Surprise!

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The Distance Between Us

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Magic, I was quickly learning, seemed to be everywhere. As a child growing up, my mother would read me tales of fantasy, of princesses with hair long enough to be climbed, of princes turned to beasts and of boys who lived in cupboards under the stairs who were secretly wizards. Each tale grew more elaborate, more detailed and more beautiful.

Magic was like spun sugar, like spun gold. Beauty and glitter covered every surface of it, no matter whether it was used for good or evil. To think that something so...so different, so dramatic and so unheard of was possible was truly one of the most wonderful things I ever encountered.

It should be noted that, as a child, I spent my days dreaming of magic. Of dreaming of dragons and taking cats and poisoned apples. I cried all day when I turned eleven and no letter from Hogwarts appeared in my mailbox. How could I not? Magic, while impossible, seemed obtainable. It seemed like something that was at the edge of everything, gripped by everyone's fingertips as it slipped away. So to discover that the chances of it really existing in real life, that it was actually tangible, were slim to none were devastating.

But I grew up. The world grew grittier, more raw. Something took my father away and with it, went the few friends I had and before I knew it, I was in high school and alone. Magic was stripped from the cold walls of the school, magic wasn't acceptable. I was a teenager, god forbid I believe in something as ridiculous as fairytales and Dumbledore. Not that I ever truly cared what students thought about me, but if there ever came a day where I did, where I was suddenly popular and exciting, I certainly didn't want something like that to be revealed.

So I let magic go.

It's funny, that I ended up embracing music when I was older, nineteen to be exact, and in university. Surely by then, by society's weird standards, I should have been completely over it. But in my mind, society had never fallen in love.

Society must have never experienced the magic of falling in love.

My love story, the romance I was embodied in, was a peculiar one. It should be known right now that I'm not a rash, smart person. In fact, I'm the complete opposite. Last year, I rearranged my life, changed my life plans because a boy wrote some silly words in my yearbook.

Well, that's mean, the words were far from being silly. In fact they were wonderful words and I will always look back on them fondly. But it was this boy, this boy with this gigantic, golden heart who caused me to follow him thousands of miles from Albuquerque all the way to New York. I was in love with him, this magical boy, and it was like I would stop at nothing to see if there was a chance (no matter how small) that he was in love with me, too.

Crazy right? To anyone else, if they had discovered that this person who barely knew them by anything other than name followed them across the country, because of something written in a yearbook...well, that's what they would think. Then they would slap a restraining order on your doorstep and call it a day.

Not this boy. Not Troy. Even still, you would never fathom that he would instead turn around and love you back.

But he did. It was thanks to Troy that I was able to experience this ultimate magic, this magic of falling and being in love. We had been together for nearly a year now, an amazing, practically perfect year. I had never been happier. The Christmas we spent together was magical, the Valentine's Day, the summer.

Everything with Troy was magic, I thought, as I clutched his hand in my right and a box in my left. We were on a mission, trying desperately to find my new dorm-room sometime before midnight. Goddard Hall was still the same as always, but as sophomores, we were now on different floors. The fantastic summer we had spent in Albuquerque together had passed and now it was back to school. Back to the grindstone.

At least we had each other and things were looking up. We appeared to have found my room.

"So," Troy said, setting a box down on the floor by the door, "this is your new dorm room."

I glanced around at the wide open space. The room was about the same size as the one I had shared with Sharpay last year, but it wasn't nearly as bright. The windows were smaller and facing away from the sun instead of directly in front of it. This made me frown. The standard two twin beds, two desks and chairs were on each side of the room. While it was a surprise, I was pleased to see that the other side of the room was not yet occupied.

"Looks like," I said, setting down my suitcases and placing my hands on my hips. Which to choose, which to choose? "It appears that I get first pick of beds."

Troy came and stood beside me, nodding in agreement. "Looks like you do. I would choose carefully. This kind of decision could impact your entire life."

"Obviously," I answered, pacing back and forth. "What's your opinion?"

"Well," Troy deliberated, bringing a hand to his chin in thought and I giggled. Gosh, he would never stop being adorable to me. "I think it all depends on the bed, really."

I raised my eyebrows. "The bed? Really now?" I took a step closer to him, wrapping a hand around his neck. "Why is that?"

Wrapping his hands around my waist, he pulled me closer to him so that I was flush against his chest and smiled down at me. "There's several deciding factors. I mean, as a student, you're going to need to get a lot of sleep to be in prime mental shape for all these medical lectures you've got coming up."

"Oh, yes indeed," I said with a smirk and a giggle, "I mean, we couldn't have me falling asleep in the middle of class, now could we?"

"Of course not!" Troy said with a shake of his head. "And how comfortable your mattress is plays a big part in that."

"Yes it does," I agreed, "but is that all?"

I felt his fingertips drum along my lower back before slipping beneath the fabric of my long sleeved t-shirt. The smooth pads of his fingers skimmed along my bare skin and I shuddered involuntarily, his touch making my face hot. He dipped his head down and pressed soft kisses to my jawline.

"Not exactly," Troy said coyly, "I mean, your bed is good more than just sleeping."

"Oh, really?" I asked, dragging my hand up the skin of his neck to entwine my fingers in his hair. "Like what?"

"Oh, you know," he began, running his lips over to land on my lips. He kissed me then, gently, pulling my bottom lip in between his teeth. "It's good for other...activities."

With that I attached my lips more firmly to his and kissed him back eagerly Kissing Troy had long ago become one my favourite pastimes and I would eagerly take part in it whenever I could.

Right now seemed like a good time.

Troy walked me backwards and we staggered on our feet, laughing as we tried to stay connected and not fall over at the same time. We moved until my shins hit the end of the bed on the left side of the room and I tumbled backwards, my back hitting the mattress and Troy flopping down on top of me. His weight knocked the breath out of me slightly, but still we did not pull away, instead only climbed up the bed further so we were laying down across it length wise and he could arrange himself on top of me more comfortably.

"You know," I said as we broke for air and he began to scatter wet, open mouthed kisses onto my neck as I fiddled with the button on his plaid shirt. "I think I like this bed?"

"Oh?" he asked, lifting his head up from the crook of my neck to meet my lips again. "Is that so?"

"Yeah," I said with a giggle as we met halfway for another kiss. "I think so."

"Nah," Troy said, nipping at my mouth, "you're just too lazy to go test out the other one."

"Hey!" I exclaimed, swatting him playfully. "I can't help it if I'm comfortable here!"

Troy laughed, his blue eyes sparkling. "Hey, I'm all for this side of the room," he said, his hand shimmying up the hem of my shirt again. His fingers danced along the expanse of my stomach and I squirmed beneath him. "I think it'll suit us just fine."

I cocked an eyebrow, allowing the flush to spread across my cheeks at his insinuation. "Us?"

"Yes," he breathed, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear, "us. I feel like we are going to get a lot of use out of this bed this year. Sleeping and otherwise."

"Oh stop," I said, leaning up and pecking his lips before shoving him off of me. He rolled over onto his back with a chuckle and slid his arm around my waist, pulling me over to him. I snuggled my head onto his chest and sighed. "Gosh, we're sophomores this year. We survived freshmen year."

Troy snorted. "You make it sound like we're in high school."

I pretended to shudder violently. "No, never again, I am done with high school. Still, we're making our way up. Before you know it we'll be seniors."

"That is if we make it," Troy said cheekily, turning us on our sides. "They say that the sophomore slump is an uphill battle."

I scrunched my nose. "Says who, Jason Mraz?"

Troy smirked. "Maybe," he said as his hand rand down my side to rest of my thigh, where he began drawing little circles with his fingers. I removed his hand and climbed back on top of him so I could use him as a pillow.

"Stop that," I said bashfully, my face hot. I pressed my cheek to his clothed chest, right below his heartbeat and listened. It was the most comforting sound in the world, even in mundane times like these. "My new roommate will be here soon."

Troy let out a sigh, wrapping his arm around my shoulders to rest his hand between my shoulder blades. "It's so weird that you're not rooming with Sharpay," he murmured, looking up at the ceiling. "Whose going to walk in on us now?"

I shrugged. "I don't know. Someone new, I guess. I can't believe she decided to become an RA."

Sharpay had called me many times over the summer and we had had previous plans to room together again. However, three weeks ago she had rang to announce that sorry, she was following her in dear brother's footsteps and becoming a good old resident advisor.

As sorry as I felt for the poor kids who were now going to be subjected to Sharpay's advice, I was kind of feeling more sorry for myself. Now I was stuck with a new roommate. I had gotten so used to living with Sharpay here, that the thought of having to live with someone new entirely kind of scared me. I had tried to persuade Taylor into being my roommate, but she had denied it, saying that living together always ruined friendships. So instead I was going to be living with someone the university picked at random.

Oh joy.

Of course, there was a certain someone I wouldn't have minded rooming with at all, but apparently they weren't keen on co-ed living arrangements here.

Troy laughed, his chest vibrating underneath my cheek. "Oh god, those poor kids. She's gonna eat them alive."

I smiled to myself at the thought. "Yeah, no kidding. I wish I could be around to witness some of it."

"Why would you want that?" Troy shuddered. "It'd be like watching a lion eat a poor baby lamb."

I shifted in his arms, looking up at him. "What?"

"You know," Troy said, his voice suddenly very, very small. "The tiny little fluffy lamb, all sweet and innocent. And the bam! The big scary, vicious lion shreds it into a bloody, pink mess! There's screaming! There's crying! The shrill, fading sound of bah...bah...bah."

I lifted my head, resting my chin on his breastbone and shared at him. "You are officially crazy."

"And you love it," Troy slipped his fingers under my chin and pulled me up for a kiss. I responded back, breathlessly, and before we knew it, my hands were buried in his hair and he had me pinned beneath him.

So of course the door flew open.

We sprang apart and I pushed Troy off of me so suddenly that he fell off the bed and onto the floor with a thump. I burst into giggles and looked at him writhing on the ground.

"Oops!" I said, pressing a hand to my mouth to stifle my laughter. "You okay down there?"

All I got in response was a groan, so I hopped off the bed and glanced across the room to see a girl standing there. She had long black hair, was wearing all black clothes and had a large array of facial piercings. I swallowed.

"Um, hi!" I said brightly, "I'm Gabriella. You must be my roommate."

She stared back at me. "Bethany," she quirked an eyebrow at Troy, "that your boyfriend?"

I nodded as Troy came to stand beside me. He enlaced his fingers with my own and extended his other hand to Bethany, smiling. "That would be me. I'm Troy."

"Charmed," she said blandly, before folding her arms and looking me straight in the eye. "I should let you know now that we're going to have a strict no visitor's policy."

I raised my eyebrows. "You mean at night? Oh, I understand that, I—"

"No, I mean no visitors ever," she said harshly, dumping her heavy black duffle bags on the bed on the other side of the room.

I blinked. "Ever?"

"Yes," she said simply, "ever. He is not to be in here ever. So," she waved her hand at Troy, "get out."

"Hey!" Troy protested, "I was here first!"

"Are you assigned to this dorm?" Bethany said stiffly. Troy bit his lip.

"Well, no, but—"

"Then get out," she said, gritting her teeth. "I am going to go finish getting my stuff. It is waiting in the car outside for me. By the time I get back, you had better be gone."

With that, she walked out the door and slammed it shut. I winced.

"Well," I said, feeling aggravated. "This year will be interesting."

"Hey," Troy said, standing up from his spot at my desk. "Maybe it won't be so bad. Remember what a nightmare Sharpay was in the beginning?"

"Sharpay liked pink," I said slowly, "this girl is a goth. Things are going to be vastly different." I sighed loudly. "So much for this year being good to us."

"Hey," Troy said, bringing his arms up to run across my shoulders and arms. "This year will be great to us. I'm rooming with Zeke again and you are welcome to stay anytime you want. He won't mind."

I smiled up at him. "You're just saying that because as an RA, Sharpay has a single and therefore, Zeke will be spending all of her time in his room."

Troy grabbed my hand and squeezed it. "Something I am wholeheartedly in agreement with. Anyways, I gotta go. Gotta go scope out my own new living place. But I'll call you when Chad gets here and the three of us can go over to Jenny's. Sound good?"

"Sounds great," I ran my thumb over his knuckles and stood on my tip-toes to press a kiss to his lips. "I'll see you later."

"Later, Gabi," Troy said softly, bending down and kissing my nose. He turned to leave, his hand on the doorknob, before he turned around and smiled brightly at me. "Love you."

My heart felt like it was going to explode at his words. No matter how many times we said it, no matter how much time went by, I was thinking it was always going to feel like the first time. Like it was always going to set my heart ablaze.

"Love you, too," I said almost shyly as he slipped out the door. Sighing, I turned on my heel and glanced at the scary amount of black belongings Bethany had brought with her.

It was going to be an interesting year.

---

Chad had excitedly called Troy two days later, announcing that his semester was set to begin later than he had expected and would Troy perhaps like a visitor for a couple of days? Naturally, Troy had agreed, even though the pair had spend a good majority of the summer working together. So Chad was set to arrive that afternoon and then he was going to go to all the usual haunts with us, the first stop being Jenny's.

And at Jenny's, I had a surprise for him.

Dear Taylor Mckessie was still single and very miserable about single. Chad was still single and could frankly use a gal like Taylor. So I figured, why not set up a little meet and greet? Troy, however, disagreed with me.

Later that day, we all were planning to meet at Jenny's and Troy had repeatedly expressed his hesitance at the idea.

"You really don't want to do this, Gabi," he had said over the phone as I walked to Jenny's, "I know I suggested it like, months ago, and Taylor seemed willing, but since then I have gotten to know her and they are not compatible."

"Troy," I said, stepping in Jenny's, "since then I've gotten to know Chad and I think it's a great idea. So why not?"

"If I do recall correctly, you were the one who thought it was a dumb idea when I suggested it," he said, "what changed?"

"I have a different view on romance now," I said nonchalantly, ordering a latte from Jenny and then flopping down on the soft leather couch. "So I will see you soon and we will see where this goes."

"If they start being violent, I'm blaming you," he chortled and I laughed.

"Where are you anyways?" I asked.

I could practically hear him smirk through the phone. "You could say I'm nearby."

"Oh really?" I said, glancing around the cafe. "Is that so—" I paused mid-sentence, seeing his figure right outside the door. He smiled at me through the glass and hung up his phone before walking inside.

"Hey, Gabi," Troy said, walking towards me before leaning down and pecking my lips in greeting.

"Hey," I said, pulling back and holding onto his shirt as I glanced around him. "Where's—"

Then from outside the door, a curly head of hair appeared out of nowhere. He grinned and waved as he walked inside.

"Chad!" I exclaimed brightly, standing up to wrap my arms around him.

"Gabster!" he said happily, hugging me back. "God, it's good to see you!"

"You, too!" I said, sitting back on the couch. Troy sat on the cushion next to me and his arm came to wrap around me and I grabbed my latte from the coffee table. "How was your flight?"

"Good!" Chad said, glancing around the coffeehouse. "Long. I sat beside a fat guy who smells. But now I'm here and I'm in New York and you guys were not kidding, it is awesome!"

Troy laughed beside me. "Yeah, we'd like to think so," he said, slipping my latte from my hands and taking a drink. I sputtered, annoyed, but he merely tapped me on the nose.

"Well, actually—"

As if on cue, Taylor stumbled into the coffee-shop, a mess of books weighing her down. She staggered over to the couch and flopped down beside me, blowing her strands of hair out of her face. "Sorry I'm late!" she said quickly. "I stopped at the school's bookstore on the way to see what I needed for this year. Apparently, too much."

I laughed, snatching my drink back from Troy. "That's okay, Tay," I said. "You didn't miss too much."

"Oh, really?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "Hey, Troy," she said and he waved back. Her eyes fell on Chad then, just noticing his presence. "And who is this?"

I shot Troy a look and he rolled his eyes. "This would be Troy's friend Chad. He's in town for a few days."

Chad extended his hand, grinning widely. "Nice to meet you."

Taylor, however, narrowed her eyes. "Wait, Chad as in that guy you mentioned, oh before Christmas break last year?"

Chad frowned. "Excuse me?"

"Is this the guy you suggested I have an online relationship with, Gabriella?" she asked and I could tell already that things were not going to turn out like I had expected.

I bit my lip, looking to Troy for help. He just took another sip of my drink. "Um, maybe?"

"So, wait, let me get this straight," Taylor said, "you're trying to set me up with a guy who lives across the country even though last year you cautioned me against the same thing?"

"Hey!" Chad protested, "this is a set up! I don't want to be set up with her!"

Taylor's mouth fell open. "And why not?"

"Look at how many books you're carrying!" Chad exclaimed, "I need a girl who knows how to have fun!"

"I know how to have fun!" Taylor spat, "how dare you judge me, you don't even know me, you ignorant jerk!" She took in his basketball jersey. "What are you, some lunkhead jock?"

"Oh ho!" Chad said, glaring at her. "Whose judging who now?"

"You're an idiot!"

"Um, you don't even know me!"

"I don't have time for this! I'll see you guys later," Taylor hissed, gathering her things up and starting to leave.

"No, Taylor!" I said quickly, "stay!"

"Forget it!" she snapped. "I'll see you guys later." She stocked out of the cafe, nearly falling over with the weight of her books and I frowned, leaning back into the couch, defeated.

Chad stood up as well. "Where are you going, man?" Troy asked.

"Look dude, I came to New York to get wasted and have fun with my friends. Not to be set up on some date with some psycho chick! I'm going to go wander around and I'll call you when I'm good and lost and probably in the crossfires of some drug deal."

This time, neither of protested this departure. Instead we watched silently as he left. Then there were two.

"Well that was ridiculous," I said, taking a sip of my latte. "I can't even believe that just happened."

"What?" Troy said, sounding surprised. "How could you not know that was going to happen?"

I turned and looked at him. "How was I supposed to know that they were going to bite each other's heads off?" I asked, "I thought they'd hit it off!"

Troy clicked his tongue. "And I told you they wouldn't, but you don't listen to me."

"Excuse me," I set my latte down and folded my arms. "What is that supposed to mean?"

"Exactly what it sounds like," Troy said, removing his arm from around my shoulders. "You said they were going to gel, I told you they weren't and then you meddled and now they're fighting."

"Whoa, wait!" I said, all but jumping off the couch. "I do not meddle!"

Troy snorted. "Yes, you do."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, Gabriella, you do," he said firmly, "you're always messing with people's lives trying to do what you think is best for them when it isn't. You meddle like an old person."

"No, I don't!" I protested, "and just because things aren't working out with Chad and Taylor now doesn't mean they won't in the future! Why are you giving up so easily?"

"I'm not," Troy spit and I could tell he was getting angry. Alarm bells were going off in my head, telling me to stop talking before things went too far. But like always with me, they words wouldn't stop and just kept falling out of my mouth.

"Yes, you are!" I threw my hands up. "You always do this. When things get rough or don't go your way, you quit."

Troy furrowed his brow. "What are you even talking about?"

"Oh, come on!" I said, "the going gets tough and you get going! You just up and quit like that! Is that your attitude, things don't work out so why bother?"

"When it's necessary, yes!" Troy said, "no sense in being ridiculous about things!"

"Why do you do that?" I asked, feeling tense, "you fuck up at basketball, it's bye bye to that. I pour my heart out to you, you freak out and don't talk to me for days!"

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I instantly regretted them. Troy stiffened before chuckling darkly and standing up. "I can't believe you just said that. I can't believe you brought that up."

"Troy," I began, panicked, "I didn't mean to bring that up, I'm sorry."

"You know," he said, looking anywhere but me, "I thought that we had moved past this. I thought after all of the bullshit, all of the yearbook drama, we were finally in a secure enough place that you would stop doubting me. Not doubting us. Yet somehow, I'm not surprised."

"Troy," I said desperately, "just hold on a minute."

"Look, I'm gonna go. Go and try to find Chad," he said briskly, "I'll call you later."

And with that he had walked out.

I slumped back on the couch in Jenny's, feeling very small and very alone. What had just happened? What had we just fought about? Troy and I never fought. Now we were fighting about something like this?

Somehow it felt deeper though and that scared me even more. Sitting alone on the big couch in Jenny's, I pulled my knees up to my chest and cried.

---

I sat in my dorm-room later that night, crying like an idiot and listening to sad music. What did this even mean? Why did I get so upset over Troy saying I meddled. I didn't meddle! Why did I throw all those things back in his face. What was wrong with me?

Sniffling, I slid off my bed and slipped on my Homer Simpson slippers—the only thing I had unpacked and thought about what to do next. Normally I would go to the rooftop, and had I felt more sentimental, I would have.

I felt someone's eyes on me and I looked up, only to find Bethany staring back. I blinked.

"What?" I asked cautiously.

Bethany stared at me blankly. "Are you crying?"

I scrubbed at my cheeks. "Maybe."

She cocked an eyebrow. "Why?"

"Are you asking because you care," I inquired slowly, "or are you asking because I'm bothering you."

"You're bothering me," she replied. "I didn't come here to make friends or listen to you cry over your stupid boyfriend. So please, leave."

I paused. "Wait, so I can't have friends here and now I can't cry here? In my own dorm-room? Really?"

"Yup," Bethany said and I instantly decided she was about six billion times worse than Sharpay at her bitchiest.

Sharpay! I hadn't seen her since the day before. She was now an RA...meaning she now had a single. I could go there!

"You know what," I said, standing up, "I will bring friends over whenever I want, and you can just deal!"

"No I won't," she said, arranging black throw pillows on her bed. Rolling my eyes, I opened the door and slammed it behind me before making my way down the hall and pass the common room over to Sharpay's room.

"So this is the place you're ditching me for?" I asked almost bitterly as I stepped into the large dorm room that was now Sharpay's living place. She glanced over at me, smiling as she adjusted a black and white canvas of Audrey Hepburn on her wall.

"That it is, that it is!" she said excitedly, clapping her hands as she jumped down from the step-stool. "Isn't it awesome? A whole room all to myself!"

"Yeah, it's great," I said, sniffing slightly. I couldn't get the fight with Troy out of my head, his words running on a loop through my mind. What he had said hurt, but at the same time, I couldn't help but worry if what he had said was true.

Sharpay paused, staring at me. "What's wrong?" she asked cautiously, "did you and Troy have a fight or something?"

She asked it nonchalantly, like it was the farthest thing that could happen, so when I nodded, she gasped, furrowing her brows. "Wait, you actually had a fight? You and Troy? Golden couple Troy and Gabriella? You guys never fight!"

"Hey!" I protested, slumping over on her bed. "That's not true we fight! Just...just not like this."

"Like what?" Sharpay said gently. "What happened?"

I began to relay the story of what Troy and I had fought about, stumbling over my words. About stupid Chad and Taylor and how I lashed out at him. How mean he had been. How mean I had been.

"Is it true?" I asked hesitantly. "Do I meddle?"

"Yes," Sharpay said bluntly, "you do."

My jaw dropped open. "Hey!" I said, even more hurt, "I do not!" I stood up angrily and folded my arms.

Sharpay laughed slightly, grabbing my wrist and dragging me back down to the bed. "Yes, you do," she said simply. "You did it with Ryan and I. You did it when Troy was freaking out about basketball. And you did it with Chad and Taylor."

I frowned. "It was Troy's idea almost a year ago, though! Why am I suddenly the bad one for trying to see if they clicked?"

"Because some people don't want to be forced into romance, Gabriella," Sharpay said pointedly, "you hated it when I used to even tease you about Troy. Could imagine what it would have been like had I tried to set you up?"

"Well, no," I admitted, "but that's not the point! I'm not meddling, I'm just trying to help."

"You are," Sharpay said softly, "your intentions are always good, but sometimes, people don't want help. That's when it becomes meddling." She paused and bit her lip. "Somehow, though, I think this runs a little bit deeper."

"It's just that..." I sighed. "I said some awful things. I told him that he always runs away when things get hard."

"Which he sometimes does," Sharpay agreed, "he's done that in the past. But that doesn't mean he's going to run away from you."

My head shot up and I looked at her curiously. "What?"

Sharpay wrapped her arm around my shoulders. "Just because Troy freaks out when bad things happen, when things don't go according to plan, it doesn't mean he's going to break up with you for it. It doesn't mean he'll suddenly throw everything away. You guys have been through too much, come too far for that bullshit."

"I just..." I played with the horseshoe dangling around my neck, remembering the way Troy had looked at me when he clasped it there. "I can't help it. I'm so scared that one day, it's all just going to crumble in front of my eyes, Sharpay. Sometimes things with Troy...they're so perfect. They're so wonderful. Good things can never last."

"Ah," Sharpay said, standing up and walking over to a box by the side of the room. She pulled out several picture frames and came to sit next to me again. "That's where you're wrong. This has always been the problem with you, Gabriella, you've always been so insecure about what goes on between you and Troy."

I bristled. "No I haven't."

"Yes," she said with a half smile, "you have. You were friends and you thought he'd get mad at you for a game of assassin. You spent months denying the notion that he could even have feelings for you, despite the fact that it was ridiculously apparent to everyone in the room but you. Troy loves you, I don't need to tell you that, and you need to stop worrying and start living."

I didn't say anything. Was Sharpay right? Was I still insecure about what Troy and I had after all this time? Maybe. But I loved Troy and he loved me. What was I so afraid of?

"It's not going to suddenly end, Gabriella," Sharpay said as if voicing my thoughts. "You and Troy, you could be the real deal. Things like that don't just float away."

With that, she slipped a picture frame in my lap. It was one of a framed photo of Troy, she and I. He stood in the middle, his arms wrapped around the both of us. Sharpay and I looked at each other, giggling profusely, while Troy...

Troy was looking at me.

I felt something catch in my throat and the tears will at my eyes. God, I was so stupid.

"I'm so foolish," I muttered and Sharpay rubbed at my back gently.

"Ah, babe, it's okay!" she said, "it's Troy, he'll understand!"

A soft knock was heard at the door and a short boy stood there, looking rather nervous, Sharpay glared.

"Can't you see we are having a moment?" she yelled, "come back later!"

The boy scrambled away nervously and Sharpay scoffed. "Fucking freshmen."

I blinked at her. "Sharpay, he probably needed your help."

"So?" she asked, bluntly. "If he did, he'll come back. Now, tell me, where should I hang my Johnny Depp poster. This is of crucial importance."

---

An hour later, I knocked on Troy's door as best as I could juggling two steaming cups of hot chocolate. The door opened a moment later and he appeared before me, his eyes tired and his hair ruffled and flopping in his face. He frowned when he saw me, sighing loudly and leaning against the door frame, arms folded. I stiffened.

He didn't look happy.

"What do you want?" he asked bitterly and I shivered at his tone of voice. "Making sure I didn't run away?"

"No," I said quietly, "I um, brought hot chocolate."

He stared down at the styrofoam cups in my hands. "It's September. It's boiling hot outside. Why would you get hot chocolate."

My cheeks flushed hotly in embarrassment and I shoved one at him. He accepted it and our fingers brushed. Feeling disheartened and angry, I spun on my heel to leave. "You know what? I came here to apologize and if you're gonna be an asshole, then I'm just going to go."

I felt his smooth fingers grasp my wrist and propel me backwards. "Gabi, wait!" he said quickly and I turned around. He ran a hand over his face and sighed. "I'm sorry. I just...just come in."

Hesitantly, I stepped into his empty dorm-room. Was it really worth it? Maybe I should just wait until he cooled off further. "You sure?"

He closed the door behind me and nodded. "Yeah."

A beat of silence passed between us and I glanced around the room as Troy set down his hot chocolate on his desk. "It's nice in here. Where's Chad? Zeke?"

"Zeke's running some errands, getting some junk to stock the fridge and Chad..." he rubbed the back of his neck, "he's um, out with Taylor. Guess they get off that...fighting thing."

I felt a smile creep up my face, I couldn't help it and Troy groaned in aggravation, flopping down on his bed. "Don't look so smug, Gabi," he said, annoyed. "Seriously does not suit you."

"Hey!" I protested, "I told you—" I took a deep breath. "That's nice for them."

"Yep," he said shortly, "it is."

Twisting my hands together, I tried to get my bearings. Tried to get a hold on the ground beneath me. "Troy, I..."

He sat up quickly, his eyes fixed on me. "You...? What?"

"I'm sorry!" I said, burying my face in my hands. "I'm sorry I accused you of running away when things got tough! I'm sorry for implying that...that I thought...that..."

"That'd I'd break up with you instead of working through issues," Troy supplied and I nodded. He scoffed and ran a hand through his hair. "Gabi, we've been together for almost a year now. A year. That's a really long time for some people."

"I know," I said, peaking through my fingers. "It is."

Troy stood up from his bed, shoving his hands into his pockets. "I don't know what I can do to make it more clear to you, to make you understand that I'm not going anywhere."

"Troy—"

"What do you want me to say?" he said sadly, "I love you, Gabriella. I love you. I've never loved anyone in my entire life. You know you're all I think about—half of the music on my iPod reminds me of you. Everything is scary and new, and yeah, there's going to be times when I freak out."

He stepped closer to me, pulling my hands down from my face and bringing his own to cup my jaw. "But that doesn't mean that I don't want to work through whatever happens. That doesn't mean that I'm going to bail on you if we fight. I love you, I want to be with you, I need you. It doesn't get more complicated than that."

"But I'm impulsive!" I said, leaning into his touch, "and I meddle! I'm going to cause drama without even meaning to."

Troy laughed. "And that's okay with me. I love how you meddle, sure it pisses me off, but I still love it. And Gabi, you're absolutely crazy, but that's why I love you so much. Because you're so insane."

"Thanks," I said, rolling my eyes. "What every girl wants to hear."

"Hey, it's the truth," he said, pressing a kiss to my forehead. "Just trust me Gabi. After all of this time, trust me."

"I do," I said softly, "I do completely."

"Good," Troy said, "then we'll be alright."

I looked up at him, feeling my heart piece itself back together. "Yeah, we will be."

We kissed then, gently, softly, as if it was the first time all over again. We broke apart for breath a moment later and I rested my forehead against his, looking into his eyes and smiling.

"So," I began, "that was our first fight."

"Looks like it," Troy said with a chuckle. "It sucked."

"It was kind of petty, too," I said diplomatically, reaching up to kiss the freckles on his nose. "Let's never do it again."

Laughing to himself, Troy pulled me over to the bed and dragged me on top of him. "Sounds like a plan," he said, kissing my lips again. "Hey, you know what though?"

"What I asked, feeling his palm graze the back of my thigh.

"Zeke's over at Sharpay's for the night."

I raised an eyebrow. "Oh, is he?" I smirked, "and that means we're all alone in this big room by ourselves?"

He nodded. "What are we going to do?"

I shrugged. "I'm sure we'll think of something."

---

So after a conversation with the lovely Kelly, in which she reminded me of how much I loved TDBU!Troy and I reminisced about how great it was writing this story, I suddenly felt the urge to revisit it one last time. Writing this story was amazing for me. It was the first time I really connected with a plot-line and the characters and you all responded so wonderfully.

It holds a special place in my heart and for the longest time I was certain that I was finished with this story and I think I am. Yet today when I was feeling blue (I'm so sick) Troy and Gabi were like, hey, Diana, let us tell you this story that happened at the beginning of our Sophomore year, we think you'll like it.

And I did. So I wrote it down.

I've been feeling a weird lack of attachment to things I've been writing and somehow, I felt like revisiting this might help me recapture some of the...I don't even know what that I had when writing this. I feel like I did and now I will go on and continue with what I'm working on now. :)

I also noticed there was over 200 people who still had this on their alerts list. So I hope this was a nice surprise.

Also, this is the closest you will ever get to a sequel. Ever. Don't ask for more, I don't have the heart to write it or the heart to not write it.