A/N: So this is something I've been sitting on top of for a few weeks now. I considered writing it, considered deleting it, and then considered just finishing it for my own personal whatever and never publishing it. I still don't know if it's the best idea in the world to be posting it, but god knows when AIS will be updated, and don't even get me started on Sunburn, so here's a little something.

A while ago, I read an article entitled "25 Little Things You do That Guys Secretly Love", and this idea formed. I tried writing 25, but it didn't work out, so I'll give you ten. The thing that makes me nervous about this story is the occupation of Troy, and how similar it is that of another Troy floating around, written by the amazing Dani (Pandora147) in her story The Simple Need. His job has little to nothing to do with the plot, however, I didn't want to just have him be in the NBA like I've done in other stories, so this kinda just...happened. Seriously, her story is a million times better than this story ever will be, so if you're looking for an amazing Rockstar!Troy, read that one. Like now.

Anyways, without further ado, I give you 10 Little Things...

"I travel a lot for work. When I come home from a trip, I often find that my fiancée has been wearing whatever sweater or sweatshirt I had on before I left, no matter how oversize it is on her petite frame. It's her way of staying close to me when I'm away."

In a college town, restaurants that are open late are considered to be like crack for students. Fast food is okay every once and a while, but truth be told, just like the illegal substance, give them one hit, and they keep coming back for more. Especially to a diner that is known for its cheap burgers and beer, and especially when they know Gabriella works there and would rather be home sleeping, or at least not working, following an exhausting week at school.

"Order up!"

Twenty three year old Gabriella Montez turned her head as the sound of the bell radiated throughout the diner. Her gaze didn't linger on the scruffy looking bald man standing behind the window to the kitchen, returning it swiftly to the order screen she was navigating through. It was Friday night, one of their busiest nights, and Gabriella was thankful she was not closing that night. Waking up for class at eight until two, followed by an eight hour waitressing shift, was exhausting, and Gabriella was prepared to go back to her house and crash.

"Gabriella," the bald man barked, "take this to table four, they've been waiting for a while."

Printing off the receipt for her customers, Gabriella sent him a look. She had been working at the same diner since she started at Stanford six years earlier, and for all six years, Frank had been her boss. Normally, the pair got along. Normally. However, a lot of the time they butted heads, and 90% of the times they butted heads, it was because Gabriella was leaving and he wanted her to stay. Whether she was going on vacation over spring break, traveling to visit her boyfriend in a different state, taking an internship in another city, or simply leaving for the night, he'd always throw a hissy fit when she left. She loved this job, really she did. It was flexible enough to work around the frequent study groups she had as a second year law student, and paid well enough that she wasn't completely drowning in debt during the school year. But loving the job didn't necessarily translate to loving the boss.

"Not my table."

Frank rolled his eyes, "Gabs, you have to pass by the table to deliver your check anyways."

Gabriella turned towards him, sending him a look, "Where's Tara?"

Tara Connelly was another waitress that worked at the restaurant, and number four would be her table. Frank nodded his head towards the door, "Arguing with her boy toy."

Gabriella rolled her eyes, already heading forward towards the food. Tara and her boyfriend had at least one major argument every weekend she worked. Gabriella tried to sympathize with her, but one minute they were yelling at each other, and the next one they couldn't keep their hands off one another. She really wished they'd either hate or love each other.

Gabriella sighed as she began piling the plates onto the tray, "Oh, to be young and in love."

Frank snorted, "As opposed to being old and boring, like you and your guy are?"

Gabriella nodded sadly as she balanced the tray on her shoulder, "You'd be surprised at the difference in age before and after you graduate from college."

Frank rolled his eyes, "Whatever you say."

Gabriella was already walking out of the kitchen before he finished his response, eager to deliver the food so she could get out of there. It was past ten, her shift was over, she had a pocket full of tips to count and zero interest in putting in any overtime.

"Does everything look alright?" Gabriella asked with a smile, grinning down at the small family as she passed out the plates to each respective person. Receiving nods, Gabriella smiled wider, "Great, your waitress will be back to check on you shortly." Walking back out of the dining room as swiftly as possible, Gabriella deposited her tray with the others before beginning to untie her apron from behind her.

"What do you think you're doing?"

Gabriella didn't even have to look up to recognize Frank's voice, "It's ten." She replied simply, folding up her apron and setting it on the counter as she worked on fishing out her purse and jacket from beneath, "Shift's over. I'll see you on Monday."

She slid on the navy blue jacket she had pulled out from its hiding place and slid her arms into the holes, the jacket engulfing her petite frame as it always did. "No, Gabriella…" Frank protested, "We are busy as hell out there, I need you to stay."

Gabriella zipped the jacket over her white button up uniform shirt she had coupled with jeans, and pushed the sleeves up over her hands, "Frank," Gabriella started, her voice even, "I woke up at six this morning, I just worked an eight hour shift, and you have seven other waitresses working. I am leaving." Gabriella shouldered her purse, "I will see you Monday."

Gabriella turned and began making her way towards the exit, "Why can't you work this weekend?"

Gabriella pushed open the door and sent Frank a look, "Because I just worked five days straight," she explained, "and you don't pay me enough to spend Saturday night getting my ass grabbed."

Gabriella continued on her pursuit out into the chilly February night, "Fine," Frank shouted, "but you are working next weekend, right?" Gabriella didn't bother responding, choosing instead to roll her eyes as the door shut, cutting short any further conversation between Frank and her.

She felt a chill creep up her spine and she instinctively hugged her arms tight to her body in an attempt to preserve the small amount of heat she had. Gabriella was lucky that for the majority of her life she had lived in the southern portion of the country, because with as much as she complained about the California winters where it was a cool year if they got down to the lower thirties, she'd never survive anywhere else. Her had was already shoved within the confines of her purse, searching for her keys, as she made a beeline for the midnight blue BMW X5 xDrive35d crossover, groaning internally as she saw a group of twenty-something males admiring the car. This was why she didn't want this stupid heap of metal. No college kid has a car like this. What was he thinking?

Oh, she knew what he was thinking. He could tell her a hundred thousand times that it was completely normal for a college student to be given a car as a gift upon graduation, especially when that college student was twenty two and had yet to own a car, and he was merely doing her a service. But Gabriella knew better. He did this because he was a show off. He did this because he had just signed a contract, gotten a whole lot of money, and decided to spend all of it (well, not all of it, even Sharpay left alone in LA couldn't spend all of it). God, why couldn't he have just bought an island or town, isn't that what normal rockstars did? Why was he the one who had to be weird and buy his normal girlfriend something…not normal?

The lights flashed as Gabriella unlocked the car, one of the male's eyes moving over to her as she pulled open the driver door, preparing to get in, "Hey," the guy started, "nice car."

Gabriella tossed her apron and purse inside, "Thanks, it's my boyfriend's."

Gabriella settled easily into the driver's seat, and went to pull her door shut, only to feel a hand stopping it, "What do you say you and me take it out for a spin?" the male said suggestively, his grin giving Gabriella chills, "Boyfriend would never have to know."

"Thanks, but no thanks." Gabriella replied dryly, "My boyfriend's very particular about who he let's touch his…car." Her tone implied that she was not talking the car, "And he's got an anger management problem, I wouldn't want to test him."

She tugged again, but still the man didn't budge, "You don't know what you're missing, baby."

She sent him a tight smile, "Most likely a two second orgasm, excuse me!" Gabriella tugged as hard as she could, lurching the door free and almost closing it on his hand in the process. The man jumped back, and Gabriella seized the moment to stick the key into the ignition and stomp on the pedal, the car propelling out of its parking spot as Gabriella sped away from the diner. She didn't bother glancing in the rearview mirror at the men who yelled profanities at her retreating car, her hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles had gone white. This was beginning to bother her.

Men naturally gawked at nice cars, and they especially gawked at nice cars driven by seemingly single women. Prying one hand from the steering wheel, Gabriella began fishing for her phone within the confines of her purse. It'd been over a year since the car was bought for her and this was still happening. Good god, why couldn't he have just bought her an expensive piece of jewelry that she could only wear when he came into town?

Finally gripping her phone, she began tapping the screen angrily until she reached her intended destination. The phone rang twice before a tired voice answered, "Hello?"

"I am going to kill him."

Gabriella could practically see her best friend roll her eyes, "You've said that before."

Gabriella nodded, "Yes, but this time I mean it."

"No, you don't."

"Yes, I do." Gabriella countered, slowing down as she maneuvered the car onto a side street, "I've got it all planned out. No one checks fresh graves, right? So no one would know if I just buried him in one of those."

"I think people might notice if he goes missing."

"Not if they knew him and how stupid he was."

"But alas, they don't. They are as infatuated with his blue eyes and six pack abs as you are."

"I'm not infatuated!" Gabriella defended.

"Mm-hmm." her tone was heavy with sarcasm.

Gabriella scoffed, "Yeah, like you're one to talk. I've seen Chad naked, Taylor. You're just as guilty of being infatuated as I am."

This time, despite their three thousand mile separation, Gabriella was positive she could see Taylor McKessie roll her eyes, restraining her smile, "Who hasn't seen Chad naked?" she asked rhetorically, "And I'm not denying my infatuation."

Gabriella groaned, making a left onto her street, "I will kill him."

Taylor sighed, "Let me guess, the car."

"Of course the car." Gabriella spit out, "It's always the car. No twenty-three year old has a $60,000 car! Especially not one who works in a diner and gets paid $5.15 and hour plus tips."

"Did they grab your ass?"

Gabriella pulled into her driveway and pulled into her parking spot out front, "What?"

"The guys who undoubtedly hit on you because you had a really nice car, did they grab your ass?"

Gabriella pushed open her door, climbing out of the car, "No, otherwise you'd be catching the next flight from New Haven to Stanford to bail me out of jail because I'd have maced them."

"Well, it's probably for the best that you didn't," Taylor told her, "I've got a huge test on Monday, and I need to study."

Gabriella rolled her eyes, "Yeah right, Taylor. It may be Yale, but you could pass law school with your eyes closed."

"So could you," Taylor countered, "yet I know for a fact you still study a week in advance for all tests."

"Not true," Gabriella disputed, walking up the sidewalk towards the front door of her four bedroom home she shared with three roommates, "I never once studied over three hours for an English exam."

"Oh, right, sorry." Taylor said sarcastically, "In every subject but English, you study a week in advance for all tests."

Gabriella stuck her key into the door, sliding the deadbolt out of place, "There's nothing wrong with being prepared."

Taylor laughed, "No there is not." She agreed, "Which is why I need to…"

Gabriella stopped abruptly right inside the doorway of her house, cell phone to her ear, her eyes widened slightly at the sound of Taylor's scream coming through the earpiece. "Taylor?"

She could hear laughter in the background, "Gabs, those dirty rotten liars. They said they wouldn't be…" Gabriella's brow furrowed as the line cut out, and she pulled her phone away, finding that the call had been ended.

"What's wrong?"

Gabriella glanced up briefly to find one of her roommates, Krista, standing in the kitchen, clad in her pajama pants and a ragged t-shirt with her long blonde hair pulled up into a ponytail. Gabriella shook her head, "Nothing," she said dismissively, shoving her phone back into her purse, "my friend just probably got kidnapped, no big deal."

Krista looked confused for a moment before deciding to dismiss it with a shake of her head, "Whatever." Her expression softened into a smile, and Gabriella's eyebrows knitted together, "Nice jacket."

Gabriella glanced down, her hand going to rest on the red and white embroidered E up on the top left corner of the jacket, "Oh. Yeah…"

"No," Krista interjected, "I think it's really cute that you wear his jacket all the time. The world should know that he's yours."

Gabriella was a jacket thief. She constantly stole his jackets, and it was a good thing they both lived in California, because otherwise, she was pretty sure he'd have no jackets. This was one of her favorites, but it wasn't why she was wearing it. It was the jacket he had worn last time she had seen him, and it was the only thing that still slightly smelled like him.

Gabriella smiled tightly. When people asked about the jacket or commented on the name 'Bolton' on the back, Gabriella felt her heart ache a little, "Thanks."

Gabriella turned, beginning to make her way over towards the stairs and up to her room, when Krista's voice stopped her, "Don't forget to lock the door." Gabriella stopped, immediately backtracking and easily locking the door, "I noticed you forgot earlier today, so I just wanted to remind you."

Gabriella was already on her way towards the steps when she shook her head, "I didn't leave it unlocked."

Krista nodded, "Yeah, it was unlocked when I got home this afternoon. Sarah and Kate left last night and won't be back until tomorrow evening." She referenced their other two roommates, "And I locked it after I left, so…"

"So…you're mistaken." Gabriella finished, "I locked it, I swear. Was anything taken?"

"No." Krista responded, "And I'm not trying to accuse you of anything, we all make mistakes." Her smile was forced, "Just…be more careful next time."

Gabriella gave her an equally forced smile, "Will do." She turned and ascended the stairs, rolling her eyes. Krista was two years younger then her, and while she had the best of intentions, she was somewhat paranoid. She locked the deadbolt for the door even when she was sitting three feet from it. She freaked out about rent and bills, feeling the need to pay them weeks in advance. And she was completely anal about the cleanliness of the apartment.

Walking into her room, Gabriella didn't hesitate in shutting the door behind her. "Just be more careful next time." Gabriella mocked, dropping her purse and apron down onto the floor before she harshly unzipped the jacket, "I'm twenty three, I've lived in this house two years longer than her, I think I can remember to lock the freaking door."

Gabriella quickly undid the buttons of her work shirt and launched it at the overflowing hamper in the corner of her room, glancing over the messy room she inhabited. It was the master bedroom, and for that, Gabriella was thankful. When she had first moved in, they had drawn straws as to who would get the room, and Gabriella had won. She almost forfeited it at the time, but something had stopped her, and Gabriella was really glad it had, because while she didn't have that much stuff when she moved in sophomore year, she did not. Her desk was pushed up into the corner, the glow of her lamp being the only thing illuminating the rectangular room. A pile of textbooks, the few that weren't stacked alphabetically on the floor to ceiling bookshelf to the left of the desk, were lying next to the open space where her laptop would normally sit when it wasn't in her bag. On the opposite side of the room, Gabriella's queen sized bed was shoved up against the wall, the covers lumped together from their lack of being made that morning. Across from the bed sat her television, and next to that was her walk in closet. She didn't even want to think of the mess in there.

Gabriella worked her way through the motions of getting changed into her pajamas and ready for bed, her mind drifting off before she even shimmied out of her jeans. It had only been a month, and in retrospect, that wasn't that long. They had done significantly longer separations under much worse conditions then when they had last left each other. However, for some reason, right now it was hurting much worse. Maybe it was because they were so close? Maybe it was because with each passing day, they were drawing closer and closer to the end? Her graduation, the bar exam, moving to LA…it was all so close, and because it was so close, time was dragging on and making the distance between them torture.

Gabriella held her hair back as she spit the toothpaste into the sink, rinsing out her toothbrush before replacing it into its holder. She didn't know why she did this to herself. Why she insisted on thinking about the distance every night so that by the time she called him, she was depressed that he wasn't there. Gabriella barely noticed that her hands tied her long curly hair into a messy bun on top of her head as she padded towards the bed, extinguishing the few lights she had turned on along the way. Obsessing over it didn't change anything. Crying over it didn't change anything. The truth of the matter was that unless Gabriella quit college or he gave up his career, nothing was going to change until June.

Collapsing onto her bed, she fished the discarded navy jacket from the floor, sticking her arms through the holes. Gabriella decided it would be best to forego her phone call that night. She was tired, not really in a good mood, and he tended to be grumpy at night as well, just one of the many things they had in common. Zipping up the jacket, she slid her legs under the covers and settled onto her side, snuggling into the jacket and inhaling the scent she missed so much.

Her eyelids were heavy, but despite that she knew she should've let her tiredness overtake her, she pushed it aside to focus on the same picture she focused on each night before she went to sleep. She had a plethora of them littering her bedroom, some of them of her parents before and after she was born, some of her and her mother on their many adventures as they traveled throughout the US, some of them of high school and college with her friends, and some of them with her boyfriend. But this was her favorite. It was old, in terms of some of the other pictures, about five or six years, however she'd never get tired of it, no matter how many other good pictures were taken of them, this had to be her favorite. The pair were snuggled together, their red high school graduation robes twined together in such a way that it was impossible to distinguish where one stopped and the other started. Gabriella was smiling brightly at the camera, her tan skin radiating from both the hot Albuquerque sun and the fact that she was currently in the arms of her shaggy haired, blue eyed boyfriend, otherwise known as Troy Bolton.

She didn't care that they had better pictures taken of them in the years since. She didn't care that Troy complained that the shorter hairstyle he had been sporting in recent years was dramatically better then his previous one. Nor did she care that it was hot, they were sweaty, and their hats were slightly askew from mingling with friends. This picture marked a turning point in their lives. This was the point where they went from being high school sweethearts infatuated with one another to something more. Something that could survive college. Something that could survive the distance. Something that could survive only being an hour from one another but only able to see each other once a month if they were lucky. Something that could survive a knee injury. And something that could survive a slight shift in Troy's career path.

"I never liked my hair in that picture."

Gabriella, as well as everyone within a ten mile radius, was jarred from her thoughts by the piercing scream that rang from her lips as she propelled herself out of her bed and away from the voice that had just sounded behind her. She landed on the carpet with a thump, her eyes wide in panic as she stared up at the other occupant of her room, while mentally calculating how long it would take for her to reach the door. A quiet chuckle rang out through the room as Gabriella's brain processed the man currently lying in her bed, dressed in a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt, his head propped up by his hand, as he grinned his lopsided grin down at her. "Jumpy much?"

And as quickly as she plopped down onto the floor, she was off of it, lunging back up onto the bed and straight into the male, who accepted her with open arms, "Oh my god!" Gabriella mumbled as her arms latched around his neck, holding on as though she never wanted to let go, "Troy, what are you doing here?"

Troy laughed quietly at her enthusiasm, hugging her just as tightly as she hugged him, "What do you think I'm doing here?"

Gabriella loosened her hold a bit to allow herself to stare up at his face, the face she hadn't seen in over a month and had missed every day since, "But…I thought…" Gabriella was attempting to commit every single line of his face to memory while trying to talk at the same time, and finding that it wasn't as easy as it seemed, "I thought…you said it'd be March or April before you got some real time off?"

"I did," Troy confirmed with a soft smile, "which is why I'm not here. Right now, I'm en route to Las Vegas for our show on Wednesday, planning on doing some recording during the few days they schedule for us to have off."

Gabriella smiled brightly, a small laugh escaping her lips, "I probably shouldn't encourage the lying, but I'm so happy to see you." She squeezed herself up against him again, pressing until there was no space between them, "I missed you so much."

Gabriella felt him press a kiss onto the top of her head, "Me too."

Gabriella's bedroom door creaked open and the pair both diverted their attention to find Krista peeking her head into the room, "Gabriella, are you…" The blonde froze upon catching sight of the couple perched on Gabriella's bed, "Oh! Oh…I'm so…"

"It's alright." Gabriella said dismissively, not relinquishing her hold onto Troy, but focusing her attention onto her roommate, "Sorry I screamed…he just surprised me."

Troy sent her a small smile, waving slightly, "Hi, I'm Troy."

Gabriella perked up, "Oh, right, I forgot, you two haven't met." She detached her arms from around Troy and scooted back, gesturing towards Krista, "Troy, this is my roommate, Krista. Krista, this is my boyfriend, Troy."

Troy moved forward, making his way off of the bed with his hand outstretched, "Nice to finally meet you," Krista glanced down at his hand anxiously before hesitantly sliding her own into his, "Gabriella's told me so much about you."

Krista nodded her head, not removing her eyes from Troy's face, "Yeah…" she jolted a bit, as though she had just been shocked, "Yeah!" she repeated louder, removing her hand swiftly from Troy's, laughing nervously, "S-she's told me all about you too." Her eyes bulged slightly, "But not too much." She added quickly, releasing a nervous laugh, "Nothing revealing that you'd have to worry about me telling anyone." Troy lifted his eyebrows, "Not that I'd tell anyone if I did know something!"

Troy nodded his head, taking a step back towards Gabriella, "O…kay…"

Krista smiled, letting out a small breath, "Sorry, I'm not normally this…I just didn't know…Gabriella never told me you were coming into town."

"That's because I didn't know," Gabriella responded with a small smile, lifting her foot to purposely kick Troy in the butt, "because someone didn't tell me!"

Troy snatched at her leg, missing it as she retracted back onto the bed, "Hey," he started with a smile, "we've been dating for seven years, I need to keep this relationship exciting somehow." Gabriella rolled her eyes while Troy turned his attention back to Krista, "I hope you don't mind," he started, "it's just…I had a few days off, and we don't get to see each other all that often."

Gabriella almost felt bad for Krista. She'd been on the receiving end of that voice, that smile, and those eyes before. However, at the same time, it was amusing to watch her rather uptight roommate squirm a bit under the gaze of a person she admired. Even if Krista would never admit it to Gabriella, she knew. She knew about the poster she hid on the inside of her closet door and she knew of the music that took up a good majority of the blonde's iPod. Krista was obsessed with Troy's band.

Yes, that's right, band. Troy Bolton was in a band. How, might you ask, did Troy Bolton find himself twenty four and in a rock band? How did the former captain of the East High Wildcats basketball team, self proclaimed 'basketball guy', end up fronting a highly successful, widely popular rock band? Fate intervened.

Not right away, mind you. Following graduation, Troy went to Berkeley as expected. He did the basketball thing and he did the theater thing, immersing himself deeply in hopes that the one he was destined to do would become more apparent to him. After all, as much as a dancing and singing basketball player would work in high school, the fact was that Troy simply wouldn't have enough time in the real world. He liked different parts of each world. With the basketball he liked the popularity and notoriety for being himself, with acting, he was always playing someone else, so it was nice to just be himself. But he liked the music. Singing together had awoken something inside of him that he hadn't been able to shut up since. However, parts of each area weren't enough, and the deeper and deeper he got into each field, the unhappier he got. Even from Stanford, it was easy for Gabriella to see that Troy was lost, and it killed her that there didn't seem to be anything she could do about it.

Then fate intervened.

And fate hurt like a bitch.

Gabriella moved her eyes down to his jean covered knee instinctively. It had been five years and Gabriella could still feel her heart clench inside of her chest when she thought of that night. The excitement she felt pumping through her veins that night as she sat courtside at the Stanford-Berkeley basketball game. Decked out in Berkeley colors, of course, she had been cheering hard for Troy. Not that he had needed it, Berkeley were easily kicking Stanford's butt, and at that point they still had a quarter of the game left to play. And then it happened. Troy jumped, shooting for the basket, and another guy jumped to block him. Gabriella wasn't sure if the guy caught Troy off guard, or if he simply hit him harder than Troy had anticipated, but either way, they had collided.

The messy details weren't necessary. It wasn't necessary to know that she had rushed to his side as he had writhed on the ground in pain. It wasn't necessary to know how the pair had been rushed to the hospital because Troy couldn't walk. Nor was it necessary to know that Troy was taken into emergency surgery because the swelling in his knee wouldn't stop due to fluid buildup. None of that was important. The only thing that was important was that Troy had injured his knee to the point where surgery was his only option. And if surgery was his only option, basketball was not.

"No," Krista said, shaking Gabriella from her thoughts, "no, of course it's alright."

"Good," Troy responded instantly, "I was hoping you'd say that despite my mistake earlier."

Krista's eyebrows shot up, "Mistake?"

Troy smiled guiltily, "Gabriella gave me a copy of the key to your guys' house, and when I came in this afternoon, I used it, but I forgot to lock the door after me."

"Oh did you?" Krista asked rhetorically, "I didn't even notice."

Gabriella rolled her eyes but kept her mouth shut. "Good," he agreed again, "I'll do better while I'm here, I promise."

Krista had a hopeful gleam in her eyes, "O-oh, you'll be staying here?" she questioned, "How long?"

Gabriella once again lifted her leg, connecting her foot with Troy's backside and pushing as hard as she could, "Yeah, how long will you be imposing on us?"

This time, Gabriella didn't retract her foot fast enough and Troy gripped her calf, Gabriella letting out a squeal as he yanked her off of the mattress. Her head narrowly missed the ground, something that emitted an additional scream from Gabriella's lips as she felt the carpet brush the top of her head just before Troy secured his arms around her legs, holding her squirming figure in an inverted position. "Just until Wednesday," Troy answered nonchalantly, "I have to be in Vegas by Wednesday night, so I imagine I'll leave sometime that afternoon."

Gabriella was attempting to grab a hold of any part of Troy she could, settling on his belt, in an attempt to pull herself up, "You lunkhead basketball…"

Troy yanked at his jeans that Gabriella was inadvertently pulling down, "Gabriella," Troy scolded lightly, "not in front of the roommate."


Troy diligently ignored Gabriella's exclamation, "I'll do my best to stay out of your way, I promise."

Krista released a nervous laugh, "You could never…" she paused as Gabriella released another scream when Troy tossed her into the air a bit, adjusting his grip on her.


"You know what?" Krista asked rhetorically, "I'm just gonna go."

She turned and scurried over towards Gabriella's bedroom door, obviously leaving no further room for argument, "Well it was nice to meet you!" Troy called after her.

Krista sent him a small smile as she exited through the door, "You too!" she left no further room for conversation as she shut the door with a firm snap.

Troy listened to the sound of her footsteps as she thundered down the steps, "Do you think we scared her off?"

Gabriella had stopped struggling, but the glare that was present on her features was a dead giveaway to her current emotions, "I know someone else I'll be scaring off if you don't. Put. Me. Down. Now!"

Troy chuckled, beginning to move towards her bed, "But if I put you down, you'll hit me."

"I'm gonna hit you either way." Gabriella told him, "Would you rather it be in the head or in the testicles?"

"So testy…" Gabriella let out a small yelp as Troy heaved her up, sighing only when she felt her back hit the softness of her mattress, "Need I remind you that you kicked me."

Gabriella glowered at Troy as he plopped onto the mattress next to her, lying on his stomach, "Next time I'll aim lower…go for the bad knee."

Troy rolled his eyes, "No you won't."

"You're right, I won't, I'm not that mean. Hold still." Gabriella tacked on suddenly, causing Troy to frown in confusion just a moment before a large fluffy pillow whacked him in the face. "That is for not telling me you were coming into town."

Troy was attempting to restrain his smile, "But…" his response was cut off as he was once again hit in the face with the pillow.

"That is for turning me upside down." Gabriella continued.


This time he attempted to dodge the whack, but Gabriella was too quick for him, nailing him in the face, "And that was for making me think I was about to get raped and murdered by some psychopath who snuck into my bed."

Troy blinked at her, "Are you finished?" Gabriella smiled nodding her head, "Excellent, now if you'll listen…"

Troy was cut off again as Gabriella hit him one more time, "That's just to keep you in line." She had a wide satisfied smile on her face, but it quickly dropped when Troy snatched the pillow from her hands and tossed it across the room, "Hey!"

"Now if you'll listen…" Troy started again.

"You threw my pillow across the room!"

"I didn't tell you because I didn't know." Troy continued, ignoring Gabriella's comment, "A lot of time these days off get scheduled in, but usually they're filled with appearances and stuff. However, this time, it was preplanned recording time, and Chad, Zeke, and I decided to just play hooky and go visit our girlfriends instead."

Gabriella stuck her lip out, Troy finding her pouting absolutely adorable, "Now what am I supposed to sleep with?" she asked, obviously still referencing her pillow.

Troy rolled his eyes, a smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, "I suppose you'll just have to use me as a pillow."

Gabriella turned her head away from him, "No, thank you."

Troy was obviously not giving up that easily, leaning into the crook of her neck and pressing a kiss to her soft skin, "Are you sure?" he asked in a low voice, "It'll be fun."

Gabriella lifted her eyebrows, keeping her face indifferent, "So is solving systems of equations."

Troy moved his lips further up, pressing them to the sensitive skin behind her ear, "I think this would be more fun."

"That's a matter of opinion." Gabriella told him, her eyebrows momentarily knitting together as she felt his knee slide across her own to plant itself on the opposite side of her. There was something hard beneath the jean of his pant leg, "One man's trash is another man's…are you wearing your knee brace?"

Troy, who had positioned himself halfway on top of Gabriella and halfway off, didn't remove his head from its current location, continuing to pepper light kisses along the exposed skin of her neck, "Yeah," he started, "strained it the other night, I'm fine," he added quickly, "trainer just thought it'd be best if I wore it for a few days."

Gabriella wanted to inquire further. Ask whether he'd obtained any sort of x-rays or MRI scans, why he hadn't told her, how long ago was 'the other night', and if he still felt any sort of pain. But he didn't want to talk about it, and Gabriella knew he didn't want to talk about it. "Probably for the best." She mumbled, her brain swirling with thoughts.

"Mm-hmm…" Troy agreed, pulling back to study her face, "What are you thinking about?" he whispered to her, his face mere inches from her own.

Gabriella, who had been avoiding his gaze primarily because she knew how easy it was for him to read her, glanced up, connecting their eyes, "Your knee." She didn't need to elaborate; both knew what she was talking about.

Troy glanced down at her lips momentarily, causing him to instinctively wet his own, "What about my knee?"

Gabriella shrugged, trying to keep her face emotionless, but failing miserably, "I was just thinking…"

Troy lifted his eyebrows as she paused, "You were just thinking…" he echoed.

Gabriella searched his features for a moment, taking in the dark circles under his eyes, a product of sleepless nights combined with being pulled a million different directions. "Do you ever wonder," she started, finally breaking eye contact, "what life would be like if you hadn't gotten hurt?"

Gabriella had paused, unsure how to word her question in a way that wouldn't set him off, knowing how much he disliked the topic of conversation. He didn't pause, "All the time." And then he kissed her, leaving no further room for discussion.

He didn't like talking about it. And he didn't like talking about why he didn't like talking about it either. He always stated it was because it was in the past, and that they should focus on their future, however, Gabriella knew better. It was a dark time in Troy's life following his knee injury. He was depressed, he was angry, and he was bitter. He withdrew from his parents and her, locking himself inside of his bedroom for days at a time, only surfacing when he absolutely had to. Troy was lost, and Gabriella was clueless as to how to help him.

Then, once again, fate intervened. Fate in the form of Chad Danforth. It was easy to ignore Chad's phone calls, but it was not easy to ignore Chad in person. Gabriella would forever remember the way he had stormed into Troy's bedroom, the way he and Troy had started arguing far worse than they had ever argued before, but especially the way he had finally (literally) dragged Troy out of his room and out of his depression. He forced him to cheer up, forced him to give all he had in physical therapy, forced him to sit down and talk with his parents and Gabriella, and, most importantly, he forced him to pick up a guitar for the first time. Chad had always been into guitars, but Troy had never really taken much of an interest in them before. However, this time, Troy didn't really have anything better to do, and decided to give it a shot. He didn't expect himself to like it, that much was obvious just by watching him, but he definitely didn't expect to be good at it. He was, though. Really good.

It started with a party. One random party during their first week back in Albuquerque for summer, thrown by someone Chad had met. They needed a band, and through some twisting of arms, Chad convinced Troy and Zeke Baylor, home from his first year at culinary school, to play at the event. Both thought Chad was out of his mind, they weren't even a real band! All of them went in prepared to be laughed at, booed, and kicked out. They were prepared to fail. Except…they didn't. No one laughed after they finished their first song, no one booed when they started their second, and they were definitely not kicked out when the guy asked if they would play again the next week. Everything changed overnight after that. Their name started getting passed around town. From frat parties to night clubs, they played any and everything thrown at them, and while getting paid for something that came very naturally for the three was awesome, it was bigger than the money, and all of them knew it was bigger than the money.

It shouldn't have happened like it did. Logically, all of them knew it shouldn't have happened the way it did. They shouldn't have taken a gig in Phoenix on the same day that Josh Hennessey, president and founder of Hennessey Records, just so happen to be visiting his sister in the same city. He shouldn't have heard them play. They shouldn't have been that good. And the record deal that they got signed to two weeks later shouldn't have happened. But it did.

And five years, three albums with corresponding tours, and millions of fans later, they were still pinching themselves.

Or at least Gabriella was still pinching them.

Gabriella smiled once Troy pulled back, cracking her eyes open to meet his sparkling blue ones, "I missed you." She murmured, his lips millimeters from her own.

He gave her a small smile, "I kinda figured," his eyes glanced down, and Gabriella followed his line of sight to the jacket of his she was wearing, "kind of a dead giveaway when you wear what you last saw me in." Gabriella felt a blush creep up onto her cheeks, and she quickly diverted her eyes, "That's okay," Troy told her, ducking his head down into the crook of her neck and placing a lingering kiss there, "I'm wearing what you last wore too."

Gabriella scoffed, pulling back and shoving Troy in the chest, "Don't make fun of me!" she whined, a pout forming on her lips as Troy grinned widely, his shoulders shaking in silent laughter, "If you didn't miss me, then you can just leave."

Troy was unsuccessfully attempting to squash his smile, "I don't really think you want me to leave." Gabriella opened her mouth to contradict him, however Troy cut her off, "And even if you did, I wouldn't, because I have missed you."

Gabriella felt the corners of her mouth pulling upwards, any defenses she had against his charm immediately falling by the wayside at the sincerity in his voice, "You did?"

Troy nodded, "Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Zeke rushed back to LA for Sharpay, and likewise to New Haven and Taylor for Chad, but I was already halfway here by the time they got going."

Gabriella frowned, "You should've come and seen me at work, I hate that hours of our time was wasted while I was at stupid work."

Troy shrugged, "Its okay, I needed to sleep to prepare."

Gabriella sent him a curious look, "Prepare for what?"

A smirk stretched onto his features and instantly, Gabriella knew. She'd know that smirk anywhere, "Not sleeping."

Gabriella couldn't help the giggle that escaped her lips as Troy smashed his onto hers, although she didn't resist him, returning his kisses just as fervently. He was quick to move on top of her, keeping her locked in a deep kiss as his hands moved to the zipper of his jacket she was wearing. Troy was thrown for a loop when Gabriella placed her hand on his chest and pushed back, his lips unwillingly disconnecting from hers, "Wait..." she managed out.

Troy started at her dazedly, his confusion evident, "What?"

Gabriella blinked up at him owlishly, "You were kidding about wearing what I was last wearing, right?"

She loved it when he laughed. Not his 'I'm laughing because I think you're an idiot' laugh, or his 'I'll laugh because you think its funny, but it really isn't' laugh, but real laugh. The laugh he didn't use as often as she wanted him too, and that laugh that was currently spilling from his lips and filling her bedroom. "I don't know," he laughed out, "I guess you'll have to find out." Troy went to lean in again, most likely planning to continue what she had interrupted, and Gabriella let her eyes flutter closed in preparation for the incoming kiss, only to feel him swiftly retract.

"And just so you know," Troy started, "those thongs are a lot more difficult to put on than they appear."

*bites nails* Like it? Hate it? Absolutely terrible idea in which I should be banned from the fanfiction community for even having?