Author's note: Hello, my dearest High School Musical fans! My good Lord! It's been ages and ages since I've posted something in this section and I cannot tell you how sorry I am to have been gone this long! Life has been crazy to say the least - and I know that a common excuse - but it's entirely true! I haven't updated my chaptered story "His Hips" in over a year and I feel like crying because I love it so much, but haven't had any inspiration for another chapter. I hope it'll come, but if not, here's a short Ryella I needed to write the other day because there isn't enough of them and because I love the third movie so much. Therefore, here is my first Ryella in over a year! Hopefully, you'll all find it alright. :)

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the "High School Musical" characters. I wish I owned Ryan, but I don't. :(

Setting: During the third movie, in one of the earlier rehearsals for "Senior Year".

A Fleeting Moment

A short Ryella One-Shot

A moment. That's all it is.

The music is blaring – jarring beats from the drums roar and lush cords strummed on the guitars resonate – and Ryan can barely even hear himself think. There is sweat in his hair, on his neck, trickling down the dipping curve of his back and filling the lines of his palms. His clothes stick to him in damp creases, the lights are glaring down at him, making him feel small and larger than life at the same time and a blister is blossoming on the sole of his left foot – he can feel it aching. His eyes pieced with fragments of the sky are alit with a fervor and faraway wonder as he dances closer and closer to her.

They're rehearsing for their latest and last East High musical; Troy is meeting the captain of the U of A Redhawks – he's not going to make this rehearsal.

Ryan is merely filling in for the day.

His lithe, dancer's body moves fluidly, like a wave on the water, with the music, catching the nuances of the beat and feeling the melody in every muscle. He moves with grace, elegance and a surprisingly gentle exactitude that Troy could never master. He is more than filling in; he's doing better than Troy. Everyone knows it; Mrs. Darbus, Sharpay, the cast…

Even Gabriella knows it.

No-one would ever dare to say it aloud, but watching Ryan on-stage is like falling under a radiant trance. Watching Troy on-stage puts a smile on your face, but watching Ryan makes your jaw drop.

And that's exactly what he's doing to everyone in the East High theatre. All faces turned toward the stage all look alike; eyes wide, mouths slightly parted in amazement and the weight of guilt on their features voice a resounding, unspoken question.

Why is he always the best friend instead of the leading man?

It isn't his part, but he knows the corresponding harmony to the leading lady's and every step to their dance. Their voices tangle lusciously as the music swells in a heart-gripping moment and the song sounds even sweeter than usual. There's something about it that just rings more true, or makes the melody feel lighter than air and angelic and everyone knows what it is. No-one has ever seen Ryan do serious before – with Sharpay it was all sequins, razzle-dazzle and upbeat numbers – and watching him declare his love for Gabriella's character through one of Kelsi's finer tunes is enthralling. His heart and soul, as always, is being worn on his sleeve, in clear view of everyone, but perhaps, today, it isn't the best of ideas.

Everyone in the theatre feels as if they are intruding on something, seeing something they shouldn't be seeing and witnessing a scene that is best left unmentioned in Troy's presence.

Gabriella and Ryan dance around each other on the stage. Her raven hair is plastered to her neck and shoulders and her lips are redder than ever. She's never danced with this much intensity before and she's not sure if she likes this focused, silently powerful energy she can feel vibrating on her skin. She can't see anyone – anything – but the boy before her and their eyes haven't left each other since they started the scene. Gabriella has never sung this song with anyone but Troy and it's coming far too easily to her without him there.

The big moment of the number is coming; it's tangible in the music, in the dance, in their faces, on everyone's faces and in the air. Ryan is finding it hard to breathe and it's a little disconcerting to be lost in the depths of Gabriella Montez's brown eyes. There's the crescendo everyone has unconsciously been holding their breath for and the pair on-stage run to each other. Arms curl around waists and hands grip the smalls of backs as they spin together in a gloriously climactic moment. Something makes Gabriella's eyes come alive and a gasp escapes her throat that is lost in the song. That same something makes Ryan's expression change to pained realization, his eyebrows furrowing, and he involuntarily licks his dry lips. He wants her. Their bodies press together for mere seconds, but it is enough to make the two teenagers exhale sharply in torturous longing and their gazes connect in shock.

They both feel the same.

They let go of each other, turn around and finish the song while holding hands and catching their breath, but their faces are serious and troubled. Neither of them can chase the hot simmering of their blood in their veins nor ignore or disguise it. The separate notes they were holding die in their throats and the theatre is eerily silent for seconds that feel like an eternity. The forced applause starts later than it should and is unfairly unenthusiastic, though everyone knows why – they're still in as much shock as the two actors on the stage.

There is palpable fear in everyone's faces; the chemistry they've just seen with their own eyes turns everything they know on its head. It's so… wrong and it messes with how everything is supposed to be. Gabriella can't want Ryan Evans.

And Ryan Evans certainly can't want Gabriella.

The pair part on-stage wordlessly with strained smiles and exit on opposite wings. The stage is now empty and a flustered Mrs. Darbus is shouting out directions for the next scene.

Meanwhile, Gabriella and Ryan are sitting down in their respective dressing rooms with pounding hearts and spinning heads, reliving every second of that dance.

Ryan stares at the wall opposite him with wide, unseeing eyes. All he can see is her. "Oh, my God…" he breathes raggedly.

Gabriella looks at herself in the mirror and observes her flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes with emotion. "Oh, my God…" she whispers faintly.

Final note: Hopefully you all liked it and I cannot tell you how much even the shortest of reviews mean to me! Your thoughts keep the words and ideas flowing and I love hearing anything you have to say! For, as it has always been the case, the readers are the mose important part of a story - they keep it going. :)

Thank you for reading!