Chapter 71

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

"I told Chad yesterday about you joking about taking him to California with us to help carry in the furniture. He said he'd be interested if he wasn't working but Ryan has offered him a job at Lava Springs again" Troy told his father the next morning as they walked up to look at what needed to be taken downstairs to be loaded for their trip to California.

"I was joking" Jack replied smiling.

"I told him that" Troy agreed but I thought you might change your mind once we carried everything down from the attic."

"We don't have to do that all at once. We'll start bringing things down to the garage over the next week" Jack said groaning as he saw the amount of furniture. "Please tell me it doesn't all have to go?" He begged Lucille.

"Everything but the nursery stuff and the big dining table and chairs" Lucille said briskly. "Also these three boxes."

"Should we sort through Gabriella's boxes in the garage first?" Troy suggested.

"They're all labelled so it shouldn't take you long" Lucille agreed. "But I think she'll want to take all of them. That's why they didn't go into storage with Maria's things."

"Except we'd have to drag Gabriella away from her studying to do it" Troy said. "Maybe we should take a couple of things down now and wait until Gabriella's ready to take a break."

"Maria will be able to tell you which boxes were for Gabriella to take to college" Lucille suggested.

"Let's start with this" Jack said pointing to the smaller table.

Troy nodded and lifted the table making their way carefully down the steep stairs.

Chad, Zeke and Jason came by as they reached the garage and offered to help.

"You might regret it" Troy warned.

"Nah happy to help Hoops" Chad said. "besides if we leave you to do it on your own it will take days and we want to spend some time with you before you leave."

"No partying unless it's with the girls as well" Troy said immediately having recognised the smirk as the one Chad normally wore when trying to talk Troy into a belated bachelor party or some other scheme he'd end up regretting.

"You're no fun" Chad grumbled.

"You're having a party tonight already" Troy said.

"That's for Graduation. You're leaving Bro. We need to do something"

"Gabriella's leaving too" Troy reminded him.

"Troy we've been best friends since we were four. I love your wife but you're family Man" Chad said emotionally.

"I'm going to miss you. It's hard to believe after all this time we won't be in class together" Troy said. "Let's join the others before they disappear on us" he added trying to control his emotions.

They grabbed the couch and carefully made their way down the stairs.

The four boys with Jack's help managed to bring everything down and stack it into the garage ready to be loaded into the moving truck.

"We should have a camp out next week" Jason said. "Like we always said we would when we were younger and camping in each other's back yards."

"Should we invite the girls?" Zeke asked.

"I can't see Sharpay agreeing to stay anywhere that doesn't have five star facilities" Troy said amused at the idea. "I don't know that Gabriella would want to rough it either."

"Where are we going to go?" Chad asked.

"How about up into the Sandia mountains" Troy suggested. "It's fairly close and the hiking is great this time of year."

"Sounds good to me" Zeke agreed.

"Should we invite Ryan?" Troy asked the others.

They were silent for a moment. "I don't know if he'd want to come" Zeke offered.

"I can't see him roughing it without showers and electricity any better than the girls" Jason said.

"He can always say no" Chad said

Troy nodded, "I think we should invite him though I kind of agree with Jason and Zeke."

"Enough sitting around talking like girls let's play" Jason said picking up the basketball and throwing it as hard as he could at Zeke's stomach.

Zeke wasn't looking at him but luckily Troy reached out and snatched the ball before it could hit his unobservant friend.

"What're you thinking 'bout?" Troy asked seriously.

"Just stuff" Zeke said dismissively. "How last summer we were all working together and we thought we would again this year but now it's all different. How the four of us had planned to share a dorm at U of A and now Chad's the only one still going."

"Yeah our plans have changed but that's not a bad thing. We've each got to know ourselves a little better and what we really want from life." Troy said. "Don't stress on it we'll still be friends no matter what we end up doing." He threw the ball at Zeke. "You and me against Cross and Danforth" he suggested.

"You're on" Chad crowed "We're gonna whip your buts."

"In your dreams" Troy replied.

"Chad suggested that we should all go camping Sunday night" Troy said to Gabriella casually.

"Just the guys?" Gabriella asked unable to tell from his expression whether Troy wanted her to go or not.

Troy shrugged. "Girls too if he can talk enough of you into it."

"Why would he want us to come? Isn't the whole idea of camping to get away from us and do 'man' stuff?" Gabriella asked.

Troy laughed "normally you're right there's only one reason to invite girls to go camping and that's because you're hoping to share a sleeping bag, which doesn't make sense seeing that he's now single" Troy said deliberately not being more specific. "But I think he invited you because he didn't think I'd come without you."

"Would you?" Gabriella asked smiling.

"I dunno, maybe" Troy said shrugging. "It'd only be one night and I doubt we'd be trying to sleep much anyway."

"I wouldn't mind if you wanted to go but I think I'd rather stay home" Gabriella said quietly hoping he wouldn't be upset with her.

"I'll let Chad know and he will organise it as a boys night" Troy replied smiling supportively at his wife.

"Would you rather I came?" Gabriella asked.

Troy shrugged. "I'm a little concerned Chad will try to use the trip to make up for not being allowed to throw me a bachelor party but that's not a good reason for you to come. I wouldn't want to make you uneasy about staying in a tent with the others all in earshot. Maybe you girls could have a sleepover while we're away" he suggested.

"That sounds like fun. I'll suggest it to the others and see if one of them wants to host a sleepover"

"Mom and Dad would be happy to let them come to our place" Troy reminded her gently.

"Yeah I know. But I wouldn't feel comfortable having all the girls hang out in our room. They get a bit nosy when they're all together" Gabriella said blushing.

Troy blushed too though he also laughed. "I don't want to know" he agreed. "But you could have a sleepover down in the lounge."

"That could get awkward" Gabriella said.

"Not really, Dad's pretty cool about keeping a low profile when I have friends over" Troy said. "And they've all finished school so it's not like they'll have to face him in class afterwards."

The party had separated into two groups by the time Troy and Gabriella arrived as was happening increasingly often since Taylor and Chad had ended their relationship. Gabriella joined the girls who were sitting talking in the lounge while Troy joined the boys out playing ball out on the drive where Chad's basketball hoop was attached.

"Has anyone made plans for the rest of the week?" Gabriella asked.

"I start work at Lava Springs on Monday" Kelsi said.

"I don't start until Wednesday" Martha said. "But I promised my aunt I'd babysit Monday and Tuesday. She's on afternoon shift."

"I'm going to visit my Grandparents tomorrow then I've got to pack to move to Yale on Friday" Taylor said.

"We're leaving Thursday morning" Gabriella said. "I still have to pack and I want to get the research part of at least one of my honours program projects done before we go if I can."

"Chad is trying to organise a camping trip for all of us Sunday night. What does everyone think?" Martha asked.

"I don't think my parents would be very happy with the idea" Kelsi commented.

"No mine wouldn't be either though they probably wouldn't say anything seeing I'm moving out soon anyway" Taylor agreed.

"It's strange getting used to the idea that we can make our own decisions" Martha said thoughtfully. "The first thing I thought of too was how to get my parents to agree to let me go"

"Do we even want to go camping?" Taylor asked.

"Troy said he thought Chad only invited us because he didn't think Troy would go without me" Gabriella said uncertainly. "He suggested that maybe if we didn't want to go camping we could have our own slumber party"

"That sounds like a great idea" Taylor said enthusiastically. "I feel a bit awkward hanging around just the ten of us for any length of time. We all tend to end up in pairs and being paired with Chad at the moment is a bit awkward."

"I can understand that. You've been doing well to spend so much time together without fighting" Gabriella said.

"It's actually easier not to fight now we're not together but it's awkward. I have to remind myself that I'm no longer responsible for his behaviour" Taylor replied.

"You never were responsible for Chad's behaviour" Gabriella said surprised.

"No wonder you two fought so much" Martha added.

"So who's going to host the sleepover? I'd offer but I didn't think you'd want to sleep in Coach Bolton's loungeroom" Gabriella said.

"You can come to my place" Kelsi said enthusiastically.

"What time do the boys meet?" Martha asked.

"Troy said Chad was picking him up after breakfast" Gabriella replied.

"My grandparents don't leave until after lunch so maybe we could meet up about four?" Kelsi suggested.

"I have skype meetings with my project teammates but I should be done by about five o'clock" Gabriella said.

"I doubt we'll get back until about seven" Taylor said apologetically.

"I can come around about four and help you set up" Martha offered.

Kelsi smiled "Come whenever you feel like it" she said.

"Hi girls the foods ready if you'd like to fix yourselves plates before the boys come in and eat everything in sight" Charlene Danforth said appearing at the door that led to the kitchen.

The girls laughed but quickly made their way through to the kitchen to find a pile of pies and sausage rolls as well as salads and crisps laid out on the bench.

"Would you like us to carry them through to the dining room?" Taylor asked.

"Oh Taylor honey that would be lovely" Charlene said smiling at her son's ex-girlfriend.

The girls carried everything into the dining room and fixed themselves plates before Gabriella went to call in the boys who fell on the food like a ravenous horde. Once the food was gone and the kitchen cleaned up Charlene came back down in her uniform and wished them goodnight before leaving for work.

"Thanks for cleaning up girls" Charlene said. "I'll be off, see you in the morning Chad. Keep the noise down your father's trying to sleep he's not feeling too well poor dear."

"Should we go?" Gabriella asked conscientiously.

"No he's got his earplugs in so as long as you keep it down to a dull roar it will be fine" Charlene said laughing.

"We'll try to keep the boys under control" Taylor promised.

Charlene sighed "Oh Honey, don't make promises you can't keep."

"I did say try" Taylor pointed out.

Once Chad was sure his mother had pulled out of the driveway he led the boys out to the garage. "Dad bought me a case of beer" he said grinning as he opened the fridge.

Jason cheered and took the offered can drinking the whole thing in one go and helping himself to another.

"Should we get the girls?" Zeke asked.

"They're going to disapprove" Chad warned them.

"They'll disapprove more if we get drunk without telling them" Troy pointed out.

"Okay let's get the lecture over and done with" Chad said collecting more drinks to give to the girls.

Kelsi and Martha giggled when Jason and Ryan quietly handed them a can of beer. Gabriella looked at Troy questioningly before accepting hers. "Chad's Dad bought him a case of beer, one or two each won't hurt, we can leave the truck here and walk home" Troy said smiling encouragingly.

"Give me your keys" Gabriella replied.

Troy handed them over without argument agreeing that it was easier to make sensible decisions now rather than trusting himself to make them later.

A/N: Thank you to Pumpkinking5, Wildcats2016, huge Troyella fan, and speedsONEandONLY for your support.