Planning for the Future

Disclaimer: I do not own High School Musical or any of its characters.

A/N: This is the sequel to "A Change in Plans" and is set about three months after the end of that story.

Please read that story first otherwise this won't make much sense.

Chapter 1

Wednesday April 2nd

The letter arrived while Troy was at Basketball practice and Gabriella read it with mixed feelings. She was flattered to be accepted into the Freshman Honours Program and knew that academically she would enjoy the challenge. But she hated the thought of spending three weeks away from Troy and her friends especially this close to the end of their senior year. She would miss so much of their end of year activities and celebrations.

She hesitated to tell Troy about the letter knowing that he would encourage him to go. She knew that he still felt guilty about her giving up the opportunity to go and study in France with Aunt Ginevra to marry him, even though she really hadn't wanted to go in the first place. So she wanted to make her decision and to try to come to terms with being away from him before she told him about the possibility unfortunately he arrived home from practice earlier than she expected.

Troy immediately knew something was up when he walked in and saw Gabriella sitting at her desk making lists.

"What are you trying to decide?" he asked.

Gabriella turned to face him. "I got accepted into the Freshman Honours program at Stanford" she said flatly.

"That's great Gabriella" he kissed her soundly then stopped and looked at her curiously. "So what don't I know about it?" he asked wondering why she wasn't excited about it.

Gabriella looked at him questioningly.

"Well, I thought you would be thrilled, but you don't look happy about it at all. So tell me about it?" Troy said sitting down on the desk.

"It's a three week program that starts next week" Gabriella told him hesitantly.

"In California?" he clarified.

Gabriella nodded.

"Okay, what's the list for?" Troy asked.

"To decide if I want to go?" Gabriella mumbled.

Troy grabbed the list and began to read 'Pros for telling Troy I got into the freshman honours program'.

"You were deciding whether or not to tell me?" he asked hurt.

"I knew that if I told you, you'd make me go" Gabriella rationalised.

"Of course you should do the freshman honours program Gabriella. Why are you even hesitating? It's a fantastic opportunity" Troy asked.

"I don't want to leave. I would miss Prom and Graduation and the musical and the last day of school" Gabriella said miserably.

Troy was hurt when Gabriella said she didn't want to go because she'd miss school and everything and didn't say that she'd miss him.

"I still think you should go. That's just high school stuff Gabriella, the freshman honours program could be the difference that gets you in to the Graduate school you want. It could make a huge difference long term." Troy said firmly.

Gabriella was hurt that he was so enthusiastic about the idea of her leaving him, didn't he care that they would miss doing all those things together that they'd been planning? Didn't it matter to him that they'd miss the prom; that she wouldn't be there to graduate with him; that he'd be singing with Sharpay instead of her? She packed up her lists and made excuses to Troy and went down to help Lucille with dinner.

"Hi Lucille. Would you like any help?" Gabriella asked quietly as she entered the kitchen not wanting Troy to know that she was only now volunteering to assist with dinner.

Lucille was grateful for the unexpected help but could see that Gabriella seemed upset. It was suspicious that she'd come downstairs less than ten minutes after Troy had gone upstairs, especially when she'd been cheerfully discussing her day earlier when she'd first got home.

"Was the letter from Stanford serious?" she asked hoping that her son hadn't upset her.

"Mmm I got offered a spot in the freshman honours program" Gabriella said peeling potatoes efficiently

"That's wonderful Gabriella you must be so proud of yourself" Lucille exclaimed. "Will it mean a lot of extra work?"

"It's an extra major assignment each semester, the real issue is that it's also three weeks of extra classes starting next week at Stanford" Gabriella explained.

"Where will you stay?" Lucille asked knowing that they had plans to live at Haywood the following year.

"Accommodation is provided on campus. It's a fully funded program all I have to pay for will be meals and travel expenses to get there" Gabriella explained.

"I'm sure your mother or Alejandro will be happy to pay for that" Lucille said "Have you told them about it?"

Gabriella shrugged "I mentioned it to Mom when I applied six months ago, but I didn't think I would get in."

"I would have thought that all full academic scholarship students would automatically be offered a place" Lucille commented.

"Hmm maybe I didn't think about it like that" Gabriella admitted.

"So do you want me to organise your plane tickets or do you want to talk to your mom first?" Lucille asked.

"I haven't decided whether I want to go yet" Gabriella said hesitantly.

Lucille stopped her meal preparations and stared at her daughter-in-law "Why on earth wouldn't you want to go?" she asked.

"I don't want to go to California by myself. That's why I didn't accept when they offered me early entry for this semester" Gabriella attempted to explain.

"You don't want to leave Troy?" Lucille clarified. "I'm sure he's not thrilled with the idea of being apart for three weeks either but I think you should go."

"I'll miss Prom and Graduation and the musical we've worked so hard for. And Troy will have to sing with Sharpay" Gabriella complained.

"You could fly back for Prom and for Graduation. Jack and I will help with the costs if your parents won't. And to be honest Gabriella I think it will do Troy a lot of good to have to be in the musical without you. You won't be in his productions next year and this will give him the opportunity to see if he truly does love the theatre as much as he thinks he does and if he can successfully play a role with someone besides you" Lucille said practically.

"Has Troy been giving you a hard time about going?" she asked.

"No he thinks I'm being silly even considering not going. He was very enthusiastic about the idea" Gabriella replied almost forlornly.

Understanding the problem but not sure what to do about it Lucille changed the subject. "How is Maria? Is she still enjoying her job in Mexico?"

Gabriella smiled "She says she is though she sounds a little lonely since I've come back" she said. Troy's team had won their regional championships so Troy had been busy with Basketball both weeks of spring break and had encouraged Gabriella to spend the second week with her mother even though he had been unable to go with her.

Unfortunately his team had been eliminated at the end of the round robin in the national championship finishing fifth in the country was beyond anyone's expectations but missing out on the finals by such a small margin had been disappointing and without Gabriella there Troy had been quite unhappy.

"Does she know how much longer she will be there?" Lucille asked getting her thoughts back on track.

"She fears she will need to be there most of the summer. And she hasn't found out where she'll be going after this yet either, it's possible that she will move back to the states but be even further from California than she is now" Gabriella laughed ruefully.

"Yes I suppose that's possible" Lucille said sadly, I would love her to move back to Albuquerque but I guess that's pretty unlikely."

"We never went to the same place twice" Gabriella confirmed.

That's everything we can do for the moment it just needs to simmer, I'll just set the table and dinner will be about forty minutes" Lucille said collecting the cutlery.

"I'll do it" Gabriella jumped up.

"Gabriella are you avoiding Troy?" Lucille asked giving Gabriella a firm look.

"No I just don't know what to say to him" Gabriella admitted.

"Hiding down here isn't going to help sort things out" Lucille said gently.

"Okay I'll go talk to him after I set the table" Gabriella said leaving the kitchen.

Troy was on the computer working on his English assignment when she got back. He looked up vaguely but she could see the concentration as he typed and decided not to interrupt. She got her own work out and they passed the time until dinner in silence.

At dinner Troy spoke enthusiastically of the opportunities the freshman honours program could lead to. He had obviously researched the topic while she was downstairs with Lucille.

Gabriella was quiet but did confirm a lot of what Troy was saying. It really was a great opportunity and if she wanted to continue at Stanford for her graduate studies it might increase her chance of admission.

Gabriella knew that she should do the freshman honours program, and with Troy and the Boltons supporting the idea she had no good reason not to.

Troy was focussed on his homework that evening and spent extra time in the shower before coming to bed. Normally Gabriella would have teased him about the reason for the extra long shower but tonight she didn't say anything.

Troy settled into bed and wrapped his arms around Gabriella like usual. "Goodnight" he said kissing her lightly.

"Goodnight Troy" she replied settling in to sleep. It took a long time to fall asleep and she could feel that Troy was still awake as well though he didn't say anything.