A/N: Alice is writing another one shot. What. A. Shocker. And the main plot line doesn't seem to shift that often but whatever. Posting little one-shots here and there seems to be better then just being inactive all together. And yes. I was inspired by one of those ridiculously cheesy AIM icons.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Obviously.

Summary: It's been said that if a guy calls you 'hot' then he's looking at your body. If he calls you 'pretty' then he's complimenting your face but if he calls you 'beautiful' then he's looking at your heart. No boy had ever called Gabriella Montez beautiful.

By: Mini princess93

Gabriella was gorgeous.

It was one of those basic facts of life like diamonds are a girls' best friend or that no matter what your teachers told you, geometry was not necessary for real life. She was stunning from her deep chestnut eyes, her high cheekbones and flawless complexion to her slender, petite figure. And with a sparkling personality to boot, Gabriella Montez was practically an angel.

"How do I look?" Gabriella asked with a cute smile on her face. She descended down the white carpeted staircase of her house to where her boyfriend was waiting, teetering precariously in her high heels. Once she reached the bottom, she gave a graceful little twirl, giggling as her skirt fanned around her. Pressing her slender hand to imaginary wrinkle on the satin fabric of her eggplant purple cocktail dress, she stood nervously anticipating her boyfriend's reaction. The strapless dress had a bodice covered in intricate gold and silver embroidery and tiny metallic seed beads, the skirt flaring out into for a subtle tutu effect before it came to a halt a few inches above the knees. The smooth skin of her toned legs went on for miles until a pair of gold heels strapped themselves upon her dainty feet. Her long chocolate brown locks had been swept up into an elegant up-do and her mother's talent with a mascara wand displayed itself proudly upon her striking features.

Not that he noticed.

"Aaron," She said hesitantly when she received no acknowledgment.

"Hu-what?" He looked up from his phone, evidently confused. "Oh, you look hot babe." And just like that, his attention was diverted to his phone again.

Gabriella frowned her glossy pink lips, sucking in her bottom one to nibble on gently. Aaron was forever calling her 'hot' and it had been flattering at first but after two months, she was more than ready for a new adjective. "Thanks." She faked a weak smile, pressing a light kiss onto the warm skin of his cheek.

Not that he cared.

"Pictures, pictures!" Maria Montez squealed, hurtling out of the living room waving Gabriella's digital camera in the air.

Gabriella rolled her eyes at her mother's antics but nonetheless allowed Aaron to wrap an arm around Gabriella's waist as she smiled for the camera. The flash exploded in her vision as Maria held onto the shutter button.

"One more," Maria promised. Gabriella shifted her position slightly so that she was closer to Aaron as Maria fiddled with the buttons on the complicated device.

"You ready to go?" Aaron asked casually, once it was over. He finally stowed his phone into the pocket of his suit and Gabriella almost sighed with relief.

"Absolutely," Gabriella agreed, grabbing her black velvet clutch from the table next to the door. She checked its contents: phone-check, keys-check, wallet-check, spare make-up-check. All set. She looped her thin arm with his and let him lead her out the wooden French doors and to his black Honda sedan.

Once upon a time, Aaron would open the passenger side door like a gentleman for her but those days were long gone. He simply slid into the driver's seat and waited for Gabriella to open the door and sink into the plush seating. She fastened her grey seat belt and off they went.

As they sped through the quiet streets of Albuquerque, Gabriella twisted the chain of her silver Tiffany & Co. heart shaped locket in her nimble fingers. Her mocha eyes shifted over to her boyfriend every so often. An awkward silence sat heavily in the small confines of the car. A quiet beep coming from her purse interrupted her thoughts. She fished her phone from within it's depths to reveal a text message from Troy.

u here yet?

Troy Bolton. He was her best friend. Or at least something to that effect. Their relationship hadn't ever been officially defined but they were close. Together, they had managed to overthrow East High's well established social system by auditioning for the winter musical. Not only that but they came out victorious over the resident Drama King and Queen. Through rehearsals, the actual show and all the time they spent together in between, they had bonded.

For a short time, Gabriella had deluded herself into believing that she and Troy had more than a friendship developing. After the basketball championships, he had come this close to kissing her before Chad 'Impeccable Timing' Danforth interrupted them with the presentation of the game ball.

Gabriella wanted to chuck that damn ball off the rooftop.

And at the time, she fantasized about Chad diving after it (as he most likely would) and meeting a similar fate but she stopped blaming him a long time ago. Troy had plenty of opportunities within the month where Gabriella had been pining after him but nothing happened. Less than nothing if that was even possible. She 'casually' hinted at it several times but either Troy was extremely dense or he was purposely avoiding the topic. The conclusion that Gabriella had been forced to draw was that Troy had no feelings for her. After the game, adrenaline had been running high so the infamous 'almost-kiss' had been a spur of the moment mistake that he had no intentions of repeating.

So she had moved on. Countless boys had expressed an interest in her after the callbacks but Gabriella turned them down, hoping for Troy to come around. She had rejected them all until Aaron Collins. He was a football player. He was attractive with his dirty blonde hair and navy blue eyes, reasonably smart in her AP chemistry class and very sweet. Gabriella could see herself with him. At first, he had been a tactic to make Troy jealous. She even went to him for his 'approval' (read between the lines: she wanted him to forbid her to date Aaron). It didn't work but as time wore on, she acquired a certain affection for Aaron. It was nothing earth shattering but it sustained their relatively stable relationship.

Gabriella was embarrassed to admit that she was still holding a torch for Troy but if that wasn't going to happen, she was glad they were friends.

not yet but aaron and I are on our way

She texted back, her fingers flying over the keypad.

Aaron killed the engine as they pulled up to the familiar high school. Gabriella followed him into the gymnasium and marveled, not for the first time, at the decorating committee's ability to transform the normally bland room. Almost every visible surface had been draped with themed decorations. Immediately she spotted a group of her friends standing in the far corner of the room. As she turned to drag Aaron over with her, she was met an empty space with Aaron nowhere to be found. Gabriella shrugged and skipped over to Chad, Taylor and Troy.

"Taylor!" She squealed giving her close friend a one armed hug. "You look so cute, I love your hair like this." Her friend's normally straight midnight black hair had been twisted into loose curls. She playfully pulled on one of the coils and released it to see it spring right back into place again.

"Why thank you darling." Taylor jokingly tossed her hair off her shoulders prissily.

Gabriella giggled "Hey Chad," She greeted. Seeing the usually goofy kid in formal wear always looked unfamiliar to her no matter how many times she saw him. "Look who died and made you James Bond." She laughed as Chad looked pleasantly surprised by that compliment.

"Danforth, Chad Danforth." He tested, deepening his voice for a mysterious edge.

"Doesn't work for you," His girlfriend informed him sympathetically. Chad pretended to pout in disappointment.

"Hey Brie," A soft and comforting voice sounded from behind her. Gabriella whipped around at the endearment reserved for one person, and one person alone.

"Troy!" She exclaimed, flying into the warm embrace of his strong arms. He encircled her torso with a tight hug, lifting Gabriella off her feet. Troy was significantly taller than Gabriella and consequently able to raise her and spin her around as Gabriella giggled. He set her down. Gabriella's cheeks were tinged with red, half from being picked up and by default, closer to Troy and half because he seemed to be observing her quite intently.

"You clean up nicely." She commented. This was a vast understatement. Gabriella noted his pristine black suit, appreciating the clean straight lines of the smooth fabric covering his body, each crease and seam fitting him to a tee.

"You think?" He pinched onto one of his lapels of the coal colored blazer with his thumb and forefinger and did a suave turn to show off the three-sixty effect. Gabriella had to make sure to keep her breathing in check, it didn't seem possible for someone to look that good.

"Oh, completely," Gabriella nodded definitively. "Except…hold on-" She leaned in closer, catching a whiff of his cologne, then reached up and straightened the knot of his silky apple red tie.

Troy lifted his chin to ensure he didn't accidentally bump the top of Gabriella's head. He coughed awkwardly and swallowed uncomfortably at the close proximity of Gabriella as Chad and Taylor exchanged knowing looks behind the backs of the oblivious pair.

Gabriella stepped back and cocked her head to a slight angle to inspect her work. "Much better,"

"Well, I've got nothing on you. You look amazing Brie." He complimented her, brushing his hand tenderly upon her bare shoulder that had been dusted with gold shimmer powder and Gabriella felt the blush fighting its way upon her face again. She bashfully looked down at the waxy hardwood floor, counting the scuffs.

"Thanks." She raised her eyes to meet his. The intensity of his cerulean blue eyes caught her off guard and she hoped that red was suitably compatible with her dress. With Troy by her side, her cheeks were going to be wearing her rosy blush all night.

"So where's the boyfriend?" Chad asked, shooting a look at Troy. Troy glared back for a second but Gabriella didn't notice.

"Uh," She looked around the gym for the guy she had come to the dance with. "I actually…" Gabriella tried looking again. "Have no idea?" She frowned but ignored it. She wasn't worried, just confused. Postponing the moment when she would go look for him, she chose to chat with her friends.

"So, um, have any plans with Aaron tomorrow?" Troy asked, returning the look to Chad. That one Gabriella caught and it mystified her ever so slightly.

"Not to my knowledge." She shrugged. "Why?"

"Well, do you want to see a movie? My treat." Troy offered raising his eyebrows, trying to tempt her.

"That sounds great. Except I'm not letting you pay for me. You're going to go broke if you keep on being so nice to me." Gabriella insisted. This was an old fight and somehow Gabriella kept losing to Troy's powers of persuasion.

"I invited you, I'm paying." Troy said firmly.

"Fine, but I'm treating you next time." Gabriella crossed her arms across her chest, forgetting that she said this every time.

"Okay, sure." Troy rolled his eyes, apparently not forgetting. She would always promise this yet every time they would end up having this same argument.

"Troy," She whined, finally catching on that he was mocking her.

"Brie," He mimicked her immature tone. They held a brief staring contest until Gabriella looked up suddenly.

"I love this song!" She exclaimed. "I'm going to go find Aaron, I'll see you guys later." She waved goodbye to the trio and set off across the dance floor, feeling a little guilty for not looking for him earlier.

It didn't take long to find him. He was standing at the edge of the room, hanging right near the doors with a group of his friends.

"Aaron, let's dance." She pulled a cup of punch from his grasp and set it on a nearby table then proceeded to tug his arm to bring him closer to the dance floor but he resisted. He stood completely still, refusing her attempts to move him.

"Gabriella, can we talk?" He requested solemnly.

"Sure." Gabriella's excited smile faltered a little at Aaron's uncharacteristically somber tone. She followed him out the gym doors and kept glancing at Aaron nervously but he was avoiding her eyes skillfully. "Anything wrong?" She asked, hoping this conversation wasn't going where she thought it was.

"Kind of," He sighed. "Listen, these past few months with you have been really fun. I mean you're pretty," Well that was a new adjective for once. "And smart, and we've been having a good time." He began but Gabriella sensed a contradiction in the imminent future.

"But…" She filled in for him.

"But," He agreed. "This isn't working out. I think we should break up." He finished lamely.

Gabriella nodded, feeling tears burn at the back of her eyes.

"Okay," She whispered. Fighting him on it would be no use. If he didn't want to be with her, then she didn't want to have to convince him to stay with her. She wasn't about to resort to begging. Gabriella squeezed her eyes shut, creating a makeshift dam for the inevitable waterfall.

She didn't even notice Aaron leave her alone in the hallway. All she knew was that she didn't want to be there anymore but she had driven here with Aaron. Maybe she could hitch a ride with Troy, he had already mentioned to her that he wasn't planning on staying for the entire dance.

Gabriella turned on her heel and numbly made her way back to the gym, keeping her eyes peeled for that one particular face. But when she finally found him, she stopped dead in her tracks. Troy was dancing with Lauren Gates, swaying in time with the slow, melodious rhythm of the sweet song flowing through the speakers. Their bodies couldn't have been closer together if they had been super glued front to front. The familiar sensation of jealousy, of seeing Troy with another girl, bubbled and frothed in the pit of her stomach but more raw than ever before. She needed him and for the first time, he wasn't available for her. The tears came back, stronger and more persistent.

Just as quickly as she came, she left. A good old fashioned stroll never hurt anyone. Her house wasn't even that far and maybe a walk would help clear her mind. She pushed her way through the East High front entrance and instantly felt refreshed as a light New Mexico wind licked at her exposed skin. She almost made it out of the parking lot, wallowing in her self-pity before she could see the headlights of a car coming up from behind her. She was surprised to say the least when she saw Ryan Evans sitting in the front seat of a green Range Rover and was even more shocked when he slowed down parallel to her and rolled down his window to talk to her. She quickly swiped under her eyes, hoping to erase any evidence of her crying. Although, all it probably did was smudge the charcoal to give her raccoon eyes.

"Where are you going?" He asked nicely. Gabriella stared at him, she was almost positive that Ryan hated her. Sharpay certainly did. But then, Gabriella realized that Ryan had never actually vocalized any dislike towards her or even Troy for that matter. Sure he nodded and agreed with his twin sister but Gabriella suspected that there would be hell to pay if he didn't.

"Home," She answered simply.

"Need a lift?"

Gabriella's eyes widened a little at the offer. "Um, no, that's really unnecessary." She declined politely, not wishing to be a burden. She walked a few more steps.

Ryan pressed on the gas pedal for a second, just until he was caught up with Gabriella again. "Come on. It's no problem and it looks like it's going to rain." He gestured up into the starry night sky.

Gabriella actually had heard the weather forecast for that night on the news and grudgingly agreed. She pulled open the car door and got in.

Troy almost groaned in frustration. Another girl, another failed mission. He was trying to get over her, honestly he was. He knew that if he wanted to keep his friendship with Brie, then he was going to have to put his feelings aside. He tried just thinking strictly platonic thoughts about her, but that didn't really work out so well. So now he was, okay admittedly, using other girls to distract him from the one girl he couldn't have.

That hadn't been working either but he couldn't stop trying.

"Thinking about Gabriella?" Lauren's honey sweet voice broke into his thoughts.

"Huh?" Troy looked around wildly, just at the mention of her name. "Oh. Am I that obvious?" He asked sheepishly.

She nodded with a sympathetic smile on his face.

Troy was about to say something back , maybe something to defend himself, but something stopped him. Ever since he met Gabriella in that ski lodge on that fateful New Year's Eve, he had developed almost a sixth sense for the presence of the brunette beauty. He looked up and saw a flash of purple fabric disappearing around the corner of the double-doors. Where was she going, wasn't she supposed to be dancing with her boyfriend?

"Excuse me," He said to Lauren, disengaging him from her arms. It took much too long to push through the mass of grinding couples on the dance floor but about halfway there, he spotted Aaron with his friends.

"Aaron, where's Brie?" He asked. He tried to limit his communication with Gabriella's boyfriend, fearing that his jealousy would cause him to do irrational actions, but Aaron was there while Gabriella had escaped to an unknown location. He had to work with what he had.

Or not.

"How the hell should I know?" Aaron answered flippantly. His friends roared with laughter at his careless response.

Troy narrowed his oceanic blue eyes at him questioningly. "You're her boyfriend." He reminded him, wincing just a little bit. It killed him every time he said it but Aaron seemed to be stuck in clueless gear.

"Not anymore." Aaron said casually.

Troy closed his eyes briefly. Shit. Why hadn't Gabriella told him?

He glared at Aaron who was proudly meeting several of his buddies' open palms in a round of high-fives.

Troy resisted the urge to sock him in the face. He had to focus his attention on finding his best friend. He ran outside and saw Gabriella standing on the sidewalk at the edge of the parking lot, conversing with someone in a large green car.

Someone with the vanity plate R EVANS00.

He sprinted towards her, running faster than he ever had before. But he before he could catch up, Gabriella hoisted herself into the car and it drove off. Without a moment's hesitation, Troy found his car and hopped into it then sped off to Gabriella's house.

Gabriella had never really spent an extended amount of time with Ryan, especially alone, so it was a tad awkward and uncomfortable in the car. But he had made an effort to be kind to her and it was the least she could do to return the favor.

"So, uh, why did you leave the dance early?" Gabriella questioned.

Ryan shrugged. "I wasn't having any fun. Sharpay was fawning over Zeke and I don't exactly have a lot of friends." He admitted shyly.

Gabriella almost felt bad for him. He was a nice guy, he just came from an unfortunate gene pool.

"What about you?" Gabriella turned to see Ryan asking her the same question she had just asked him.

"Aaron…" She started off slowly, not quite sure how to say this. It was like, saying out loud made it so much more real.

"Your boyfriend," Ryan supplied.

"Yeah," She nodded slowly then stopped herself. "Well, actually I guess not anymore. He's my ex-boyfriend. I have an ex-boyfriend." She sounded dazed, not quite believing it as it came out of her own mouth. Aaron was her first boyfriend so it made sense that he was her first ex-boyfriend too but still. It had taken her a while to get used to having a boyfriend at all. She looked over at Ryan who had his eyebrows raised, asking for a bit of elaboration.

Gabriella realized she had been rambling incoherently. "Aaron broke up with me," She explained. It struck her as odd that the first person that she told about her first break up was Ryan Evans of all people.

"Ah," He said, like he was enlightened on something.

"'Ah' what?" Gabriella asked curiously.

"Ah, that explains the puffy eyes and smudged makeup." He observed as Gabriella quickly pulled down the neutral colored leather visor to inspect the damage. Her mother's carefully perfected handiwork was ruined. She scrubbed furiously at the remnants of her eyeliner but it refused to budge. "The tell tale signs of a broken heart."

"Not a broken heart." Gabriella said honestly. "More like…a bruised pride."

"Well for what it's worth, I'm sorry about you and Aaron." Ryan said sincerely.

Gabriella smiled. She could tell he was being genuine. "Thanks," She said, glad for the first time that she had taken Ryan up on his offer. But not as glad as she was when steady sheets of water droplets started pounding on the roof of his heavy duty car.

"Aren't you happy that you didn't walk?" Ryan asked with a cheeky grin.

Gabriella giggled back. "You have no idea. Well this is my stop." She told him as his car pulled up to the curb. "Thanks for the ride. I'll see you on Monday?" She asked hopefully.

"Count on it."

She smiled, glad that one good thing came out of today. She finally pushed open the door into the torrential downpour. "Bye Ryan." She called, running as fast as she could into the sanctuary of a dry house.

The house was empty. Gabriella remembered her mother saying something along the lines of going to eat with some of her friends. Gabriella kicked off her painful heels and trudged up to her room. Yanking on the stiff zipper of her fancy party dress until it fell to a puddle around her ankles, she stepped out of it and left it in a heap on the hardwood floor, not really caring if it got damaged. She slid on a pair of comfy red fleece Wildcat sweatpants and a ridiculously oversized black t-shirt that she was sure belonged to Troy at one point before she co-opted it many moons ago. That was all she could be bothered with before she collapsed into a heap in her bed. She burrowed her head into her fluffy white pillows and pulled her pink comforter over her entire body.

At first, she only allowed a few tears to escape her. Even with the knowledge that she and Aaron certainly weren't going to last forever, to be dumped so heartlessly stung. Just thinking about how hurt she was produced even more tears until she was sobbing uncontrollably in the protective cocoon of warmth.

When Gabriella first heard the gentle tapping on her balcony door, she assumed it was just the rain so she ignored it, preferring to huddle in her misery.

"Brie!" She heard faintly over the snapping of the water on the hard shingles of her roof. Rain didn't speak. Rain didn't call her 'Brie' and rain certainly didn't sound like him.

She flung down the soft blanket to be met with the sight of a soaking wet Troy peering into her room. His face instantly brightened when she emerged from her bed. Cautiously, she slipped onto the floor and padded to the glass doors then proceeded to carefully slide the transparent panels to the side.

Gabriella stared at him disbelievingly as he drank in her appearance. She was much less made up than she was at school but to him, she looked just as amazing. She always did. Her slender legs were drowning in her sweats and the gaping stretched neckline of his t-shirt slipped down to reveal one smooth shoulder.

"Troy, what are you doing here?" Gabriella, against her better judgment, stepped outside in her bare feet to meet Troy. She hugged her bony arms closer to herself as the freezing rain seeped through the cotton of her shirt. But none of that mattered. "You're going to catch your death out here."

Troy loved that she hardly cared that she was getting soaked to the bones. He loved that she didn't care about her own welfare, but more about the health of him. He loved that she didn't hesitate one second before opening that door for him and he loved that Gabriella could recognize him just by the sound his voice.

He loved her.

"I heard about you and Aaron." He said tentatively, making sure that he wasn't chasing some silly pipe dream.

Gabriella looked down as she was reminded. Her eyes filled with tears once again, blurring the white painted planks of her balcony. "Yeah," she said hoarsely. "It sucks."

"Come here." Troy opened his arms and Gabriella shyly shuffled her feet until she was pressed tight against his sturdy body. He wrapped his arms around her while enjoying the sensation of having this amazing girl in his arms. Her face was buried in the hollow of his neck while he leaned his face to settle in her curls. From that position, he could inhale her sugary perfume, a scent he had grown accustomed associating with Gabriella automatically even if other girls were wearing it. As Troy hugged her close, he squeezed his eyes shut and tried to commit this moment to his memory for all of eternity. He wanted to remember how her arms clutched at him like he was her lifeline, how perfectly she fit against him, forever even if it only lasted no more than five seconds..

"Brie," he said softly, consolingly. "It's going to be okay."

"I know," she murmured, loosening herself, barely, but just enough to be able to see his face and vice versa. He reached up and tucked a limp, saturated lock of hair behind her ear. Gabriella reached up and grasped that hand and gazed at him, biting her lip. And the way she was looking at him, just inches away from his face, made him question every misconception he had about her feelings for him.

So he kissed her. Without thinking about any of the potential ramifications of his actions, he kissed her. And it felt good. So good, that he couldn't help but kiss her again.

It was short, sweet but as Troy pulled away, he saw her face for the first time. Her eyes were fluttering open, revealing her mocha colored eyes and her pink lips still parted a little. His mind went into mental overdrive.

"Shit. I shouldn't have... You and Aaron just broke up, I don't want to take advant-" His words were cut off by Gabriella reattaching herself to his mouth, deeper than before. It started off slowly but gained momentum as Gabriella raised herself on her tip-toes to gain better access. Eventually, they separated and Troy grinned at the new development.

"You know what, it's freezing and I really don't want to catch pneumonia." She backed away, her hands drifting from around Troy's neck to down his arms. Troy's heart dropped, wondering if she was regretting everything that had just happened within the last few minutes. One of her small hands running down the length of his forearm grasped his hand. Her thinly delicate fingers interlaced with his as she tugged him towards her bedroom. "We should go inside."

Troy's face lit up again as she squeezed his hand and shifted her eyes to him with a fierce blush working it's way up her neck.

They stood there, in her room, dripping wet for a good thirty seconds. Their hands still locked together, their clothes nearly hanging off their bodies from sheer moisture and effectively ruining her formerly spotless carpet but that was the last thing on their minds. They just stared at each other with euphoric smiles stretched across their faces. No words were necessary.

"So, uh, I think I'm going to get some towels for us." She said shyly, breaking the silence. She reluctantly dropped Troy's hand but kept shooting coy smiles over her shoulder while crossing the room. Once in the bathroom, she winced as she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. "Oh God, look at me. I'm a mess." Her elegant up-do had manifested itself into a nest of knots somewhere in between leaving school and now, not to mention the destruction that occurred during it's recent excursion into the pouring rain. She hadn't thought it possible but her makeup smeared even more than it had appeared in Ryan's car. Troy chose to kiss this frog?

Troy came up behind her as she struggled to pull her fingers through the sopping tangles to find the hidden bobby pins embedded in her scalp. He gently seized her wrists and brought them in front of her and winding his arms around her waist as a result and looked straight into her eyes in their reflection. He ducked down and placed a series of light butterfly kisses along the graceful column of her neck.

"You're beautiful."

A/N: PHEW it's done. It took two days, ten and half pages and roughly 5,000 words but I finished it. This may be my longest one shot to date. Review, review, review and did I say…review? Any kind of feedback is welcome.