Bittersweet Love

"Bittersweet Love" © Persephone Lemonade; May 29th, 2009

Any unauthorized copying or redistribution of this work might subject the party responsible for such unauthorized copying or redistribution to legal action by the owners of the aforementioned copyrights and trademarks.

Disclaimer: Persephone Lemonade is in no way affiliated with any of the High School Musical Cast, Disney, Kenny Ortega or Peter Barsocchini. All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: Hello children! How are you all doing? Hope you're well. Anyhow, this is my newest contribution to the lovely High School Musical fandom. This is also my second really meaningful full-length story of 2009 that has been thought up since summer of 2008. Yaaaaaaay! Lol. That was me cheering for myself.

*awkward silence*

Anyway!

After a meltdown and High School Musical Withdrawal Syndrome back in February, I found myself within this fandom and where I stand. I thought back to that time and I've found the inspiration for this piece of work within the dusty part of my imagination. You know, the part that really needs some spring cleaning but doesn't get it because you're too busy working with the part of your brain that has all the bright lights and music and just screams to be written and… okay I'll stop now, I'm rambling. I'm sure you all know what I mean anyway.

This story is completely dedicated to Miss Danielle (Pandora147). When I originally presented this to her last summer on July 26th, 2008, right after she got back from backpacking the world, she gave me a never ending rant that I still have and hold dear to my heart. The date was July 27, 2008. I laugh every time I read it. And I read it a lot even though I don't tell her because it brings me back to days when I first just idolized her and wished my own work was just as amazing as hers (and I still do) and it reminds me that she took me under her wing and taught me all about all the greatness that is her fan fiction and so many life lessons, (even though she doesn't know it).

So, yes, Dani this is for you. Thanks for putting up with my laziness and my putting this off until forever, lol. Thank you for all the feedback and commentary and all the support. And thank you for unknowingly providing those hints of inspiration that created many of the chapters in this. And thank you for listening to my rants about nothing. Love you so much, big sis. You're the greatest.

[insert heart ]

Because this is a Troy and Gabriella story and because they are the cliché of clichés, this was really hard to put into words and even harder to make unique. Why? Because this is one of the many overused plots in the High School Musical/Troy and Gabriella fandom.

As Dani said when I presented this to her: "I actually really like the general idea, it's got a few already used plot ideas. But really, in this fandom, what isn't already used? It's about making them your own."

I strived for originality. I really did. Tee hee. I hope you all enjoy it.

- Nel xo


Bittersweet Love

ONE—A Friend

"Good friends are like stars… you don't always see them, but you know they are always there,"
Anonymous

It seemed that only in dreamland was where Gabriella Anne Montez found herself at her best. Well, dreamland, her Advanced Placement Chemistry class, her Advanced Calculus class, and on her enormous balcony, which had a breathtaking view of the Sandia Mountains, doing yoga while enjoying an oats and honey granola bar.

And now, she found herself in dreamland. She loved dreamland. She loved the escape and the serenity it provided her. But above that, what she loved most is that there, she could be anyone she wanted to be and not be judged or looked at strangely.

"Gabriella," she heard a gentle voice calling her from a distance. Gabriella walked through the path of piano keys, musical notes popping up with each step as she walked toward the soft voice. "Gabriella," the voice called again, louder this time. She walked closer, not seeing anything. "GABRIELLA!" the voice yelled this time pulling her out of dreamland.

"GABRIELLA!" She opened her eyes, squinting in the sudden change of light in her sluggish, just woken up state. Ew, it was him. Gabriel Montez, her smug, arrogant, dim-witted twin brother.

She groaned in annoyance. "What the hell do you want Gabriel Antonio?!?" she asked looking up at him in annoyance, pronouncing his name in a thick Spanish accent.

"Get your smart ass out of bed and get ready. Mom made breakfast early today because she and Dad have to go to a meeting and I have to meet Seth and Chris at school."

She looked up at him. It was funny. Sometimes, looking at him it was like looking in the mirror. Usually, fraternal twins didn't really look alike but she and Gabriel could pass off as identical. Except for the obvious male features that he possessed and that he was a bit taller. But they both had the same curly hair, the same brown eyes, and the same olive skin. Yet Gabriella's hair was longer, reaching her lower back, her eyes were the most vivid shade of brown and her skin was a million and one times softer. While Gabriel's hair was short, a typical boyish cut, his eyes were duller, much plainer and his skin was rougher.

"Eww, why do you hang out with them? They're so… empty-headed," she said recalling the two boys who were a part of the endless teasing she got at school.

"They are not empty-headed," Gabriel rolled his eyes at his sister's deduction "And I hang out with them because they've been my best friends since like sixth grade. Now, get dressed and get your ass downstairs." He left the room and Gabriella rolled her eyes.

"They were the assholes you ditched me for," she thought.

She groaned as she remembered what day it was. She dreaded going back to school after the winter break. Gabriella loved school and she loved learning, don't get her wrong. But if only the 'students' at school weren't so arrogant and… empty-headed, she wouldn't dread it so much.

With a sigh, Gabriella got out of bed and lazily walked into her private bathroom. She took a quick shower and brushed her teeth. Then she walked back into her room. She picked up her mass of brunette curls into a messy bun, what she normally did. She put on a pair of black skinny-leg jeans, black Vans and a black fitted Ed Hardy t-shirt that said 'Love Kills Slowly.' She slipped on her black thick-framed, non-nerdy-looking glasses and put on her Ed Hardy fitted cap on her head. She grabbed a black track jacket and slipped it on, for it was still a little windy outside.

"This is as good as it's gonna get," she said looking in the mirror.

Gabriella really didn't care how she looked. She didn't go to school to impress anyone. She went to learn. That's what you do at a school. Learn.

Once she was ready, she grabbed her black book bag, her duffel bag, and her HP Tablet laptop off her desk and switched it from touch screen mode to regular mode, turned it off and put it into her book bag. She walked out of her room and down the stairs of her large almost mansion-like home and walked into the kitchen. Gabriel and her 'parents' were sitting on the table, sharing breakfast. The typical meal they shared every morning filled with interactive conversation that usually revolved around Marisa's and Antonio's constant business trips around the world, Gabriel, and basketball. But the last two usually went hand in hand. Gabriella inwardly sighed and slipped into her seat across from Gabriel. She hated eating with them but she couldn't eat up in her room because her parents were against it and she was sort of forced to eat along with them.

"So, are you ready for school today, mijo?" Antonio Montez asked his son.

Gabriel swallowed the piece of bacon he had in his mouth before saying, "It was great. Coach called and that he wants me, Seth, Brendon, Chris, and Nick to start training for the citywide tournament. He's positive that we're gonna kick ass this year and we're gonna get to represent Albuquerque in the county championships. We're not letting East win again."

Gabriella tried not to gag as she watched him swallow the meat from the corner of her eye. How could he eat that poor, helpless animal?

"Gabriel Antonio," Marisa Montez started, her Spanish accent clearly pronounced, "Watch your language at the table."

"Sorry Ma," he said with an innocent smile.

Marisa just smiled at him, as if forgiving him. Gabriella wanted to roll her eyes badly. But she kept her cool and didn't do it, even though she knew they wouldn't notice.

"Well, that's outstanding, mijo," Antonio said with a smile. "And he's right; East High doesn't stand a chance. Last year they just got lucky."

"Of course they did," Gabriel said surely as he took a sip of his orange juice. Gabriella glanced at her twin brother's head. She was positive it had grown four sizes after he said that comment. "How about you guys? Are you going away this weekend like you had planned?" he asked his parents.

"Yes. This weekend we're headed to San Francisco to meet up with Jacob Beckett, the head of Beckett Industries. We're going to seal the deal for the skin care products his factories were making for us," Marisa explained.

Marisa owned the very famous Desert Rose Spa in West Albuquerque. The spa had several other locations in New Mexico as well as around the country. She had her own line of skin care products going by the name of Desert Rose made of all-natural organic products and had gotten an amazing response from the public after their release in August of 2006. Several stars had offered to make commercial promotions of the products because they were so great. Recently they had opened several new locations in Europe, Asia and South America.

"And then we're paying visits to the locations of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego to check up on things," she continued.

"When are you leaving?" Gabriel asked.

"We're leaving Thursday night and coming back Monday afternoon," Antonio said.

"Cool, you'll be back in time for my game against South High next Tuesday," Gabriel told his parents.

"We'll definitely be there," Marisa smiled. "Is it at the same time as always?"

"Yup; 3:45," he said.

Gabriella rolled her eyes, now not being able to keep her cool. Not once had they attended one of her school functions. Well, not that she really did anything, except for the science fair and the Scholastic Decathlon. Her ingenious Chemistry projects often blew her teachers away and she wished that her parents cared enough to at least ask.

"I might be a little late. Ten minutes tops," Antonio said. "I have a meeting with the workers for the new spa location we're building in Santa Fe."

Antonio was a Civil Engineer. He had his own construction company called Montez Construction Corporation. His father had brought it up on his own and he had taken over the minute he graduated college, which was six months before Gabriel and Gabriella were born. The business had flourished over the years and it was well known in the Southwest and of course recognized for working on all of the Desert Rose Spa locations in the United States.

"That's alright, Pa. It's fine if you're late," Gabriel said with a smile. Gabriella rolled her eyes again at her kiss up of a brother. "Well, I'm done. I'm supposed to meet Seth and Chris at school." He took a last sip of his orange juice and got up. "Come on, Gabriella," he said not looking at her.

Gabriella rolled her eyes discreetly and got out of her seat. She grabbed her book bag and put it on her back and grabbed her duffel bag and threw it over her shoulder. Then, she went into the kitchen and grabbed a fruit salad she had in the refrigerator and a granola bar and stuck it into a bag.

"Ready," she said sarcastically to Gabriel.

"Let's go," he said, and grabbed his car keys, his rarely used book bag, duffel bag and his basketball.

Gabriella followed him out the door. They walked to the driveway where his 2009 Black Mercedes Benz was parked. He got into the driver's seat and she got into the passenger seat. Once she had her seatbelt on, she pulled out her silver and black iPhone, a gift used to bribe her. She put the headphones into her ears and pressed play on shuffle. She shuffled through her phone; however she didn't really expect that anyone would have texted or IM'd her. She didn't have any friends at school.

However, just as she glanced at the phone, it vibrated. A smile spread on Gabriella's face.

'Good Morning Sunshine. :) -Troy'

He always brightened up her day. Even when she felt like it was going to be a gloomy day. She quickly texted him back.

'Good Morning! –Gabi xx'

So, there was one sort of friend, but she couldn't really label him as a friend. The two of them had met in a Stanford University chat room about four months earlier, and they didn't even know each other personally. She knew that he was a boy, she knew his name, and that they lived in the same city. She didn't know what school he went to; there were eight high schools in Albuquerque after all. And even though the mystery was killing them, not knowing made talking to each other so much more interesting. And it was interesting getting to know this complete stranger, learning all about his likes and dislikes and quirks, without having any idea who he was.

How could it be that someone so far away from her made her so much happier than her own family did? She quickly shook the thoughts off as her phone vibrated in her hand.

'I can't talk for long. I'm sort of in a hurry because I have basketball practice but I wanted to wish you a great day and the best of luck on that AP Chemistry quiz you have today. Although, because of the help you gave me on my over-the-break Chemistry homework, I think you're going to do amazing. You're a genius after all. :) Oh and if you text me now, I probably won't be able to reply so Cyber Hugs and Cyber Sour Skittles (your favorite), -Troy.'

Gabriella's hidden smile slowly got bigger. He made her feel so special. No one in the house ever wished her luck on a quiz. Well, it's not like they bothered to find out when she had a quiz anyway.

'Thank you so much for the luck, Troy. And no, I am not a genius as I have often pointed out! :) I bet you will get an awesome grade on your Chemistry homework and not because I helped you. What you had was great. I just tweaked it a little. Anyway, have a nice day and good luck on your Pre-Calculus test and in basketball practice! Cyber Hugs and Kisses and Cyber Starbursts for you, -Gabi xx'

"Who are you texting?" Gabriel asked out of the blue, making Gabriella jump slightly at the question.

"Wh… what?" she asked, making sure she'd heard right.

"You heard me, I said who're you texting?"

Gabriella rolled her eyes and made sure to keep the same attitude she always had with him. "No one, you idiot. I was making notes for my AP Chemistry class."

"Whatever," Gabriel said and Gabriella just rolled her eyes, inwardly sighing of relief.

Gabriella had been talking to Troy online for four months, and could definitely say that he was the closest thing to a friend that she'd ever had. He was the only person who she felt completely at ease talking to. The cyber barrier between them no doubt helped. Ironically though, Gabriella typically disliked jocks and cheerleaders. And here she found herself, silly grin upon her face, because of the words of the basketball obsessed Troy. She flicked open her text messages again, reading his message one last time. She exited from the menu. Maybe the first day back after winter break wouldn't be so bad.


"Captain, you're alive!" hollered Chad Danforth to his best friend of twelve years and captain of the East High School Varsity Basketball team, Troy Bolton. Troy was currently walking into the gym for the early basketball practice organized by his father and coach.

"Yeah, I am," Troy chuckled remembering the horrible headache he had the previous morning.

"Why didn't you call any of us for two on two?" Troy's other friend, Zeke Baylor asked.

"Too much of a headache, I slept 'til like four," Troy lied swiftly.

The truth was that Troy had woken up at a pretty civil time, nine to be exact. And he did have a hangover after the night of partying with his friends with several shots of Vodka with pink jelly on top but, he quickly got over it after some aspirin and a cup of coffee. The real reason was that he spent the majority of his day on the chatting on the computer and texting on his cell phone with a special friend he had.

"Well, duh. Twelve pink jelly shots plus who knows how many beers and body shots with Sharpay. Dude, you are my hero for being alive today, man," Jason Cross, another friend said.

"How about you and Sharpay? I saw you two looking a little cozy in my guest bedroom." Chad elbowed him playfully. Troy rolled his eyes with a smirk, a smirk he wished he didn't have to use.

"Nothing happened, man. We just made out," Troy said grabbing a basketball from the rack.

"Sure, and her shirt just magically got to the floor," Zeke teased.

"Shut up you asshole. How do you know anyway?" Troy asked from the three-point line making a perfect shot.

"Zeke and I were patrolling because I had to make sure no one mysteriously unlocked mine, the twins', or my parents' room. And you, my brother, left the door wide open and we happened to see her shirt on the floor and you feeling her up. Luckily, we closed the door," Chad explained.

"Why does it matter anyway? She's my girlfriend after all," Troy explained. The guys just eyed him teasingly. "Ugh. Just know that nothing happened. I fell asleep."

"Wasn't she pissed at you?" Jason asked as he took a shot. Troy just shrugged his shoulders at the thought of that night.

Sharpay Evans was the captain of the East High School Cheerleading squad. She was also President of the Drama Club, and Troy's girlfriend. She was a total drama queen and was VERY spoiled by her parents. She had a twin brother going by the name of Ryan who attended West High School and even though he got everything he wanted, he had a good head on his shoulders and wasn't as… well… irritating, as Sharpay.

Troy recalled doing several body shots with her at Chad's post New Year pre back to school party and he recalled making out with her several times, the last time it got so heated to the point where he got her topless and felt her up. Typical boyfriend and girlfriend stuff. And up to that point, he remembered falling asleep on her and hearing her yelling obscenities at him when he did so. In reality, he was glad he had fallen asleep. Troy knew she was going to yell at him today, not only for falling asleep on him on Saturday night, but for not calling her yesterday. Have mercy.

"Alright, boys, gather 'round!" Coach Jack Bolton, his father, said walking into the gym, followed by his assistant, Coach Michael Peters, both with clipboards in hand. "I hope you all had a relaxing break and that you're all ready to get back on track. The playoffs begin next Tuesday. A rotating schedule was made to make sure all eight schools faced each other once. So, this means we will be playing a game almost every day from Tuesday to Friday next week and the week after," Coach Bolton explained.

"So, what this means is, that practice will be tight," Coach Peters continued. "This week, there will be practice every day. We will meet every morning at six thirty and we'll practice on the outdoor court. We will then move to the indoor court at seven. We will practice during free period and after school until six. As for next week and the following week, practice will be the same on Monday and the same for the morning hours of Tuesday through Friday."

"Our first game is next Tuesday against the North High Norsemen, so we will train long and hard all this week. After Friday the 21st, if we qualify for the championships, and I know we will, we will announce the new practice schedule. It may relatively stay the same except for a few slight changes, but for now, just know that the next three weeks are crucial. We plan to kick ass and keep that championship here at home where it belongs." Coach Bolton finished. He looked at his son, "Any words, Troy?"

Troy shook his head, for he was still in deep thought and barely caught what his coaches were saying. Coach Bolton just nodded. "Alright, bring it in boys!" All the boys got in a huddle.

"WHAT TEAM?" Chad chanted at his teammates.

"WILDCATS!" they chanted back.

"WHAT TEAM?"

"WILDCATS!"

"WILDCATS?"

"GET'CHA HEAD IN THE GAME!" they cheered loudly and clapped their hands.

"Alright boys, pair up!" Coach Peters instructed and they did so beginning their practice.


"Troysieeeee!" a pink clad Sharpay Evans yelled in a singsong voice to her 'boyfriend' Troy Bolton as she ran to him. Troy groaned inwardly at the sight of her. It wasn't that he hated her or anything; it was just that she was so… irritating.

"Hey Shar," Troy said, catching her by the waist before she knocked him over. She placed a kiss on his lips.

"WHY DIDN'T YOU CALL ME YESTERDAY?" uh oh. The tirade had just begun. "I mean, I could've died and you wouldn't have known!"

"You're so self-centered," Troy felt like saying. But he didn't. He honestly didn't feel like dealing with her. So he lied. "I wasn't feeling well with the whole hangover thing. I woke up at like four and didn't even get out of bed."

"Oh!" Sharpay's expression had quickly become a worried one. "Oh baby, are you feeling ok?" her arms quickly snaked around his neck and Troy's hands loosely encircled waist.

"I'm feeling better," Troy lied again. He actually wanted to throw-up because his heart and his mind were causing frenzy in his stomach.

"Good!" she kissed his cheek. "I can't have my escort for my ball to be sick."

"It's back on?" Troy asked about the infamous ball.

For the past four months, Sharpay had been raving about her eighteenth birthday. She and her brother had been planning a major party at Lava Springs, their family's country club. The 'ball' had been named Sharpay and Ryan Evans' Elegant Eighteen Masquerade Ball. The typical teenager would have a Quinceañera, if they were of the Latin culture, or a Sweet Sixteen. But she had refused to have a Sweet Sixteen and preferred an Elegant Eighteen. She had a guest list the size of Australia and was planning on inviting practically every teenager in Albuquerque.

"Yeah, I convinced my daddy to let me. So we're having it on Saturday, January 31st," Sharpay explained to him. "I know what you're thinking, my birthday's February 13th. But this year, that's a Friday the 13th and its bad luck and the sooner the better! Duh, silly! Anyway, I gotta run. Ms. Darbus wants to see me! Tootles!" she placed a peck on his lips and ran off with our letting him say anything.

"I knew there was something unlucky about her," Troy mumbled to himself with a playful smirk. His thoughts now drifted off to Saturday night at Chad's party when he had fallen asleep on her while they were in the process of engaging in nearly X-rated activities.

If Troy had been single and he'd wound up in the same situation with some random member of the cheer squad, then he might have been more inclined to take things further. He'd been going out with Sharpay for a while; and despite frustrating him with her dramatic tendencies, her bitchiness and her self-involvement; she was hot and she was a great kisser and the horny teenage boy within always wanted more. But the fact was that she seemed to care for him a LOT, and whereas he did care for her, it wasn't quite the same as she seemed to care for him. She irritated him far too much to LIKE, LIKE her, God she irritated him. And so perhaps it was the intervention of fate which had him pass out drunk and prevented things from going to another level.

Troy shook off the thoughts and walked to his locker to get his books. He pulled out his Blackberry to check if he had any text messages or IMs. Sure enough, in the short hour and a half he had been in practice, he got twenty text messages and four IMs. He shuffled through them, deleting as he went by, not really caring what Sharpay or the cheerleaders had to say. He saw the text message he was hoping for and quickly opened it.

'Thank you so much for the luck, Troy. And no, I am not a genius as I have often pointed out! :) I bet you will get an awesome grade on your Chemistry homework and not because I helped you. What you had was great. I just tweaked it a little. Anyway, have a nice day and good luck on your Pre-Calculus test and in basketball practice! Cyber Hugs and Kisses and Cyber Starbursts for you, -Gabi xx'

The smile on his face honestly couldn't have gotten any bigger. This complete stranger that brought butterflies to his stomach and that he was longing to find. A stranger that had something about her that intrigued him so much and even brought out the best in him.

'I'm sure you're in class now, I'm headed there too, but I just wanted you to know that I got your text. And yes, Gabriella; you most certainly are a genius, ;) –Troy.'

Troy smiled and pressed send. He was about to put his phone away before quickly remembering something.

'P.S: Here's some more Cyber Sour Skittles. They'll keep you energized. I know the Cyber Starbursts will keep me going. Here: (insert picture of Sour Skittles here). There you go! Hugs, -Troy.'

He smiled again and put his phone in his pocket, making sure it was on vibrate. Gabriella had just brightened up his day and for some reason, he felt excited. He looked at the clock on the wall and saw that it was 8:05. He had to be in class in five minutes. He quickly got the rest of his books, shut his locker and made the short walk to homeroom. When he walked in, he already saw Chad, basketball in hand, sitting at his desk.

"There you are," Chad said as Troy sat down next to him. "I thought Princess Pink had abducted you and killed you when I saw her walk in alone."

"Well, obviously she didn't because I'm here but, why would she anyway?" Troy asked with a confused look.

"She's Sharpay and she's part crazy and part… pink," Chad said, shuddering slightly before eyeing the blonde who was up front talking animatedly to their homeroom teacher, Ms. Darbus.

He turned to his book bag to pull out a notebook when he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He looked up to see that Sharpay and Ms. Darbus were still talking busily. He took his chances and pulled out of his pocket, sneaking it into his book bag, covering it with the top flap. He looked and saw it was a text message from Gabriella. A smile appeared on his face and as he selected the 'Read' key.

"BOLTON! Detention, free period! Fifteen minutes! I've specifically pointed out to each of you that I will allow no cell phones in my classroom! Don't think that just because we have just returned from the winter holiday that this has changed," the older woman scolded.

"But, Ms. Darbus…" Troy started to protest.

"No, buts Mr. Bolton," Ms. Darbus interrupted him. "And I will be taking this," she snatched his Blackberry away and put it in her infamous cell phone bucket.

"Ms. Darbus, I don't think it's possible because we need Troy for our practice and…" Chad went to protest.

"Fifteen minutes for you as well, Mr. Danforth," Ms. Darbus said turning around and putting the bucket on her desk.

Troy groaned inwardly as he rested his face in his hands. He felt Sharpay, who had sat down behind him; put her soft hand on his shoulder. He smiled weakly at his girlfriend, suddenly feeling guilty for not being upset about the detention like she assumed he was. He felt guilty because instead, he was upset about having to wait until free period to read a text message from another girl.

He turned back to face the front of the classroom where his totally un-cool teacher was talking about the possible auditions for the Winter Musical. He took a quick glance at the clock on the wall, letting out an angry sigh as it read 8:12. Only 78 minutes 'til free period. Only 78 minutes 'til he would regain possession of his cell phone, and be able to contact Gabriella again.


Author's Note: *bites fingernails* How was it? Review, please. :)