Summary: Troy and Gabriella have been best friends for as long as they can remember. But on a fateful night, feelings will be realized and blossom. But nothing about love is ever that simple. Shakespeare said it best: the course of true love never did run smooth.

AN: I'm back, with a spanking new story. I wrote this chapter months and months ago, even before I wrote Collide but I never really had an idea where it was gonna go. I just had this burning desire to write this chapter and that was that. But I knew that I couldn't just very well post this and not continue it given the nature of the ending and all. It took almost three months before I actually had a full-blown story in mind. I had point A (which is this chapter) and I already wrote point B (the end), just getting between point A to point B was the missing part. Even now, I only have a vague idea of what is going to happen but I figured, once I actually post this chapter, I will be inspired and forced to actually start coming up with something. Because of that, updates may come sporadically or weekly, depending on my muse. At the moment, I am also working on three other Troyella stories that I will post once I have Running to a Stand Stillcompleted or maybe even before since I am itching to share the other stories that I have already started.

This is very much a Troyella story. Just remember that since I'm sure after you read this first chapter - a prologue of sorts, you'll be wondering and guessing and maybe even desire to start throwing heavy objects at me…

Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything.


"What's meant to be will always find a way."

Predator

He was drunk. Wasted. Hammered. Plastered. Trashed. Buzzed. More intoxicated that he's ever been in his entire life. Not that he made a habit of inebriation, in fact, he'd only picked up a drink or two in times of celebration and it was always in moderation. But yesterday was a once in a lifetime event. One that surely he and the rest of people in attendance will never forget - or at least will be gossiped about until another ingrate decided to make a fool of himself and orchestrate a scandalous and dimwitted incident for everyone to see and mock for years to come. He proposed and declared his undying love for a woman, not just any woman, the woman. The one. His soul mate. His other half. His one true love. Only to be rejected by said woman. After twenty six years of bachelorhood bliss, he finally took a huge step towards marriage and commitment, a huge feat given his fondness for women, only to fall flat on his face.

I can't.

True, he proposed to her at her own wedding. She was garbed in her wedding gown that fitted her like a glove, looking majestic and elegant. She was already standing next to her soon-to-be husband, the priest – an aging bald man that delighted in marrying such a gorgeous couple - in front of them, ready to ask them to recite their vows.

I can't.

True, he barged in the church like a madman, running to the center aisle, proclaiming his love for her for the whole world to hear, oblivious and yet completely aware at the shocked faces of her wedding guests. But he ignored the hundred pairs of eyes staring at him in astonishment. Instead, he headed straight for her, evading the bodyguards trying to stop him. Once he stood in front of her, he kissed her and asked her to marry him. And at that moment, a resounding gasp filled the church and it was obvious that the guests were on the edge of their seats, awaiting her response.

I can't.

True, his proposal was inappropriate given the time and place. Even he cannot deny that. She was getting married, to someone else, someone that was not him. He tried to stop her wedding - and failed. Who knew that with just two words, she can break his heart in a million pieces.

Afterwards was a blur. He couldn't really remember anything. He couldn't remember how he made it out of the church. At one point or another, he found himself at a bar, drinking vodka and gin as if it's nothing but water. Hours later, when he deemed it enough that there was a sufficient amount of alcohol in his body to numb him and make him forget everything that has happened, he ended up here, ironically enough, in a place where he ultimately realized his love for her. A week ago he was standing here, at this very spot and he had an epiphany, a realization that he wished to spend the rest of his life with her.

The moon was out, casting an ethereal glow on the area about him. New York lay sleeping, but the city, even at this late hour, was never truly silent. In a distance, he could hear a disembodied cry, the bustling of taxi cabs. New York, at any time and moment, was always bustling with life and yet, right here, right now, everything seemed so silent. So serene.

He plopped in a nearby bench and thought. He was sure she was married by now. To a man she barely know. Sure, she had dated him occasionally before but what did she really know of that womanizing cad. A man who did not deserve her. A man who could never appreciate her fully for who she was, quirks and all. Despite the rejection, he cannot help but still love her. And he knew, she loved him too.

I can't.

Maybe he was just a glutton for punishment and a masochist but he wasn't ready to give her up without a fight. Maybe it was the alcohol working and making him delusional, allowing him to misinterpret things but she said, "I can't", not "won't" or even a flat out "No." She said "I can't."

Troy Bolton finally found her and he was willing to do anything to get her back.

Her husband or anyone be damned.

He was coming for Gabriella Montez and nothing and no one was going to stop him.

~*~

Eight hours ago…

His lungs were on fire.

He was running. Through the streets of New York, with one destination in mind, Troy Bolton was running, pushing himself to run faster, to move forward.

St. Patrick's Cathedral. He had to get to the church. He just had to. The wedding started at approximately three o' clock in the afternoon. And given Gabriella's penchant for promptness, the wedding will start at exactly three o' clock, not one minute too late or too early.

What time is it?He frantically asked himself. Sparing a second to glance at his watch, he inwardly cursed and ran faster.

2:49 pm.

He had six minutes to get to St. Patrick's. Six minutes to stop this ludicrous wedding that should not have happened in the first place. Troy turned around a corner and onto Madison Avenue, barely missing crashing into a couple. He muttered an apology only to get a "Watch where you're going, punk?" in return.

Seven more blocks to go.

Nothing was going to stop him. Not even cars or any pedestrians. He had to get to the church. His life - and hers - depended on it.

Troy skidded to a halt as a taxi cab passed in front of him, barely missing him by mere inches. And took a huge gulp of air. His body demanded that he stop. The burning sensation and pressure in his chest was indication enough that his body has reached its limits. But his mind and heart told him to keep going, to suck it up and get pass the pain. He had to get to the church. The second the cab moved past him, he was off again.

Only five more blocks to go.

2:58 pm.

He kept running.

He made another turn onto Fifth Avenue. Off in the distance, he could see white marble and stone that made up the façade of St. Patrick's Cathedral. He could see the church. He kept running, going and going. Bumping into people. Barely missing cars. He kept going.

3:11 pm.

Reaching the steps of the cathedral, Troy Bolton slowed down, taking in the flowers that decorated the front steps of the place. Two colorful banners hung, framing the primary entrance of St. Patrick's. Frowning, he ran up the stairs, stumbled and swallowed a curse. Upon reaching the entrance, he froze and halted in front of the impressively detailed front door of the cathedral.

He took a huge breath and then another, before wrenching the door ajar and opening it wide. If his abrupt entrance did not ensure to get the wedding guests attention, the crash heard after the door hit the outer wall would.

The church went silent and every guest turned to stare at him. The priest, one hand in the Bible and the other up in the air, paused and sighed before closing the book.

"Troy?" he heard her say incredulously.

Short of breath, he barely managed to reply. "Don't."

One smart aleck shouted, "We haven't reached that part yet, mister."

"You can't marry him, Gabi." he said louder this time, "Don't marry him." He staggered forth and tried to calmly walk towards her.

She said nothing. And the crowd sat still, waiting. He walked faster and saw her, looking so beautiful, one hand clutching tightly on her bouquet and the other covering her mouth, open in shock.

"Don't." He repeated, much forceful this time.

She took a step back.

"I love you." With each step he took, he repeated those three words over and over again.

At that moment, Troy Bolton saw no one except her. He didn't notice the groom, standing on the stand with a smirk on his face. He didn't see the guards running towards him. He wasn't aware of the stunned faces of the wedding guests and he sure as hell did not see his own parents, sitting still, mouths agape. Right there, in front of her and everyone in the damn building, he took her hands and kissed her. For Troy, it was just him and her. He was unmindful to the gasp that resonated in the cathedral. Breaking the kiss, he repeated, "Don't marry him."

"Troy, why are you doing this?" she whispered.

"I love you," he replied because those three words said it all, those three words were the only thing that mattered. "Marry me."

Her beautiful hazel brown eyes glistened and shook her head before stepping away. Away from him.

The entire church stopped breathing, awaiting her response.

"Marry me," he repeated loudly with much conviction but doubt and uncertainty at her response lingered in his voice.

Tears were rolling down her cheeks and she was biting her lip.

"Marry me." His whispered words sounded loudly in the stillness of the church. "Marry me because I love you. Marry me because I could never live without you."

He tried to swallow the lump in his throat. The wait was killing him but she just continued to stare at him, her silence and tears slowly breaking his heart.

Her head twisted slightly and then she spoke, pure anguish and despair laden in her words. "I can't."

And at that second, Troy Bolton knew what it meant to have his heart break in a million pieces.


:ducks as tomatoes are thrown her way:

Reviews are appreciated. As always.