Categories > Movies > High School Musical > Be Who We Are

Be Who We Are

by SugarRumCherry 7 Reviews

Troy goes on a family vacation to Paris and starts to make some tough decisions about his extracurriculars. Luckily he's got someone on his side waiting for him at home.

Category: High School Musical - Rating: R - Genres: Angst, Humor, Romance - Characters:  - Warnings: [!!!] - Published: 2007/03/05 - Updated: 2007/03/06 - 5311 words

Title: Be Who We Are (1/?)

Author: Sugar Rum Cherry (sugarshadowthing@gmail.com)

Fandom: High School Musical

Pairings: Troy/Gabriella, others TBD

Rating: PG-13 for now, light R soon

Disclaimer: If High School Musical were mine, that scene with Zac Efron shirtless would have been a heck of a lot longer. Also there would have been some proper Troy/Gabriella smoochies. None of this interruption business. Point: I own only my plotline.

Summary: While on vacation with his family, Troy finds himself faced with some difficult decisions. Luckily he has someone waiting for him at home.

Word Count: 4,700, not counting notes. (11 ½ pages, single-spaced.)

Timeline: This is meant to take place during Spring Break (i.e., late March/early April) of 2006. Twinkle Towne has recently wrapped. The Spring musical will be announced when everybody gets back from vacation. I interpreted the hints in the movie to mean that Troy made starting varsity as a sophomore (tenth grade) and was elected team Captain/play-maker for the beginning of his junior year (eleventh grade), and that the movie took place during winter of said junior year. Thus: all of the relevant high schoolers are sixteen going on seventeen, or seventeen already.


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CHAPTER ONE

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Troy Bolton stood out on the tiny iron-wrought balcony of his hotel room and felt ungrateful. He was probably one of the only people in the world who, given a choice between two and a half weeks in Paris, France, and two and a half weeks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, would pick Albuquerque in a heartbeat.

It wasn't that he didn't like Paris. Paris was awesome. Neither was it that he didn't like spending so much time with his family, because he did. Troy and his father and mother were in Paris for Spring Break, and it had been good to have some time together, just the three of them. Back in Albuquerque, Mrs. Jack Bolton spent most of her time as Laura Hannigan, Esq., with little room in her busy schedule for family bonding; and Troy was quite certain that his father, despite the man's promises to the contrary, remained uncomfortable both with his son's recent forays into the world of musical theatre, and with the girl who accompanied him there.

The girl! That was why Troy wished he could be home. Gabriella Montez, Troy's girlfriend, best friend, and costar in the recently-wrapped (and horribly named) musical /Twinkle Towne/, was back at home in Albuquerque, and Troy found himself sulking through Paris because of it.

The vacation was hardly a miserable one. It was fun to wander the city by himself, exercising six years' worth of French classes. It was fun to eat so much good food - not just at the amazing restaurants but at the innumerable stands on the street selling everything from delicious frites in paper cones to crépes spread with Nutella. It was fun to go shopping to his heart's content (a secret Troy would keep from his Wildcat teammates if his life depended on it). It was fun to wander into a piercing parlor on an impulse that hopefully Troy could hide from his dad until he was eighteen. Troy liked the sight-seeing, the museums, the parks, the music, the Metro - but he couldn't stop thinking that he'd like it so much more if Gabriella were there with him.

Troy sighed, casting his steady blue gaze over the square below. Across from the Hôtel Henri IV there was a small café; briefly Troy considered tripping downstairs with a book and setting up camp there for the afternoon. The owners of the café had taken a bit of a shine to Troy, especially since he'd taken a bit of a shine to their dog, an elderly, more-than-slightly aromatic Golden Retriever named Madeline. They wouldn't mind his taking up a table for a few hours, even if all he ordered was coffee and a snack. It looked like it might rain this afternoon, so if Troy were to go out walking, there wouldn't be much point in going far. Hm.

The café it was, then. Troy went inside, closing the doors to the balcony behind him. He picked up his denim jacket, as it was a little cool outside; his book (/Ender's Game/, on Gabriella's recommendation); his iPod, in case the book got boring; some loose change, enough Euro for an afternoon of sitting; and - where was it? Ah. Troy's most prized possession while a quadrillion miles away from Gabriella: his phone card. One of the other bonuses of the café was that there were several payphones in the back. Troy had burnt through two phone cards already.

Troy popped into his parents' hotel room on his way downstairs to let them know where he'd be for the afternoon. Jack Bolton offered a grunt and nod, caught up as he was in the Sports Section of a three-day-old /New York Times/. Troy's mother, curled up next to her husband with a Margaret Atwood novel, paused in her reading to give Troy a knowing look and a smile. Maybe he hadn't been as stealthy with the phone calls as he'd thought.

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"It's my eighth-grade class ring! It has sentimental value!"

"Value, shmalue." The phone connection was strong today, no fade or static; Gabby sounded so close! "I don't care what you say about it, it's still a - a straight-boy man-ring!"

Troy chuckled, holding the phone with his left hand and holding up his right before him, the better to study the bulky gem on his ring finger. "Oh, I'm sorry. Would it be better if it were a gay-boy man-ring?"

An exasperated sigh. "Paris is the fashion capital of the world. Haven't any concerned citizens mobbed you yet and yanked that thing off your hand?"

"Ha ha. You've got me rolling in the aisles, here, Gabby."

"That's what I was going for!" A pause, and then Gabriella sighed again. "Hey, Troy."

"Speaking."

"Are you home yet?"

Aw, man. "You know I wish I were."

"Am I being too whiny? I don't want to be, you know, the whiny girlfriend. You're in Paris! You should be having a blast, not listening to me languishing."

"Hey, don't talk about my girlfriend that way." Gabriella's reluctant laugh made Troy smile. "If it'll make you feel better I can be the whiny boyfriend. I can languish with the best of 'em."

More genuine laughter this time. "God, I miss you."

"Jeez." Now it was Troy's turn to sigh wistfully. "Me too. I mean, I don't miss me, I miss you." Troy looked up and saw, out of the front windows of the café, his father striding across the square towards him. "Uh... Gabby, can I call you back later? My dad's coming over here and he looks kinda pissed."

"Sure. I'll talk to you soon." Then the usual slightly awkward pause, where one and then the other of them would have said 'I love you' if Troy weren't such a chicken and had said it like a month ago. "Um... Bye, Troy."

"Bye, Gabby."

Troy hung up just as Jack Bolton opened the door to the café and came inside. Jack spotted Troy standing in the back and beckoned him over. Obediently, Troy went.

"What's up, Dad?"

Jack huffed angrily. "I don't know how to tell you this, son, but it looks like we're going home early. Tomorrow, in fact."

Troy's eyes widened. "We /are/?" He had to struggle to keep the huge grin off his face. "I mean, oh. We are." Frown, Troy, frown. Get your head in the game!

"Ch'. Yeah!" Jack was too indignant to notice his son's slip-up. "Your mom's job. Someone's getting indicted. Or convicted. Or subpoenaed. How the heck should I know? But the firm just called the hotel. They want her back right away." He put his hands on his hips and made his exasperated-Coach growling noise. A pause, and then: "Unless, maybe, you and me could stay."

"Uh..." Stay in Paris for the rest of the week with his dad, with no Mom to break up the you're-not-a-singer-you're-a-playmaker talks before they could even start? No thanks. "Don't you think that might be kinda weird, Dad?" Troy said, floundering.

Luckily, Jack nodded, resigned. "Yeah, just an idea." He heaved a huge sigh and thumped his son on the shoulder. "C'mon, buddy. Let's go get packed."

"Um, just a sec, Dad. I just wanna make a quick phone call..." Troy turned toward the back of the café, but his father's hand on his arm stopped him.

"Are you going to call That Gabriella Girl?" Jack Bolton had never entirely managed to whittle it down to a simple 'Gabriella' or 'your girlfriend', and routinely made a masterpiece of exasperation out of Gabriella's full title. "Because we've got a full afternoon, son. She can wait til you get home."

"Yeah, but Dad, I just want to let her know-"

"Not now, Troy. I want you to go get packed."

Troy could feel the angry rant, ready to explode from the back of his throat. (What difference will five minutes make? Why won't you see that my joining the musical was never her "fault" in the first place? How is it possible for you not to see the Gabriella that I see? Why can't you just suck it up and be happy that I'm happy?) But he coughed it back just like he always did. "Fine, Dad." He pushed past his father to the café door, and stalked out onto the square.

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The next day was an exercise in tension. Normally, Troy was better than this at brushing his frustration with his father to the side, but he was just so fed up with his dad's stubborn refusal to accept Gabriella! The night before, Troy had assembled and packed all of his stuff in under an hour - but Jack hadn't let him return to the café, and for once Laura was too preoccupied with her own packing to help defuse the situation.

Now they were at their gate in the airport, waiting for the plane to start boarding, and Troy could hardly stand to look at his dad. Troy hadn't been allowed to call Gabby today, either, never mind the fact that they'd gotten to the gate an hour early for their flight, just as Troy's mother had planned. Jack insisted that Troy shouldn't "go wandering off" to a pay phone; they should all stay together, just in case. Troy could see the bank of phones from where he was sitting! It was infuriating.

"So, Troy," Jack said, breaking Troy out of his sulk. "I was thinking - since we're coming home so early, got a week left of Spring Break, how about we invite the team over to the house, get some extra practice in?"

If Gabriella were here, she'd put one small hand on Troy's forearm and murmur, "C'mon, Troy. Count to ten." Count to ten. Right. Because it would be bad to fly into a crazy screaming fit in the middle of a French airport half an hour before getting on a twelve-hour flight.

One, two, three... "Um, I dunno, Dad," Troy said through gritted teeth. "We don't have any big games coming up, and the guys are on vacation. Maybe we should just give it a rest til school starts." If the Wildcats' Coach managed to organize one practice, he'd add five more. Aside from simply wanting some time alone with Gabriella, Troy had been finding it hard to get as excited about basketball as he once had. The three standard practices a week were fine, but Coach Bolton had never limited himself or the team to a mere six hours. Free periods, after school, on weekends - to Troy's dad, free time equaled basketball time, even after the Championship game, when Troy had been juggling the Winter Musicale, too.

"Aw, come on, play-maker," Jack said jovially, oblivious to his son's lack of enthusiasm. "Gotta stay in shape, right? Keep your head in the game! Especially now you've got that musical business out of your system-"

"-Wait, what?"

"-we can get back to a normal practice schedule, like we did before Christmas vacation. Man, I can't wait to get the team back on the court."

"Wait, Dad." Count to ten, Troy. "What do you mean, 'out of my system'?"

Jack looked surprised, turning in his seat to stare Troy in the face. "What I mean is, you did your stage thing. Twinkle Towne is over! Back to normal, hey, son?"

Troy felt his mouth working incredulously, but was struggling to actually make the words come out. "What? No! Dad, singing wasn't a phase for me, all right? It's part of who I am."

"But-you-"

"Look, Dad. What if-what if I let you play one game of basketball? One single game. And then turned around and said, 'Well, there you go, got it out of your system now, get back in the suit and tie!' Would that work for you? Could you let it all go?"

Jack stared wide-eyed at his son, clearly taken aback.

"Singing - music - being onstage - it means a lot to me, Dad. Don't try to make me give it up. Please."

"Well - but - son-"

"Come on, boys." Troy's mother, back from the ladies' room, stood over her husband and son, one eyebrow arched. "They're calling business class. That's us. Let's go!"

"Coming, Mom." Troy didn't look at his father as he slung his backpack over one shoulder and his duffle bag over the other. As Jack stayed seated for a moment, getting their tickets out of his bag, Laura walked Troy up to the gate.

"Okay, what now? I leave you boys alone for five minutes..."

"It's not important, Mom. Nothing new, at least." Troy peered down at his mother, tossing his bangs out of his eyes. "But, hey. Would you mind sitting between us?"

"Oh, Troy."

"Pretty please? Sugar on top?"

"For the love of-" Laura met her son's pleading gaze and sighed. "Fine! Fine. But once we're home it's up to you two to work this stuff out for yourselves. This buffer has other things to do with her time."

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The Boltons' plane landed at five o'clock, but the family didn't actually get back to the house until seven. It had been a challenge, avoiding conversation with his father for fourteen hours straight, but nobody had ever said that Troy Bolton wasn't a talented boy. Jack was looking a little irritated, but Troy was hopeful that, given a good night's sleep, his dad might let the fight go this time.

Troy dragged his luggage upstairs to his room and dumped it unceremoniously on the floor. Unpacking could wait until tomorrow - he had more important things to take care of right now. Troy sat on his bed with a thump and unplugged his cell phone from where it had been charging on his bedside table for the last week and a half.

Speed Dial 1. Troy clutched the phone to his ear and fell backwards onto his pillows. A few rings, and then:

"Troy?"

Troy exhaled in contentment. "Hey, Gabby."

"Hey! It took you long enough to call back, basketball boy."

"Oh, you know. Some stuff came up." Troy smiled up at the ceiling.

"Hm." A pause. "Hey, Troy. Didn't you say you were leaving your cell phone at home?"

"See? They don't call you freaky genius girl for nothing." Troy bit his lip and waited. He could almost see Gabby, that concentrated look she got on her face when she was figuring something out.

"What! No way! You're not - you're /home/?"

"Are you free for dinner?"

"Oh my God!" Gabriella had gone high-pitched in her glee. "You're home!"

"I'm home."

"So - do you want to - should I - what are you-"

Troy interrupted before Gabriella could stutter herself into a fit. "I'll be at your place in fifteen minutes."

That gorgeous laughter trickled into Troy's heart and made itself at home there. "Okay. I'll order pizza."

"Half pepperoni, half mushroom?"

"You know it, Wildcat."

"Okay. Fifteen minutes, then."

"See you."

"Bye." Smiling softly, Troy flipped his phone closed and indulged in a long, full-body stretch on his bed. A delicate cough had him looking up to see his mother leaning against the doorframe. "Hey, Mom."

"So I gather you'll not be gracing us with your presence this evening."

Troy blushed. "Uh, no. I'm going over to Gabriella's."

"Mm. I see." Laura crossed her arms and gave Troy a considering look. "Do the boys know you're home yet?"

Troy got up and went over to his closet. Best to change before going to see Gabby; he'd been in these clothes for what seemed like forever. "Chad and the guys? Nah. I'll call 'em tomorrow. Or maybe the day after." Laura chuckled. "What?"

"I'll make sure your father doesn't call the team over until he talks to you first."

"Oh, wow." Troy turned his back towards his mother, took off his battered Wildcats 2005 T-shirt and pulled a long-sleeved blue sweater over his head instead. "Yeah. Thanks, Mom."

"You're welcome."

"I thought you said you weren't going to be a buffer anymore? Look away, Mom, I'm changing my pants."

Laura turned to face into the hallway as Troy swapped his jeans for a clean pair. "Yes, well. You spent most of Paris moping; I figure you need a few fun days before you start moping here, as well."

Troy laughed, a little bitterly. "Yeah. Mom?"

"Yes, honey?"

"What do you think Dad will say when I tell him I'm trying out for the Spring musical?"

"What's it going to be?"

"I'm decent, Mom." Troy sat on his bed to tie his sneakers. "Ms. Darbus hasn't announced it yet, but does it really matter? I want to do it again - the singing, the acting, the practices... All of it."

Laura's steady gaze followed Troy as he dashed around the room, collecting a jacket, his wallet, his keys, his phone. "I honestly don't know, Troy. All I can tell you is that I think you and your dad both would benefit from talking this one out."

Troy raised his eyebrows dubiously. "I'll take that under advisement. Okay, Mom, gotta go."

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Gabriella opened the front door before Troy could even knock and unhesitatingly launched herself into his arms. "Whoa!" he exclaimed, staggering briefly before hugging her back.

"It is so good to have you home," Gabriella said, muffled by Troy's shoulder, and then squeaked "Oh!" as Troy added an extra-tight squeeze.

"I missed you too." Troy bent his head to rest his cheek on Gabriella's soft brown hair. He closed his eyes, the better to feel her slender arms tight around his waist, her slight body pressed up against his, the warmth of her breath against his shoulder through his shirt. "I really, really missed you."

"Mm." Gabby leaned back just a little to look up into Troy's face. Troy smiled down at her. When she looked at him like that, there really wasn't anything for him to do other than kiss her. Her lips were soft and a little dry against his; her hands traveled up his arms and shoulders to twine together at the nape of his neck. Troy let his own hands slide down her spine, pausing for a moment to tickle at the outline of her bra clasp, and settled at the dip of her waist, which always felt like it had been made exactly for him to hold.

Gabriella sighed against Troy's mouth, and Troy let another fraction of the tension he'd accumulated during the trip to Paris slip away. Man, was Gabby a good kisser. She pressed forward against Troy's chest, and Troy felt his back hit the doorframe. Reluctantly, he pulled away. "C'mon, let's go inside," he said. "Much as I like it, we can't just make out in your front door all evening."

"Spoilsport." Gabby pouted at him.

"C'mon," Troy wheedled, taking Gabby's hands from behind his neck and bringing them up between the two of them. "The pizza will be here soon, and we can watch a movie and make out on your couch instead."

Gabriella cocked her head at him, giving Troy the look he knew meant she thought he was the cutest thing since teddy bears and bunny rabbits. Then she shook her head, smiling, and led Troy inside.

"Go on, sit down," Gabriella said once they were in the kitchen. Gratefully Troy sat at one of the stools around the butcher-block island in the middle of the room. "When did you get back?"

Troy laughed. "About five seconds before I called you." At Gabby's incredulous look he said, "No joke! We got to the house, I brought my stuff upstairs, and I called you. Aw, crap! I have presents for you, but I left 'em at home," he added.

"Presents? Plural?" Gabriella asked. She fetched some glasses from a cupboard and filled them both with ice. "I like presents. The delay is regrettable, but we'll let it slide this one time."

"We will, will we?" Troy put his elbows on the countertop and propped his chin in one hand, watching Gabriella contentedly. She was only wearing Capri-length velour sweats and a tatty white undershirt and she didn't have any makeup on, but Troy thought she was prettier without anyway. That combined with her loose, tousled hair made her look as if she'd just got out of bed, and that took Troy's brain to interesting places.

"Yes. That's the Royal 'We', by the way," Gabby retorted. "What would you like to drink? And how long have you been traveling for?"

"Juice, please," said Troy, and when Gabby held up two different cartons, added, "Cranberry. Fourteen hours, about."

"Poor baby." Gabby poured them both cranberry juice and put the carton back in the fridge before coming to perch on the stool next to Troy. Coyly, she scooted closer. "Fourteen hours. Jeez."

"Give or take. A couple hours to get to the airport and to the gate, twelve in the air with a couple hours' layover in Texas, then a couple hours to get home."

"Sixteen hours, then? Seventeen?"

"Ugh. And it was extra-specially fun, seeing as I haven't talked to my dad since we left Paris."

Gabriella put down her glass and laid one of her hands on top of Troy's. "You guys have another fight?"

"Yeah. He wouldn't let me call you back to tell you we were coming home..."

With a shrug, Gabby said, "Yeah, that's lame, but I have to say it was a nice surprise. What'd you really fight about?"

Troy glared into his juice. "Well, I was mad about him not letting me call you to start with. He - well - you know he doesn't like you. But it's not for any good reason." He looked into Gabby's sympathetic brown eyes earnestly. "It's because he doesn't like that we did the Musicale, and he thinks that you're the one who made me do it."

"I know." Gabriella patted his hand. "To be fair, you probably wouldn't have auditioned if it weren't for me."

"No, but - he thinks you turned me into something I shouldn't be. He thinks... he thinks you, you know, tempted me to the dark side."

"With my womanly wiles?"

"Yeah, them. He thinks that if I'd never met you, I wouldn't want this music so much. Or at all. But, Gabby, he's wrong. If I hadn't met you, I might not have tried out, but I'd be wishing I had! You didn't make me want to sing, you just made me brave enough to try."

Gabriella blushed and bit at her bottom lip. "Oh, Troy." She peered up at him through her lashes. "You make me brave, too."

Troy looked at their clasped hands on the countertop and smiled. "Yeah, I know. I love singing with you. But my dad - right, for one, he blames you for my trying out for the musical, and for another, he thinks it's over now!"

Gabby blinked. "Over?"

"He thinks Twinkle Towne was a phase. He wants his play-maker son back. He's talking about organizing basketball practices at home this week, and stepping it up again once we get back to school." Gabby was watching Troy uncertainly. "I don't know what to do. I love the game, you know I do, but I don't want things to go back to 'normal'. I like this normal just fine."

"You mean, doing both basketball and the musical?"

"Yeah. You know, after the Championship game, when we got a break in basketball?"

"You call that schedule he had you on a 'break'?" Gabby's eyes were wide.

Troy barked a laugh. "Yeah. I liked doing the Musicale, and being able to balance all the different parts of my life a little better - music, basketball, school... and you." He grinned at Gabriella, who blushed again. "I want to keep doing that. I want to audition for the Spring musical, and do my schoolwork and some basketball. I just don't want it ruling my life again." Troy stiffened. "Whoa! Brainstorm."

"Share the epiphany, Wildcat," Gabby said, watching his expressions intently.

"This is just an idea," Troy said warily. "But - what if I called up the team and we voted on a new Captain?"

Gabby stared. "Wow."

"I bet Chad would make a great Captain," Troy said with enthusiasm. "He's the one who always gets us pumped up, anyway, not me. And I bet there are seniors on the team who'd be better playmakers than me, too. Oh, wow, Gabriella, this might work!"

"But... Don't you want to be Wildcat Captain?" Gabby asked, concerned.

Troy shrugged. "Not really. I mean, I was really excited when they voted me in - I mean, my first year I was the youngest player on the team, it was a big deal, and then I got voted Captain for my junior year? It was really cool that they thought that highly of me. And they didn't do it just because I was the Coach's son, you know? I definitely earned my Captaincy. But it's a big responsibility. Dad expects so much of me anyway, and being Captain on top of his high standards is really tough. You saw how they all were during auditions. I have to set the bar for the rest of the team. I can't have anything in my life be more important than the team, or the game. Maybe basketball was top priority in my life back in September, but it's not anymore." Troy tossed his bangs back out of his eyes and looked at Gabriella. "What do you think? Do I sound crazy?"

Gabby smiled that gentle smile. Troy let himself float in it for a minute before she started to speak. "You don't sound crazy, Troy. I just don't want you to give this up, and find yourself regretting it a month later, you know?"

"I know." Troy sighed. "I just feel like if I stay Captain, basketball is going to become a burden, and I don't want that. I want to keep loving the game."

"Why don't you think about it for a while?" Gabriella suggested. "Another day or so, at least. And maybe talk it over with Chad before you bring it before the entire team."

Troy smiled. "That's a good idea. Thanks, Gabby." They sipped at their juice in comfortable silence for a few minutes before the doorbell rang.

"Oh, that's gonna be the pizza." Gabby hopped down from her seat and headed towards the front door.

"Gabby, hold on - I brought some money-"

"Psh. Troy, you know your money's no good here." Gabby grinned and winked.

"But..."

"Troy, you brought me presents from overseas, never mind that you left them at home," Gabby said. "Let me treat you to pizza."

Reluctantly, Troy acquiesced, and in a little while they were sitting on the floor in Gabriella's living room, leaning against the couch and eating pizza from the giant box on the coffee table.

Troy folded his pepperoni slice in half and held it up, tapping it against Gabriella's mushroom slice in a mockery of a toast. "To the Spring musical," he said.

"To the Spring basketball season," Gabby countered.

"To Spring," Troy finished, firmly, and grinned. Gabby grinned back and they each took a careful bite of their steaming hot slices.

"Oh, and by the way," Gabriella said later, gingerly picking a stray bit of pepperoni off of her slice, "Ms. Darbus told Sharpay, who told Ryan, who told Kelsi, who told Jason, who told Chad, who told Taylor, who told me, what the spring musical is going to be."

Troy looked up, intrigued. "Oh, yeah? Spill!"

Gabby licked a drop of grease off her hand and told him. Troy laughed. "Oh, there is no way we're missing out on that!" he exclaimed.

"I thought you'd say so," Gabby said slyly, "so I took the liberty of procuring the DVD for tonight's entertainment."

"Go ahead, pop it in!" Troy said. Gabriella got up to do just that, and then came back to nestle up against Troy's side. Troy put down his last pizza crust and slid an arm around Gabby's shoulders, pulling her closer to him, and they settled in to watch the movie.

Troy leant his head back and sighed, relaxing properly for the first time since he'd left for Paris. At last, he was home.

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FIN
Chapter 1
first posted March 6, 2007

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I would definitely love to know what you think - particularly in regard to whether or not I should continue this. I have ideas for a longer story, which will of course explore the following themes: -- What will the Spring musical be? (There's a hint, just not a very good one.) - Will Troy remain Wildcat Captain, or will he give it up for love of the game? - What will Coach Bolton do when he finds out that this "musical business" really isn't just a phase? What evil plans might Sharpay hatch to ensure that she gets the part she wants in the Spring musical? Will Troy get up the nerve to say "I love you" to Gabriella? Will that ugly straight-boy man-ring ever go? What, exactly, went on in that piercing parlor in Paris? Will this fic remain PG-13 all the way through?

And for the record: the flight time from Paris to Albuquerque (twelve hours, give or take, with a Texas layover) ought to be accurate; and poor Troy is more tired than we know, being as Paris is eight hours ahead of New Mexico. The Hotel Henri IV is a real hotel (I stayed there in Spring of 2005). The square it's on is real, too; it's called the Place Dauphin, on the opposite end of the Ã┼Żle de la Cité from Notre Dame, and directly across the footbridge from La Samaritaine, which, when not under construction, is an immensely fun department store in which to browse and shop. The café and the dog are real, though I can't remember if the dog is really named Madeline or not.

I'm looking for a beta, too - someone as neurotic about grammar, syntax, canon, plotline, continuity and flow than I am. If you're the kind of person who thinks that Eats, Shoots, and Leaves is a jolly funny read, you and I will get along like a house on fire. Please email me at sugarshadowthing at gmail dot com if you're interested. And even if betaing isn't your thing, any and all constructive criticism in regard to any part of the fic is welcome.

Shall the carnage continue? Holidays are over, people - way over! Now. Any more comments? Questions?
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