AN: So this is my first try at a Troyella fic. Many thanks go to adcgordon for reading over it and providing feedback.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything from High School Musical. I just love the franchise dearly.

Summary: Small anecdotes from what happened in between Troy coming to get Gabriella from Stanford and when they ran onto the stage during the senior musicale in High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

"You might be ready to say goodbye to East High, but East High's not ready to say goodbye to you." Troy said solemnly, bringing his hand to trace her hair down her cheek.

Gabriella looked away for a moment. She was overwhelmed. First, there had been the surprise of seeing him, standing in a tree, after she got out of her class that afternoon. At Stanford. At Stanford! 1053 miles from Albuquerque. And then there was the love that was clearly emanating from him.

"What are you asking of me, Troy?" she finally said, bringing her chocolate eyes back up to meet his deep azure ones. "Are you asking me to…well…I don't know, go back? Because I don't know if I can do that, even with--"

"Shh…" he pressed his index finger to her delicate red-tinged lips. "Gabriella, you don't need to say anything," echoing what she had told him just before she left. "I'm not asking anything of you right now. I just want you to think." He took a step towards her and wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on top of her lustrous curls. He felt her arms wrap tightly around his torso, and sensed her sigh into his chest.

She rose up on her tiptoes and whispered in his ear. "I missed you."

He threaded his fingers through her hair and pressed the side of her face against his. "I missed you too."

They listened to each other breathe in the silence of the park.

"And you know, I never got to say it back…" he whispered. She could feel his hard chest vibrate and expand as he took a breath.

"I love you, too."

She only grasped his body to hers tighter. He pressed his lips to the top of her head.

The sun had almost set, and Troy was sitting on a bench, contemplating the absolute craziness that had happened in the past forty-eight hours of his life. Gabriella was sitting beside him, her head heavy on his shoulder, their fingers twined together, and his arm around her.

"You know, I've been thinking…" she thought aloud.

"Do you ever stop?" He jokingly replied.

She giggled and playfully jabbed him in his side with her elbow. "No. And you know it. Anyways, so I just had a question…"

"And I'm waiting for it…"

She giggled again. "How on earth did this all come together? Like, you drove up here? From Albuquerque? And you knew where my class was and when it ended and where I put my bike and--"

"Wow, that's a loaded question. Actually, more like loaded multiple questions." He contemplated for a moment on how to explain it all. "Let's just say that you better be glad that I like you. A lot."

She looked at his wide grin and felt her own mouth stretch into a smile. "I'm so glad that you like me enough to give me an actual answer."

"No, I just think that it's best to leave it. The fact is, I'm here, and that's what's important, right?"

"Nah, my boyfriend's here? I don't see anything special about that," she kidded.

He shrugged away from her at that comment. "You'll have to pay for that, Miss Montez."

She looked a little put out that he had moved away from her. "How?" He even heard a little fear in her voice.

"I guess I'll just have to…tickle you!" His fingers wriggled around her stomach and she gasped and laughed.

"Troy…Troy…TROY! Stop it!" Giggles burst out as he continued, making his way up to her armpits. He chuckled, thinking that it had been too long since he had heard that delightful little high-pitched laugh.

He finally stopped, giving them both time to catch their breath and smile at each other.

"Come on," he said. "I think your mom's waiting for us to join her for dinner."

"What? Mom knows you're here? What?"

"Gabriella…chill. Honestly." Troy pulled her into a standing position with him. "Yes, she does know that I'm here. And you don't need to know anything more."

"Okay." She wound her arm across his back as they ambled slowly towards his truck.

He opened her door for her. She thought that she would never stop feeling joy from the sweet, little things that he did. "Now, you can just hop right in and buckle yourself up. I'll be right back." He shut the door.

"Uh, where are you going?" she called out through the open window.

He reached her bike and unparked it. Putting it on his shoulders, he made his way purposefully back to his truck and placed it securely in. He stood outside her door. "To get your bike," he grinned and kissed her on the cheek.

After settling himself into the driver's seat, he gazed at her. She was smiling back at him, her lips turned up in that way that his memory could never justify.

They leaned over the console, meeting halfway. Their lips greeted each other, tongues tangling. A more passionate kiss than the one exchanged a few hours before. Troy held her face to his, angling it the best way for their mouths to fit together. Gabriella's hands locked around his neck, drawing their torsos flush.

Her stomach interrupted, gurgling.

They unwillingly drew apart from each other, breaths a little heavier. "Come on, let's go eat dinner." He took her hand in his and started the truck.

"Good night," he wished her. This time it was he who wound his fingers through her hair. He hugged her one last time before they stepped into their separate bedrooms.

Two hours later, Gabriella was still wide awake. She had already gone over the Periodic Table of Elements in her head, naming each element, its number, and mass. She had listed the presidents in order forwards and backwards.

And finally, on a completely unrelated topic, she found herself listing all of the things she loved about Troy. Once she started, she couldn't stop. It was actually energizing her.

"Argh!" she yell-whispered. She climbed out of bed and stood in front of her window. Here, there was no balcony. Here, there was no tree or hammock or picnic table. All she could see was grass. Boring grass.

She padded out of her bedroom, and paused. Taking a careful step, making sure her weight didn't fall too quickly and make a sound, she held her breath and peeked through the crack of the guest bedroom's door. She couldn't see or hear anything. Dang it.

She then gingerly stepped into the kitchen, where she fixed herself a glass of water. Sitting on the couch, curling her legs beneath her, she took a deep breath and sighed. Here is where I begin to think over what happened today.

After a few minutes of reflection, she imagined she heard soft footfalls. No, she was hearing soft footfalls. And then she felt soft muscular arms wrap around her and the deep, slow breaths of a basketball player she had fallen in love with.

"Couldn't sleep either, huh…" he whispered in her ear.

In one fluid movement, he had slid onto the couch next to her and leaned on her, resting his head on her shoulder and hugging her waist. She started absentmindedly playing with a few strands of his long bronze hair. "So why couldn't you sleep…?"

"Adrenaline." He said simply. "This sudden trip to get you…it pumped me up, almost like a basketball game. But I think I'm getting closer to sleep." He yawned. "You?"

"Just everything that's happened since you got here." He watched her lips curve up into a soft smile that never failed to take his breath away. "Are you proud that you occupy my thoughts so thoroughly that I can't sleep?"

"Hm…I'll have to think about that," he said, nestling his head deeper into her neck.

They sat in silence for a few more minutes, enjoying each other's company and the full body contact that they had.

"What do you think about when you're trying to fall asleep?" Gabriella posed the question out loud.

"Huh?" Troy replied drowsily. "Ugh…sorry…I keep on almost falling asleep on you."

"No, it's okay if you do. We both need to sleep. Especially you."

"Nah, I deal all right with sleep dep…dep…deprivation. What were you asking again? Something about thinking and sleeping."

Gabriella's body relaxed more into his. "What do you think about when you're trying to fall asleep? Like, you know, there's that whole counting sheep thing that people supposedly do."

"I list the players, their positions, and their average points per game. On the Lakers. You know what I mean…Gosh. I'm awake. Really. Plplplplplplplplpl." He vibrated his lips, rubbed his hands together, and sat up straight. She watched as he shook his head, sending his hair flying. "What do you think about? Probably something to do with your freaky math or science stuff." He nudged her. "I'm just kidding."

She smiled wider. "You're actually right on the mark. The Periodic Table of Elements. You know. I did the presidents for fun. And then—" she paused.

"Then what?" He squeezed her hand. "You know you can tell me anything."

She almost groaned. She was still a bit timid with him, and still couldn't believe that they were together. He was the most popular person in the school and had girls fawning over him. How did they end up together? Sighing, she decided to give in. "I was listing all of the things I loved about you. The sweet things that you do."

Troy felt that he wasn't very good at expressing how much he cared about her in words. The best he could do at that moment was press soft kisses to her forehead, cheeks, nose, and finally lips.

The sweetest kiss. No sparks of lust, just lips sliding and caressing, conveying affection, adoration, and love.

Half an hour later, they were lying on their sides on the couch, Troy hugging Gabriella to his side, although she was still on the verge of falling off. He seemed to be asleep. She gently shook his shoulder. "Wildcat?" she whispered. "Wildcat?" She shook a bit harder.

"Hm…" he groaned and attempted to roll over, effectively forcing her to get off.

"Come on. Let's go to bed." She uselessly pulled one of his arms, not even budging him a bit.

"No…want…to…stay…" he moved his mouth slowly.

"I don't want my mom to see us, or you, rather, in the morning like that. Come on. Up." She tugged harder.

He reluctantly got up, moving one body part at a time, keeping his hand connected with hers. He staggered, and then caught himself. "So you think anymore about coming home with me?" he whispered.

"I'll make my decision in the morning."


They reached the adjacent bedrooms. "Good night, again." She smiled, hugging him and supporting nearly his entire weight.

"G'night, Gabriella…" He murmured.

"Good morning, honey. Good morning, Troy." Her mom greeted them as they stepped out of the hallway into the kitchen later in the morning, the morning sun illuminating their figures. She didn't fail to notice their twined hands.

"Good morning, Mom!" Gabriella cheerfully responded, while Troy gave her a grin and said, "Morning to you, Mrs. Montez."

"How did you sleep?"

Gabriella shot Troy a look before hurriedly looking in the other direction. "I slept alright, Mom."

"I slept like a baby." Troy commented. "Mm, those pancakes look delicious!"

"Why, thank you, Troy. What would you two like to drink with your breakfast?"

Gabriella opted for orange juice and Troy asked for milk. As they settled themselves at the table, Gabriella noticed that there were only two places set. "Oh, mom, did you get up and eat already?" Daughterly concern was discernable in her voice.

"Yes, I did, and I'm fine, Gabi." Mrs. Montez placed her hands on the back of her daughter's chair. "Do you have any plans for today?"

Gabriella and Troy looked at each other. "Um…I don't really know my way around, so it's up to Gabriella," Troy said, wiping his mouth with a napkin.

"I could show him around the area—maybe give him a tour of the campus," Gabriella volunteered.

Troy inwardly groaned. All he wanted to do was spend the day doing nothing with her.

"That seems like a good plan. Before you guys go out, Gabriella, could you and I talk? After you finish your breakfast, of course." Mrs. Montez left the room.

Gabriella quickly finished her blueberry pancakes. "Sorry, Troy, but I need to go talk with Mom."

"No problem." He smiled a heart-stopping beam and kissed her hand. "I'll just put the dishes away."

Gabriella tentatively made into her mother's bedroom. Mrs. Montez beckoned for her to sit with her on the neatly made bedspread.

"Honey, I don't want you to feel uncomfortable about this. But I need to know this: What do you, you as in Gabriella and Gabriella only, want to do? What do you feel, sweetie? Troy came to bring you back, and from what I can tell, you haven't given him an answer."

"Mom…that's hard to say."

"You know you can tell me anything. I'm your mother."

"Well. Here's what I know: Troy. He's…he's so good to me. Driving up here must have taken incredible courage." Mrs. Montez nodded. "I also know that I miss all of my East High friends."

"So it sounds like you've made up your mind," Mrs. Montez said, rubbing Gabriella's back.

"But Mom…I know that this is not supposed to happen. I'm supposed to stay here and get adjusted to Stanford. I know I can't do that if I'm rushing home so often and seeing my friends. I'll never get over missing them."

"Do you want to know what I think you should do, mija?"

Gabriella sighed. "It's like my head always controls my heart and decisions I make. I'm so confused; I don't know what direction I should step towards, which path to take."

"Here is what I think you should do." Mrs. Montez took one of Gabriella's hands in her own and looked into her daughter's eyes. "I think that you should follow your heart."

"But Mo-om—"

"I know, I know. Gabi, you've always been so focused on your schoolwork. You haven't had the chance to stay in one place and make good friends and form true bonds with them. And I know that it's mostly my fault for moving us around so much."

"No, Mom, you couldn't help it—"

"But this one opportunity, perhaps the only one you'll ever get, is precious. So are your friends. And especially Troy."

Gabriella blushed. This was a serious conversation.

"Mija, I know that you care for him. And he cares for you, so incredibly much. It's young love at its truest."

"Mom, this is embarrassing."

"Don't deny it, Gabi. You can say that you love him. It's okay. I can see it, and I'm not angry or anything."

Gabriella closed her eyes. In a small voice, she said, "I do…I do love him."

"And I think that you should go back for your senior musicale and graduation."

There was a small pause.

Gabriella nodded in confirmation.

"Now, do I need to ask you about last night also?"


"I saw that look you gave Troy there. I'm not completely blind, you know." Mrs. Montez smiled, gently squeezing her daughter's shoulder. "Just be safe."

Gabriella rolled her eyes. "Mama…it was nothing. We didn't do anything. Nothing. Nada."

"I know, honey. You are a responsible young woman. I trust you. And I trust Troy, too. I don't believe that he would ever do something to hurt you." Mrs. Montez hugged her daughter tightly.

"He wouldn't ever."

Troy grabbed her hand as they raced toward the building. "I wonder how much we missed?" he shouted into the night.

Honey-sweet giggles spilled from Gabriella's mouth. "We're so crazy, Wildcat!" she yelled back.

"Why do you think that?"

"Because we're just running wildly in the night, shouting nonsense at each other!"

He grinned at her as he flung a door open and they ducked into the school's empty corridors. "I'll have you know that I shout nonsense all the time at you and you don't even comment about it." He lowered his voice to a whisper.

They continued sprinting toward the auditorium. Troy allowed his lungs to fill with air. Nothing invigorated him like exercise could. However, Gabriella panted as they skidded around a corner. "Troy!" she suddenly stopped and squatted down, putting her hands on her knees. "Can we rest a moment?"

Troy slid to a stop and spun around to face her. He drew in a sharp breath. Gabriella was trying to stabilize her breath, but was still wheezing. Her hair was up in a sloppy clip, strands of curly midnight hair cascading down. She was wearing a pretty silver-and-black dress that fittingly showed off her slender frame. Her shoulders were bare, the baby smooth skin calling out invitingly to him. Her cheeks were flushed a beautiful pink, more pretty than any blush she could brush over it. The chocolate brown eyes were focused on the floor, allowing the shadow of her long eyelashes to entrance him. She was almost sweating, but was still the most beautiful sight that Troy had had ever seen.

She slowly straightened back up and was startled by the intense gaze from his ocean blue eyes were boring into her. "Troy?" she hesitated.

He took two steps toward her and then grabbed her in a tight embrace, pressing his lips to the side of her neck. "You…are…so…" he punctuated each word with kisses trailing down the slender column. "Gorgeous." He pushed aside the necklace that he gave her and began sucking on the indent in her collarbone, letting his tongue escape and swirled it around, tasting her sweet scent.

She was entranced by his soft lips latched onto her skin. Her head involuntarily flung back, pushing her more into his mouth. She moaned his name, and it was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. "Troy…you c…can't…"

"Mm…" he replied in a hushed sound, continuing his actions.

"Troy!" Gabriella brought his head up so she could gaze into his eyes. "You're going to leave a mark." She was now blushing furiously. He was still gazing at her with a bit of lust in his eyes. Where did that come from? He had never really done anything like that to her, with her. What brought this sudden change about?

Troy paused, as if her were rethinking and reliving the moment. He coughed. "It's just…just that you are so beautiful. And I can't help but think how I can't tell you how much I love you." He rested his forehead on hers. "I love you," he ran his fingers up and down her arm. "I love you." He traced her shoulder blades with a feather light touch.

Gabriella shivered. This newer, more passionate side of Troy left her on the verge of collapsing and her mind in a puddle. Their breaths mingled and time stood still. She entwined her arms around his hard torso—she loved his rippling muscles almost as much as she loved his soul—and squeezed her body as tight to his as she could, so there was no space between them whatsoever. He eagerly held her as they felt each other's hearts beating and listened to each other breathe.

As they slowly broke apart, Gabriella allowed herself to really look at Troy. Her gaze began at his face and the hair that she loved so much to run her hands through. Those long strands were messy, but no doubt that could be fixed by one swish of his head or by raking his fingers through it. She dropped her gaze to the eyes that she could spend eternity drowning in. The azure was softer now, more tender. She was fascinated by his mouth and the smile that could cause her heart to skip a beat. Those lips had just been on her skin. They were perfect. She could never forget the taste of them but didn't mind being reminded of it often. Then she ran her eyes over his chest and torso. She had never before really thought about how she had an athlete for a boyfriend. Of course, it was a big part of who he was, but she often forgot that he had background for himself when the spent time together. Now she saw the body that resulted. His chest was a wide expanse of muscle that was covered by a dark blue striped shirt. His arms were also cut, his long and hard hours at the gym working out and practicing clearly paying off. The sinew of his biceps, triceps, forearms…they called out to her. They represented how strong a person he really was, both inside and out. He was wearing dark jeans that suddenly made him seem so much…alluring. She finally returned to his eyes—those orbs of liquid cerulean.

Gabriella thought he was truly beautiful.

Words almost failed to escape her as she leaned back into him. She rose on her tiptoes as he dropped his face towards her. She let her lips trail across his cheek as he sucked in a breath and whispered in his ear, "You…you are my everything."

That was it. Troy gripped her tightly once again—would they ever get tired of this embrace? He didn't think so—and peppered kisses all over her face. "I…I…" Gabriella's breathing began to quicken again. He ran his lips across her forehead, down the line of her perfect nose, suckled gently at end. "Oh god…" His lips then found their rightful place, buried within hers. She gasped into his mouth, "I love you…" and suddenly thrust her tongue into the deep, wet cavern. Troy eagerly received it, allowing his tongue to play with it, twining and then tracing the rooftop of her mouth. His hands started wandering too and Gabriella thought that she would faint from the sensations that they were causing. He started at her shoulders and slowly traced down her arms. One hand remained at her waist, tracing slow circles around her hip bone. The other traced back up her spine, sending tingles down the cord and Gabriella shivered once again.

She placed her palms against his built chest and began outlining each muscle. Troy's breathing hitched. This was so good, too good. He had never felt this ecstasy before. Her hands began roaming to places where they had never strayed to before—dipping down to just above the waistband of his jeans, letting a finger tug on a belt loop. The bliss didn't compare to anything—not winning his final high school basketball championship, not going after her at Stanford and seeing her dazzling smile for the first time in two weeks, not that reunion kiss. Nothing.

He was promising himself to her forever, and knew that she was promising herself to him in turn. They would remain together, through thick and thin, no matter what issue arose, coming in between them…they would last through time and eternity.

Their motions slowed. "I guess we should go see what we're missing, huh?" His voice, still husky, brought her back to the present.

Gabriella slowly nodded. "I guess…"

He reached down, tenderly lacing their fingers together. He brought them up and kissed the back of her hand, letting his lips rejoice in the supple skin.

Troy tenderly smiled at her. "Let's go."

They began running again, through one corridor and up the next, until they got to the back door to the rehearsal rooms behind the auditorium. Troy reached out and slowly pulled the handle open. They slipped through, hands still entwined. A sound grew in volume and they realized that it was applause. They raced backstage and there appeared Ryan and Sharpay, clearly having just rushed off the stage.

"Oh perfect! Go for it! Save the day, whoopee!"

AN: If you got all the way down here...congratulations and thank you so much! I really appreciate the time that you took to read my story. I love and appreciate feedback of any kind, and I genuinely want to improve my writing, so it would be nice if you could leave a review. Go on, press that little green button down's calling out to you! ;)