Hey everyone! This idea has been in my mind for a while, but I've only just had the motivation to actually write it. It's just a short one shot that could be read as a follow on from my first ever HSM story 'Thank you, Wildcat', which was set during HSM3; as is this story. Anyway, I should have the next chapter of 'The Inadvertent Bystander' out soon too, if you're also reading that. In the meantime, hope you like this one, and enjoy! :)

The Night Before

They were just leaving the Evans' house, having gone there for the after party directly from the school. But as Troy led her over to his truck, Gabriella suddenly turned her head to look at him.

"Hey, I've just had a thought - where are we going now?" she asked. Now that it had come to her mind, she also realised that she didn't know where her mother would be at this moment. They had, after all, officially moved to California now. And she didn't recall any hotel arrangements being made for their stay in Albuquerque for Graduation. Perhaps if she had hung around a little longer after the show, her mother would have had the chance to tell her what the plans were.

Little did she know that Troy was one step ahead of her – as always. "We, Miss Montez," he replied as he opened the car door for her to step inside. "Are going back to my house." Gabriella waited for him to take his place in the driver's seat before she spoke again. "We are? But where's..."

"Your mom is already there. Gabi, relax, okay?" Troy cut her off in his gentle tone. "You're both staying at ours until after graduation. My parents were the ones who insisted, but I can't say there were any complaints from me, either," he added with a chuckle. "I thought maybe we could watch a movie, and then you could practise your valedictorian speech on me if you wanted to?"

Gabriella watched her boyfriend closely as he turned his attention to the road and pulled away from the Evans' house. She marvelled at how he had it all worked out; while here she was, still stressing over the simplest of things. Because Troy had the ability to fix everything up, just like that. One minute she was alone at Stanford; the next there he was – bringing her their own private prom. She had thought that graduation would mean the end of it all; the end of them. And then he had surprised her once again. Just like he was doing again, now.

"Thank you," she said softly, causing his eyes to flicker towards her ever so briefly. "What for?" he asked, smiling. Gabriella almost laughed at his response. She had already thanked him once today. But there were so many things he had done to make her feel thankful, and she wanted him to know. Right now, though, all she could think of to say was, "just for being you."


As promised, after the two families had enjoyed dinner together, Troy and Gabriella spent the rest of the evening watching DVDs. Later, when they finally felt the need for sleep, Troy informed Gabriella that she was to have his room for the night; and he would sleep on the couch. No amount of protesting on her part could sway him. Maria had been allocated the Boltons' spare room, and had made her way up there hours before.

The couple had wished each other good night, turned out all the lights, and gone their separate ways. But even as late as it was, Gabriella found herself unable to sleep. So, after an hour, she crept as quietly as she could downstairs, hoping she wasn't waking anybody up in the process. As she got to the last step, she looked over at the couch and saw that Troy appeared to be awake, too. He was lying on his back, eyes open, apparently deep in thought.

"You couldn't sleep either, Wildcat?" she whispered, still tiptoeing as she made her way over to him. He slowly sat up, rubbing his eyes, and made some room for her to sit with him. "Just thinking about tomorrow. We're gonna graduate," he replied, echoing his words to her from just a few weeks before. Only this time he wasn't saying it to make her see sense. This time it was more like his own realisation. "Yeah. I know," she breathed, incredulous over it herself.

"Is that what's keeping you up, too?" Troy asked, reaching out to pull her to him for a hug. Gabriella sighed softly as she leaned into him. "Yep, among other things," she answered.

"Hey, you okay?" he said quickly, worrying about her. She smiled at his concern, although she doubted he could see her in the darkness anyway. "Am I okay? Troy, I'm feeling...amazing right now. I was just thinking about how lucky I am; how much you have done for me over the last couple of days and...and here you are, sleeping on the couch in your own house!"

Letting out a chuckle that was louder than he intended, Troy looked down at his girlfriend's face as he spoke. "Hey, silly. Don't worry about me! I'm fine sleeping down here. And just so you know, I would do it all again."

"And that's why I'm lucky," Gabriella concluded. "Want to know the other thing that's on my mind right now?" she added, looking into his eyes.

Troy grinned and nudged her forehead with his own. "Always," he replied. Gabriella leaned up and placed a quick, soft kiss on his lips, breaking it off to run a hand through his hair as she looked into his eyes. "I love you," she whispered. Now that she knew he felt the same way, she would never grow tired of saying those words to him. Even at 2 o'clock in the morning.

It was the thought of the time that caused her to suddenly remember how exhausted she was, and she let out a yawn, which she then feared had ruined the moment. However, Troy simply chuckled again, and stood up to lead her back to his room for some sleep – something she had just demonstrated a clear need for. "I love you too, sleepyhead," he told her, dropping a gentle kiss on her head as he walked her to the stairs.

And as Troy and Gabriella said good night for the second time that night and he returned to the lounge, both fell asleep knowing that whatever the future held; they were a certainty in each other's lives. And tomorrow would be the beginning of that.

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