Troy Bolton strolled down the hallway, white and red Wildcat blazer un-zipped to reveal his plain white t-shirt, and his arms swung at his side in a carefree manner. His baby blue eyes radiated his signature confidence and a wicked streak of mischievousness but the damn deceptive and sexy smile that adorned lips is what made him the absolute number one pined after male at East High high school in Albuquerque New Mexico.
Troy caught the chest pass that flew with an unerring line to his head and twirled the pebbled orange ball on his index finger as his wild afro haired, African American best brother-friend walked over to his side with an utter look of disbelief on his face. Troy chuckled at this and bounce passed the basketball back to Chad, who caught it and placed it on his hip.
"Hey Chad, what's up?"
The two basketball studs walked down the hallway and threaded their way through crowded hustle and bustle throngs of students. They bumped fists and high fived with various students they passed and Chad banged the doors to the cavernous cafeteria open with a loud boom. The noisy cafeteria fell silent at the sound, the students wondering who caused the commotion and Chad cupped his large hands around his mouth.
The cafeteria thundered with the roar of the students and the unanimous stomp and clap of the East High Wildcat's signature cheer. Even a few of the teachers participated and the others didn't even bother to try and stop the students'.
"Get your head in the game!"
The crowd roared out the finish of the cheer and clapped as their varsity captain Troy Bolton and crowd favorite Chad Danforth entered the cafeteria. Troy smiled and shook his head at Chad's antics as walked over to his table in the center of the room. Zeke, the tall African American center of the basketball team bumped fists with Troy and pulled his cookbook up off Troy's seat at the table.
Troy sat down to be bombarded by a flash of blonde hair and pink sequins named Sharpay Evans. He gave her a warm hug and she kissed his cheek before she resumed her position of being snuggled deep into Zeke's lanky side. Troy pulled the contents of his lunch out of his bag and rolled his eyes at the argument between Chad and his girlfriend Taylor, the girl in who in the next moment smacked Chad in the back of the head but had a secret smile on her face as Chad rubbed the back of his head.
"Hello everyone. How are you all today?"
Troy smiled another warm, soft smile as the second famous couple, dubbed 'the musicals', Kelsi Neilson and Ryan Evans walked over to the table fingers woven together in a tight embrace. Kelsi kissed Troy's cheek like Sharpay did and Ryan shook his hand before they sat down and pulled out their famous shared lunch in a small cooler.
"I'm fine and I think I'll speak for everyone else and say that they are fine as well. How's the musical coming you two?"
Kelsi's face adopted a dreamy look at Troy's inquiry and Ryan's face brightened up like a kid on Christmas morning. Sharpay squealed, clapped her hands together and the three launched into an excited and heated debate or…discussion. Troy smiled in victory to himself and ate his lunch in silence.
"So Troy, who was that Latina girl from the club last night?"
Troy's head hit the table when he caught Taylor's triumphant and devilish smirk and he threw his hands in the air. The table quieted down at this and Troy didn't need to raise his head to know that they were all focused in on his odd behavior.
"No one Taylor."
Troy felt the back of his head burn from all three girls' intensive stares and he winced when Sharpay plucked him on the back of his head. He sat up to lean in the back of his chair and stared up at the ceiling like the high arches were the most interesting things he had seen.
"Troy Bolton if you don't spill the details right now…"
Troy tore his gaze away from the ceiling and stared at Sharpay like a deer in the headlights but his eyes threatened to bug out of his head when his blue-eyed gaze fell upon an angel from heaven resplendent in a white summer dress at the doorway of the cafeteria. His chair scraped backwards as he vaulted out of his chair and hurried over to the angel.
The angel's shiny black curls bounced as she turned her head and brown, gold speckled mocha eyes met baby blue while a beautiful, shy smile formed on her perfect face and a goofy one broke out across Troy's. He pulled her slender, delicate frame towards his hard muscled one and her head nestled against his solid chest.
"Troy, I'm so glad you're here. I got lost in the hallways and had to have a teacher direct me to the cafeteria."
Troy chuckled at her hesitant tone and he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. She leaned into his side, her books held in both hands in front of her chest and her head nestled into his shoulder. Troy walked back over to his table and pulled Gabriella into his lap. The beautiful Latina blushed at all the attention she received and buried her face in the crook of his neck.
"What the hell Bolton. Explain."
Troy chuckled again and wrapped both arms around Gabriella. He kissed her temple and whispered something in her ear.
"Taylor, this is the Latina girl you saw dancing with me last night at Club Neon and I'm proud to introduce Gabriella Montez, my girlfriend of two months."
The whole cafeteria stilled at Troy's comment as all eyes had focused in on the couple when Troy had hugged Gabriella to him in such a possessive manner at the cafeteria's doorway and two or three high-pitched feminine screams echoed around the cafeteria. A warm smile broke out across Kelsi, Taylor and Sharpay's faces as they saw the protective way Troy held Gabriella close to him and how trusting her hold was on him.
"Well now, seems the mighty Troy Bolton has become whipped."
Troy glared at Chad but he and Zeke just shook their heads and high fived each other from across the table. Troy let it go with a roll of his eyes.
"Just like you and Zeke are whipped by Taylor and Sharpay."
The two boys' smiled and shrugged at Troy's response. Troy rolled his eyes again but pulled Gabriella's fragile body closer to his and saw that she had managed to gather enough courage to peek out from the crook of his neck.
"Don't worry Brie, they don't bite and the girls are very nice once you get through their game of twenty questions. Well, the questions come from Sharpay and Taylor but Kelsi will counter balance their bluntness with her personality."
"Troy! You make us seem like…like…"
Troy raised an eyebrow at Taylor and dared her to finish that sentence. The girl huffed and crossed her arms across her chest but smiled when Chad wrapped an arm around her shoulder to pull her against his side. Troy offered Gabriella a slice of his apple and she took it from him. Sharpay cooed at them and Taylor cleared her throat.
"So Gabriella how did you manage to tie down the untamable Wildcat basketball superstar?"
It was only Gabriella's melodic, soft giggle and her gleaming eyes that made his uncomfortable expression at Taylor's choice in words bearable. He distracted himself by playing with one of Gabriella's curls.
"I don't know. We just clicked I suppose."
Sharpay whined from her spot in Zeke's side and waved a manicured hand. Kelsi and Taylor looked interested as well.
"Come on, come on. There's more to the story then you're letting on."
Gabriella finished the slice of apple and shook her head when Troy offered her another. The couple had a contest of wills between their eyes and a stern look overcame Troy's face. The silent conversation continued until Gabriella took the apple and Troy rubbed soothing circles over Gabriella's stomach. The other people at the table looked at each other in confusion and then back at the new couple.
"No, I'm not a controlling boyfriend girls. I'm just following Ms. Montez's orders about Gabriella's….hey hey um, guys we have an extra hour tacked onto our practice today for another strategy session about the state game in two days."
Gabriella stopped chewing on the apple slice and looked down at her hands, which folded over her stomach in an instant. Troy caught this and lifted Gabriella's face with two strong fingers underneath her chin so their eyes met. They held another silent conversation with their eyes and this time Troy's eyes pleaded something unspoken but heartbreaking with Gabriella's.
"Um, Troy, Gabriella, would you mind telling us what's going on?"
"You tell them Troy."
Troy shook his head and pulled Gabriella closer to him. It was comfortable to him how she rested back against his chest and her head pillowed in his shoulder.
"Brie, you're never going to get stronger if you don't have the strength to tell other people."
Gabriella looked down at her hands that still covered her stomach and a pregnant silence suspended down over the table. Kelsi reached out across the table and took one of Gabriella's hands away from her stomach. Ryan did the same with the other hand and the musical couple stared into Gabriella's frightened eyes. Ryan smiled as did Kelsi and they squeezed Gabriella's hands.
"Don't worry about it Gabriella, you can tell us when you're ready."
Gabriella nodded and dozed in Troy's arms with a small yawn. Troy smiled down at her and shrugged his Wildcat blazer off so he could wrap it around her slender frame like a blanket. Gabriella wasn't used to a full school day and usually took naps at this time in the afternoon.
"Gabriella used to be an anorexic and then until a couple of weeks ago, a bulimic. She's a kick ass dancer and if you plead with her long enough, she'll sing for you. When her father left her and her mother two months ago, that's when Gabriella's whole eating disorders manifested and she had to transfer to a clinic from her old school."
Troy rubbed his hands up and down Gabriella's back when she stirred in her sleep and she smiled contentedly before falling back asleep. The look of adoration and protectiveness on Troy's face stunned everyone at the table and they all shared a look between them.
"After she got released from the clinic, her mother's company transferred her here to Albuquerque and she now attends East High to my delight. I met her out of the city when I went to that basketball clinic three months ago that my dad sent me to. I had just gotten out of a hard basketball practice hours before and decided to unwind at the local club the Phoenix."
The girls smiled as Troy's face changed as he went down memory lane and the guys smirked. Memories flashed before Troy's eyes and he smiled.
"There she was out on the dance floor, moving, twirling and shaking her body to the beat of the music. Her jeans hugged her hips and her baby doll t-shirt swayed all around her as she moved. I walked up to her and she pulled me close so we could dance as one. Goodness, what a dance we danced and everyone cleared the dance floor to watch us. We didn't realize we had an audience until after the song ended and everyone started to clap and cheer."
The shrill bell that signaled the end of the period blared out through the cafeteria and everyone at the table groaned as Troy's dreamy, hazed eyes cleared and he snapped back to the present. Gabriella awoke with a start and Troy tightened his hold around her as she began to struggle.
"Brie, relax, I'm here and no one is going to hurt you."
Gabriella relaxed at the soothing sound of Troy's voice and balled her fist into his shirt. Troy untangled himself from their embrace and stood up. Gabriella stood up as well and fitted her frame against his. The rest of the gang stood up and surrounded Gabriella. Chad held open his arms and cocked his head to the side.
"Hey Gabster, I hope you don't mind if I call you that, nicknames make it easier for me to remember names. Anyway, you mind if we give you a group hug? It's just our way of accepting a new person into our elite circle of friendliness."
Gabriella smiled and the room lit up just a little bit more. She nodded and walked into Chad's wide embrace. Everyone else laughed and hugged some part of Gabriella's slender frame in a massive tangle of arms and group hug. They all pulled away and walked out of the cafeteria, each girl linked with their respective guy in some way. Sharpay sidled up next to Gabriella and eyed her up and down.
"Damn Gabriella, you are a natural beauty. You didn't use any make up did you?"
"Just a little bit."
Taylor shook her head in amazement and Sharpay's eyes widened. Troy rolled his eyes because Sharpay lived in makeup and beauty accessories.
"No way. I thought you went all natural but you did huh?"
Gabriella nodded and looked at Kelsi in confusion. The talented musician girl laughed and shook her head.
"Sharpay is East High's resident Drama queen and co-president to the theater with her brother and my boyfriend, Ryan Evans."
Ryan tugged Kelsi's hand until they walked on the other side of Gabriella and he smiled down at her. Troy hoped that Gabriella would get along with these two as it would be a damn shame if she didn't join the music programs here at East High.
"So Troy here tells us you sing and dance. Ever done any theater?"
Gabriella turned, hit Troy in the chest as hard as her small hand would allow and glared up at him. Troy scoffed, his cheeks tinted a light red and he focused his eyes up on the ceiling. Gabriella scoffed and turned her attention back to Ryan.
"I used to dance and I don't sing that well so no, I didn't do any theater."
"Would you stay after school and sing for Kelsi and I in one of the music rooms?"
Gabriella glared at Troy again and Troy looked back up at the ceiling. He was doing his best not to grin because he knew that Gabriella wanted to get back into the musical hobbies she had and Ryan and Kelsi would be able to help her.
"Why did you tell them all this?"
"What? I have no idea what you're talking about."
Taylor rolled her eyes and with a hesitant hand reached to pull Gabriella into the advanced chemistry class she had with her after she read Gabriella's schedule in her hand. Gabriella started at Taylor's touch but relaxed and looked up at Troy. Troy smiled, dipped his head and pressed his lips to hers for a gentle, sweet kiss. The girls all awed at the sweetness of the kiss and Gabriella blushed as she ducked into the classroom with Taylor.
Emma Stone glared from across the hallway as Gabriella slipped into the classroom with Taylor and her blood boiled as the kiss Gabriella had shared with Troy flashed across her mind. She huffed and stomped her foot on the tiled floor of East High. Her friends reached out and rubbed each of her arms in sympathy.
"What is that Latina skank doing near my Troy?"
"Emma, relax, their relationship won't last maybe…"
Emma snorted in defiance and crossed her arms across her low cut shirt.
"I'll make sure of that. No one deserves the title of Bolton's girl except me."
Story Edited on 4/25/12