It's Always Been You

Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with High School Musical nor anything related to the magazines, T.V. shows, movies that I choose to mention in this story as well as anything having to do with the celebrity life. Take everything has fiction!

AN: Thanks guys for all the reviews last chapter. I'm glad that a number of yall are still keeping up with this story. I noticed there was some concern with the fact that Troy didn't take Gabriella to the hospital after the incident. There was a reason for that, the number one being that the chapter would have been hella long and ending it where I did was what I had planned. The second was the state of mind the two had been in, but have no fear it will all work out and I was planning on giving her the medical attention she needed.

I hope yall like this chapter. It's the last. This story has been a joy to write and the feedback has been amazing. Thanks so much for that. I want to apologize again for the distance in updates that have happen over the past few chapters. My next story hopefully will not have that considering I have written pretty far into the story beforehand.

The first chapter of Then and Now will be posted with the next week so please look out for that. I've really put a lot of thought into it and am having a blast currently writing it, so I hope yall give it a chance and enjoy.

Thanks again for reading and taking the time to leave your thoughts. I adore you all.

Chapter 27

His heart had finally stopped beating wildly inside his chest and his mind had slowed to a logical and rational pace. He could hear the officers along with Elliott and Josh fumbling about on the floor below, but his main focus had remained on the exhausted woman lying on the bed in front of him.

He shifted closer to her side, sweeping away the damp strands clinging to her forehead and cheeks, "I almost lost you. I…I don't know what I would have done"

A slow comforting smile pulled at the corner of her lips, "but you didn't, baby…I'm okay now. You saved me"

Troy let out a deep sigh, his eyes drifting close in relief, opening seconds later to lock with the brown depths he wanted to look into forever, "God, I love you"

Gabriella's smile grew , "I love you too" she said trying to ease her body into a sitting position, but slithered back onto her back groaning in pain.

Troy's eyes widened in concern and his hands went to cup each side of her face, drawing her attention to look at him, "he hurt you badly before I got here didn't' he?" he asked through gritted teeth, trying his best to control his voice from conveying the bubbling anger and worry that was becoming more present as he observed the scrunched pain contorting her face.

Gabriella nodded, taking a deep breath, "I'm fine though, Troy"

Troy swallowed thickly, letting out a silent sigh. His hands began to fumble with her shirt, lifting it above her waist, "I'm just going to make sure baby"

He gasped. The massive dark discoloration he discovered on her abdomen made his stomach drop and his breathing constrict tight inside his lungs. His now wet eyes lifted from the gruesome bruise to her dark eyes that were watching him, "oh baby" he cried just above a whisper.

A tear fell from her eye, trailing down her cheek, "it's okay…it's over"

Troy shook his head, "what else did he do to you that I can't visually see?" he asked, anger more existent in his voice, his navy stare now lingering on the red swollen skin of her cheek and the bile rumbling inside his stomach was threatening to rise up his throat. He had obviously laid his hands on her, but to what extent he had no idea.

Gabriella knew what he was alluding to, "He didn't rape me Troy"

The tightness that was apparent in his rigid stature eased slightly in relief, "thank God for that" he said, giving her a soft smile trying to sooth her, "did he…um…did he hit you anywhere else baby?"

Gabriella lowered the neck of her shirt, which had been stained with blood, revealing the disgusting gash that the blade of Michael's knife had caused.

"Fuck, Gabriella" he said quickly and loudly, all calmness he had just felt evaporating as he jumped to his feet and peered down her chest. The tears that had been floating along his orbs were now spilling from his lids. His head shook from side to side as he got a better look at the deep cut. He swallowed hard, his sad tear filled eyes lifting to meet hers, "baby"

Gabriella stroked the side of his moist face, "I'm going to be okay Troy. He can't hurt me or you ever again"

He lifted his palm to close over hers that rest along his check, "I know, but I should have noticed sooner how badly he hurt you. I need to get you to a hospital sweetheart. That gash looks awful and you could have some internal bleeding or broken ribs from whatever he did to your stomach."

Gabriella's eyes fell shut and a long tired sigh escaped her lips, "yea…okay"

Troy nodded, "okay…okay" he turned his head towards the doorway, "Elliott, can you come up here please"

Elliott entered the room not long after, "everything okay?"

"I need to get Gabriella to the hospital. It seems that fucker really did a number on her. Her abdomen looks like he kicked the shit out of her and she has a gash across her chest that probably needs stitches." He stated firmly, anger lacing his voice once again.

Elliott quickly snapped his attention towards Gabriella and gave her a concerned and fatherly look and then brought his attention back to Troy, letting out a sigh, "what do you need from me?"

"Has word gotten out as to what is going on here?' Troy asked, eyes serious and focused.

Elliott shook his head, "it hasn't been brought to my attention that it has, but Josh and I have been so focused on dealing with the police and getting that son of bitch out of here that I haven't really had time to check and see if any camera people have shown up, but I imagine it won't be long before they do. Actually, I've already made a call to Shelia, so she would be aware that she needs to get with Ben ASAP to figure out how this is to be dealt with"

Troy groaned, running his hands through his hair, "okay…whatever. I don't really care about all that shit right now. What I need to do is get her out of here and to the hospital and not having to deal with the fucking leeches would be ideal. Can you go see if Josh can deal with the shit here and you drive us in your car to the hospital? I think that's the best bet we have right now without being seen."

"Of course, yeah that fine. I'll go talk to Josh. I pulled around back, so no one should be able to see you when you exit the house. I'll meet you two in a few" he said and then headed back down the stairs to feel Josh in on the plan.

She had already begun to drift in and out of sleep, the attack her body and mind had undergone finally taking its toll.

Troy leaned over and hoisted Gabriella off of the bed, cradling her legs over his arms and tucking her head underneath his chin, "I'm going to take of you baby. They're going to fix everything at the hospital" he whispered softly against the line of her jaw, kissing it lightly as he encouraged her to continue to rest.

Once he descended down the stairs he gave Josh a nod of thanks and head towards the back of the house and out the side door where Elliott had said his car was parked. He shifted her weight, so that he could ease the backdoor of the large SUV open, wrapping his arms just as securely around her once it was open. He looked around to make sure no one had managed to get back and sighed when nothing looked out of the ordinary. He knew it was a long shot, Gabriella's home was pretty well secluded, but he also wasn't naïve enough to down play the severity of this situation. He and Gabriella had been playing coy and silent about their relationship for quite a while, so they were already a hot topic of gossip, so once word of the calamity that had gone down tonight hit the airwaves, it was going to be a hornets nest and if he was a betting man, he was sure some kind of word had already gotten out.

He kissed her temple softly and whispered a few words of loving encouragement before lying her down on the back seat. He climbed in himself, once he got her comfortable and settled, shutting the door shortly after. He shifted his body so that it rested along the side of her, wanting to be as close to her as possible. His hand softly caressed the silky moist skin of her cheek in an attempt to soothe her, but also soothe himself. Somehow feeling the heat of her skin, and the strong pulse in her neck as his palm lightly grazed the slender length, gave him great comfort in a situation where he felt completely helpless.

The sound of a door shutting and the roar of an engine pulled him from his self-inflicted trance, of watching her. He looked to Elliott's stare in the rearview mirror, "Ready?"

He nodded, "Yep. Do you want me to call ahead to the hospital right now or as we are arriving?"

Troy shook his head, "No. You just drive, I'll take care of it" he said, protective and possessive, pulling his phone from his pocket and began searching for the special number that Shelia had given him long ago had anything ever happened and he needed medical attention.

Elliott pulled from his spot and began down the driveway, where it seemed people of the paparazzi nature had begun to crowd around the entrance, "Fuck" he muttered under his breath, "I had hoped we would beat them. Troy, try to crouch down"

Troy rolled his eyes, he wasn't surprised and he knew Elliott wasn't either. He had merely been trying to keep their stress level at a minimum when he said he wasn't sure.

He brought the ringing phone to his ear and waited for someone to answer, sighing in relief when they finally did, "This is Troy Bolton. I'm on my way with Gabriella Montez, can someone please meet at the private entrance with a stretcher. I'll explain when we arrive."

The woman on the line politely stated her understanding.

"Thank you and it's my understanding that anything that is said and has been said will remain quiet and private?" He waited for her confirmation and hung up the phone, his eyes remaining stationed on the steady up rise of Gabriella's chest.

Gabriella dug her head into the soft plushness that it rested upon and her eyes began to gradually flutter open. She let out a few grunts, easing her body onto its side and contently sighed when she saw Troy resting, squeezed between the bed railing and her. His eyes were closed tight, his arm draped across her stomach and his hair in utter disarray. He was adorable. She smiled, bringing her hand to stroke the side of her scruffy face, wincing when she noticed she had an IV secured in the vein along the side of her wrist. She we her lips and leaned forward, pressing her mouth to his in a loving kiss, pulling back moments later to look at his sweet face. "I love you" she whispered.

His eyes shot open, "what's wrong?"

Gabriella giggled, running her fingers through his hair, "calm down heartthrob"

Troy took a silent deep breath and then smiled at her, "excuse me. I'm a little on edge right now" he stated, laughter present in his voice.

Gabriella scooted closer, so that her body molded into the curve of his frame, just the way she loved it. She nuzzled his noise with hers, "baby, I told you everything was going to be okay. I'm not going to let a couple broken ribs and a few stitches take me down. You know better than that" she sweetly and confidently said, giving his lips a languidly kiss.

Troy sighed, wrapping his arms around her, giving a long peck to her forehead, "You're strong Gabriella. I never doubted that, but you sweetheart are not invincible. That bastard could have taken you away from me and that is something I will never forget or forgive. He will pay for what he has done. We will go on with our life, but please know that there is nothing that I won't do to protect you. Nothing."

Gabriella smiled, "I know and I love so very much for that. "

He gazed down at her, the pad of his thumb tracing the plumpness of her bottom lip, "good…now let's go see about getting you out of here. There is a much more comfortable bed at my place"

Gabriella chuckled, "mmm hmm, and something tells me the care and attention will be a bit more enjoyable."

Troy laughed, "that's a guarantee baby"

"Troy, it's been almost a week and if you don't let me out of this house to see that there are indeed still people walking the plant I'm going to break two of your ribs and leave you to fend for yourself while I get lost in the shoe department at Barney's."

Troy laughed at her scowling face, standing next to the door, purse in tow. Her threats had gotten beyond humorous as of late, "I just don't want you to overextend yourself. You have been through a good bit of shit and despite Shelia and Ben's ability to handle all the crap that went down with Michael, the creeps will still be all over your ass. They don't know to the extent of what fully happen, and I'm pretty sure they know that"

Gabriella stomped her foot and crossed her arms, "I don't give a fuck Troy. I want to shop. I want to get my nails done. I just…I just want to do something"

Troy smirked at her childish tactics. It was cute. Yes, he believed all that he was warning her against, but he had another underlying reason for wanting to keep her inside a bit longer.

"Baby, I'm just looking out for you. I don't want you to have to deal with all the questions and camera flashes alone until you are really ready"

Gabriella quirked a brow at him, "so, this is about me going out alone? Fine, come with me, I don't care, actually that would be nice. It would help me associated you with something else than the warden who is holding me captive.'

Troy laughed, "you must really want out pretty badly to be resorting to Sharpay like dramatic reasoning"

Gabriella sighed, falling back onto the chair next to the entrance, "Come on heartthrob" she pleaded, her big brown doe eyes, peeking behind her lashes, "please"

Troy grinned down at her, taking her hands in his and pulling her to her feet, "okay. I'll let you leave and I'll even go with you if you do something for me?"

Gabriella's eyes lit up and her beautiful smile pulled drastically at her cheeks, "okay…anything. You got it. I'll do anything"

Troy smirked, "I'm going to remember you said that"

Gabriella rolled her eyes, slapping him across the chest playfully, "come on…get with it. I'm in desperate need of slipping my feet into some Louis Vuitton's."

Troy laced their fingers together and started to lead her out onto the back patio.

Gabriella began to look at him with a furrowed brow and a cocked mouth, "why are we out her by the pool?" she asked once he released her hand and went to sit on one of chaises that reside along the water's edge.

Gabriella stood immobile, watching him walk away from her and then begin to lounge rather comfortably on the while pillow top, "Troy, this does not look like it's going to get me any closer to leaving this house"

Troy smiled sweetly at her, "I promise you it is. Come here, sit by me" he requested, patting the spot next to him.

She looked at him skeptically, but then conceded with a sigh, and stalked over to him. She took a seat next to him and gave him the fakest smile he had ever seen.

Troy laughed, sweeping a curl from her cheek, "you know…I'm finding all this pre-teen behavior rather entertaining. You must have been a real riot back then"

Gabriella gave him a stern look.

Troy chuckled again, "okay….I know when to stop."

Gabriella sighed, "thank you. Now, what is it you want me to do?"

Troy sat up, pulling Gabriella to sit in his lab. He smiled softly at the confusion and annoyance that covered her face. His finger casually traced the lines of her face as he stared into her eyes, "you know, I think I've loved you from the very first moment I noticed you had specks of yellow in your irises."

Gabriella swallowed, her body becoming a bit tense at the sudden change in mood.

"Do you know when I noticed that?" he asked, his fingers now easing their way through her soft locks.

Gabriella shook her head, having no idea where he was going with this or how the air around her suddenly became thick and hard to breath.

"It was when you helped fixed my hair at the first Vanity Fair shoot. You were so gorgeous and your eyes captured me. I think I knew then that we had something, even though we had barely spoken. It was a jolt, a realization that our hearts had found its counterpart. You know."

Gabriella could feel her heart beginning to beat wildly inside her chest and her mouth was beginning to dry, making it hard to speak, "Troy…I…what"

Troy pulled her tighter to his chest, "but do you know when I realized that I couldn't live without you?"

Gabriella just shook her head, her gaze never leaving his unwavering sapphire stare.

"It was the night you touched me and I stormed upstairs. I was ready to release my feelings for you or try to release my feelings for you. It didn't seem I would ever have you, not in the way I wanted, but my heart wouldn't let me. When I walked down those stairs and saw your beautiful body sleeping on my couch I knew I couldn't live one day without you in my life."

Gabriella could feel the tears tickling the bottom of her lids beginning to fall. She drug her lower lip insider her mouth as she waited for him to continue.

"Gabriella, when you gave me the honor of having you as my girlfriend, as my person to love with all my heart, you made my life fully complete. To the outside world we are whatever they want us to be, but in our world, the world that matters we are together and as long as we have each other we can do anything, face anything."

The tears had begun to fall down her cheeks, all wants and desires she previous had, completely forgotten. All that mattered was the wonderful man inches from her.

Troy wiped a few of the tears lining her face away as he reached underneath the chair and pulled out a tiny blue box.

Gabriella gasped, her hands clutching her mouth.

Troy smiled opening the tiny box to reveal and even smaller box. He eased Gabriella onto the cushion, getting up himself and then dropping to one knee. "Can I have this hand?" he asked with his perfect grin tugging at his lips, pulling the left one from her mouth. "Gabriella, I love you more than anything in this world and will love you forever. Will you marry me?" he asked, his own eyes beginning to fill with tears, as he opened the tiny box revealing a large center solitaire with equally beautiful diamonds trailing the band.

Gabriella looked at him with wet eyes and an ecstatic smile on her face, "is this what you wanted me to do for you?"

Troy chuckled, "yeah…this is what I wanted you do for me"

Gabriella laughed, flinging her arms around his neck, "yes…of course…I…I'd be more than happy to do that for you. Yes, yes, yes, yes she whispered in his ear"

Troy placed her back on the chaise, taking the ring from the box and slipping it on her finger.

Gabriella extended her arm, curling her hand to further examine the gorgeous and love filled piece of jewelry and then brought her eyes back to gaze into the watching blues, "Troy, I love it" she said, tears still falling from her lids as she scooted to the edge of the cushion, bracketing his face between her tiny hands, "and I love you…so, so very much" She brushed his lips with hers, her fingers tangling tightly in his sandy strands. Their lips parted together, tongues swooping harmoniously inside the others inviting mouth, caressing and embracing one another.

He picked himself up off his knee, pulling her up with him and brining her down on his lap. His mouth released its hold on her lips, trailing down the column of her neck, nipping, sucking and stroking the tender skin. His hands slid down her slides pulling her center into his hard ridge, "thank you" he whispered over and over again.

Gabriella smiled, pulling her head back so that she could look into his eyes, "no need to thank me, heartthrob. You just made me Mrs. Heartthrob and that's more than I can ever ask." She said in her sweet honey voice, giggling, "it's always been you, and it's me who should be thankful that you never gave up on me, allowing my stubborn head time to finally see." She smirked happily at him and then brought her lips back down up onto his, continuing their blissful celebration. A celebration that would be ongoing forever, Troy had made certain of that.

Thank you to everyone who has read and will read this story!