So I've been floundering. I've made progress on other stories, but just can't get them up to par. When this one hit me I thought I would just go with it. I hope you can follow it! I promise I'll be working on updating the other stories very soon! As always, I own nothing of High School Musical, its characters, actors or the wonderful production crew who brought this generation-changing phenomena into our lives (as well as Zanessa!).
As always, I own nothing of High School Musical, its characters, actors or the wonderful production crew who brought this generation-changing phenomena into our lives (as well as Zanessa!).
Read, enjoy and review. All reviews, PM's, etc are welcome and feed my addiction! Keep the Zanessa LOVE flowing! And let me know if you hear or see any Zanessa news. LOVE Zac's new haircut! ha ha! LOL -adc
Four hours. He needed to look after her for a mere four hours. Jack Bolton was always agreeable to watching his grandchildren. And to keep his youngest for a few hours would be fun, perhaps a new adventure. He was just a little curious to find out why his wife had dubbed the three-year-old "M.M." or "Miss Mischievous".
His son, Troy, had dropped Rebecca Elizabeth and their oldest grandchild Maria Lucille at the grandparents' house around 7:30 that morning. Troy and his wife, Gabriella were taking their middle child, Jonathan Jackson to his first week-long overnight camp.
Jack and Lucille Bolton were thrilled that Troy and Gabriella had returned to Albuquerque to raise their family. The younger Bolton couple had moved around the country for five years before deciding they wanted a settled place to begin their family.
The decision was made when they bought the house two streets away from Troy's parents where Gabriella had spent the last of her high school years. And upon purchasing that house full of memories, the Bolton and Montez families were back together. Gabriella's mother, Maria, had found a smaller house not far from the two Bolton families. Albuquerque was home. That had been decided more than 15 years ago. That's why they returned.
In less than a year Jack, Lucille and Maria were waiting anxiously for their first grandchild to make her appearance. Maria Lucille was conceived the first night that Troy and Gabriella moved into their house. They hadn't even moved a bed into Gabriella's old bedroom. The memories in that room overwhelmed both of them and sent them to the carpeted floor to fulfill their desires that had started in high school.
Mac, as she called herself at age two, had filled their lives for four years before baby number two came about. Jon Jack was the spitting image of Troy. He was the result of a January ice storm that knocked out their power for two days. They had sent Mac to stay with Maria while Troy and Gabriella tried to keep the home fires burning. They were quite content finding ways to keep warm in front of the fireplace with little other entertainment available in the house.
And then there was Becca Beth. Gabriella had quickly called this little one their bonus package. She and Troy were both only children. Having two kids of their own was a joy. The third would be a challenge, but one they welcomed.
Gabriella and Troy still couldn't pinpoint when Becca had come about. Somewhere between arguing over new electronic equipment, putting up a basketball goal in the back yard or redecorating their bedroom there had been almost two months worth of makeup sex, 'trying-to-get-my-way' sex, and 'you- look-really-hot-when-you're-angry' sex. On all accounts protection had been neglected to say the least.
So, perhaps, Miss Mischievous was just following the path of her 'throw-caution-to-the-wind' parents.
On this day with the grandparents, Grammy Lucille Bolton was taking Mac to her softball practice. Mac Attack had shown her tomboyish side early on. But try as she might basketball was not her sport. Thanks to her Uncle Chad, Troy's best friend, Mac got a taste of t-ball and by age eight, softball had become her passion.
Grammy and Mac had left the house at 8:00 at Mac's urging. She wanted to get to the field early and do some warm-ups before the rest of the team got there. Lucille and Jack both noted their 10-year-old granddaughter's determination. It reminded them a lot of their son, her father.
At that time of the morning Becca Beth was quite content to curl up with her Papa Jack on the couch and enjoy cartoons with him for a half hour. Jack enjoyed his coffee and holding the three year old in his lap snuggled up to his chest.
By nine Becca was hungry. So the two of them made their way into the kitchen. Jack sat the little girl on the counter and grabbed the eggs and milk from the refrigerator. He marveled at her ability to stir the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Her brown eyes looked up at him at one point as she asked, "Cheese, Papa Jack?"
He tapped his index finger on the tip of her nose as he returned to the refrigerator and pulled out the package of shredded cheddar cheese. Scrambled eggs with cheese was her favorite. And, Jack would comply every time she was there for breakfast.
Jack helped her stir the mixture in the skillet until it was cooked to perfection. Then they scooped it onto a plate, turned off the stove and headed to the kitchen table.
"Bow on it, pwease?" Becca requested.
Sure enough Jack found himself breathing cool air onto the eggs to bring them down to a temperature that she could consume without burning her tender tongue.
And then, they sat and ate. What on earth is so hard about this? Jack wondered to himself. He glanced at the clock, 9:30 already. By noon Luce and Mac should be home and Troy and Gabi would be back around 2. Still plenty of time for him to enjoy his baby girl.
"Okay you." Jack lifted Becca from her highchair and handed her the sippy cup. "You go watch cartoons while I clean up the dishes. I'll be back in there in a few minutes." He assumed she was following his directions as she wandered back into the living room.
It only took 15 minutes to clear the dishes, wash out the skillet and wipe down the table. Jack glanced into the living room and thought he would take some time to clear the clean dishes out of the dishwasher for his wife. That plan changed when he didn't see his granddaughter anywhere in the living room.
He stepped through the door and raised his voice a little bit. "Becca? Where'd you go?" No answer. So he tried again. "Becca Beth, where are you?"
This time a little voice answered simply, "Daddy's room."
"Becca Beth Bolton! What are you doing in there?!" Came the concerned voice of her Papa Jack.
Again that little voice answered, "Nuttin'."
Jack walked into Troy's old room to find the little girl sitting on the floor going through a container of her dad's high school belongings. She had pulled out a couple of picture frames that held pictures of her mom and one that showed Troy and Gabriella standing hand in hand, forehead to forehead on a golf course.
The three year old had managed to open a case that held several copies of DVD's with Troy and Gabriella's pictures on them. "What these?" she held up two of them and smiled a toothy grin at her grandfather.
Before Jack could answer she looked back at the DVD's again. "Mommy and Daddy movies?" she stared at the media in her hands.
Jack shook his head, walked into the room and picked her up. He sat Becca up on the bed that had belonged to her father and pointed at her. "Stay put for a minute. If your Grammy comes home and finds this mess she'll put us both in time out."
"No time out." Becca pouted.
"Just sit still and let me put this stuff away." Jack repeated and started cleaning up the mess.
Becca continued to hold two different DVD's in her hands. "Wanna watch Mommy and Daddy movies." She told her grandfather. Then she repeated the same request five more times while Jack put items back into the container and slid the plastic tub back under Troy's bed.
"Now I understand your Grammy's nickname for you Becca Beth. Miss Mischievous…" He continued to talk to the three year old as she climbed farther onto the bed and started bouncing.
"Hey! None of that. You know Grammy doesn't want you bouncing on the bed." Jack tried to admonish her.
"Becca bounce!" she giggled.
Jack stood from the floor and attempted to grab her. But before he could get a hand on her she bounced out of the way. He shook his head and felt the frustration beginning to build. "Becca Beth! If you wanna watch the Mommy and Daddy movie you have to come with me right now."
Becca bounced away from him once more before doing a seat drop on the bed and holding up one of the DVD's. "Watch this one. What's it called?" she held her arms out toward her Papa.
Jack laughed as he looked at the label on the DVD. Troy and Gabriella in costume adorned the computer-generated label. At the top of the sticker were the words "Twinkle Towne". It was the first musical at East High that the two of them had done together. Actually, it was the first school musical that either of them had ever done, period.
Jack looked at his granddaughter. Her dark brown eyes mirrored her mother's. He took her in his arms and took the disk from her hand. "This one is Twinkle Towne." He smiled at her.
"Tinkle Towne?" she asked in a curious high-pitched baby voice.
Jack laughed. "As scared as your daddy was, it very well could've been 'tinkle' town." He commented. Becca just looked at him. Jack continued talking to her as he thought back to that particular musical and the events that led up to it.
"Did you know, Baby Girl, that this sparked your daddy's love for your mama?" He smiled at the memory. "They met and sang and then she showed up at East High and somehow convinced him to sing again. And the rest…well, here you are today."
The two walked back into the living room. "Are you actually gonna watch this, or are you gonna run away and get into more mischief?" Jack asked her.
Becca's innocent eyes looked up at him with a blank look on her face. "I watch d-b-d. Mommy sing?" she watched as Jack placed the disk in the DVD player and switched the tv channel.
"Yep, Mommy sings beautifully, and Daddy does his best to keep up with her." Jack laughed.
They hadn't looked at this program in nearly two decades. He was quite sure his grandchildren hadn't seen it. Mac may have heard a story or two about it, but the DVD copies of it were supposed to be kept securely in that container under Troy's bed. Leave it to 'M.M.' to find them.
As the curtain lifted on the screen Becca adjusted her eyes to the amateur video. It was a two-camera shoot so the play was edited but still it was a high school performance. The little girl didn't seem to notice. As soon as she saw the younger version of her mother on the screen she was mesmerized.
Jack found himself entranced as well, and thrown back in time.
Jack Bolton was East High's basketball coach at the time of this performance. He had been blessed to watch his son and daughter-in-law's relationship develop. He had witnessed the ups and downs of those first few weeks for them. Jack remembered quickly that he, himself, had been the cause of some of their downs.
But Troy and Gabriella had overcome those obstacles, including Jack's initial reaction to their friendship. He had never disliked Gabriella. He thought she was taking Troy's focus off of basketball. That's what he didn't like.
What Jack quickly came to understand was that Gabriella's effect on his son was just the opposite. With this girl in his life Troy had learned new focus. With the young lady firmly embedded in his heart so quickly, Troy became a better player, a better student and a better friend. She helped him grow into a strong young man who stepped out and made his own decisions. All in all, Gabriella Montez had been a positive influence on Troy Bolton.
On the other side, a friendship with Troy had been completely new to Gabriella. Her teenage years had been spent moving from town to town as her mother was transferred by work. Finding out that she would be spending her final year and a half at East High was more than scary for Gabriella.
She had shied away from making friends. She didn't know if she knew how to make friends. The chance run-in with the sandy-haired boy on New Year's eve was the closest thing to having an 'attraction' that she had allowed herself. When he didn't call on New Year's day she let it pass without much care.
Jack laughed to himself a little at the memories. He recalled a little shock and confusion mixed in with happiness and hesitation the night after school resumed in that new year. Troy admitted singing karaoke on holiday vacation, admitted meeting a really pretty girl, and then continued the story by saying that the same girl was now attending East High.
Jack and Luce had listened carefully to Troy as he talked hurriedly, trying to pack in the entire story, yet he was also trying to cover up his strong attraction to this girl.
In the days that followed Troy had made sure that Gabriella had a friend, even after a huge misunderstanding between them. He found ways to let her know that he cared. He even brushed off basketball to try and help her adjust to the newness around her.
And after the basketball championship game, the scholastic decathlon, and the callbacks they combined their efforts and put their all into the musicale, Twinkle Towne.
That's when Jack and Lucille had really gotten to know Gabriella's mom. Maria would come by often to pick Gabriella up from the Bolton house. After practicing at school Troy and Gabi would go back to his house to do homework and run their lines again. Lucille provided snacks. Often times the two families would share dinner because the kids didn't want to give up their study sessions.
The parents knew there was much more to those sessions than studying. Yes they ran lines and did homework. Yes, Gabriella helped Troy improve his science and math scores. But even more, they talked and just got to know each other.
Jack remembered one particular night about a week before Twinkle Towne opened. Maria had brought dinner to their house and was helping Lucille put it on the table. Jack had just gotten home from a teachers' meeting. Troy stepped out of his room into the kitchen for a moment looking nervous as he stepped toward Lucille.
"Mom, I need a few closed-door minutes" he spoke quietly and pointed toward his room.
Lucille nodded at him as if she understood what was happening. "15 minutes Troy."
She smiled at him softly as he took a deep breath and nodded his head. Maria and Jack watched the 16 year old walk back into his room and close the door. They both looked toward Lucille and watched her smile grow bigger.
"He has something to ask Gabriella." She stated. And then she motioned for Maria and Jack to join her right outside of Troy's closed door.
They heard Troy talking quietly inside. After a couple of minutes they heard Gabriella's voice. "Are you serious Wildcat? Me? Really?"
The adults smiled hearing the hesitant excitement in her voice. And they had to admit, they loved hearing Gabriella call Troy by the nickname she had given him.
By this point Maria was well aware of what was happening. Jack, poor Jack, was still behind by just a step or two. His face was happy, but still curious to what was happening behind that door.
Finally they heard Troy talk again, this time he sounded much more upbeat. "That's a 'yes', right? You're saying yes?"
"Yes!" Gabriella responded.
"You don't know how happy you've just made me!" Troy exclaimed, knowing very well that their parents were within earshot.
Lucille took Jack by the hand and led him back into the kitchen, followed by Maria. Both women were wearing similar smiles across their faces. Jack, poor Jack, was still trying to understand. "He didn't just propose to her did he?"
Maria laughed and looked to Lucille to try and explain. "No Sweetheart. There are a few steps a couple has to take before that happens. You're the high school teacher, don't you see things like this everyday?" Lucille shook her head at her husband.
"See what happen?" Jack shrugged his shoulders and lifted his hands.
Lucille rolled her eyes at him. "Your son just asked Gabriella to be his girlfriend. And it sounds like she accepted." Lucille smiled.
Jack looked toward Maria. "I thought they already were." He scrunched his eyebrows.
Maria laughed at him. "Troy hadn't officially asked her."
"Ahhhh!" Now the realization hit him.
Maria and Lucille shared a laugh at Jack's expense. They all hushed, however, as the door to Troy's room opened slowly and the kids emerged. Both were grinning, both were blushing and Troy was cautiously wiping his thumb across his lips. Their parents couldn't help but smile at Troy's action, knowing this meant the two had shared a kiss to celebrate their step forward.
Jack was pulled from the memory when a little hand grabbed hold of his. "Papa, why Mommy crying?" Becca asked him.
Jack had to watch the tv screen for a moment or two to remember what was actually happening in the musical. He, Lucille and Maria had seen nearly every performance of this show. After hearing Troy and Gabriella practice, and watching it five times on stage, they nearly knew it by heart. But again, that was almost 20 years ago now.
"Papa?" The little voice said again and gripped his hand a little tighter. Jack felt a little body crawl into his lap as her eyes stayed glued to her mom on the screen.
"Oh, honey. Mommy's just pretending there. Daddy's playing like he's going to another town for a while and Mommy's sad that he's leaving that's all." Jack worked to console her tiny fears.
"Daddy come back and Mommy be happy?" Jack's little princess inquired.
"You bet he will honey. Your Daddy will never be very far from your Mommy or you for very long." Those words shot two other memories into Jack's brain.
The first revolved around the summer prior to Troy and Gabriella's senior year of high school. It was one of two times in their relationship when Jack and Lucille thought the two might actually breakup.
Jack remembered a change in Troy as that summer progressed. What started as a summer of working with teammates to make some extra money grew into the chance for a scholarship and added responsibilities. But those responsibilities didn't leave Troy a lot of room to spend time with his friends, including Gabriella.
While other Wildcats were playing baseball or running to the mall Troy was moping in his room. Gabriella was nowhere near the Bolton house and that worried Jack and Lucille. Especially when Troy's mom found the necklace that he had given to Gabriella, laying on his dresser. Since his class ring was too big to fit her small fingers, Troy had bought Gabriella the 'T' necklace to mark their bond and relationship.
Lucille had tried that evening to ask Troy about the necklace and Troy wouldn't even talk to her. He had put his hand up and looked as though he was completely lost. Lucille had given Jack a worried look and headed for the phone to call Maria.
Jack waited an hour before making his way into Troy's room. They talked about the changes that had taken place. Changes that made Troy wonder if he was making the right decisions. Jack hadn't offered any advice to his son that night. But he assured Troy that the answers were right there inside his heart.
Jack and Lucille had discussed his conversation with Troy that night. Maria had shared that Gabriella was quite sad and moping around as well. She wasn't wearing her necklace and wouldn't share with Maria the reason why. Maria said that Gabriella had even quit her job because working around Troy was not what she had expected.
The next morning they had found a simple note from Troy where the necklace had been on his dresser. I'd rather wash dishes and be with Gabriella than get a full scholarship and not have her.
Lucille had immediately taken the note to the Montez house. Maria had taken the day off because Gabriella had planned to be in the summer talent show with her coworkers. After quitting the job, Maria was staying home just to try and keep Gabriella's mind off the program. Instead she had already spent part of the early morning convincing Gabriella to talk to several friends when they called her.
Maria allowed Lucille to take the note directly up to Gabriella's room. Gabi was on the phone with Taylor and already in tears when Lucille walked in. Mrs. Bolton placed the note on Gabriella's bedside table and then took the young lady in her arms and held her for a minute while she tried to continue her phone conversation.
"I don't know Taylor. I just don't think I can. How do I know he's not gonna do this again. I just don't think I can." Gabriella whimpered into the phone.
Lucille wasn't sure what Taylor was saying on the other end of the line. Gabriella's friend was obviously trying to convince her to do something. And, in the end it seemed like Taylor wasn't taking 'no' for an answer. Gabriella hung up the phone exasperated and looked at Lucille with tear-filled eyes.
They were sitting on the bed. "Honey, I know I'm one of the last people you want to see right now. But I found this on Troy's dresser this morning and thought you should see it." Lucille handed the note to Gabriella.
The tears streamed down the teenager's face as she read his words over and over again. She just wasn't sure what to believe. Gabriella didn't say anything else to Lucille. She simply lay down on her bed and curled into a ball while still holding the note from Troy.
Lucille quietly walked out of the bedroom and discussed with Maria everything they possibly could about the situation. Both women decided they had to let their children figure this out on their own. They only hoped the two kids would end up back together.
At the Bolton house Jack was waiting for Troy to come home. That didn't happen. Jack listened to everything Lucille told him about her visit with Gabriella and Maria. Then he called Troy's cell phone.
"Dad, I'm sorry if you don't like what I'm doing. But honestly, Gabriella is more important to me than any scholarship. I know you're thinking about me and my future. But so am I. I want her back dad. I need her."
Jack heard the sincerity in his son's voice. Jack may have been disappointed about the scholarship part of the discussion, but he was quite proud that his son had made up his mind and was working to make things right. He hoped Gabriella would see that too.
"We'll see you at the show tonight Son, okay?" Jack had ended the call.
"I may be your waiter." Troy chuckled.
"As long as you're happy." Jack informed him.
The rest of that afternoon had been a blur. Jack and Lucille had dressed and headed to the country club. Maria had sent Lucille a text about an hour before the talent show began. "Taylor just dragged Gabriella out of here. She had the necklace. Where's Troy?"
"He's here at work, we think." Lucille replied. "Are you coming to the show?"
"I'll never be dressed to make it on time. Just tell me what happens, please!" Maria begged via phone.
As the program progressed Lucille grew nervous. She hadn't seen Gabriella or Troy. Nor had she seen Chad, or Taylor. As the finale began she and Jack watched their son take the stage and begin to sing. Then from the back of the crowd came Gabriella's voice.
The reunion that they witnessed after the first chords were sung was one that prompted a father/son chat after the show. Jack nervously asked his son if he was 'prepared' to be with Gabriella. Troy was somewhat embarrassed, but admitted to his dad that 'yes' he was prepared. "But," Troy added, "I'm at her mercy. I won't do anything without her approval."
Lucille never knew about that conversation. She also didn't know that Jack waited up till 2:30AM the following morning when Troy finally returned home. "Everything ok?" Jack asked his son.
Troy blushed as he stood in front of his father in the living room. "We didn't…we're good, really good…but, yeah, we just didn't." he stumbled.
"You ok with that?" Jack asked as he looked up at his son from the recliner.
"Yeah." Troy nodded. "As long as I know we're together, yeah, I am."
Both Bolton men slept in the next morning with lots of tensions removed from both their minds.
As that flashback wrapped up, Jack found himself with a three-year-old standing on his lap and dancing. The front door opened and Lucille and Mac walked in just as Becca jumped down and started mimicking her father's airplane actions during a song called 'Breaking Free'.
Lucille recognized the song but hadn't heard it in years. She also recognized her son's voice. "What are you two watching?" she laughed as she saw Becca's arms spread like wings and the little girl ran and danced around the couch.
"Mommy and Daddy movie!" Becca said excitedly.
Mac sat down on the couch and studied the screen intently while the song continued. "That's like, Mom and Dad, in high school?" she looked back at her grandparents for confirmation.
Jack nodded at the 10 year old. Lucille stepped behind him and wrapped her arms around his neck. "What on earth made you pull this out? Where was it?" she questioned.
Jack pointed to Becca. "Miss Mischievous. Need I say more?"
Lucille smirked. "So you couldn't keep her out of trouble for four hours?"
"Hey, I think I did pretty well. The worst she did was get into one of the tubs under Troy's old bed. She found the DVD case and pulled a couple out. Smart kid, she recognized her mom and dad on the labels." Jack smiled as Becca stopped directly in front of the tv.
The little one turned and looked at her big sister. "Look Sissy! Mommy and Daddy made a movie. They sing!"
Mac looked at her baby sister and then back at the tv. "Okay, this is just embarrassing. I'm gonna go take a shower." She turned and headed up the stairs with her bag of clothes to change into.
Jack and Lucille both laughed. "If she only knew what a gold mine these are." Jack commented.
Lucille placed a kiss in his hair and glanced over to see the second DVD on the table. "Save it for Jon and Becca. One of them will be sure to need some blackmail material on their parents. Hey, is that the Senior Year program?"
"Yep." Jack smiled up at her.
Lucille looked up at him. "I didn't know if they'd make it through that show or not." Jack watched his wife's face carefully.
"Do tell." He let a sideways smile form on his face. "Little Miss over there has had me in flashback mode for the past couple of hours. So what are you remembering?"
Lucille's mind wandered back to their son's struggle to simply finish his senior year. Just a month before graduation Gabriella accepted a spot in the Stanford University honors program, in California, more than a thousand miles from Albuquerque. But even more than that, Troy's girlfriend also accepted the position as a signal of 'goodbye' from her East High life.
The phone call had started well enough. Troy beamed about the tux he had just picked up for prom, the same tux that Gabriella had helped him pick out. But then the conversation turned south. Gabriella wasn't getting on her plane. She wasn't coming back for prom. She wasn't coming back for the musical. She wasn't coming back for graduation. She wasn't coming back.
Troy's world turned upside down. The phone call ended and he threw the phone across his bed. He fell onto the bed and barely heard the words that Chad was trying to tell him. His eyes were fixed on the picture of Gabriella that sat on his bedside table. Suddenly the clarity that had been fixed in his mind for months was becoming a jumbled mess.
Once Chad left Troy wandered from the bedroom, retrieved his keys and informed Lucille that he was going out. She heard his truck engine start and the next thing she new he was gone.
Lucille waited 15 minutes and tried to call her son. His phone rang from the floor, in the corner of his bedroom. She picked it up and put it on his bedside table beside Gabriella's picture. Then she called Chad.
Troy's life-long friend attempted to explain to Lucille what had just happened. Her heart broke. And Lucille knew if her heart was broken, Troy's must be crushed. The only other thing she knew to do was to call Jack.
Troy's father knew him better than anyone realized. Each time Troy had talked about escaping from something Jack knew exactly where he headed. There were two places the young man would go, both of them at the school. On this evening Jack Bolton found his son sitting on the bench in the rooftop garden.
It was the same garden where Gabriella had accepted Troy's invitation to the prom. The same garden where she taught him to waltz. The same garden where they had shared numerous conversations and opened their hearts to each other. It was the same garden where Troy had brought her on their first anniversary in March, where they had made love for the first time.
Jack knew about that. Other than Troy and Gabriella, he was the only one. Maria and Lucille knew the two were close to that point but didn't know they had reached it. Troy had confided in his father. And he told Gabriella that he had talked to Jack because he was scared. Even with the precautions they took, Troy was scared.
As much as they had enjoyed the experience they agreed it couldn't happen again. Not until they were older and had a clearer picture of their future…together. But even with that, they had promised themselves to each other. They were sure then that their future would be together.
So as Jack approached Troy that's what the boy couldn't shake from his mind. "She said she loved me, but she said goodbye. Dad. How can she say that in the same sentence? Does she not trust that we can make this work? How can she really love me if she doesn't trust me, if she wants to say goodbye? It just doesn't make sense."
Jack held Troy and let him cry that evening. That was another secret they shared, one that even Gabriella didn't know about. Once his tears were finished, Troy and Jack talked about options. They talked about the end of the school year, college, the future, Troy's future…with Gabriella.
By the end of their conversation, several decisions had been made. First, Troy needed to let Gabriella know, again, that he loved her and wouldn't let her go. 'Goodbyes' might have been part of her life before coming to Albuquerque. But with Troy, if she really loved him, goodbye wasn't an option.
Second, Troy revealed his college decision to his father. Berkeley would be his school of choice. Basketball, theater, and most importantly, Gabriella would be close by. Jack had swallowed hard upon hearing that decision. But, Troy reminded him, it wasn't Jack's choice to make.
And third, Troy needed to let Gabriella know about both of these decisions in person. That would require going to Stanford. That would require driving his truck, to Stanford. That would require finding Gabriella, at Stanford.
To Troy's surprise, his father was agreeable to all three of those decisions. In Jack's mind, and in Troy's, they were all potentially life-changing decisions. And ones that Troy needed to handle along his road to adulthood.
The two of them had headed home after that and shared the decisions with Lucille, who cried at each revelation. She sat on the couch flanked by her husband and son just trying to soak in what they were telling her. They still held the two big secrets between them. Jack would never share them, that would be up to Troy, or for the first one, up to Troy or Gabriella.
"I love her mom. You know that. I can't let her say goodbye. I just can't." Troy had finished.
Lucille looked at him, hugged him and sent him up the stairs to pack. She would call Maria in just a little bit to let her know that he was on his way. Then she looked at her husband. "Jack," she paused. Her eyes were concerned. The thought of their two teenage children being in such an emotionally charged situation worried her. Her husband knew exactly what she was thinking.
"They are both more than ready and mature enough to handle this. Troy's not going to go any farther than Gabriella wants to. They are both responsible kids Luce. We have to trust them."
Jack's confirming words were gentle enough to ease her tensions but the truth in them still sent butterflies flitting through Lucille's stomach. "She is the one for him, isn't she?" Lucille questioned.
Jack smiled at her. "Yeah. I really think she is."
They spoke to Maria, saw Troy off, and talked to him again along the way and when he arrived. The next contact they had with their son was when they saw him and Gabriella appear on the stage together in the Senior Year Musicale.
Anyone who knew them could quickly realize that there was now much more to their relationship than just a high school crush. Jack, Lucille and Maria were all aware of that. All of them knew that Troy and Gabriella's relationship had reached a new level when he brought her back to East High.
And Gabriella finally realized that her bond with Troy, their love, couldn't be broken by goodbyes. It was a good change in her life and one that opened the door to their marriage and their three children.
Somewhere in the middle of Lucille's daydreaming Jack had popped out Twinkle Towne and put in Senior Year. Miss Mischievous had crawled up into her Grammy's lap and was napping by the time the prom scene came on.
"Sharpay Evans never had a real hope of actually playing Gabriella's role, did she?" Lucille asked her husband quietly.
"Oh, who knows what that girl had hopes of. I'm just glad our two made it back in time to finish the show." Jack laughed as he watched the performance.
Mac wandered back down the stairs and took interest in the high school musical. "So where are Mom and Dad? Why weren't they in this one?" She took a quick glance at the blonde. "That ones Sharpay, isn't it? Nice costumes!" Mac laughed.
"Oh, just wait." Lucille commented. "Your father and mother know how to make quite an entrance."
"Oh Geez. Can't wait to see this." Mac slid down against the arm of the love seat and pulled her knees up under her chin as she continued watching the show.
Jack sat down on the couch and put his arm around his wife and sleeping granddaughter just as the front door opened again. Gabriella and Troy wandered in with curious looks on their faces.
"What are you watching?" Gabriella asked. Her voice woke the sleeping girl on Lucille's lap. Becca's voice chirped out in a sleepy tone, "Mommy, we watch your movie." And she put her head back down on Lucille's shoulder.
"Where did you find this?" Troy looked immediately at Mac.
"Hey, don't blame this on me. He did it." She quickly pointed toward her Papa Jack.
Jack in turn pointed at Becca Beth. "She decided to go exploring in your old room. This is what she found." He pointed the remote control toward the tv.
They all took interest in the screen again as Troy appeared in the aisle-way singing "I Just Wanna Be With You". Mac laughed when the crowd gasped as Gabriella appeared on the makeshift balcony.
"So where'd you guys come from? Why weren't you there earlier?" Their oldest daughter asked.
Gabriella blushed as she looked back at Troy wearing the same crimson color. Jack and Lucille noticed their awkward looks. Troy's parents and Gabriella's mom had never asked them anything more about the trip home. They assumed the two drove as quickly as they could to get back to the school in time for the program. They never thought there might have been an extra stop along the way…until now.
Troy glanced at his dad and mom. Gabriella leaned back against her husband's chest. "We almost made it in time for the whole show. But, Daddy's truck broke down. By the time he fixed it we were late." Gabriella lied.
Jack and Lucille both raised their eyebrows and looked at the sheepish smiles on Troy and Gabriella's faces. Jack's curiosity got the best of him. He stood from the couch and pulled his son and daughter-in-law toward the kitchen.
Again his eyebrows raised. "The truck broke down?"
Troy blushed again. "Well, it stopped. Technically I guess I pulled over and turned off the ignition."
Jack looked at both of them. "Please tell me, not in the truck."
Gabriella gasped, "Jack!"
"Rooftop, pickup truck." Jack grinned at the two.
"Dad! Geez, please." Troy begged.
"Well, where did you pull over then? It was daylight. The show started at 7." Jack added.
"You can remember that? I'm impressed." Gabriella tried to change the subject.
"We thought maybe you'd make it back to the house before heading over to the show." Jack commented, "That's why."
Troy pressed his lips together and put his arms around Gabriella's shoulders. He kissed her hair as he looked over at his dad. "Well, um, we did make it back here before heading over to the show. We just waited for you guys to leave before we came in." Troy finally admitted.
Jack nearly choked. "Here? Here!?" His voice squeaked as he watched Gabriella blush again and turn toward Troy to bury her head against his chest. Her tell-tale smile and sweet giggle answered his question.
Jack smacked his hand against his forehead. He just shook his head as he looked at his children. He had to smile. Yes, Gabriella was one of his children. She had been for quite some time. As embarrassed as he felt at the moment, he was honored again that he had just been let in on a secret that the two of them had held for nearly 20 years.
Troy hugged his wife and accepted a kiss from her lips when she tiptoed up and turned her face toward his. "You trust your father with way to many secrets Wildcat." Jack smirked at her comment.
"Ah, I figure two or three every twenty years will be enough to hold him at bay, right Dad?" Troy held Gabriella close and smiled at Jack.
"Sure son, whatever you say." Jack shook his head again.
"Mommy, Daddy kiss!" a little voice squealed from the living room.
"Ah, man," came the older voice. "We see it all the time at home. Is this where it started?"
Gabriella and Troy looked at each other curiously. They wandered with Jack back to the living room. Lucille was near tears on the couch. The program had ended and she had stopped the DVD at a frozen picture of Troy and Gabriella kissing, with Troy holding up his graduation cap to try and hide them from the camera.
Mac and Becca were both watching their grandmother. "What wrong Grammy?" Becca asked and gave Lucille a hug.
Lucille picked up the remote, rewound the video a few seconds and hit play. The scene was obviously shot after the Senior Year Musicale had finished. A number of students were gathered around Gabriella giving her hugs.
Suddenly a hand appeared in front of the camera and pulled the lens around. Troy took a couple of steps away from the camera so that his face was in full focus. He cupped his hands around his mouth as though he was telling a secret to someone.
"Everybody loves her. But I'm gonna be the one who marries her. Bet on it."
Gabriella placed a hand over her mouth. She turned around and looked at Troy. "Another one of your 20 year secrets revealed?" She asked him softly.
"Nah." Troy smiled and bent down to kiss his wife. "At that point I would've told anybody who asked that you were going to be Gabriella Bolton." They didn't hesitate to share more kisses and kept a tight hold on each other.
Jack and Lucille looked on with smiles. Mac groaned after being subjected to more parental kisses. And Becca Beth…little Miss Mischievous…ran to her parents to disrupt their embrace and make it a group hug.