"I'd Give Up Forever" copyright hollybaggins 2011

This is a derivate piece of fiction featuring characters copyrighted and trademarked by Disney Enterprises Inc. It is based upon High School Musical, copyright 2006 by Walt Disney Enterprises Inc., all rights reserved; and High School Musical 2, copyright 2007 by Walt Disney Enterprises Inc., all rights reserved; and High School Musical 3, copyright 2008 by Walt Disney Enterprises Inc., all rights reserved. The author is not connected with nor is this work authorised by Walt Disney Enterprises Inc., or any other motion picture studios. This work is solely intended for posting on Fanfiction, for the benefit and enjoyment of its intended audience. No commercial or financial benefit accrues or is intended to accrue to the author as a result of said posting. Any unauthorised copying or redistribution of this work might subject the party responsible for such unauthorized copying or redistribution to legal action by the owners of the aforementioned copyrights and trademarks.

A/N:

So, hey. Hi.

I'm taking a risk here, posting this. The story was officially started eighteen months ago and has been sat in my documents file collecting dust.

And I have had a bitchin' sesh of writers block like no other.

I've already got five chapters written - chapter six a quarter of the way through and I'm hoping I can get through the blockage. It's not very nice and it hurts my head.

So, I'm posting this in the hopes I get myself back into the habit and get a major arse kicking from you all to update. If it doesn't work, blame Caroline - ha!

XXXXX

I'd Give Up Forever

One: New Meat

He couldn't remember the first time it happened.

It was a distant alcohol-fuelled daze; something he hadn't deliberately intended to forget, but forget he did none-the-less.

And as much as he tried to keep a hold of his actions, of his emotions, they always came hurtling back in a violent rage, consuming every rational thought of his mind and completely taking over the person he once was.

Lifting the bottle, he took a large gulp; now numbed to the burning sensation that occurred when the vodka smashed against the back of his throat.

It didn't hurt anymore.

Not that he could remember the first time when it had hurt.

Nothing hurt him when he drank. Nothing.

Just that constant reminder of why the pain was there in the first place. The constant reminder that haunted him, that lurked around every corner of his household - breathing, living and not feeling the pain he felt.

Because how on earth could he know what it was like?

His hand shaking violently as he lifted the heavy bottle back up to his weary lips, he felt a small part of him return.

And as he momentarily cast his eyes over to the far side of the room where his son was lying in a broken unconscious heap, Jack Bolton began to cry softly.

XXXXX

Gabriella Montez was going to vomit.

Vomit was actually an understatement. She was literally going to spill her entire guts out all over Principal Matsui. He really needed to back away from her if he wanted to keep that nice … brown … suit of his clean.

"Very impressive," he mused, flicking through her various reports from her previous school. "Very very impressive, Miss Montez. I think you'll fit in very nicely at East High."

Maria Montez was a picture of a proud mother; beaming and grinning with every compliment about her only daughter that fell from the principal's mouth. "Yes, well she always excels in every subject - particularly math and science. And I think it would be a good idea if you would show Gabriella where the scholastic decathlon meets at this school. You know she led Sun High to numerous victories-"

"Mom," Gabriella interrupted with a clear-cut sigh. "Please? First day at yet another new school. I don't want to be labelled the freaky genius girl again. Well, at least not on the very first day."

Maria rolled her eyes heavenwards as Principal Matsui cleared his throat with a small husky chuckle. "You need to get to know the school as soon as possible, Gabi, you know that. And I'm sure there'll be a space for you on the team. It's a great opportunity for you to make new friends and we both know it'll benefit you in the long run."

"Yeah," she scoffed under her breath. "Until we move again."

Maria sent her daughter a scolding glare. "I've told you countless times. I'm not transferring again until you graduate. This is it - your last high school, so if you'd please look as though you're willing to commit, I think we'd be a lot happier."

David Matsui weakly smiled, noting the obvious friction between the two. He'd seen plenty of over-enthusiastic mothers in the twenty-six years he'd been teaching; mothers who flaunted their children's excellence, no matter what their talent was. The consequences of such actions consisted of either bratty students who believed they should get anything and everything they wanted (namely one Sharpay Evans who insisted on her own parking space closer to the school's entrance (with shade), her own title within the drama club (co-president, if you please), and her locker to be painted a very shockingly bright pink), or students who merely wanted to be invisible while they plotted to kill off their parents in order to get some peace and quiet in their lives.

"I'm sure the decathlon team will be more than happy for you to participate, Miss Montez, and if you feel that is where you want your after-school focus to be, I'll introduce you to our team captain straight away."

Gabriella didn't reply, only nodded dumbly.

"I think that's an excellent idea." The radiance continued to pour out of her mother. "See? You're fitting in already."

Fitting in. Now there was a concept Gabriella Montez was not associated with.

In her own mind, all she wanted to be was invisible. No scholastic decathlon teams, no freaky class genius yelling out answers in the middle of lesson - just boring, simple Gabriella Montez. Being invisible meant you weren't a target; being invisible meant you could survive high school without earning any long-lasting nicknames that would haunt you later on in your old age.

Oh well, she thought. Only one more year of high school left; why break the habit now?

XXXXX

Being invisible never worked out on the first day at a new school.

Everyone gawped at you as though you were some martian - and not a cute looking one like E.T - more like a martian that's about to blast you into smithereens in manner of War of the Worlds. Teachers patronized you - nicknames such as 'Flower', 'Sweetheart' and 'Dear' were thrown left, right and centre at you until you actually became invisible. Cheerleaders usually liked to have a go at you. They'd find some sort of evil nickname to throw at you within the first hour of first period but she learned that if she just kept quiet and offered no kind of response, they'd get bored all too quickly and the art of becoming invisible would officially commence.

By now, it was lunchtime, and so far invisibility hadn't happened. It was like East High was a whole new ball game. Cheerleaders were still sneering, teachers were still patronizing, and some members of the student body still found it necessary to gawp. She was beginning to wonder if she'd ever reach her target by the end of the day.

Students began to filter out of various classroom doors as Gabriella stood by her already immaculate locker. Upon hearing the loud voices fill the once empty corridor, she turned and faced inside her locker, preoccupied with looking at her map of the school, trying in earnest to locate the cafeteria. East High was a big place - a sat-nav was definitely in need.

Gabriella took a deep breath and shut the locker door quietly before moving through the sea of wandering students in the direction she supposed would be the quickest to retrieve her lunch. Eyes firmly set downwards on the map sitting in her tight grasp, she filtered through aimlessly, feeling looks upon her and hearing the small careless whispers. But that was okay; she still expected to feel and hear those things during the first day blues. She was used to it and adapted well.

Paper airplanes whizzed past her face but she gracefully kept her head down and fixated on her not-so-helpful map. Whoops and hollers clouded her ears and in a heartbeat, she felt an arm wrap itself tightly around her shoulder and yank her to one side - the movement so unexpected and quick, it made her utter a squeak of terror.

"New Meat! Woah! New Meat!" The voice chanted, squishing her head into his shoulder. Gabriella scrunched up her nose in annoyance and push against the offender's chest in an attempt to free herself. "Hey, don't be scared, New Meat. I'm a good guy. We're the good guys."

"I think you're hurting her, man." Another voice quipped up and Gabriella looked in the direction it came from - a very young looking African American who was so short, she wondered why he wasn't back at kindergarten. "Loosen up a bit, dude."

The grip loosened but his arm remained around her shoulders. Now, Gabriella was able to look up at the student who had disrupted her invisibility. He was tall, lanky, and wearing a black beanie hat which suited the rest of his baggy clothing. There was a mischievous twinkle in his eye and as he caught her glaring, he offered her a wink.

"What's your name, New Meat?"

"Well, it isn't New Meat." Gabriella threw his arm back at him. "Shouldn't you be at kindergarten?"

The shorter boy laughed. "She's feisty."

The other boy pulled an offended face. "Hey, I was only being nice. You were, like, so spaced out back there. I was only offering a friendly face."

"By dragging me out of my daze and strangling me in the process? Highly likely. I was doing just fine, thank you."

"Well, then, are you wanting lunch? 'Cause F.Y.I., so totally going the wrong way."

Gabriella scrambled to look at her now crumpled-up map, her brain working overtime to re-think her bearings. So far, she'd be happy to be as far away from the annoying cretins who'd stopped her in the first place. When she didn't answer straight away, the taller boy sighed dramatically, rolling his eyes heavenwards, before wrapping his arm more gently around her shoulders and walking them in the opposite direction.

"It's a good thing you found us, New Meat."

"Stop calling me that!"

"Well, until you tell us your name, that's what we'll call you. Right, Donny?"

The shorter boy shrugged nonchalantly. "Or 'Fresh Meat'. Or even plain old 'New Girl'."

"Exactly. Now, I'm Jimmie Zara. But you can call me Rocketman… purely because every cat in this shindig does. Over there is Donny Dion. He doesn't have a super-cool nickname like me."

"Because he has a little self-respect."

"Whatever, man. You're so jealous of me. Anyway, you want to make any friends in this neighbourhood, we're the guys to go to. Me and the basketball captain are like this." Jimmie held up his hand, crossing his middle and index finger to indicate 'the closeness'.

Gabriella blinked as he steered her around another corner. "And that impresses me… how?"

Jimmie's eyes bulged. "New Meat! How dare you? Basketball is, like, the sport of this school - and I'm on the team." He grinned.

"Only when one of the seniors gets malaria," Donny filled in.

Jimmie scowled. "Whatever. I'm still on the team, man. Last week in practice, Bolton let me play one-on-one with Danforth."

"Because Danforth was fed up of losing to Bolton and wanted a free ticket to Winningsville."

"Whatever. So, anyway, you can totally say that you made friends with two basketball soon-to-be-stars. You're totally in line to rule the school when we're seniors."

"I am a senior."

"Woah! New Meat! You're a senior?"

Gabriella stopped in her tracks and brushed Jimmie's arm from around her again. "Yes. A very annoyed senior too. And I'm not called New Meat. It's Gabriella, if that's not too much trouble."

Jimmie smirked. "So, Gabriella, how do you feel about the concept of a toy boy?"

"Not good."

"Really? I've always liked the thought of an older woman. Now, Sharpay is slowly but surely falling for me, but I'd make an exception for you."

"No thanks."

Jimmie shrugged. "A sophomore can only dream. Don't worry about me, Gabriella, I'll survive."

"Dude, Sharpay threatened to castrate you if you hit on her one more time. I think it's time to move on."

Gabriella raised an eyebrow. "Sharpay? Isn't that a dog?"

"It's arguable," Donny sighed as Jimmie set his face in a dream-like trance. "You'll know what I mean if and when you meet her. She's a senior too."

"She's a vision," Jimmie declared as they finally steered into the noisy cafeteria. "But you are too, so don't worry."

"Joy."

"It is. Now, I thought this little liaison could have gone somewhere but since you're a senior, it's a whole new ball game. Any other junior would just move on, you know. Because any other junior doesn't know half-shit about this school like me and Dion do."

"Listen, Jimmie-"

"Rocketman."

"Rocketman, whatever. I don't need any help, thank you. It was nice of you to show me the way to the cafeteria, but I think I know my way now. So, I'll just be going-"

"Abandoning us already? Jeez, talk about ungrateful."

Gabriella put on her most sweetest smile. "Not that I'm being ungrateful… I'd have never found this place if not for you. Well, in time for lunch anyway. But now I'm here, I just want to eat and keep myself to myself. You understand."

Jimmie raised an eyebrow. "Gabriella, chill. I can take a hint."

"You can. Doesn't mean you will."

"Yo, Dion, Rocketman, you terrorizing the new girl already?" Gabriella wanted to groan as she was surrounded by a large group of boys - all, she guessed from their looks, were seniors. The guy who had spoken was another African-American with the largest afro she'd ever seen.

"Danforth," Donny waved him off. "Puh-leese. Terrorizing? We're providing a service."

"Lay one on me, man!" Jimmie raised his hand for the guy to high-five him, an action that did not take place. "…Or not."

The older African-American, wearing jeans and an East High Wildcats jersey, folded his arms, humour lacing in his deep brown eyes. Gabriella suddenly felt intimidated at being surrounded by all these males - most of whom were already kitted out in their Wildcat spirit sport jerseys. She could only conclude they were the senior basketball players - a group of people whom she was literally set another world from.

"We told you to clear the storage cupboard after practice. There're fucking basketballs all over the place."

"Uh, yeah, well," Jimmie stuttered, scratching his underarm nervously. "We got held up with some other shit. Darbus was blowing a casket 'cause Donny got red paint all over the theatre stage during detention last night. Dude, she's so after our heads."

"Coach will be after your heads if you don't fucking sort out that storage cupboard."

Both Jimmie and Donny pulled childish faces at the older guy's demand. "Dude, seriously? It's lunch!"

"So you get your shit, you eat it, and then you high-tail it to the locker rooms. Being part of the team isn't just about playing, you know; it's about contribution and dedication."

Gabriella took a couple of steps back, away from what ever commotion could occur in the next thirty seconds. Jimmie and Donny were completely under the command of the guy standing before them, and she wondered if he was the infamous basketball captain Jimmie was so "close" to.

So far, she could only determine that East High School was one big and noisy place. Invisibility seemed an impossibility at that moment. Still, she was managing to step more and more away from the basketball players and towards the exit of the cafeteria. Maybe she wasn't as hungry as originally thought. Her escape was almost complete.

Almost.

The moment she hit the floor and the contents spilled out of her shoulder bag, she wanted to cry out in frustration at whoever had disrupted her escape route. Instead of quietly slipping through the doors, all eyes of the basketball squad were now upon her as she scrambled to pick up stationary and textbooks amidst another pair of hands that had lowered to help her in haste.

"Sorry," the male voice mumbled.

"Bolton!" The African-American laughed from the doorway. "You blind?"

"I guess so…"

Gabriella felt the heat rush to her cheeks as she threw everything she owned into her bag, not even bothering to put it back into its usual organised state. A warm hand gently covered her forearm and sent her already flushed face into overdrive as a peculiar strength took over her body. Daring herself to look up, she wished she'd mustered the strength to look away again. The bright pools of blue that stared uneasily into her eyes widened upon receiving no word of reply and Gabriella was powerless to do anything but wonder if she'd ever come across a person quite so handsome in her life before.

Probably not. Situations such as these never happened to her and she knew, deep inside, that this scenario would last for only a few brief seconds before this handsome male would drift back out of her life again and she would blend into the murky background of his world.

"Hey, you alright?" He asked; his tone of voice was set as he'd already asked the question and gained no response. "Sorry; wasn't looking where I was going there. Didn't mean to make you fall…"

Gabriella opened her mouth to speak as they both slowly rose to their feet. She could feel her ears prick with the heat of her blush. She could feel numerous pairs of eyes glued to her features and suddenly the prospect of the ground opening up and swallowing her whole seemed quite appealing.

"Dude," Jimmie crossed his eyebrows. "Did you knock out her voice box?"

"I don't see it on the floor anywhere…" Donny stated nonchalantly.

Gabriella ignored their comments, and when the extremely handsome young man questioned her again with his eyes, she merely nodded numbly in response. Seemingly satisfied with her answer, the older African-American patted Mr. Handsome on the back and gestured towards the viewing cafeteria.

"Dude, lunch? Kinda hungry here."

"Yeah, right behind you."

"Us too!"

The African-American turned his head sharply back towards Jimmie and Donny who had taken it upon themselves to follow behind the seniors closely. "Storage cupboard?" He enquired.

Jimmie nearly tripped over his own feet. "As good as done, Chad."

"Cross our hearts and hope to die," Donny added quickly before they both scrambled from the room.

Gabriella watched nervously as they disappeared from view before the numerous basketball team members walked in the opposite direction towards the lunch line. She let out a breath she wasn't even aware she'd been holding.

Adjusting her shoulder bag, she gingerly began walking towards the lunch line, deliberately taking her time to make some distance between herself and the basketball players. She figured she'd embarrassed herself enough for one day without going for the ultimate finale.

She felt as though every pair of eyes in the room were fixated on her. Didn't life suck enough when you were just the new girl all on its own? Combined with the fact that she'd knocked into the entire varsity basketball team and made a complete show of herself in the process just helped add on the freaky part of her being.

As she reached the front of the line, she sneaked a glance over her shoulder and caught sight of the squad now seated towards the other side of the cafeteria and now surrounded by numerous cheerleaders. Mr. Handsome's head was annoying concealed by one cheerleader's dreaded pom-pom.

The lunch lady didn't look too pleased at being kept from her duties. "Um…" Gabriella looked over the limited selection. "I think I'll have-"

"Ms. Evans' order, if you please." A small blonde girl gently nudged her to the side. Her accent was English - precise, thick and confident. Gabriella narrowed her eyebrows at the intrusion but the girl didn't seem aware as the lunch lady turned to pick up a bright pink lunch tray complete with the healthy option, an apple juice and even a flower in a small pink vase. "And she'll have the same, thank you very much," she added, gesturing to Gabriella with a flick of her thumb. The lunch lady raised her eyebrows but appeased the girl none-the-less and started placing a chicken salad on a new plate.

"Um…" Gabriella shook her head, confused. "I didn't want-"

"Please, I haven't got time to chat here," the girl replied, finally turning her hazel eyes towards Gabriella. "But you can't tell me you were going to order some of the monstrosities they serve here, can you?" At this, the lunch lady growled under her breath. "It's clearly toxic and will do nothing for your figure." The girl then eyed Gabriella up and down twice. "Hmm… nothing that a little yoga can't fix. Come on, come on!"

Almost in a daze, Gabriella took her tray from the lunch lady and turned to follow the blonde girl. Was this the captain of the scholastic decathlon she was supposed to be meeting today? She hoped not. The girl walked with very precise steps towards the centre of the cafeteria where a taller blonde girl dressed in the brightest pink Gabriella had ever seen was sitting at a table occupied by only one guy with bright blonde hair, striking blue eyes and a red cap sitting on his head.

"May I introduce to you, Sharpay Evans," the girl placed the tray in front of Sharpay and gestured to her with a wide smile. "And this is her brother, Ryan," she added, less enthusiastic. "I'm Tiara Gold, her personal assistant and you're Gabriella Montez from San Diego - just transferred here from Sun High with excellent prospects, fantastic grades and a retardation when it comes to the social standing."

Gabriella wondered if this Tiara was informing her of herself or whether this was all for Sharpay's benefit. Sharpay appeared to be taking all this in and she smiled widely as Tiara finished her little speech.

Gabriella frowned at just how much this girl seemed to know about her. "How did you know-?"

"Please, Gabriella, I'm brilliant," Tiara replied with a smug smile before darting all the way back to the end of the lunch line - presumably to retrieve her own meal.

"You can sit," Sharpay pointed to the spare seat opposite her. Gabriella complied and earned a sympathetic look from Ryan. "I saw you just now in a head-on collision with Troy Bolton. Not an excellent start to the first day, is it?"

Troy Bolton. She needed to remember that name.

"I've seem too many new people start at East High and fail at the first hurdle. You have to make sure you get it right here or it just ruins everything for the entire student body. You don't want that, right?"

"Sure?" It came out as more of a question.

"Right." Sharpay grinned and pulled her lunch tray closer to her. "I had Tiara find out more about you so I could get an idea of where we should start with you. Scholastic decathlon's have to be the most boring events that can ever take place in the world but since I'm aware of your retardation socially - and witnessed it just now - I'll let you off the hook and we'll start from scratch. No scholastic decathlons."

Gabriella wondered if she was in the middle of a nightmare. No way was something like this reality.

"And no orange." Sharpay scrunched her nose up in disgust. "I hate orange, so if you own any, get rid of it. Burn it. I don't want to see it, right?"

"Right?"

"Exactly." Sharpay grinned again. "We'll begin lessons after lunch."

"After lunch?" Gabriella exclaimed, now wanting to retreat back to San Diego as soon as humanly possible. "What the-? I don't even- Who the hell are you and what the hell is going on?"

Sharpay merely smiled, her hazel eyes shimmering. "I'm Sharpay Evans, co-president of the drama club and the only name at this school which is important to you right now."

Gabriella blinked with uncertainty.

"And I'm adopting you."