Disclaimer: I do not own High School Musical or any of its characters.
They eventually made their way downstairs for dinner. Lucille was in the kitchen making toasted cheese sandwiches for herself and Jack.
"Hello. I'd begun to think you were going to sleep through the night" she said to lighten the atmosphere.
"You really thought Troy could sleep through a meal?" Gabriella asked amused.
"Well no when you put it like that" Lucille laughed. "Would you like me to make you both a sandwich" she offered.
"No I'll make them" Troy replied. "You eat yours while it's hot."
"Thank you Troy" Lucille said as she finished and carried the sandwiches into the lounge where Jack was watching Basketball on the TV.
Gabriella began buttering the bread as Troy got the ham and cheese out of the fridge and assembled the sandwiches.
"You know for all the effort we put into making lunch, these are just as good" Gabriella commented finishing her sandwich and stealing one of Troy's.
"You were too worked up to eat at lunch" Troy replied handing over another sandwich.
"At this rate I'll have to make some more for you" Gabriella commented.
"What do you want to do when we finish eating? Do you want to go for a walk?" Troy asked.
"Actually I have some homework to look over. I was a bit distracted when I did it the first time and it probably needs to be redone" she answered.
Troy nodded "I have some work I should do too" he admitted. "But I think I might go for a quick run first."
Gabriella smiled "Yes you've spent too much time today sitting and lying still. Go run the kinks out" she encouraged him.
"It was late by the time they'd both finished their work and got ready for bed.
"How is Gabriella coping with the revelations yesterday?" Jack asked as he and Troy ran as usual the next morning.
"She doesn't know what to think. She was glad to find out more about him but she can't quite believe that he will stop trying to make decisions for her. She's tired of fighting with him" Troy explained. "I don't know how to help her."
Jack shrugged as much as he could while running "You help by not doing what he did. Let her make her own decisions and support whatever she decides to do"
"I know but it doesn't seem enough" Troy replied.
"It won't be easy Troy but that's all you can do" Jack said encouragingly.
"Yeah" said Troy dejectedly.
He remembered Gabriella's comment and hurried through his shower hoping to be able to get back into bed before her alarm went off, He didn't quite make it but was able to silence the alarm as soon as it made a noise and kiss Gabriella awake.
"Good Morning my love" he said as she opened her eyes.
"You're showered already. Am I late?" she asked in alarm.
"No I got back a little early, your alarm has just gone off" he replied smiling and kissing her again before letting her up.
"Come on. We can't stay here all day, we've got Darbus first this morning" he said.
Gabriella's friends cornered her during free period wanting to know how the meal with Alejandro had gone. Troy was at Basketball practice and the girls commandeered the empty music room.
"On the surface it went quite well" Gabriella said thoughtfully. "Alejandro didn't threaten Troy or the Bolton's, he's agreed to let me stay with them as if he had a choice about that, and he says he'll stop trying to make decisions for me and let me live my own life"
"Then what's the problem?" Taylor asked knowing that the words Gabriella was using in no way matched her body language and expression as she talked.
"I don't know whether to believe him" Gabriella complained.
"He's never lied to you before" Kelsi reminded her.
"He pulled that stunt with the restaurant bookings" Gabriella reminded them doubtfully.
"Yeah that was low" Martha agreed. "But he didn't tell you an actual lie about it. You just both wilfully misunderstood each other. Alejandro invited you to dinner and you included Troy when you accepted. He ignored your answer telling him you expected Troy to come with you and you ignored the fact that you knew Troy wasn't actually invited."
"So you think he wasn't lying?" Gabriella asked hesitantly.
"I think the evidence indicates that he did mean what he was saying" Taylor said carefully.
"Yeah that's what Troy thought too. That Alejandro meant it at the time he said it but it is too soon to know if he means it long term."
"That's surprisingly perceptive of Troy" Taylor commented teasingly.
"Hey" Gabriella and Kelsi both protested.
Martha laughed knowing that Taylor wasn't seriously insulting Troy. "I guess you'll just have to wait and see. Are you going to give him a chance to get to know you better?" she asked Gabriella to distract her from Taylor's comment.
"I don't know. Troy suggested I try not to think about it for a day or two until I calm down and can consider things logically." Gabriella replied.
"That's good advice" Martha said before Taylor could make another sarcastic comment.
Talk moved then to upcoming school activities and the bell soon rang for them to return to class.
It took nearly two weeks for Gabriella to come to a decision over Alejandro. In the end she realised that if she chose to spend time with him for them to get to know each other she could change her mind later if Alejandro started to try to control her life again but if she told him that she didn't want to see him again at the moment she might never get the opportunity in future.
She started by texting him regularly discussing various issues in the news and events happening at school.
She rarely rang knowing that his secretary wouldn't put her through but Alejandro often rang in return to her texts.
They met for lunch with Taylor Martha Kelsi and Ryan one day Troy was busy and Alejandro came to her next scholastic decathlon meet sitting with Troy and Jack as Lucille had been unable to make it.
It did take time and effort but in the end Gabriella was glad that he was part of her life. She rarely asked him for advice and he was careful never to offer it unasked but they established a relationship built on mutual respect and affection if not love.
It was actually Jack that became the true father figure in her life, the one she trusted to go to for advice and encouragement. The four Bolton's had become a true family in every good sense of the word.
Gabriella's relationship with Troy continued to go well. They were happy together though their private time was limited by their busy schedules.
A/N: There will be a sequel that is mostly written but doesn't quite fit here.
It will be called "Planning for the Future" which I will start posting in the next week.
I would like to thank everyone who reviewed or followed me for your support.
In particular I'd like to thank Wildcats2016, Kiara and Pumpkinking5 for their constant support throughout this story and Wilcats2016, Pumpkinking5, Kiara and Siobhan for reviewing the last chapter.