keep down her giggles once again.
"I'm sorry Troy, but if you had to eat the food in the cafeteria here, you'd understand. It's so bad I don't think even Chad at his hungriest would go near it."
Just thinking about the gloopy mess she'd had for lunch that day was making her stomach churn in remembrance.
"Well in that case, I forgive you. You'll just have to cling onto the thought of the feast we're going to have at Prom to get by."
Gabriella's stomach stopped churning but instead dropped to her toes. Prom had been something she'd been looking forward too ever since Troy had asked her on the roof, yet lately the thought of going back to East High for a few days and then having to say goodbye again had filled her with dread. Leaving Albuquerque, leaving Troy, the first time had been torture. To do it again might be more than she could handle.
"Gabriella? You are still coming back for Prom…right?"
The vulnerability in her boyfriend's tone made her heart ache and she knew in that moment that she couldn't let him know her doubts. It would be fine, it was another week or so away yet and by then she'd be able to handle it, she would.
"Of course I am," she reassured him softly, "I wouldn't miss the chance to see the mighty Troy Bolton waltzing around the gym."
"Good," he replied and she could hear the slight sense of relief in his tone, feeling awful for making him worry when she'd resolved not to.
"Hey Gabi? I'd love to keep talking, but I really do need to study. Can't have my genius girlfriend saddled with an idiot right?"
Disappointment flowed through her, but she knew if Troy was actually volunteering to study that it meant he really needed to.
"No, can't have that," she echoed.
"I'll call you tomorrow night, is that okay?" he asked.
"It's perfect," she assured him and was suddenly hit with the urge to say something, to tell him just how much she had come to realise she needed him.
"I…it's 1.77245. The square root of Pi is 1.77245."
"Thank you," he chuckled and with a goodbye, Gabriella was left with a dial tone and unspoken words.
I miss you. I need you. I love you.