Eh....How do I get talked into these things...
j&d
kirsalessi
It's rough. Abby hasn't betaed this and I couldn't even tell you the last time I looked at it, but in the spirit of sharing, I'll give it to you. It's an idea I got a long time ago after reading the book this is based off of. It's AU and totally weird, but...whatever. If you like it, you like it, if you hate it, you hate it. Enjoy.

Cookies to the person who can figure out the book, which shouldn't be that hard considering the backstory is almost identical.


Okay. Don’t panic. Do not panic. It’s just a bill. Just a normal, everyday, credit card bill. It’s no different from your water, electric, cable, internet, and rent bills. It’s just a list of items you needed and purchased. No big deal, this comes every month and you take care of it every month.

Sometimes.

But you will this month. Last month wasn’t a good month, last month you didn’t get paid half of what you’re worth, and this month you are. This month you’ll get the recognition you deserve, you wrote an amazing article that Colin absolutely adored…

Or maybe it was the low cut sweater you wore that day that he adored?

Either way, it still got printed. People were ranting and raving over your style and attitude, telling you you were one of the best financial journalists they had read in a while. Well…I’m paraphrasing, but it’s all the same. And surely that praise and the raise that comes along with it will be enough to cover this bill.

Turning my head, I glance out the window of my office building, taking in the busy New York streets below. It’s early and already the streets are packed, people hustling and bustling back and forth dressed in their sleek outfits, phones glued to the side of their heads, bumping and jabbing into one another and never stopping to apologize. I love it!

I have to admit, when I first came to New York at eighteen to attend NYU, I was extremely apprehensive about the city. My mother is a big shot lawyer and growing up I can’t remember staying in a city for longer then six months, let alone a large city like New York, but almost instantly I fell in love with the energy, and upon receiving my degree in journalism at twenty two I was prepared to take the world by storm.

My dark eyes travel around the cramped office of Investing in Your Future, the financial magazine I am currently employed at, and I groan internally. Okay, so I’m still working on the world, but it’s a foot in the door.

That’s what you said three years ago.

Shut up!

Pulling myself away from my internal battle, I turn my eyes on the bulky envelope sitting on my desk. It couldn’t be that bad. Sure, this month seemed to be littered with sales, but I have self control, I have willpower. It’ll be about $400…$500 max. I only bought a few things. Those really cute Christian Louboutin shoes that were 40% off, that was a steal, no way I could pass them up. And that Gucci purse with the tiny flaw that I got for 50% off. I saved tons of money this month, the should really pay me for how savvy I am.

Right, so $500…$550 max.

But that envelope is awfully thick. It’s probably just brochures, they are always advertising some boring thing that no one understands and stuffing envelopes with a hundred thousand things just so they can freak their clients out. Really, it’s rude. Making a mental note to send them a piece of my mind I snatch the envelop off of my desk, staring at my name on the front for a moment.

Miss Gabriella Montez

251 W. 11th St., Apt B

New York, NY 10014

Damn. At least there’s no hope that perhaps I got someone else’s mail.

“You okay Gabi?”

My eyes dart up quickly to take in the dark skinned girl sitting in the desk across from mine. Her dark hair is short and framing her face, giving her an extremely business-y look, as if the black pants, white short sleeved shirt and grey and white checkered sweater vest with matching black tie weren’t enough to make her look like she owned the place. Taylor McKessie has worked here for about the length of time that I have worked here, and I always feel slightly bad for her when I think of how she’s sort of stuck in this position. She’s super smart and has the world at her fingertips if only she’d just grasp it. She even has a mildly accurate sense of style, which, considering where we work, is saying something.

“Uh,” I stammer out, “yeah, just reading a letter.”

Taylor smiled at me, “I love getting letters, you never get them anymore, everything’s so electronic.”

I nod my head, but I’m no longer paying attention, the seal of the envelope is broken, and I seize the bill inside before yanking it out. The page is simple, white and black, and I can’t help but feel a surge of panic rise up in me. They really do a crappy job in making people feel comfortable when it comes to bills. They should be bright and colorful, full of coddling words and euphemisms. Obviously the paying of the bills is unavoidable, but at least they could make it as painless as possible. For example, if the bill was pink and green it’d be much easier for me to hand over my hard earned $600. I may not be happy, but I’d be happier.

This bill is not pink and green.

Nor is it $650.

The list of stores displayed are overwhelming, almost as though they all belong in one mall and this is the directory for them. Maybe it is. Maybe this is an announcement for a brand new mall in New York. Maybe they recognize how amazing my style and fashion is and know that I should be on the top of the list to learn about this secret mall. Maybe I…

Wait a second. Godiva. Godiva Chocolates. When did I go there? I haven’t been there in…months, this bill can’t be right.

Apple (well, I can’t be a journalist without a laptop…and it’s purple!)

Trade Secret (everyone needs hair care products, I can’t go to work with a rat’s nest on my head)

Union Square Wine & Spirits (alcohol—essential)

Borgo Antico (dinner with Sharpay)

La Casa De Spa (I was having a bad day)

Union Square Wine & Spirits (alcohol—essential)

Marc Jacobs (they were having a sale)

Sephora (trust me, you don’t want to see me without makeup)

Union Square Wine & Spirits (alcohol—essential)

Agent Provocateur‎ (Colin and I had a…business meeting)

Emilio’s Ski Shop… 

Ah ha! I knew it. This isn’t my statement. Emilio’s Ski Shop? Please, I can’t walk without tripping, like I’m purposely strapping on something to help me fall. Dropping the statement, I reach down and grab my Gucci bag and withdraw my wallet, tearing through it, where is my credit card? Someone must have stolen it!

“What’s wrong?” Taylor asked curiously, pausing her typing on her laptop.

“Someone stole my credit card,” I tell her simply, pulling out my various credit cards in search of the one that matches the logo at the top of the paper, “someone bought skis, I would never buy skis.”

“Yes you would.” I freeze at Taylor’s statement and look over at her, searching for more of an explanation to her statement, “Remember?” Taylor asked, her face slightly amused, “Colin’s leaving, we all chipped in and bought him skis? You got them?”

My shoulders deflate and I cast a glance towards the office of our editor, Colin Sifford, and I can see the skis leaning up against the wall. He found a job at some other company and today was his last day. The skis were his going away present. Damnit.

“Oh yeah,” I said dejectedly and pulled out the last card, matching the statement, “now I remember.”

My eyes return to the bill and instead of pretending that there is the slimmest chance this isn’t mine, I just accept the inevitable and look down at the bottom figure, my eyes widening as I take in the total amount of money on my credit card.

Twelve hundred and thirty seven dollars, sixty three cents.

My eyes have widened, and I am glaring at the black and white page as though it might burst into flames and take my debt with it. After a good minute, I crumple up the bill and stuff it back into the envelope before burying it at the bottom of my bag. I don’t have time for this. I’m sure the bill is wrong and as soon as I get home, I’ll receive a statement in correction, telling me I owe nothing because of their silly mistake. Yes, that’s what will happen, and then I won’t have to worry about it. In fact, I think I’ll stop by Barney’s on the way home and see if there’s a sale going on, there must be something.

“You’re going to that press conference this afternoon, right?” Taylor asks and I look up, blinking as I process what she’s talking about. Oh right, the financial conference for the Campbell Group, I’m doing an article on them.

“Of course,” I answer confidently, “I need a few more points for my article.”

Taylor nods, “Good, Colin’s making me go and I don’t want to go alone, I hate those things, full of a bunch of liars.”

I frown, “Why is Colin making you and I go?”

Taylor rolls her eyes, “He says my writing’s too one sided.” She jabbed at her keyboard, “I’m not one sided, I’m just right.” Taylor turns her head and reads something off of a piece of paper sitting on her desk, “And he doesn’t know the first thing about writing, he got where he was because he is hot and fucks well.” I raise my eyebrows, but keep my eyes focused on the screen. Yes, Colin certainly knows how to fuck.

“Gabriella!” My head shoots over at the sound of my name and I find our editor in question walking towards us. Colin is the last person in the world you would think would be the editor of a financial magazine. He’s tall and lean, dark hair, dark eyes, tanned skin, he comes from money, and I always kind of thought he looked like a model who got lost on their way to LA. I know there’s more to the story then what everyone knows, but he’s not willing to talk about it, not that we do much talking when we’re alone together. Pretty much everyone hates him, I kinda do too, he’s still an ass, he’s just an ass who does wonders with his hands.

He looks serious and I match his look. He doesn’t scare me, no matter how hard he tries, “Do you have that article on the Campbell Group finished?”

I shake my head, “I plan on finishing it after the conference today.”

He nods curtly, “I want it on my desk before the end of the day.”

I resist the urge to roll my eyes, I don’t know why he cares, he won’t be in charge of printing it anymore. “Sure.” I say simply, turning my eyes back to the computer.

Colin nods, “Alright, you two get ready, we’ll leave here soon for the conference.” 

He’s gone before I can even really notice, and I hit a few keys of my laptop before shutting it and stuffing it into my bag. I hated these financial conferences too, but for a much different reason then Taylor. Although, I have no doubt that they are full of liars, I just loath writing about finance. I sort of ‘fell into’ it after my graduation. One of my professors knew the owner and pulled some strings, and at the time I had been extremely grateful, but now I felt stuck, and I didn’t know what to do.

Picking up my purse and grabbing my jacket, I ignore the bill that somehow made its way to the top of all my junk. I’ll deal with you later.

------------------[I am a line]------------------

Financial conferences are good for one thing and one thing only. Alcohol. When I started in this business, I was always afraid to drink anything, not wanting everyone to think I was unprofessional or an alcoholic. But that was before I actually attended one and found that they downed champagne like it was water, and they actually looked at you odd if you didn’t drink.

Grabbing my glass of champagne from the counter of the bar and turning to survey the crowded room, I can’t help but think how much I truly don’t fit in with this crowd. They all exist in shades of black and white. Black suits, grey skirts, white shirts, ash pants…all of them are so boring…so plain. They lack color, they lack luster. And I stick out like a sore thumb in my purple Diane von Furstenberg knee length dress. It’s business attire, and when I saw it I absolutely had to have it. The silky material that hugs my curves, the modest yet sexy v-neckline dipping down low enough to make every person realize this isn’t where I belong, and finished with a wide navy belt around my waist. Adding in my navy heels and the jacket I had already discarded, and I look like I just walked out of a magazine.

And not Investing in Your Future.

It’s a shame, really, because most of the people here aren’t terrible looking. Sure they need different hair styles and more then a few of them need pointers on how to apply makeup, but all in all, they aren’t bad. Some of them are even good looking. Taylor, of course, with her high cheekbones and warm smile, is impossible to forget. There’s Christopher Hallock, a man after my own heart in his Prada suit. I’m almost positive he comes from money, but the way his appearance is disheveled is absolutely unexplainable. Men in Prada don’t look disheveled. There’s Christina Bass, total bitch, but absolute fashionista. If I didn’t hate her, I’d totally ask where she got those amazing shoes.

My eyes scan the room, taking in the great number of people I recognize but don’t necessarily know. Where is he? He always looks amazing in his Prada or Armani or…whatever designer he has…

“Gabriella.”

I jump about a foot in the air as the deep voice enters my eardrum, causing me to choke on my sip of champagne I was halfway through. Coughing wildly, my eyes turn to my interrupter, finding my person of interest, but secretly wishing I had instead just spotted him from across the room.

Troy Bolton. Troy Bolton with his cool demeanor and perfectly groomed chestnut colored hair that is pushed to the side slightly to reveal his sparkling blue eyes that were focused directly on me. He’s holding a glass of champagne and standing with two people I don’t know, looking like he owns the place in his black pinstriped two button…wait, is that Gucci?

Word of wisdom to anyone ever attending a financial conference; don’t ever ask who Troy Bolton is. Don’t act like you don’t know him, and don’t, under any circumstances, let anyone know you don’t know who he is. Trust me, I know, I did. People don’t forget that, and most importantly he doesn’t forget that.

Troy Bolton is an entrepreneur. He must own the biggest financial PR firm in all of New York, and according to Forbes he is the one of (if not) the brightest minds of our generation. Yes, our generation. Troy Bolton is a self made millionaire, having grown up just an average kid with average parents, attending Harvard and earning his place as one of the most powerful men in the United States, or at least the east coast, through simple hard work and determination…and he’s only twenty eight. Wanna feel like your life is a failure? Attend conferences with Troy Bolton.

He seems unhappy, though, and that’s pretty much the only thing that keeps me from putting on all of my designer dresses and jumping into the ocean. He constantly frowns and I rarely see his face covered in anything but seriousness, there was that one time I thought he smiled, but I was mistaken.

There was a laugh from the dark skinned companion next to him and my eyes widened as I realize I do recognize him. He’s Troy Bolton’s partner in crime, although, I doubt they much break the law. Chad Danforth, as far as I knew, has known Troy Bolton his entire life, they attended Harvard together and worked their way to the top together. He’s a lawyer, and the two had many joint business ventures that I could not even begin to understand. He is, perhaps, the only male in the room with his hair longer then an inch, everyone knowing Chad Danforth by his cutthroat ability in the courtroom and long curly hair. But don’t comment on the hair, never comment on the hair, he’s touchy about it. Still, I like him. So different from Troy. He smiles, he laughs, he’s nice, I’ve gotten into a number of conversations with him and he is a joy to talk to, so down to earth.

“A little jumpy there, Gabriella?” Chad asks with a smile and I force the mouthful of champagne down, clearing my throat to talk.

“Sorry,” I say, “you surprised me.” I do my best to maintain eye contact with Chad and not Troy, but that’s another thing about Troy, he’s magnetic. People are drawn to him, you just want to look at him, he simply cannot be ignored. My very first financial conference he walked through the doors and I swear everyone stopped talking for a brief moment.

Troy gestures to the blonde next to him, “You know Candace, right?”

I don’t know Candace, but I do know of Candace. Candace McDonald, employed at Bolton Enterprises, cutthroat bitch who will do anything to get to the top. She’s a gorgeous blonde with her perfectly pointed nose, sultry lips, and curvaceous body, and from what I hear she’s supposedly pretty good at her job. But I never see it, all I ever see is her acting like a bumbling bitchy buffoon. Solely because of the person she’s currently standing next to, Troy Bolton.

It’s no secret that Candace hopes to have Troy Bolton as her boyfriend. I even heard a rumor that she has a five year plan including an elaborate proposal, huge wedding, and a baby. She dates the most ridiculous men, parades them around at gala events, showing off how gorgeous or how rich they are, and in a week she’s crying to all of her co-workers on how awful they were and how she’ll never find love, secretly hoping Troy gets the picture. Most people have stopped bothering to learn who she’s with or comfort her when she dumps them, because most people are aware of the situation. Perhaps the only person unaware of the situation is Troy Bolton, himself. Not that that surprises me, he’s a workaholic, when would he have time for a relationship?

Candace smiles at me brightly, extending her hand, “No, I do not believe we have met?” I reach out and shake her hand, “Candace McDonald, I work for Bolton Enterprises.”

Yeah, rub it in, you have the better job.

I plaster a fake smile on my face, “Gabriella Montez, I’m a journalist for Investing in Your Future.”

Her smile almost instantly becomes forced. Yeah, another thing, PR people don’t generally like us journalists, I never understand why Troy and Chad insist on coming to greet me every time I attend one of these things. Maybe they’re buttering me up, hoping I’ll miss something about their companies?

Oh crap, am I missing something about their companies?

“So good of you to come,” Candace says, and I can hear the undertone of snootiness, “considering everything happening right now.”

What is she talking about? Did I fall asleep during something? Crap, I’ll have to talk to Taylor and see what I missed.

I nod my head, “Yes, well…” I shrug my shoulders hoping they’ll change the subject.

“It’s upsetting,” Chad commented, “but everything has its ups and its downs.”

“Yes, yes it does.” I agree, my voice sounding confident. My eyes move from Chad to Troy’s briefly and I catch his narrowed gaze. Oh god, he knows I have no idea what’s going on.

Candace lifts her eyebrows, “So where are you working now?”

My eyes snap to Candace. What is she, stupid? Are the hair dye fumes finally getting to her? Did I not just introduce myself with my place of employment attached to the end of my name?

“Gabriella!”

I turn at the voice, finding Colin walking up behind me, a glass of champagne in his hand and his dark eyes focused on me. I resist the urge to roll my eyes as I turn back towards the group of three in front of me, taking a sip of my champagne. Sure, we work together, and…do other stuff, but generally he’s too busy rubbing elbows with the higher up journalists to actually come and talk to me or any of the other journalists that come to these things. That is, unless we’re talking to someone like Troy Bolton. Then we’re best friends and he’s the best editor in the world. Or so he told us to say.

“I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”

Yeah right.

I feel his arm curl around my back and I take a large sip of my drink as he focuses on the other three people, “Ah, Troy, Chad, Candace,” he shakes all of their hands as if he knows them personally, “so wonderful to see you all again, I…”

I tune them out as I slowly turn my body away from the group. I’ve got one chance to escape. Come on Colin, tell one of your boring stories and capture their attention…

“Gabriella.”

Damnit.

I spin back around with a bright smile on my face, as though I wasn’t trying to do anything, finding Troy’s curious gaze on me, “I’m intrigued to hear about your future plans.”

Why? Why would he be intrigued about that? Why couldn’t he care about Colin’s future plans? He’s actually got some, I don’t even know what I’ll be doing tonight, let alone in the proverbial future.

I glance over at Colin, hoping for some kind of scapegoat, like maybe he decided to be a good editor and choke on his champagne so that I could rush to his rescue and perform the Heimlich, be praised as a hero, and they love me so much that the bank considers my Visa bill paid off. My brow creases in confusion, however, when I see the nervous look on his face. Colin’s, like, never nervous.

“Um,” I force my eyes back to Troy, “I’m really not much of a planner, I…um…prefer spontaneity.”

Troy’s dark eyebrows lift and I can see the judgment in his eyes, “Spontaneity, that’s a good idea, but do you have a backup plan?”

“Ladies and gentleman,” a voice says from the front of the room, “if you could please take your seats now.”

Thank god.

“Oh, well, gotta go.” I mumble quickly, turning away and booking it away from that group. I’m not sure if Troy Bolton or anyone tried to stop me, and I don’t turn around to find out, darting to the opposite side of the room in search of an open seat. Taylor’s already seated, and she waves me over.

“I saw you were cornered,” she murmurs to me as I take the seat next to her, “I thought Colin was gonna help, but obviously not.”

I roll my eyes, pulling out my notepad and the press packet that had been handed to me earlier, “Obviously not,” I sigh and turn my eyes on the presenter, still preparing his notes, “why would he help me escape those conceited morons?”

Taylor smirks, “Conceited morons with inflated egos to make up for other areas they are lacking in.”

“Conceited morons with inflated egos to make up for other areas they are lacking in,” I start, “and bad hair.”

“You’d think with their millions they can afford haircuts?” Taylor adds with a roll of her eyes.

“It’s not a matter of affording it,” Taylor and I turn sharply at the voice entering into our conversation and both of our eyes widen to find Chad Danforth sitting in the chair behind us, Troy Bolton by his side, neither looking amused, “it a matter of wanting it.” Chad finishes.

Troy quirks an eyebrow, “And knowing we don’t have to if we don’t want to.”

I turn my head back to the front and out of my peripheral vision I can see Taylor doing the same, horrified looks gracing our features.

Oh shit.

------------------[I am a line]------------------

“Do I have holes burned into the back of my head?” Taylor whispers into my ear as we exit the building, groping around the back of her head for good measure and I have to agree with her. The entire meeting, I couldn’t even pretend to listen, all I felt were eyes burning into the back of my skull. Before, I was pretty sure that Troy Bolton found me amusing, now I’m pretty sure he hated me.

I roll my eyes, shoving my unused notebook into my bag, “They were just upset because we were telling the truth,” we’ve stopped walking and I turn to look at Taylor as I shoulder my bag, “I need to head to my place quickly and pick up some notes for my article, I’ll meet you back at the office.”

Taylor raises her eyebrows, “Don’t take too long, we’re meeting our new editor.” After exchanging goodbyes, Taylor heads off to get a cab as I take off in the opposite direction. I live not far from here, a wonderful two bedroom apartment that I share with my best friend Sharpay Evans. She’s great, we were roommates at NYU and we clicked instantly, she shares the same love for shopping as I do, and she understands why I am the way that I am because she’s the same kind of impulsive shopper as I am. Of course, she can afford to be. Her parents either inherited a lot of money or own some large corporation, she’s always very vague on the details, stating how little money mattered to her. God, I wish I could say the same. The apartment was a graduation gift from her parents, and she only charged me for my part of the utilities every month. She’s really great and I love her to death.

Turning the corner, something catches my eye in the window and I immediately stop. There, sitting in the Saks Fifth Avenue store window is the most gorgeous scarf I have ever seen in my life. And beneath the scarf is something even more gorgeous then the scarf itself.

All Accessories – 50% Off!

My legs carry me into the store before I can even comprehend what I’m doing, and I find myself standing in front of the scarf, feeling the silk beneath my fingertips. It’s Armani, and the way the red material is sewn together makes it appear to have layers, but it’s still light, not bulky. Lifting it up, I wrap it around my neck and catch my reflection in the window. Red looks gorgeous with my dark hair, and it would go amazing with all of my black and white coats I have for the winter. It’s New York, it gets blisteringly cold here, everyone needs a scarf.

But you already have a scarf.

But my scarf is old, and fraying. And it’s nowhere near as elegant and glamorous as this one. And just look, it makes my eyes pop, my haircut look more expensive, everyone would notice me, I’d be the girl in the red scarf.

You just got a twelve hundred dollar credit card bill in the mail, you do not need a scarf.

“The sale only lasts today,” my head snaps over to find the saleslady smiling at me, “and that one is our last in stock.”

My hand grips it tightly, “I’ll take it.”

There’s a mess of things splayed on the counter as I dig out my wallet, the saleswoman sticking the scarf into a tiny bag, making it look even more elegant without even trying. My Visa card is out of the question, and I’m positive that all of my other cards are at their limits, but I’ve still got that cash from the skis we bought Colin somewhere. I know it.

“That’ll be $140.” The lady says with a smile, “Cash or credit?”

My hand grips tightly to an envelope buried in the deepest crevice of my bag and I pull it out eagerly, “Cash.” I mutter, flipping open the top of the envelope, eyeing the wad of twenties, thankful that I didn’t know this was here before. I yank it out of the envelope and immediately count it in my head.

20…40…60…80…100…

Crap, there’s only $100.

It’s okay. Gripping my wallet, I flip it open and pull out the bit of cash I have stashed in there, dumping it onto the counter

110…115…120…122…122.75…

“Oh no,” I whisper, “I don’t have enough.” My eyes dart up to the sales lady who’s watching closely, “Can you hold it? I live right around the corner, I can…”

“We don’t hold sales items.” She deadpans, pulling the scarf from its beautiful bag, “Some other sale.”

My face becomes hard and my mind determined. I will get that scarf.

Shoving the money back into my bag, I practically run out of the store, intent on sprinting home and getting back here before someone else buys that scarf. That scarf is mine. I will…

My thoughts on the scarf are cut off as I run straight into someone outside of Saks, the solid physique of the other person knocking me off kilter.

“Gabs!” My head snaps up to find Colin staring down at me and I realize he could be the key to getting my scarf, “Good, I was hoping to catch you before you went back to the office. Look, I’m not heading back, but I was hoping we could have dinner tonight. I have a meeting until 7, but…”

His words are going in one ear and out the other. I want my scarf. “Colin, do you have $20?”

Colin blinks at me, thrown by my question, “What?”

My head turns towards the window and I can see the scarf already back into view, “It’s just…there’s this scarf…”

“Oh Gabs…” Colin starts.

“No, you don’t understand.” I defend quickly, “It’s for my grandmother…she’s in the hospital…she’s always wanted and Armani scarf and its half price, I just need $20.”

Colin takes a step back, shaking his head, “No.”

“Colin, I’ll pay you back,” I say immediately, “tomorrow…tonight, in fact, I just need to get the money from my apartment.”

“I don’t carry cash.” Colin informs me and my stomach plummets, crap, “Now tonight…after seven…I’ll see…”

“I know you carry cash, Colin,” I spit with an edge to my voice, “it’s just…”

“Twenty dollars.” I stop when a twenty dollar bill is floating in my face, spinning around and finding my eyes widening at the sight of Troy Bolton standing behind me, a look of amusement/curiosity as he studied me, “What kind of grandmother wants an Armani scarf?”

My eyes widen. Come on Gabi, think…think.

“She got one from my grandfather,” I hear myself say, “before he died…in the fire.”

Troy’s eyebrows lift, “The fire?”

I nod, “Yes, she lost everything, it was tragic.”

He nods, “That does sound tragic.” He holds out the bill, “Give her my regards.” My pride is telling me not to take the money. Troy Bolton is an egotistical maniac, I can see it in his eyes, he doesn’t believe me when I say it’s for my grandmother, he just wants something else to hold over my head.

But I really want that scarf.

My hand takes the bill, “I will, thank you.” For a second, we both just stand there, almost testing each other with our stares. I’m waiting for him to grab the money back and tell me he knows I’m lying, and, to be perfectly honest, I don’t know what he’s waiting for.

I jump slightly when I feel a hand on my back, and I remember that we’re not alone, Colin standing behind me, “Gabs, tonight?”

I blink back to reality and nod my head, “Yes, after seven.” Taking a step away from the group, I’m thankful when Colin speaks up.

“Shall we head out?” he’s speaking to Troy, and for the first time I notice Chad’s a few feet behind him, staring at me oddly.

Troy nods his head and Colin walks forward to join Chad, Troy casting me one last glance, “Better go get that scarf.”

He turns and I watch him go, feeling something sink in the pit of my stomach.

He’s never going to let me forget this either.

------------------[I am a line]------------------

Oh yeah, and it's first person. Eek! I probably shouldn't have done this. *bites lip*


Some things I cannot change, but until I try, I'll never know...
j&d
kirsalessi
Hmmm....

So...it's been awhile. Yeah, I'd apologize, but it's not like I've been absent, life's just been blah this semester, and I really haven't had any time to talk about myself. However, Abby and Dani are forcing me to take the night off, so...here I am.

My writing's been really weird lately. For example, I planned on having Sunburn finished by now, AIS pretty much done, and my next story planned out to be posted once AIS was close to finished, however, this semester's been a bitch. I haven't had a week without a test, like, ever, and between work, friends and stuff my writing greatly slowed down. Until last week, that is.

I need to say something, but I want to be perfectly clear as to why I'm saying it before I do. I don't want pity, I don't want people telling me they understand, or bullshitting me. I'm not that kind of person. I'm just saying it because I need to say it. Like, I don't think my brain has processed it yet, and I guess part of me thinks that by posting it for other people to potentially read will sort of force me to cope. My dad has Parkinson's disease.

Hmmm...no, still not feeling it. Honestly, I wonder if something's wrong with me. He's been having tremors in his hand for a while and we've been silently preparing ourselves for the worst when he went to the neurologist, there was part of me that simply hoped it was a pinched nerve or something. But it's not a brain tumor. It's not cancer. Parkinson's will not kill him, but still...I should be scared and upset, but when I went home over Thanksgiving, he was making jokes about it, and...I don't know. Should I be scared?

I should go into lurking mode. I thought about it pretty seriously after I found out, and any sane person would take a step back and refocus, but for some reason, I can't. In fact (relating this to my writing), since I found out, my muse has been in full gear coming up with idea after idea. It's weird, and all I can come up with is that my brain thinks immersing myself in my writing is easier for me and helps me cope.

Oh, and it flurried today. I cannot wait for snow. :)

This has not been a very good summer....
j&d
kirsalessi
Earlier this summer, a mere weeks after I escaped the stress that was my spring semester, my iPod that had been put-putting along for quite some time, decided to die. Not a huge deal, it had been threatening it for a while, and the iPod was already five years old. I was expecting and had been saving. No big deal. Then my camera died. While it's four years old, it's not used all that often, and I'm not going to lie, I was a little ticked off. I'm preparing to go to Colorado for the first time in my life, and I want to document it. But nonetheless, it's still not a big deal. Then I got into an accident that totaled my car. I'm not an angry person, really, I'm not, but I was PISSED when this happened. The lady was talking on her cell phone, her flippin CELL PHONE! People like that piss me off, especially when they crush my beloved George (my old car). That one hurt, both figuratively and literally, but once it was done and the insurance company paid up, it was done. Case closed, end of story. It was time for me to enjoy what was left of my too short summer.

Yesterday my laptop died.

I give up.

Long Distance Support
j&d
kirsalessi
Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

Vanessa Hudgens kept her eyes firmly closed as she followed her own mental instructions, inhaling the sweet aroma from the lavender candles she had surrounding her, and exhaling the stress from within her, praying it’d help relieve some of the tension in her muscles. Despite that she was inside. Despite that all of the doors to her house were shut, windows locked, and curtains drawn. Despite that she hadn’t spoken to anyone all day, save for Evan and Britt, she could feel all of it mounting. Any other day, it wouldn’t have bothered her. Any other day, seeing paparazzi on her way home from getting a manicure and pedicure for her looming premiere wouldn’t have bothered her. Any other day, receiving a multitude of phone calls from her friends, sister, mother, and boyfriend wouldn’t have bothered her. And any other day, she wouldn’t have ignored those phone calls.

But it wasn’t any other day. It was today, August 6, 2009. It was the day her new film Bandslam would be premiering in LA. It was supposed to be one of the happiest moments of her life. However, it wasn’t. It wasn’t because she made a stupid mistake many years ago. It wasn’t because some asshole decided to capitalize on that mistake. And it wasn’t because being happy was obviously too much to ask for.

Why her? It was the question that had been floating around in her head ever since she had received the call from Britt yesterday. Why her? Why again? Wasn’t once enough for some people? Were there people out there who really needed to see her fail that badly that just when her career was good, and her future was looking bright, they’d drop a bomb like this? And they were meant for her boyfriend. The blogs plastered intimate photos of her all over their website as though these were intended for everyone. As though she wanted these photos of herself out for public viewing. As though she was the first fucking girlfriend who took erotic photos for her boyfriend.

Why her?

Vanessa inhaled deeply, ignoring the tear that slipped down her cheek, and choosing instead to focus back on the warm water that surrounded her body as she sat engulfed in her whirlpool tub. She knew she had to get out soon, not only to begin getting ready for the premiere, but also because she didn’t want to shrivel up like a prune. However, she was dreading it. Her headache had finally diminished, her muscles weren’t tense, and as she inhaled the soothing scent she was beginning to feel like she could catch up on the sleep she had missed the previous night. Perhaps it wasn’t all the Jacuzzi, but to be honest, Vanessa was perfectly content to not risk it.

Vanessa opened her eyes when she heard a familiar buzzing next to her. She didn’t even have to turn her head to know that it was her phone, ever since she had put it on silent that morning, the buzzing hadn’t ceased all day. Releasing a sigh into the previously quiet bathroom, she withdrew her hand from the steamy water and reached over to her phone, pausing momentarily to dry it on a nearby towel. There was really only one person it could be. Her family had long since gotten the picture that she didn’t want to speak to any of them, Brittany would be coming over soon to get ready, and that merely left her partner in crime who she’d give anything to have by her side right now.

Lifting the phone in front of her face, Vanessa found her presumption to be right at the sight of her grinning boyfriend staring back at her. Sighing again, Vanessa weighed her options. She had spoken to him briefly the previous day; however, she had had to cut their conversation short before anything was really discussed. She had considered calling him back last night, but she just hadn’t felt up to it. Today, he had called six times, and all six times she had ignored his phone call. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to talk to him, it was just that she didn’t want to talk to anyone. Nothing anyone said could make this better, so it was up to her to put a fake smile on her face and appease her fans tonight. They hadn’t abandoned her, she wouldn’t abandon them. However, Zac was most likely one voicemail away from hopping on the next flight out of Vancouver, and while his director did love him, he didn’t love him that much.

Tapping the screen, Vanessa brought it to her ear, “Hello?”

She heard a sigh, almost as though he had thought she was dead or something, “Six times, Van, really? I’ve been out of my mind with worry.”

Vanessa leaned her head back against the pillow and shut her eyes, “Nothing to worry about,” she said evenly, “and you shouldn’t be thinking about me, you should be thinking about filming.”

Thinking about filming?” Zac asked sarcastically, “Yeah, right. Filming today was shit because I couldn’t get my mind off of you…”

“You really shouldn’t do that, Zac.” Vanessa interjected, “Acting’s your job, you love it.”

I love you.” Zac told her firmly, his voice sounding as if he couldn’t believe how calm she was sounding, “In case you forgot that little tidbit when you were ignoring my six calls, I do love you, and I do worry about you. At least your mom told me…”

“You called my mom?” Vanessa asked, knowing she should’ve been surprised, but finding it difficult. Zac did have a tendency to overreact to certain things.

Of course I called your mom,” Zac retorted, “you could’ve been kidnapped or dead!”

Vanessa rolled her eyes, feeling a true smile tug at her lips for the first time since she heard the news, “Zac…”

I was relieved when I found out you were at least ignoring their phone calls too.” Zac told her, “I thought for a second maybe you were mad at me, maybe you…”

“Zac,” Vanessa interrupted, her tone sounding more soothing then cold, “I know you didn’t leak the pictures, I know you had no part in this. I’m not mad at you, if anything, I’m mad at myself.”

No,” Zac protested, “Vanessa that’s stupid.”

Tears were beginning to form in her eyes, “If I wasn’t such a little slu…”

Hey!” Zac barked at her, “No one calls my girlfriend a slut, especially not my girlfriend, got it?”

Vanessa chewed on her bottom lip, sniffing to keep the tears from falling down her cheeks, “Zac…”

Look,” Zac stated firmly, “you’re just a girl who took some pictures for your boyfriend. That may make you foolish or whatever, but it does not make you a slut. You’ve. Done. Nothing. Wrong!”

“Then why does it feel like I have?” Vanessa exploded, suddenly finding her sadness and embarrassment burst into anger, “Why does it feel like I need to apologize? Why does it feel like I’ve let my parents, my sister, you…down? If I’ve done nothing wrong, why does it feel that way?”

Because you’re a good person,” Zac told her, “because you’re beautiful, smart, and funny.” Vanessa sniffled, bringing her other hand up to wipe the few tears that were escaping, “Because you have a great family, wonderful friends, and an amazing boyfriend.” She couldn’t help the sad laugh that escaped her lips, and she knew that that was what he was going for, “And most importantly, they want to be you. And since they cannot be you, they want to tear you down.”

Vanessa leaned her elbow on the side of the tub, resting her head against her hand, “Well, they’re doing a hell of a job.”

But you’re stronger than them.” Zac told her confidently, “Do you remember how hard this was the first time? Do you remember how you didn’t think you would be able to make it out of it in one piece? Baby, we have the record for number one musical movie opening ever, we went all over the world promoting our asses off, we performed at the Oscars! You came out of it stronger; you’ll do the same with this.”

Vanessa attempted to blink back her tears, “I wish you were here.” She mumbled out, hating how weak she sounded.

I know,” Zac said firmly, “believe me I know. You couldn’t possibly wish me there anymore then I do, but as soon as I wrap filming on Friday, I’ll be on the next flight out of Vancouver, I promise.”

She nodded, despite that he couldn’t see her, “I know.” She shut her eyes and willed all the tears from her eyes, “I know,” she repeated, “and I know how bad you feel, I’m sorry.”

This is what you’re gonna do,” Zac began firmly, “you’re gonna get out of bed, you’re gonna walk to your humongous closet, choose some fucking sexy dress that makes all the men and some of the women drool over you, and you are going to wow them tonight, got it?”

Vanessa felt a small smile dance on her lips, “I’m actually in the bathtub.”

There was a pause, “What?”

She smiled, “You said get out of bed, I’m in the bathtub.”

She could practically see him roll his eyes, “Fine, you’re going to get out of the bathtub, you’re gonna dry off, you’re gonna walk to your…”

“Thank you, Zac.” Vanessa said sincerely.

You don’t have to thank me, babe.” He told her, his voice soft, “All you have to do is get your ass out of that tub before it gets pruney and make sure you wear underwear.” Vanessa burst out laughing, feeling a full smile spread onto her face, almost making it feel as though it had been days since she had done it, “You’re gonna go out there, you’re not gonna make any apologies, and you’re gonna show them that you’re an amazing actress with amazing talent, and nothing…no one…can change that.”

Vanessa wiped at her eye, “Baby…”

“Nessa?” Vanessa turned her head towards the bathroom door when she heard a knock, “Are you in there?”

“Yeah,” Vanessa managed out, doing her best to sound like she wasn’t crying, “I’m…uh…on the phone.”

There was a pause, “In the bathroom?”

Vanessa couldn’t help but laugh at Brittany Snow’s confused voice, “I’ll be right out.” She turned her attention back to the phone, “Brittany’s here…”

Go!” Zac insisted, “Get ready. I expect to see tons of pictures of you smiling and laughing tonight, got it?”

Vanessa nodded, “Got it.”


Vanessa tugged at her dress as she descended the steps of her home, clutching onto the railing so she didn’t fall in her three inch heels, “You’re sure this isn’t too short?”

“I’m sure!” Brittany insisted behind her, “Honey, I don’t know if you’ve taken a good look at your legs lately, but they’re pretty freakin’ amazing.” She smirked, “No wonder that damn boy can’t keep his hands off of you on the red carpet.”

Vanessa reached the landing first, turning to look at her friend, “He can,” her grin transformed into a smirk, “he just chooses not too.”

Brittany rolled her eyes while Vanessa turned and began walking through the house, “Mom? Dad?”

“In here, sweetheart.”

Vanessa immediately began heading towards the kitchen, finding her mother, father, sister, and publicist, “Hey guys, are we ready?”

“We’ve got about ten minutes until the car arrives.” Britt informed her, “You two look lovely.”

Vanessa smiled in appreciation, “Thanks Britt.”

Stella sidled up next to Vanessa, wrapping her arm around the twenty year old’s waist, “So guess what Dylan said?”

Vanessa tilted her head, “Is Dylan your new boyfriend?”

Stella made a face, “Yuck, Van, Dylan Efron!”

“Dylan Efron?” Vanessa questioned, her brow furrowing, “Said about what?”

“He said he supports you,” Stella told her with a smile, “and that everyone should stop being immature and calling you a slut.”

“Stella!” Gina protested.

“What?” Stella asked innocently, “I was just telling her what he said.”

Vanessa looked over to her publicist, “Said where? Dylan isn’t famous…he doesn’t wanna be famous.”

Britt was smiling, “He twittered about it.”

Vanessa blinked, processing what had just been told to her. It wasn’t that Dylan didn’t like her or anything like that, but he was her boyfriend’s little brother. He purposely interrupted them whenever they were making out because he thought it was funny, he was everything a bratty little brother should be. And he was…sticking up for her?

“Wow,” Vanessa felt herself say, “Dylan…did that?”

The doorbell rang in the background and Britt immediately pushed off of the counter, “That must be the driver, I’ll get it.”

He slid out of the room unnoticed by Vanessa, “I should call Zac and get his number.” Vanessa began digging through her clutch for her phone, turning to her sister, “I mean, would you do that for Zac?”

Stella shrugged, “I don’t know, you’re nice, Zac’s kinda a horndog.”

“Stella!” Greg scolded.

What?

“Vanessa,” Britt said from behind her, causing Vanessa to turn, her eyes widening at the vase full of white lilies he was carrying into the room, “I believe these are for you.”

She gasped as he slipped between her and Stella and set them on the counter in front of her, “Is there a card?” Vanessa asked rhetorically before beginning to dig through the flowers.

“Like you need one,” Brittany said, a smirk toying at her lips, “we all know who they’re from.”

Ignoring Brittany, Vanessa snatched the card from its position, tearing it open to find a typed note, “Dear beautiful,” she started, reading the card out loud, “Have fun tonight, you’re going to be amazing. Love, Zac.”

“Aww…” Brittany started, “Major boyfriend points.”

Vanessa leaned forward, inhaling the scent of her favorite flower, barely registering the doorbell ringing again, or Britt slipping out. Pulling back, she seized her phone from its position in her purse, yanking it out and dialing a very familiar number, turning and walking out of the room to get a little bit of privacy. It rang once, “Hello gorgeous.”

“I love you.” Vanessa said simply, “I know I’ve probably said that a million times, but I really really really love you.”

The feeling’s mutual, babe.” Zac returned, “Now go, call me later.”

“I will.” Vanessa promised, “Oh, and thank Dylan, he’s kinda a dork, but I love him.”

There was a pause, “My…brother…Dylan?”

Vanessa smiled, “Yeah, he put on his Twitter that he supported me and…stuff…so just tell him thank you, I would…but…”

No, no, no…go! I’ll tell him, even though I had no idea he was planning on doing this.” The last part was mumbled, as if he was talking to himself, “Kick ass, Van.”

She smiled, “I will.”


Baseball
j&d
kirsalessi

If there was one thing that thirty three year old Gabriella Bolton had learned in her life, especially in the eight years since she had changed her last name (or fifteen years since she was maliciously forced to participate in karaoke), it was that everything worked in cycles. It had always been something that had dimly registered in her mind growing up. Obviously there were the tides, the moon, seasons, schooling, and many other things. However, it wasn’t until she reached her late teens and early twenties that she began to take notice of the things that moved in cycles. And it wasn’t until her late twenties and early thirties that she realized everything moved in cycles.

The Bolton household was no exception.

It began very early in the morning. Gabriella, of course, was the first to awaken at six, despite that she was not expected at the lawfirm she worked at until ten. It was one of the perks of having a law degree from Harvard. Straight out of college, she had gotten first pick of what lawfirm she wanted to work for, and after nine years with the company, she was allowed to set her own hours. It was nice, early in the morning. Peaceful. There wasn’t another soul moving inside of her five bedroom two-story house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and while she took a shower and got ready for the day, it was nice.

But that was just the beginning of the cycle.

Gabriella’s mother had always told her that she’d never value how precious time was until after she had a child. There was never enough of it, and it went by way too quickly. However, Gabriella was pretty sure her mother had no idea what she was talking about, because she only ever had one child. One child was nothing compared to Gabriella’s three.

As her heels clicked on the wooden floor of the oak hardwood that lined the first floor of the house, Gabriella wondered why she had yet to change out of her work clothes. Still donning the khaki knee-length skirt that hugged the curves of her slender figure as well as the dark brown button up shirt and heels, she ran a hand through her long dark curls, wondering what happened to all of her hair bands.

Gabriella was the start of the cycle, but she was nothing in comparison to once her three children woke up. That was usually the way that she could tell which portion of the cycle they were in, by the decibel level they were reaching. In the morning it was quiet, but once the children woke up, it quickly reached a much higher level. Then her husband woke up and the level rose even more. But then he went off to work, taking the two eldest with him, leaving Gabriella with a much lower level. But the evenings were always off the charts. With a family of five, it was impossible not to be. Between homework and dinner, the house was never quiet.

Except right now.

There was really only one place they could be, and as she marched down the hallway, Gabriella swore she was going to kill him if she had to bathe all three of them again. Turning the corner, Gabriella breathed a small sigh of relief at the squeals coming from the opposite side of the door that led to the garage. Logically, after checking all of the places they usually hid, Gabriella knew there was really only one other place they could be. But as a mother, turning around after finishing the dishes from dinner and finding the TV and toys abandoned wasn’t the best feeling in the world.

Still, she stood by her previous death threat.

Reaching the end of the hallway, she pulled the door open to gaze into their four car garage, a small smile forming on her face as she leaned against the doorframe to observe an insanely normal scene in front of her.

The scene was set around a rusting truck. A very old rusting truck. A very old rusting white truck that Gabriella believed her husband loved more then her. There were four players in this scene, the most prevalent and loudest member being the five year old boy sitting in the driver’s seat, pretending the old truck was a race car.

Derek Chad Bolton was the middle of her three children, and as he was representing by driving the truck, lost in his own little world. She saw a lot of herself in him, not just with his imagination, but also his curiosity about any and everything. However, her husband wasn’t lacking in Derek either, he had natural finesse at five that she didn’t possess at thirty three, and the mischievous personality was something he got from his father and older brother.

Gabriella shifted her eyes over, taking in the slightly older boy currently standing on top of a wooden stool, staring into the open engine of the truck, fascinated by all the shiny objects. At seven, Alexander Jack Bolton, was absolutely nothing like her. Unlike his brother, who possessed many of Gabriella’s personality traits as well as her darker hair and skin, Alex was simply a mini version of his father. She hadn’t yet decided if that was a good thing or not.

Gabriella folded her arms across her chest, a smile gracing her features, “What’s going on here?”

She didn’t expect to gain the attention of her children, but she did gain the attention of the person currently standing in front of the truck, his brunette head turning her way, Gabriella meeting his blue eyes. He quirked an eyebrow at her and Gabriella couldn’t help but let her smile widen at the fact that she could actually see that his eyebrow was quirked. God, she loved his coach for threatening to drop him from the team if he didn’t get a haircut.

Troy Bolton, despite that he was thirty three, almost thirty four (not that she was rubbing it in or anything), didn’t look a day older then he had looked a decade earlier. He still had his shaggy chestnut hair that, despite that it was shorter, still stuck every which direction, he still had his athletic physique, thanks to his job as the starting point guard on the LA Lakers, and he still had those ultra blue eye. Oh yeah, and that cocky smirk, he just used that more and more as he got older.

“Something I can help you with?”

They had been together since they were sixteen, stuck it out through high school and the prospect of college separating them, and dealt with the distance between Berkeley and Stanford and then later the even greater distance between Boston and LA. She stood by him in his decision to not finish college in order to pursue a basketball career in LA, and he supported her in her choice to trade up for Harvard Law School instead of Stanford’s, despite that it meant the pair would be separated by three thousand miles. He had proposed to her at her graduation party from college, been married for eight years, and had three gorgeous children together.

And yet, that smirk still got to her.

Gabriella lifted her own eyebrows, “Yes,” she said shortly, “you can tell me what my clean children are doing in this filthy garage?”

The sound of something clinking forced Troy to turn his head away from her, and Gabriella rolled her eyes as he moved Alex further back on the stool that was being held down by Troy’s foot in an effort to prevent it from tipping. “Dad’s teaching me about his truck, mom!” Alex exclaimed, his blue eyes dancing with excitement as they gazed across the garage at her, “About the carbonator!”

Gabriella felt her stern look slip and she released a small laugh, “I think you mean carburetor, honey.”

Troy grinned, the satisfaction obvious on his features, “And you say I’m not rubbing off on you.”

Gabriella blinked at him, “You’re not. Answer the question.”

Troy rolled his eyes, grabbing a rag to wipe the grease off of his hands, Gabriella internally groaning at the added grease that was now on the white wife beater he was wearing. It was the same one he always wore to work on his car, accompanied by a few pairs of old jeans or, like he was wearing now, an older pair of workout shorts, and she only ever washed them so that they didn’t stink, but she hated washing things and being unable to remove the stains.

My children,” Troy started, sending Gabriella a pointed look, “are spending time with me. Plus, I promised Alex we’d work on the truck together. They’re not getting dirty,” he made a calming motion with his hands, “chill out.”

“Yeah, mom,” Alex piped up, “chill out!”

Gabriella sent her first born a mock glare before returning her eyes to her husband, “They better not be, otherwise, you’re responsible for giving them all another bath.” Troy shook his head slightly, but nodded nonetheless as he gulped down half of the bottle of water he had out in the garage with him. It was stifling, and Gabriella was shocked the kids had managed to stay out there that long without complaining. “Alright kids, time for bed.”

They were the magic words that sent her kids into tantrums every night, and this night was no different. Derek looked away from his ‘driving’ and Alex looked up from the engine, both of them voicing their protest.

“No!” Derek whined.

“But mom,” Alex interjected, “dad promised that we could fix it and go driving tomorrow, we needa fix it!”

“I don’t wanna go to bed!” Derek said, his whining almost transitioning to crying.

“You heard your mother,” Troy spoke up, interrupting both tirades, “time for bed.”

“Dad!” “But dad!”

“Uh, uh,” Troy said, shaking his head, “it is already way past your guys’ bedtime, now move it.” Neither one made an effort to move, and Troy sent them both firm stares, “Move it!” Alex frowned, jumping down from the stool, and Derek sighed, moving to open the door to the car.

Gabriella smiled at the pouting, glancing around the cluttered garage, “One and two,” she said, looking back over at Troy, “where’s three?”

Troy smiled, moving his eyes in the direction of the truck, but staying mum. Gabriella pushed off the doorframe and walked into the garage, stopping as she reached the truck, resting one of her elbows on the ledge as she stared down into the bed, “You too, squirt.”

The little girl, who was currently lying on top of a blanket on her back, giggled at the sight of her mother, immediately causing Gabriella to smile. Hannah Grace Bolton was Troy and Gabriella’s youngest child and only girl, and at the age of three, she pretty much already had all of them wrapped around her finger. Her brothers were pretty much at her beck and call, Troy was putty in her hands, and Gabriella couldn’t deny her little girl anything if she wanted too. When Troy and Gabriella had found out they were pregnant again, they had both been hoping for a girl, and when their hopes had been confirmed, they were ecstatic. Hannah looked nothing like Troy, almost to the extent that, if it weren’t for the bright blue eyes she shared with her two brothers, he’d say he had no part in her making. She had naturally dark hair and skin, she was quiet and reserved a lot of the time, and at three she was already brilliant.

The tiny brunette was playing with her pink pajamas as she grinned up at Gabriella, “Daddy said a bad word.”

Gabriella’s head snapped over to Troy as he gazed at the truck bed in shock, his mouth slightly gaping, “Hannah!” he looked over at his wife, his blue eyes begging for sympathy, “It was onetime, and I hit my head.”

Hannah’s head peeked over the top of the ledge, staring at her father, “But it was a really bad word!”

Gabriella reached out and gripped Hannah’s sides, lifting her out of the truck and bringing her to rest on her hip, “Boys, you better say goodnight to your father,” Gabriella knew her look was failing at staying firm, and Troy picked up on the teasing in her eyes, “he’s in really big trouble.”

Hannah gasped as Gabriella made her way towards the door, ushering Alex and Derek through it as well, “Oh no, is daddy gonna get a spanking?”

Troy, who had already returned to working on his truck, smirked into the engine, “Only if I’m lucky.” Gabriella threw him a dirty look over her shoulder as she shut the door behind her.

“Mommy, why would daddy be lucky to get a spanking?” Troy couldn’t help but snort as Hannah’s voice carried through the closing door, “Doesn’t he know they hurt?”


After dropping her children off in their respective rooms, placing Alex’s toys out of reach, tucking in Derek, and reading Hannah a story, she had extinguished the lights upstairs and retired to her bedroom. Figuring Troy would mosey up eventually. However, after taking a relaxing shower and emerging to find no sign of her husband, Gabriella threw on an old white camisole and black shorts before venturing out into the garage. He was still working on the car, as she expected he would be, but with the removal of the children came the removal of his tank top, and she frowned as she noticed his hands were almost completely covered with grease.

“Are they all in bed?”

Gabriella diverted her eyes that had strayed from his hands onto his bulging biceps which the dim light, sweat, and grease only seemed to highlight, “Yeah,” she said with a nod, “I was waiting for you upstairs, are you planning on coming to bed anytime soon?”

Troy shook his head, “I don’t have practice tomorrow, so I’m not really rushing to bed.” he pulled back, tossing the wrench he was using into his toolbox before grabbing a rag to clean his hands with, “But if you need to go to bed, go to bed. I’ll lock up.”

Gabriella shrugged as she made her way into the garage, crossing her arms over her chest, “Tomorrow’s Saturday, remember?”

Troy released a small laugh, a smirk gracing his features as he turned back to observe the engine, “Oh yes, must be nice to be a high powered attorney and not have to work weekends.”

Gabriella sent him a look her arms moving to her hips, “Says the person who does nothing from April to October.”

Troy scoffed, “I have practice every other day, weights the other days, international games, press, endorsements…I wouldn’t call that nothing.”

Gabriella rolled her eyes, “Don’t even, Troy. You know that if you weren’t being paid to do it, you’d still workout twenty-four/seven. We’re going to be old and gray, I’ll be huge and fat and you’ll be just the same as you are now.”

Troy shook his head, sending her a look disbelief, “Baby, you’re tiny. You’re never going to be ‘huge and fat’. You’ve had three kids and you still look the same as you did in high school.”

Troy turned and walked over to the main workbench they had lining the front of the garage, Gabriella watching him go as she leaned against the side of the truck, “I do not.” Gabriella protested, picking at the chipping paint.

“Yes, you do.” Troy contradicted, extracting one of the many tools that she couldn’t even begin to attach names too, “Perhaps you have a few more curves, but personally, I don’t see that as a bad thing.” She didn’t move from her position as he came to stand next to her, watching him as he lowered himself to the garage floor, “In fact,” he set his toolbox down next to him before allowing himself to slide underneath the truck, “I don’t know if you’ve seen your ass lately,” his voice came out from beneath the truck as he wiggled into position, “but it’s pretty fantastic.”

Gabriella instinctively brought her hands around to her backside, covering it as though he had just told her it was the ugliest thing in the world whilst her cheeks flooded with red at his comment, “Troy!” she scolded under her breath, as though someone was listening in on them and just heard his dirty joke.

Troy chuckled from beneath the truck but made no apologies for his comment. Gabriella had and would always be shy about her body, seven years of dating, eight years of marriage, and three children would never change that. “Babe,” he laughed out, “could you hand me the flashlight?”

Gabriella knew he was trying to purposely divert her attention, but she swung her head around anyways, locating said flashlight on top of the workbench, “All joking aside,” Gabriella started, retrieving the flashlight and handing it to him, “are you going to be heading to bed anytime soon?”

“Gabi, just go to bed.” Troy told her firmly, Gabriella hearing the sound of metal clinking as she leaned back against the truck, “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be, and if you stay up too late, you’ll be exhausted when Hannah wakes you up tomorrow morning.”

“I probably should.” Gabriella mused, however, made no move to leave as she ran her hand over the rough metal of the truck, studying the various parts of the engine Troy had sitting off to the side that she couldn’t even begin to comprehend the names of, “Why are you so intent on making this truck run?”

Troy was still under the truck, and Gabriella watched him withdraw a screwdriver from his tool box, “Because,” Troy started, his voice sounding forced, “I promised Alex we could have this finished in a couple days, but it’s nowhere near finished, and he’s expecting to ride in it tomorrow.”

Gabriella smiled as she thought about her energetic seven year old that couldn’t stop talking about how excited he was to go driving with his father the next day, “No, why are you so intent on making this truck run?” Gabriella repeated, “Alex would be just as happy if you took him in any of the other cars,” her eyes moved over in the garage, glancing at their Cadillac Escalade (the family car), his Audi sedan, and her Lexus crossover. She rolled her eyes, “or if you dangled a shiny object in front of his face.”

“Because,” Troy repeated, tossing the screwdriver back into the box and grabbing a wrench in replacement, “it’s been sitting in here for a while, and it should be fixed, you never know when we might need it.”

Gabriella moved over and picked up one of the loose pieces Troy had yet to find a place for, “I could probably calculate the odds for you,” she shook her head, “but they aren’t in favor of your truck.”

She heard the wrench hit the floor not long before a sigh escaped her husband’s mouth, “Look, okay, it was my first car,” Gabriella smiled at the exasperation in Troy’s tone, “I learned to drive in it, my dad used to drive it, I got to first and second base with you in here.” Gabriella rolled her eyes and moved back as Troy slid out from underneath the truck, “It’s a sentimental thing, plus it’ll be a good learning car when we teach the kids how to drive.”

Gabriella’s eyebrows shot up as Troy sat up and grabbed the towel from the floor, wiping the grease from his hands, “Okay, first off, at the earliest, that’s ten years away? Do you honestly think this truck will last that long?” she crossed her arms over her chest as Troy stood up from the ground, “And secondly, you want our children to learn how to drive in a car we had sex in?”

“First and second base,” Troy repeated sending her a look, “not sex. Sex is a homerun, and this truck was long since abandoned in Albuquerque by the time we had sex.”

Troy grabbed the piece of metal Gabriella had been playing with from her hands and turned to the engine, “Fine,” she started with an eyeroll, “you want our children to learn how to drive in a car you…what’s second base…stuck your tongue down my throat?”

Troy looked up and leaned his head to the side, a sigh of disappointment leaving his lips, “You don’t know the bases.” It was a statement, not a question, “Oh good god, my high school sweetheart doesn’t know the bases.”

Gabriella felt a smile tug at her lips, but she was desperately trying to hold her look of confusion, “So?”

Troy turned to face her, his face a mixture of annoyance and disbelief, “The bases. First base, second base, third base, homerun. It’s something you do in high school.”

Gabriella tilted her head to the side, moving her hands to her hips, “It’s not something I did in high school.” She quirked an eyebrow, “How many homeruns did you have?”

“Zero.” Troy said, sending her a sarcastic smile, “But my game was slow in high school, and has since picked up. I have scored many homeruns since high school.” Gabriella moved her eyes upwards, shaking her head in disbelief, “The bases!” Troy exclaimed, “You cannot not know the bases!”

“I don’t!” Gabriella said, “Sorry, I guess I was a bad teenager.”

Troy sighed, “Okay, this is first base.” He wasted no time in closing the space between the pair, and Gabriella’s eyes shut immediately upon feeling his lips on hers. It wasn’t really a heated kiss, not even when he slid his tongue between her parted lips, enticing her to engage her own tongue. An engagement that felt pretty useless when Troy pulled back, Gabriella allowing her eyes to flicker open and find her unfazed husband. “Making out,” he said in an even voice, “usually it’d last longer, hands can roam, but not too much. No butt, groin, or boob grabbing.”

Gabriella blinked, “So, like, the first year and a half of our relationship?”

“Ha, ha, ha.” Troy deadpanned, sending her a look, “Second base is this.” his hands were quick, something developed from years of basketball, and before Gabriella could really react, Troy’s hand had slid down to rest on the curve of her butt.

Gabriella straightened up a bit as he gave a shameless squeeze to her backside, sending him a look at the grin that spread on his lips, “That better not stain.”

Troy shrugged slightly, glancing to the side, “It won’t,” he said dismissively, “it’s black.”

Gabriella quirked an eyebrow, “It’s grease.”

Black grease.”

Gabriella rolled her chocolate eyes, opening her mouth to retort only to stop when she felt Troy’s other hand slide beneath the material of her camisole. Her brow furrowed as her eyes followed his hand, “What are you…” Her question trailed off as her head snapped back up, her eyes widening while her lips emitted a gasp when she felt Troy’s fingertips cup her breast, “Oh.” She managed out, intending the word to come out more as an answer to her own question and less as a moan in response to his actions.

“And this,” Troy whispered huskily, “is third base.” Gabriella felt her eyes flutter momentarily. She could be strong when she wanted to be. Troy thought he was irresistible, but he wasn’t, and on days when she had a million other things to be doing, it was easy to deflect his advances. However, with their three children tucked into bed and nothing they were obligated to get up early for, she wasn’t feeling much up to staying strong. Especially not when she saw that unmistakable twinkle in his blue eyes. And especially not when she felt his thumb run across her erect nipple. “Hmm,” Troy mused, “no bra.”

Mustering up some strength, Gabriella parted her lips, planning on coming up with some sort of witty retort, only to, once again, feel her words fall short as Troy’s hands pulled away from their respective spots as he took a step away from her, “See?” he asked rhetorically, turning away from her to head back towards the engine, “Those are the bases.”

She didn’t pause to think, Gabriella knew better then that. She was barely aware of what she was doing until she lunged forward, grabbed Troy’s arm and forced him back against the truck. Troy released a grunt when his back made contact with the rusting metal, but his smirk told her that he was expecting this reaction, “Ouch.”

“I don’t really think those are the bases.” Gabriella said matter-of-factly as she placed a hand on either side of him, bringing her body up against his.

“Oh?”

“Yeah,” Gabriella answered, tilting her head as she brought her face inches from his, “I think you made those up.”

Troy smiled, “But you just said yourself that you didn’t know them.”

“I said it wasn’t something I did in high school,” Gabriella clarified, “I never said I didn’t know them. I do know one version, but it’s different from yours.”

His smile transformed into a smirk, “How so?”

“Well…” her eyes moved down as her hand came to rest on his shirtless chest, “first base is above the waist and below clothing…” her head moved back up as her other hand went to his hip, snaking around to his butt, “below the waist and above clothing is second…” it was Troy’s turn to gasp this time as Gabriella’s hand slipped below the waist of his shorts and boxers to enclose around his hardened length.

“Oh god…” Troy moaned throatily as his head tilted backwards, his eyes fluttering shut as the blood began rushing through his veins at a scorching rate.

“And third base,” Gabriella continued, “is without clothing.”

Troy released a shaky breath, bringing his head back forward, keeping his eyes shut, “I like yours better.”

Gabriella brought her unoccupied hand around front, running her fingernails across his chiseled abs, “Remind me again why we never had sex in your truck?”

Troy released a laugh, “I’m pretty sure you weren’t ready yet.”

Gabriella could feel him become harder and harder with each passing second, and she felt a swell of pride that she could still do this to him. She was thirty three, and while she wasn’t anywhere near old, her body had been stretched in ways she wasn’t even sure was possible and she certainly didn’t look like the twenty somethings that continuously threw themselves at him. She knew he wouldn’t cheat, but occasionally it was nice to see and feel how much he still wanted her. Really nice.

“Think I’m ready now?”

“You better be.” Gabriella barely had a moment to suck in a breath before Troy’s lips came crashing down onto hers, her hands moving up around his neck while his snaked down to her backside, gripping it firmly to bring her up to his height, Gabriella not missing a beat as her legs locked around his waist. His kisses were intense, one of the many things she loved about him, they could make her feel loved, wanted, and horny all at the same time. It was wonderful and horrible all at the same time. He could evoke all the right emotions at the wrong time with a simple kiss behind her ear, or peck on her neck. She meant what she said when she said she could be strong when she wanted to, but the problem was that his kisses made her not want to, a problem not relevant right now, given that she had no need or want to stop.

She opened her mouth, inviting his tongue in to duel with her own, not even noticing that he had pushed off of the truck and was heading around towards the passenger side, “Tell me,” Troy mumbled out, “we don’t have anywhere to go tomorrow.”

“I have some notes to prepare,” Gabriella whispered against his lips, “for a trial de novo, but besides that…”

Troy was fumbling with the handle of the truck, “Ooo…” he started, swinging the door open, “I love it when you talk dirty.”

Gabriella’s giggle filled the garage as the door squeaked open, Troy moving the couple inside, Gabriella’s back hitting the cool leather of the bench as Troy pinned her beneath him. “Oh really?” Gabriella asked with a smile, “Well, duorum in solidum dominium vel possessio esse non potest.”

“Oh god,” Troy said pulling back and moving his lips down to the side of her neck, “you are so sexy.” Gabriella released another laugh, but it was silenced quickly as Troy recaptured her lips, obviously not intent on talking much. His hands began creeping upward, moving up the hem of her shirt, the sweat beginning to form on her skin from both their activities as the summer California heat mixing with the grease to leave a trail on her tanned skin. Gabriella lifted up her torso, allowing Troy to pull the nuisance over her head, separating their lips only long enough for the shirt to be tossed to the side, Troy accidentally nailing the center of the steering wheel with his elbow, causing the horn to blare into the empty garage.

Gabriella burst out laughing, her head tilting backwards and her body shaking with giggles. Troy released a laugh into the side of her neck, “If they wake up, you’re putting them back to sleep.” Troy lifted his head out of the crook of her neck and stared down at her with amusement dancing in his eyes, “I don’t care if you have to explain to them what an erection is, you are putting them to sleep no matter what state you’re in.”

Troy lifted his eyebrows, “Then I suppose we should get on our way.”

She could always tell when they hit this point in the sex. The point where the kisses and touches are teasing and light. The point in which if they stopped, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Gabriella might be frustrated and Troy might need a cold shower, but they could stop if they needed too. However, once his kisses became less urgent and more loving and his touches became less about making her want to reach her peak and more about actually taking her to her peak that they had reached the point of no return.

Troy had settled comfortably between her legs, and her arms were back around his neck while he teased her tongue with his own, enticing her with short and loving kisses. His hands were roaming the newly exposed skin, Gabriella releasing a soft moan into Troy’s mouth as his large hands came into contact with her sensitive skin. One of his hands didn’t linger, continuing its journey lower while the other cupped her breast firmly, bringing his thumb and pointer finger to tease and rub her pebbled nipple gently.

“Mmm…” Gabriella released softly, arching her back in response to Troy’s touches, “…shit Troy.” Troy had moved back down to her neck, wanting to move further, but allowing Gabriella to continue on her task of removing his boxers and shorts that were becoming increasingly more uncomfortable with every passing minute. “I want you so bad right now.”

Once his pants were down to his knees, he pulled back and kicked them off the rest of the way, “How badly?” Troy asked, bracing himself with one of his arms while he let his other hand slip down to the shorts she was wearing, coming to rest at her core, purposely running his hand along the outside of her shorts, “How badly do you want me?”

Gabriella parted her legs even further, as if begging him to take her then, allowing him to feel her soaked center as he caressed it softly with his fingers, “Really badly,” she managed out, her chest heaving, air becoming a little more difficult to inhale, “really really badly.” Gabriella didn’t even attempt to stifle the moan that escaped her lips when she felt one of his fingers slip beneath the fabric of her panties and enter her. Her hips bucked almost instantly, not at all interested in teasing and wanting to feel him as deeply as she could. “Oh Troy…”

Troy moved his head back down to the crook of her neck, peppering it with kisses. He could feel himself inching closer and closer but he mentally attempted to slow himself down. Sometimes he cursed how quickly she could get to him, how quickly he could get caught up in the feelings his wife could evoke in him, and he’d miss out on the beautiful sight of her as she reached her own peak, grunting and panting his name. It was one of the most beautiful and wonderful things he’d ever see, the ecstasy, love, and lust all so blatantly displayed on her features. It remained exactly the same as it did the first time he ever saw it, and it never grew old. If it wasn’t for the birth of their children, he didn’t think he’d ever see anything so beautiful.

He slipped another finger into her core, causing her hips to lift even more, and Troy increased the speed in the pumping of his fingers, matching the pace of her hips. “Please…” Gabriella begged. “Oh god, please.”

Troy was teasing the swells of her breast, sucking tenderly on the skin, “Mmm?”

Gabriella’s hand, which had been gripping onto the steering wheel, reached down and gripped his hand, shoving it in deeper and causing her to moan, “More…” Troy moved his head down, taking her breast into his mouth and running his tongue along the outline of her nipple. Gabriella didn’t really think it was possible to arch her body further, but she heard her spine creak as she arched her back, causing Troy to release a stifled moan against her skin. “Please…”

Troy pulled back, and despite his obvious problem that was prodding her thigh, Gabriella could see the sweat dripping down the side of his face and feel his chest rising and falling rapidly, “Are you sure you’re ready?”

“Fuck yes.” Gabriella answered without a moment’s hesitation and Troy couldn’t help but smile at her language. Gabriella so rarely cussed that it turned him on to hear her use foul language. His hand was already in the process of yanking down her shorts and underwear, but obviously it wasn’t fast enough for Gabriella who proceeded to assist him. Her clothing was kicked onto the dashboard of the car, and Troy pulled Gabriella up to him, positing her back to rest against the driver’s door, whilst not breaking the steamy kiss they were engaged in once.

There had been a time, even after they were married, in which Troy would’ve paused at this moment and asked her if she was sure. Even after they had lost their virginity to one another and had gotten comfortable with one another’s bodies, he still asked. It wasn’t until he watched Alex be born, from water breakage to pushing a ten pound baby through a ten centimeter hole, that he quit asking. She guessed he figured pregnancy was the worst thing that could come from it, and since she had been through it once, she knew what she was getting herself into after that.

He didn’t pause, and when Gabriella felt Troy enter her, she couldn’t have been happier that he didn’t. Gabriella never ceased to be amazed at the plethora of emotions and thoughts that Troy always managed to evoke in her whenever he first slid into place. Pleasure, of course, love, obviously, but also an intense fullness. It didn’t matter how many times they did this together, every single time she was always filled with shock at how he…fit…to be blunt. It was always to the point where it felt like too much, yet it wasn’t too much, overwhelming yet perfect, as if they were made for each other. Something she believed more and more every day.

They had long since perfected their rhythm together, their hips moving in sync with one another as they shifted to find the perfect angle. Gabriella gripped the roof, lifting herself up slightly to allow Troy to slide beneath her a bit more, his hands gripping the side of the door to give himself leverage.

“How close…” Troy mumbled.

Gabriella let go of the metal roof, bringing her arms to drape around Troy’s neck, arching her back as she felt his lips reattach to her chest, “Close,” she managed out, “oh god, so close.”

Still maintaining his pace, Troy reached down, gripping her hips and guiding them faster, internally rejoicing when he heard the panting from his wife greatly increase, not necessarily needing it for his own orgasm, but wanting to make sure hers occurred when his did, and knowing that he didn’t have much further to go. “Oh fuck…” Troy mumbled, tilting his head back, any coherent thought he possessed driven out of his head by the gorgeous goddess straddling his waist.

She came first, something he was grateful for, her whole body froze, one of her hands cupping her own breast while her other hand rested on her lower stomach, and if it wasn’t for her heaving chest, she’d look like the goddess that she was, especially with her face covered in pure bliss and his name tumbling from her lips. He wasn’t sure if she was finished with her own orgasm by the time his occurred, all he knew was that fire raged through his veins, his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and with one final thrust he was pretty sure he had the best orgasm of his life.

They might have stayed frozen in that position for seconds, they might have stayed for hours, he wasn’t really sure, nor did he care. He could feel the ecstasy in the air, and it only further exhilarated him, any lull from the lovemaking that had just occurred becoming nonexistent.

“Whoa.” Gabriella finally whispered quietly, and Troy couldn’t help but be upset when she relaxed her features, allowing her body to fall backwards against the door, a blissful smile stretched across her face. “Just…whoa.”

Troy chuckled, sliding his now limp member out of her and allowing her to slide down onto the bench, “Major whoa.” Troy couldn’t help himself, leaning forward and allowing himself to press a soft kiss to her bruised lips, a kiss that she eagerly returned, causing the fire that had just left his body to begin to build once again.

“Daddy what are you doing?”

Gabriella and Troy jumped apart quickly, as though someone had shocked them, Troy’s head snapping over towards the door that led to the house, while Gabriella immediately brought her hands to her chest, turning her head to find a sleepy Hannah standing in the doorway, her blanket hanging out of one hand while the other rubbed at her tired eyes.

“Hannah,” Troy breathed out, “what are you doing awake, baby?”

Hannah’s bottom lip jutted out into a pout she had learned from her mother, “There’s a monster in my room.”

Despite the fear and frustration at being caught doing what they were doing, Troy couldn’t help but smile at his daughter, “Do you need daddy to scare them off?” Hannah nodded her head fervently.

Gabriella grabbed her shirt from the dashboard, slipping it on over her head before she sat up, staring over at Hannah, “I’ll get her.”

She went to move but Troy stopped her, grabbing his clothing from the floor and pulling it on, “Nah, I got it.” He leaned over and stole another quick kiss, “You stop by the kitchen and get some sustenance, I do not plan on that being the only amazing orgasm I have with you tonight.”

Gabriella grinned, feeling a blush creep onto her cheeks, “What makes you think you can do it again, Bolton?”

Troy quirked an eyebrow, “Is that a challenge, Bolton?”

Gabriella nodded, “You bet your ass it is.”

Troy pecked her on the cheek, “Thinking about my ass already, I knew I chose a winner.” Gabriella rolled her eyes as Troy pulled back, grabbing her shorts from the dash and tossing them over at her before rounding the car and heading towards Hannah.

Hannah was prepared to be picked up, resting on her father’s hip naturally as she gripped around his neck with her arms, “Daddy, what were you and mommy doing?”

He heard Gabriella’s snort from behind him as he advanced out of the garage, “Um…we were…” he paused, attempting to come up with a good excuse, “…playing baseball.” He smiled, “Yes, we were playing baseball.” Inside the garage, Gabriella rolled her eyes, moving out of the truck and preparing to follow the pair.

Hannah gasped, “Did you score any baskets?”

Troy chuckled at her confusion of the sports, “Runs,” Troy corrected, “and yes, sweetheart,” Troy said cheekily, “daddy scored a homerun.” 

One-Eyed, One-Horned, Flying, Purple People Eater
j&d
kirsalessi
 Okay, I'll comment on the pink (or purple, color is unimportant) elephant in the room.

Yes...I did change my LJ picture. I know, I know, it's a big change, but it's what's right for this moment in my life. I know it. I feel it.

(I seriously hope you guys are catching the sarcasm)

People are stupid. They'll do any and everything to tear someone who has what they want down. It sucks, but it's life. You wanna piss those people off? Don't talk about it. Don't let it faze you. They're the petty ones with the problems who just can't seem to grow up.

I support Vanessa Hudgens.

I hate shopping.
j&d
kirsalessi
I never really thought I'd say that and truly mean it, but I do.

So I got into a car accident. My first and only car accident that I've had in the five years I've been driving. It was bad, it sucks, my back hurts, whatever. That's not the point. So my car is totaled, and considering both of my parents work full time, I need a car. So I've been shopping. And shopping. And shopping...

It sucks. I mean, I get it, everyone wants to get as much money as they can, but do they really have to treat me like an idiot? I know a car with 180,000 miles on it with a rusting trunk isn't worth $5000, and I should get to slap someone that thinks it is.

:rollseyes:

Sorry, sometimes I just need to rant. Well, the good thing is that I have the day off of work and no car shopping with happen until around 4 today. I just finished my doctor's appointment and while I have a dentist soon, besides that, all I have to do today is write and watch my favorite Disney movie. God, I love these days.

Sunburn
j&d
kirsalessi
Title: Sunburn
Author: HPincognito247/kirsalessi
Summary: Troy gets a sunburn, Gabriella helps him. Originally a oneshot, but will now be extended to a threeshot.
Pairing: Troy/Gabriella
Rating: T
Chapter 1 - The Sunburn

Gabriella Montez was not a traveler. Despite that her mother spent a good portion of Gabriella’s youth dragging her from city to city on business, and she had visited pretty much every state in the US, Gabriella hated traveling. Growing up, she had seen the kind of stress it had put on her mother, not only having to repack the house, but also leaving behind friends and memories each time. Gabriella never wanted that for herself and decided that when the time came to pick a career and husband, she’d choose something and someone that would require her to stay in one location.

She’d pretty much failed on both fronts.

Welcome to Albuquerque, New Mexico,” Gabriella watched as the seatbelt light turned off above them, and she quickly grabbed her phone from her purse, eager to turn it on, “the time is now 11:43 in the morning, the weather is 68 degree and sunny. It is expected to be a beautiful day.” Gabriella lifted her head and watched as the flight attendant smiled politely at all of the passengers around her, none of them caring what she was saying, all of them just eager to get off of the plane. “On behalf of the captain and all of our staff, we thank you for flying with us today, and hope you enjoy your stay.”

Almost immediately, the plane erupted in chaos. All of the various business travelers from Baltimore, as well as a few stragglers they had picked up on their layover in Texas, in a hurry to get to their business meetings or conferences. None of them caring about anyone else as they rushed to get their carryons and push their way towards the front of the plane. Not that Gabriella could blame them; she was in a hurry too. Grabbing her duffle bag from the overhead compartment and pushing her way forward with the rest. But her reasoning wasn’t work. It was much better.

She didn’t come home often enough. That was one of the first thoughts that hit her as she walked through the terminal of the Albuquerque airport. She knew the Baltimore airport like the back of her hand, and she could direct anyone to anywhere they needed to go at LAX, but she didn’t even remember where the bathrooms were at the Albuquerque one. Sad, she knew, and she bet her mother would have a thing or two to say to her in the week that she would be home, but, unfortunately, her job and life just didn’t allow for frequent trips to New Mexico.

Slipping into the bathroom, Gabriella pulled her duffle bag and purse over her head, setting it down on the tiled bathroom floor as she stopped in front of the sink, gazing at her reflection in the mirror. Gabriella always disliked her appearance. Not necessarily the individual parts. Alone, she loved her chocolate colored eyes, naturally tanned skin, full lips, and long wavy hair. But together, she was just never satisfied with how her looks came together. Her friends and family thought she was crazy, with her petite frame and dangerous curves, they always claimed that she could become a model if she really wanted too. But Gabriella disagreed. Her looks, all meshed together, always made her look younger then she actually was, which was fine when she was forty, not when she was twenty six and already struggling to prove herself in her current profession.

Reaching up, Gabriella teased her curls with her fingers, trying to give her hair a bit of the volume it had lost on the five hour plane ride. Moving her fingers to her newly added bangs, she swept them to the side in an effort to rid them from her line of sight. She hoped he liked it. When she had gone to get her hair cut a few weeks back, she had considered just chopping it all off, but instead decided to get bangs. Her reaction with her Baltimore friends was good, but this would be the true test.

After reapplying some lipgloss, Gabriella made her way back out into busy terminal, her eyes scanning all of the various faces in search of the one she never got to see enough. Most likely he’d be dressed in jeans. Most likely he’d be wearing his beanie and aviators. And most likely he’d be just as anxious to see her as she was to see him following a three month separation where their only form of communication was their cell phones.

“Gabriella!”

Gabriella turned at the voice, her eyes wide and hopeful, a bright smile on her lips in anticipation of seeing…her boyfriend’s mother. Gabriella’s smile faded and her eyebrows shot up in surprise at seeing a very excited Lucille Bolton barreling towards her, “Lucy?”

Gabriella barely had a chance to register before Lucille enveloped Gabriella into her arms, hugging the petite brunette tightly, “Oh, it’s so good to see you,” she smiled at Lucille’s tight hug, “it has been way too long.”

Gabriella nodded as she pulled back, “I know, I know, and I promise I’ll come visit more often, it’s just with work…”

Lucille waved her hand, silencing Gabriella, “No excuses, young lady, if I can get visit from my very busy NBA superstar son, I can get a visit from you.”

Gabriella pursed her lips, attempting to restrain the smile that always came to her lips every time he was brought up. Troy Alexander Bolton, son to Jack and Lucille Bolton, longtime boyfriend of Gabriella Montez, and reigning starting pointguard of the Los Angeles Lakers. The dream had always been a distant one all of Troy’s life, and even when he made starting varsity as a freshman at UCLA, he held no false notions. Even across the country at Yale, Gabriella knew that. However, it didn’t take long for his distant dream to become a reality, and before anyone knew it, Troy was twenty and signing his first NBA contract, destined for greatness. Greatness he quickly achieved, and six years later, Troy was a powerhouse for the Lakers. And for the tabloids. It washard to ignore his movie star good looks.

“Even,” Lucille continued, “if you are a doctor.”

Gabriella blushed at the mention of her profession. Even if it had been over a year since she’d graduated from medical school, Gabriella still couldn’t believe that she was a doctor. Following graduation from East High, Gabriella had accepted a full ride to Yale University, and after working really hard, she managed to finish both regular college as well as medical school in six years, having graduated almost a year and a half earlier where she then moved to Baltimore, accepting an internship at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

“Speaking of Troy,” Gabriella switched subjects, looking around them, “where is he? I thought he said he’d pick me up?”

Lucille gestured to her duffle bag, “Is this all of your luggage?” Gabriella nodded, “Then let’s head to the car, I’ll tell you on the way home.”

Lucille guided Gabriella towards the exit, Gabriella watching the female Bolton wearily, “Tell me what?”

Lucille held open the door, following Gabriella through it as the pair walked out into the Albuquerque sun, the slight chill of fall passing over the two girls, “Well,” Lucille started, “there was an accident…”


“CHAD DID WHAT?”

Maria Montez jumped at the sound of her daughter’s voice ringing through the Bolton household. Jack Bolton, who was perched at the kitchen table, lowered his paper he had been reading, and watched as the front door flew open and an angry Gabriella stormed into the house.

“He said it was a prank.” Lucille weakly defended as she followed Gabriella into the house, closing the door behind her, “A joke.”

“No,” Gabriella said walking into the kitchen, “a joke is thinking that Chad will ever grow up, a joke is not switching someone’s suntan lotion with tanning cream while in Miami.” She crossed her arms over her chest, sending Lucille a look, “Especially not three days before said person needs to be the best man at the other person’s wedding.”

“I know,” Lucille said with a nod, “and trust me, Taylor is giving Chad plenty of hell for this. She all but called off the wedding when she found out.”

“Good,” Gabriella said firmly, “she should be. She should dump his ass for this.”

“Mija,” Gabriella turned her head sharply to the side, finding her mother sending her a look, “did you dump Troy whenever drew on Chad with that permanent marker he couldn’t scrub off?”

Gabriella rolled her eyes, “Mom, that’s not the same.”

“What about when he shaved Chad’s head?”

“Well no, but…”

“How about when he moved Chad’s mattress up to the roof where he woke up, fell off, and broke his arm?”

“Mom…”

“My point is, that’s what they do,” Maria pointed out, “they play idiotic pranks on each other.”

“Always have,” Lucille pointed out, “always will.”

“Especially when they’re nervous.” Jack piped up, his eyes not straying from his paper he was diligently reading, “Some people drink or relax, they see how close they can get to killing each other without actually doing it.”

Gabriella sighed, turning and trudging over towards her mother, pulling her into a tight hug, “Sorry, hi mom.”

Maria pulled back and pushed her daughter towards the exit to the kitchen, “Don’t ‘hi mom’ me, go take care of your boyfriend, I know the doctor side of you is dying to fix him,” Maria took a step back and yanked open the refrigerator, extracting a Tupperware container, “so fix him.”

Gabriella took the container as it was shoved at her, “Mom, if you had some of this, why didn’t you give it to Troy?”

Maria raised her eyebrows, “Honey, I’m not going to rub aloe all over my daughter’s boyfriend. That’s too weird for me.” Gabriella rolled her eyes, “Plus,” Maria turned and rummaged through her purse, “I have to show Jack and Lucy the cutest…” she turned back around, holding up a tiny gold onesie with ‘Lakers’ plastered in purple on the front.

Gabriella’s eyes widened but Lucille cut her off, “Aw…that’s so cute.”

Maria nodded at her friend, “And look,” she flipped it over to reveal ‘Bolton’ and the number fourteen on the back, “I didn’t even have to personalize it or anything.”

Gabriella placed one of her hands on her hip, sending the two women a glare before moving her eyes onto Jack, “Don’t look at me,” he said immediately, flipping the page of his newspaper, “I know they’re crazy.”

“We’re not crazy.” Lucille defended.

“Yeah, wanting grandchildren is not crazy.” Maria added.

Gabriella shook her head, sending the two mothers looks, “I’m not pregnant, deal with it.” Leaving no room for argument, Gabriella turned and strode out of the kitchen, making a beeline for Troy’s first floor bedroom. Gabriella knew in the back of her head that Troy most likely goaded Chad, and Troy probably deserved what he got, but the girlfriend and doctor inside of her was taking precedence inside of her and she couldn’t help but be furious with Chad.

His bedroom door was closed and Gabriella carefully and quietly turned the handle, not wanting to wake Troy. Despite that it was after noon, Lucille had told her that since the boys got home two days earlier, Troy had been pretty unsuccessful in sleeping. Lucille had also informed her that Troy had requested to be woken up to come and get her, but when she found him peacefully sleeping that morning, she had bypassed his request to allow him a couple more hours of sleep. Something he desperately needed. The room was dark, the curtains on his patio doors and windows closed, with only the light seeping in behind her lighting up the room and allowing her to locate her boyfriend.

He was asleep, lying on his back in the middle of the bed, and Gabriella was thankful that her mother hadn’t chosen to come and apply the aloe to Troy’s skin, because with the exception of the sheet covering his pelvis, Troy was naked. Glancing behind her, Gabriella stepped inside and closed the door, creeping over to the bed noiselessly. Despite that he looked like a lobster and was most likely in quite a bit of pain, Gabriella couldn’t help but smile as she sat down next to him on the mattress. It had been three long months.

“Baby…” Gabriella cooed, trying her best to ease him awake, not sure how mobile he was yet, and not wanting him to shoot up in surprise. Pulling the lid off of the container she had in her hands, she dipped two fingers into the icy concoction, lifting them up and running them along the side of his neck. Troy jerked at the movement, his eyes fluttering open, and Gabriella smiled as blue met brown. He looked disoriented, and at first Gabriella was certain he thought he was dreaming, but as soon as his head snapped to the side, his eyes searching for the time, she knew everything had come back to him.

“Shit!” Troy went to sit up, but stopped when Gabriella placed a hand on his chest, groaning at the pain that shot through him, both from her hand and the sudden movement, “Oh fuck…”

“Lie down,” Gabriella ordered in a firm voice, “Troy, you probably have second degree burns, no sudden movements, alright?”

Troy let himself collapse back onto the mattress, a whine emitting through his lips, “My mom promised me she’d wake me up to come and get you.”

Gabriella smiled at how pathetic he sounded, “She said you were sleeping peacefully. You needed your rest, you still do, don’t make me regret waking you up.”

Troy shook his head, pushing up slightly from the mattress, “No, we have seven days together, two of which are going to be full with the wedding and wedding preparations, I’ll heal later.”

Gabriella raised her eyebrows, “You’re still going to the wedding?”

“Of course I’m still going to the wedding,” Troy managed out as he worked his way up into a sitting position, Gabriella watching him wearily, “if I get angry with him, he wins. If I suddenly get hit with a coughing fit during the time when the preacher asks if there are any objections, I win.”

Gabriella rolled her eyes, “Our parents are right, you two will never grow up.” She glanced down once he was upright, doing a once over and checking for any blisters as best she could in the dark, “How badly does it hurt?”

“You got bangs.” Troy said, ignoring her question, and Gabriella couldn’t help but release a small laugh at his tone. It wasn’t surprised, it wasn’t happy or sad, it was emotionless and methodical, simply a stating of a fact, “When did you get bangs? Did you tell me you got bangs?”

Gabriella shook her head, “I got them a week ago.” She tilted her head to the side, a small smile on her lips, “Do you like them?”

Troy moved his hand up, and Gabriella internally cringed at how warm his fingertips were when they brushed her face. If they were that warm, she hated to think how hot he really was. He brushed her bangs to the side, out of her eyes, studying her face, “Why did you get them?”

The smile fell off of Gabriella’s face, “You don’t like them, do you?”

“No, no, no,” Troy said quickly, shaking his head, “you’ve just never expressed interest in wanting bangs before now.”

Gabriella shrugged, “I thought they’d make me look older.”

Troy’s brow furrowed, “Older? Why would you want to look older?”

“Look, we’ve got to get this on your skin,” Gabriella held up the cool container, “before it gets warm, now lay back,” she dug her hand into her pocket as Troy surrendered and laid back against the mattress, “and take this.” Gabriella shoved a large capsule into his hand and Troy looked down at it curiously, “It’ll help with pain, because this is going to hurt going on, but once it sinks in, it’ll feel good.”

Troy popped the pill into his mouth, easily swallowing it without water, “What is it?” he asked, pointing to the container she was stirring with her finger.

“Something my mom used to use on my when I was little. It helps with cooling, itching, and stinging, or at least it always did for me.” Gabriella explained. Troy nodded, accepting her explanation, and immediately started pushing up again, “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Gabriella said placing her hand in front of him, stopping him from sitting up, “what are you doing, lay back down.”

Troy stopped but didn’t move to sit back, sending her a look, “Well, if you won’t let me sit up, will you come here so I can kiss you? It has been three months since we’ve seen each other and you’re in doctor mode. I don’t want Gabriella the doctor, I want Gabriella my girlfriend.”

Gabriella felt a small smile work its way onto her features, “But right now you need me more as the doctor then the girlfriend.”

Troy pushed the rest of the way up, ignoring Gabriella’s attempts to stop him, and quickly closed the distance between them. Gabriella let her eyes flutter closed when she felt Troy’s warm lips on hers, and any resistance she could’ve put up was futile when she felt his tongue slip into her mouth, “I always need you as my girlfriend.” Gabriella smiled but didn’t respond, her lips becoming reoccupied with Troy’s. She guessed he would have tried something. He was naked with only a sheet covering his lower half, and he wasn’t exactly known for keeping his hands to himself whenever she was around. But Gabriella never gave him the chance. Her arms tightened around him as soon as she felt his lips detach from hers, gripping tightly to his now slackened frame. His head had fallen backwards and his mouth was cracked open, a definite sign that he was out.

“Sorry, Troy,” Gabriella mumbled as she carefully laid him back against the mattress, “this is going to hurt,” she reached up and brushed some of his chestnut colored hair out of his closed eyes, “and it’ll work better if you’re sedated.”


The house was quiet. Lucille and Jack had retired to their bedroom an hour earlier, and after checking on a still slumbering (sedated) Troy, Gabriella had made herself comfortable in front of the TV, surfing the channels in search of something to watch and coming up with nothing. Popping a kernel from the bowl of popcorn she had popped into her mouth, Gabriella continued flipping through the channels. She had made sure to get plenty of sleep the previous night, not only because she was traveling, but also because after a three month separation, she was sure that Troy had no intention to let her get much sleep, and she was certainly not complaining. However, since her boyfriend couldn’t move without an intense pain shooting through his body, it looked like sleep would be something she would be catching up on. But not right now. Right now, she was sitting in front of the TV, begging her eyes to droop while flipping through all the various infomercials.

“…Los Angeles Lakers stars Troy Bolton, Chad…”

Gabriella paused in her flipping, her eyes gluing themselves to the Hollywood news show that was playing to find her boyfriend’s face staring back at her

“…Danforth and Zeke Baylor spent a little time out in the sun this past weekend,” the female reporter went onto explain, flashing to pictures of Troy, Chad, and Zeke on the beach, some of them surfing, some of them laying out or simply swimming in the water, “it looked to be a guys day out, no signs of Chad’s fiancé, high profile attorney Taylor McKessie, whom he is to wed this weekend, nor Zeke’s wife, actress/singer Sharpay Evans-Baylor. The boys were in town for a game in which the Lakers beat the Miami Heat 112-98.”

“And Troy Bolton’s long time girlfriend,” Gabriella continued, mocking the reporter’s voice, “was in Baltimore working her ass off at a two year internship her boyfriend forced her to take because he didn’t want to hold her back.” Gabriella rolled her eyes, continuing on her pursuit for something to watch, “Or marry her.”

Gabriella jumped as a loud thump sounded through the house, her head snapping over in the direction it sounded from, her eyes widening when she realized it was Troy’s bedroom. Gabriella was up in an instant, rushing over towards his closed bedroom door and throwing it open, expecting to find someone trying to kidnap her incapacitated boyfriend and freezing when she found something completely different. Troy was on the floor, his boxers halfway up his legs, a mixture of agitation and anger on his face when he found Gabriella standing in the doorway. Maybe she should’ve given him a stronger sedative.

Still, Gabriella smiled, “Troy, you’re…”

“You drugged me!” Troy interrupted her roughly, his tone harsh with an undertone of disbelief, “You drugged me!” he repeated slowly as he pushed up from the ground, Gabriella snorting as she caught sight of how white his butt appeared in relation to the rest of his skin. He finished pulling up his boxers and began walking towards her, “This isn’t funny. What is funny?”

Troy stopped in front of her and Gabriella reached around to pull down the side of his boxers, “How white were you?”

Troy smacked away her hand and pointed his finger in her face, “You drugged me!”

Gabriella nodded, “I drugged you.”

Troy’s eyebrows shot up and his face was overtaken in surprise, as though he had some partial doubt to whether it had been her before, “I cannot believe you!” he almost yelled, his voice reaching a higher octave, “I have drug tests I have to pass every week, you know what this could do to me?”

Gabriella held up her hand, “Troy, it won’t show up on tox screens, it’s natural.”

“That’s not the point,” Troy continued quickly, “you forced something onto me without giving me the facts, you lied to me and told me it was a pain killer, you gave it to me against my will!” Troy took a step back and placed his hands on his hips, “You practically raped me with this medicine.”

Gabriella sent him a look, “Troy, I didn’t…”

“No, Gabriella, you violated me!”

Gabriella rolled her eyes, “Okay, Troy, first off, I didn’t force it on you, you were a willing participant and were glad to take it.”

“That’s because I thought it was a painkiller!” Troy yelled, and Gabriella momentarily wondered if Jack or Lucille could hear them, “What kind of girlfriend sedates her boyfriend?”

Gabriella bit her lip, “The kind that doesn’t want to see him in pain.” She glanced down, taking note of how freely he was moving, “Which you no longer seem to be in.” Troy looked down, his attention momentarily diverted from their fight to take in the fact that he didn’t hurt. He lifted up his hand and squeezed it into a fist, something he hadn’t been able to do earlier without pain. Gabriella reached out and rested her hand on his arm, caressing the skin softly, “You’re cool now,” she moved her hand up to the side of his face, “I bet you don’t even have a fever anymore.”

She almost won him over, his brain filled with the fact that he was no longer in pain and forgetting that it was Gabriella’s deception that led to it. Almost. Troy jerked away from her hand and stuck his finger back in her face, reminding Gabriella of little kid who was accusing someone of a crime, “No, okay? No! That doesn’t matter, you still drugged me!”

Gabriella groaned, “Troy, it was for your own good.”

“Oh, really?” Troy asked sarcastically, “What else did you do to me for my own good?” he asked rhetorically, “Should I check to make sure I have both of my kidneys?”

Gabriella looked up to the ceiling, a smile gracing her lips at how ridiculous he was being, “No, Troy, you’re…”

“I’m going for a swim.” Troy said defiantly, “And you better put on something fucking sexy and get your ass out there, because you have a lot of making up to do.”

Gabriella opened her mouth to retort but was cut off as Troy turned and stormed over to his ensuite bathroom and slammed the door. Gabriella pursed her lips for a moment before turning and walking over to her duffle bag, “You give a person one little sedative…”


He had stormed out into the bedroom, rummaged around the drawers as though she wasn’t even in the room, and practically ran out of the bedroom a good fifteen minutes earlier, and Gabriella was biding her time, giving him a chance to cool down in the water. Both figuratively and literally. Making a pit stop to snag one of the cupcakes Lucille had bought from the store, Gabriella pulled the Scooby Doo shaped plastic ring off of the top and licked the part covered in icing before sliding it onto her pinkie. The cupcake would serve as a good icebreaker, Troy had a soft spot for sweets, and since her mother’s brownies weren’t available, she’d settle for cupcakes.

Gabriella pushed open the door, making her way out into the backyard, tugging at the straps of her white bikini, already feeling uncomfortable, despite that it was midnight and the only person seeing her in it would be her boyfriend. Gabriella was not a swimsuit kind of girl. She liked to swim, but she hated showing off her body. At the gym, she’d wear the most unflattering one piece when she’d swim laps and only at Jack and Lucille’s house, or Troy’s house, would she ever be caught in a bikini. It wasn’t particularly revealing, a typical halter style top with a low cut bottom that tied at her hips, but for Gabriella she was pretty much naked. Something she would only ever be in front of Troy.

He was enjoying the cool of the water, evident from the content look covering his face as he floated in the pool, his entire body submerged with only his head above water. The pool was a new addition to the Bolton house. A few years ago, Troy had pulled his hamstring in some off season games, and instead of recuperating in LA where the paparazzi followed his every move, he had chosen to come home and do it. He was planning on getting his own apartment, but his mother had had the pool installed so that he had no excuse to not live with them where she could watch over him at all times. Needless to say, Gabriella had gotten a whole lot of extended visits from Troy during that time.

Reaching the pool, Gabriella began ascending the steps, catching the twitch in Troy’s smile, indicating that he knew she was there. “I brought a peace offering.” Gabriella said, reaching the end of the steps and inhaling sharply as her lower half became immersed in the cool water, “Oh, god, it’s freezing!”

“Hmm,” Troy started, still not opening his eyes, “maybe you should sedate yourself so you can’t feel it.”

Gabriella groaned, continuing to near him, “I’m sorry, okay? I know it was wrong, but I just didn’t want to have to see you in pain, especially not pain that I caused.” Gabriella stopped in front of him and held out the cupcake, “Forgive me?” Troy opened his eyes and studied the cupcake in front of his face, keeping his mouth shut, “For Chad and Taylor?” Troy moved his gaze onto her, “You know that they’d be really pissed if the maid of honor and best man were mad at each other.”

“Each other?” Troy asked, “Why would you be mad at me?”

Gabriella sent him a look, “Because you’re getting mad at me for doing something that I literally do every day, heal people.”

“No, I’m mad at you for sedating me,” Troy reached up and snatched the cupcake from her, “what’s this laced with, tranquilizers?”

Gabriella scoffed, tilting her head slightly as she stared at him, “You know what, forget it, I’m going to bed.”

Gabriella turned and began making her way back to the steps, but Troy reached out and grabbed her arm, pulling her to a stop, “No, you promised to make it up to me.”

“Yeah, well you’re acting like a jackass,” Gabriella told him, and it was easy to see the tears swimming in her eyes, “and I don’t much feel like making it up to you.”

“Gabriella, you sedated me,” Troy told her, as if she didn’t already know, “if I sedated you, I wouldn’t be walking right now and you know it.”

“I just didn’t want you to be in pain,” Gabriella told him, “is it such a bad thing that I’d choose to watch the guy I love sleep peacefully rather then writhe in pain?”

Troy sighed, he rarely could stay mad at her, “Well, you could’ve asked or warned me.”

“If I’d have asked you, you would’ve said no.” Gabriella pointed out, “And if I’d have warned you, you’d still be mad.” She pursed her lips and her face took on a very familiar puppy dog look that he knew she knew he couldn’t resist, “I’m sorry Troy, I really am.”

Troy sighed and glanced down at the cupcake in his hand, “I suppose it is a pretty nice cupcake.”

Gabriella felt a smile split onto her features and she took a step forward to hug him, but quickly retracted when she remembered his sunburn, “Oh, I probably shoul…”

“Its fine,” Troy said cutting her off, “I’m sure a hug won’t hurt.” Gabriella quickly resumed her actions and wrapped her arms around his torso, resting her head on his chest while he snaked his arms around her. “This is not really the way I pictured our reunion.”

Gabriella turned her head up to look at him, “Well, maybe if you and Chad wouldn’t provoke each other, things like this wouldn’t happen.”

Troy nodded his head, as though he was agreeing with her, “True. But if he didn’t do things like this, I couldn’t pretend to be really drunk during my best man speech.” He grinned, “Or show pictures from college.”

Gabriella rolled her eyes, “Chad’s gonna hit you.”

Troy pulled back and moved to the side of the pool, setting the cupcake on the concrete, “Actually, I’m anticipating that Taylor will be the one to hit me, Chad will just laugh.”

Troy took her hands under the water and yanked her down a little ways into the pool, Gabriella gasping as the cool water attacked the skin that had yet to be submerged, “You don’t want your cupcake?” she asked, trying to divert her mind from her shivering body.

Troy picked up on how cold she was and instantly pulled her into him, “I do, but chlorine and cupcakes don’t really mix, trust me.”

Gabriella’s brow furrowed and she sent him a curious look, “Do I really want to know?”

“Nope.”

Gabriella laughed and shook her head before lifting up her left hand to reveal the ring on her pinkie finger, “But it came with this cool ring?”

Troy inspected the ring, “It is pretty cool. Scooby Doo’s pretty much the coolest talking dog ever. Maybe even the coolest dog ever.”

“Because I sedated you,” Gabriella started, pulling the ring off of her finger, “even though I did it to heal you and it turned out better in the long run for you,” Troy rolled his eyes, “I’ll let you have this awesome ring.”

Gabriella reached for Troy’s right hand under water, beginning to pull it up, only to have Troy yank it back down, “Not that one.” Troy said quickly, Gabriella looking up at him suspiciously, “My right hand got pretty badly burned,” he held up his left hand, “here.”

Gabriella nodded and moved to slide the ring onto his pinkie, “I hope it gets better quickly, how long do you guys have to take off?”

“Coach gave me and Zeke a week off,” Troy told her, watching as Gabriella tried to push the ring past his knuckle to no avail, “Chad gets an additional week off for his Honeymoon, but we have to be back next Monday.”

Gabriella sighed, “Me too, but in a few weeks I’m going to be flying to LA, I have an interview at Cedars Sinai, and while the job doesn’t start until summer, they are starting interview super early.” She bit her lip, “I think they’re really interested in me.”

“Of course they are,” Troy said with a smile, “you graduated in six years from Yale with a medical degree, you did a two year residency at Johns Hopkins, and you have bangs that make you look older, how could they not be interested in you.”

Gabriella grinned sheepishly as she tried to hide the blush on her cheeks, “Troy…”

“So what’s the deal with these bangs,” Troy started, switching the subject, “is it something you got on impulse and are now just waiting for it to grow out? Or is it something you want to maintain? Something you’d want pictures of yourself with?”

Gabriella shrugged, “I don’t know. I don’t really have the time to maintain them, so I’ll most likely let them grow out, why?”

“I don’t know.” Troy said quickly looking down before holding up his left hand, “I don’t think it’s going to fit.” Gabriella pouted as she watched him yank it off of his finger, “But you can wear it for me.”

Gabriella smiled as he grabbed her hand to replace the ring, “I’ll protect it with my life,” Troy smirked at her mocking tone, “when the doctors tell me to take it off because I need to scrub in, I’ll refuse.”

He lifted her hands up and wrapped them around his neck once he replaced the ring on her third finger, moving his hands to rest on her lower back, “I expect nothing less.” He lifted up his finger to reveal the plastic Scooby ring, “But not with this one,” he moved his head backwards, as if pointing to her hands, “that one.”

Gabriella tilted her head, unlatching her hands to reveal her left hand, causing her eyes to nearly bug out of her head when she spotted the ring now adorning her third finger. The ring was white gold with a one and a half caret princess cut diamond sitting in the middle of the antique style diamond encrusted band. Despite that it was dark and only the pool and porch lights were fighting that darkness, the way the light was hitting it made it look gorgeous. Oh god, this was an engagement ring.

“Gabriella Montez,” Troy started off softly, “the moment I…”

“YES!” Troy stumbled backwards as Gabriella flung herself at him, her arms tightening around his neck, her legs locking around his waist, and her lips pressing firmly to his, stopping any further conversation from happening between the pair.

Troy didn’t really know what to do, his eyes still open as Gabriella continued to kiss him, “Um…” he murmured out between kisses, “I, um, had a long speech…”

“Save it for later.” Gabriella cut him off again, “Save it for when I’m mad at you, or something.”

Troy cracked a smile, “Okay, but I do really want to actually ask you.” Gabriella pursed her lips, trying to suppress her smile, and nodded approvingly, “I’d get down on one knee, but I’d drown and take you with me.”

“Understandable. It’s too corny anyways,” she laughed, “but you do love corny.” She glanced down, “Oh god, I’m not hurting you, am I?”

“Gabriella Montez,” Troy started, ignoring her question, “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me?”

Gabriella was smiling so widely she thought her face might split in half, “My head is really telling me that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to mess with you and say no, but I’m too excited to say anything but yes.” Gabriella leaned in quickly and seized his lips, “Yes.” She mumbled, “Yes, yes, yes…” she resolved into giggles as Troy deepened the kiss, parting her lips with his tongue.

“I love you.” Troy whispered between kisses.

Gabriella pulled back, licking her lips instinctively, “I love you, too.” she laughed quietly, “Who would have thought we’d go from me sedating you to you proposing to me?”

Troy smiled, “I don’t remember if I said it, but I do forgive you.” Gabriella grinned before leaning in for another kiss, “But just because I forgive you,” she paused as he continued talking, “doesn’t mean payback isn’t coming.”

Gabriella tilted her head, “What are you…” Gabriella stopped when she felt herself falling backwards, “No, Troy, no…” Troy, however, silenced her by pressing his lips to hers, swallowing her squeals as the pair fell back into the cool water. 

Vanessa Day
j&d
kirsalessi
Title: Vanessa Day
Author: HPincognito247/kirsalessi
Summary: ZV oneshot about why they might have looked so tired at the game.
Pairing: Zac/Vanessa
Rating: K+

It was early. Most likely way too early for a twenty year old girl to be out and about, and definitely way too early for said girl to be practically bouncing off of the insides of her black Audi S4 Cabriolet. The streets were relatively deserted in this part of town, as they normally were on Sundays, the celebrities that littered the region either spending their mornings with their families or sleeping off their hangovers from the night before.

Vanessa Hudgens usually slept in on Sundays, her various acting and music gigs always allowing her to have at least the morning, if not the entire day, off. She’d lounge around in her pajamas, not necessarily with any sort of direct plans until she got a call from one of her friends, her parents or sister, or boyfriend, and only then would she finally make the trip to the bathroom and proceed to get dressed for the day. It was nice. A weekly reprieve from her hectic schedule that allowed her a little time to herself as well as a day devoted to things that weren’t work related. She called it her Vanessa day. The day where she only did what Vanessa wanted, when Vanessa wanted.

Except when her mother called at eight in the morning and asked her to breakfast with her father, sister, and grandparents. And by ask, Vanessa meant demand.

Normally, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Since Vanessa had moved into her own house, Gina had been making an effort to have some sort of family thing on Sundays (breakfast, lunch, dinner, movie night, etc.), and Vanessa had half expected the phone call to come. However, after she and Zac had finally made it back to his house the previous night after their long day at The Coachella Music Festival, she had hoped it wouldn’t. Knowing if it did, she’d be moody and grumpy the whole day, and when she started her day off like that, at most, her Vanessa day would only result in being good. But it had. And not having the heart to tell her mother no, she had pulled herself out of the warmth of her boyfriend’s bed and trudged her way through the morning meal with her family.

But right now, her trudging was officially over.

Vanessa barely remembered to pull the emergency brake as she brought her car to a halting stop behind Zac’s navy Audi, throwing open the door and darting out into his driveway. She wasn’t really watching where she was going, nearly tripping on the stairs that led up to the front door as she typed away on her iPhone, bursting at the seams with excitement. She had left the door unlocked. Probably not the brightest idea in the world, but at that moment, the prospect that someone might have kidnapped her slumbering boyfriend was the furthest thought from her mind. She slid open the door and quickly slid it shut again, her feet clicking against the concrete floors as she made her way back through his house, knowing he’d be in the bedroom.

“Zac.” she didn’t bother to lower her voice, if she had to be up, he should have to be up, plus they only had two hours until they had to be at the game, “Zac.” She repeated as she came into view of his room, rolling her eyes when she found him in the exact same position that he had been in when she had left him.

When the phone call had come from her mother, she had prodded Zac and asked him if he wanted to come with her, Zac normally one for embracing free food, however, he had merely rolled over. When she had asked him again, thinking perhaps he hadn't heard the free part of the invitation, he had merely grunted in a way that Vanessa took as a no, so she had abandoned him with the thought that in the two hours she would be gone, he would move. She was wrong.

Zac was lying on his side, head buried into his pillow as his hair formed a shield over his eyes, blocking what sun it could as the bright light filtered through the windows he had yet to get curtains for. The sheet and blankets were tangled in his legs and she couldn’t help but giggle at the fact that he had managed to remove his shorts and t-shirt from the previous day, but had somehow forgotten to remove the white flip-flops on his feet.

Vanessa smiled to herself as she carefully crept over to his bed, being careful not to let her heels make too much noise on his concrete floors. Rugs, she was most definitely going to have to get him rugs if she wanted to continue with her sneakiness. Kneeling on top of the mattress, she positioned herself next to him, observing him for a moment to see if he would wake up from her movements, smiling in satisfaction when he didn’t. Her smile turned into a smirk and she lowered her head to his, placing her lips right at his ear.

“Yourmovie’smade24million!”

Her words came out jumbled together, in a high pitched tone designed to mimic a scream and scare crap out of her lump of a boyfriend. A design that caused her to giggle infectiously when it did it's job, Zac jolting in shock at the sudden disturbance. However, her laughter quickly turned into a gasp, her hands coming up to cover her mouth when she realized he was closer to the edge of the bed then she and he thought. So close, in fact, that in his half asleep state, her scream sent him rolling over the edge of the mattress and landing onto the floor with a thump.

Okay, maybe he should get rugs for more then just her sneakiness.

Vanessa bit her lip as she edged forward ever so slightly, gazing over the side to find a now wide awake Zac Efron lying on his back on the floor with his gaze directed straight up at the ceiling. “Ouch.” He mumbled, making no effort to move.

Vanessa scrunched up her nose, the force on her bottom lip increasing, “Are you okay?”

He blinked, “Ouch.”

Vanessa smiled down at him, remembering why she had woken him up in the first place, “Did you get the text message?”

Zac blinked again, “I ignored the text message. Why? Because I was sleeping.”

“But the numbers are in, Zac.” His eyes diverted from the ceiling and focused on her, “The numbers are in, the numbers are in, the numbers are in.”

Zac sat up immediately, his head looking around for his shorts from the previous day, searching for his phone, “Phone.”

“Phone!” Vanessa countered, shoving her phone into his face and Zac not at all hesitating as he took it, “'Zac’s final numbers for Friday and Saturday',” he read the text message Vanessa had received from his publicist, “'total box office totals will be up Monday afternoon'.”

Vanessa had stood up on top of the mattress and wasn’t hesitating to jump on it, “Click on the link, click on the link!”

Zac’s eyes widened as he watched the page load on Vanessa’s iPhone, “Holy shit.”

“Twenty four million!” Vanessa yelled, bouncing once for every word that spilled from her mouth.

Zac turned to her, his eyes wide with disbelief, “Oh my god.”

“Oh my god!” Vanessa echoed.

“Do you know what this means?” Zac asked her, Vanessa immediately nodding her head in response.

“I do know what this means.”

“This means…” Zac started, glancing around as his head ran through all of the thoughts he had suppressed in the past few weeks, not wanting to chance that he might jinx it, “This means…”

Vanessa threw her arms up into the air, “Matthew Perry has successfully re-launched his career.” Zac, who had started nodding his head before she completed her statement, stopped abruptly and let his features fall as Vanessa’s words filtered through his head, his blue eyes sending her a look. Vanessa lowered her arm and tilted her head, “No?”

“Va-an…” Zac drew out, bringing her phone back up and staring back down at the numbers, “No, this means I can do it by myself,” his tone was quiet, as if he was talking to himself, “this means I don’t need them,” he looked up at her, “this means we don’t need them.”

Vanessa didn’t need him to elaborate on who ‘they’ were. She knew about the pressure. Zac may be getting it first, but that didn’t mean that come August when her film opened that she wouldn’t be under the same pressure. They were being watched with a microscope, all six of them, those ‘Disney kids’, everyone asking the same question.

Could they really make it without Disney?

Zac Efron’s answer:

Hell yeah.

Vanessa smiled at her boyfriend in pride, “I always knew you didn’t need them, baby.” He was positively beaming and Vanessa couldn’t help but want to soak up every second, “I mean, look, you beat Hannah Montana…I mean…don’t get me wrong, Miley’s a sweetheart, but you beat Hannah Montana.” Vanessa let out a squeal as she started jumping up and down on the mattress, “I’m so proud of you!”

Zac, who had been looking down at the phone again, as if it had changed in the millisecond he had looked up, looked back up to his overexcited girlfriend, “I know, it’s just so…” he paused and blinked up at her, “Hey, wait a second, get down from there, you’re going to break the bed.”

It was like a sweet melody had been playing, highlighting the excitement of the moment as the pair relished in his success for his first big movie, and suddenly it cut to dead silence as those words left Zac’s mouth.

Vanessa stopped jumping, sending her boyfriend an incredulous look, “Excuse me?”

“Don’t give me that look,” Zac shot back, “I know that you heard me and I do not take back what I said. You’re the one that broke my last bed.”

Vanessa let her stony glare melt into a look of annoyance as she rolled her eyes, “Zac, that was an air mattress.” Her smile turned into a smirk and she dropped her knees to the mattress, making herself more level with him, “Plus, we broke that bed.”

He narrowed his eyes, obviously not intent on giving in, “It was your heel that punctured that mattress.”

“Yes, but it was you that was on top of me when my heel punctured the mattress.”

Zac rolled his eyes, but there was a smile toying at his lips, “Vanessa, I cannot be held responsible for your actions when I am on top of you.” Vanessa sent him a look, “Just take off the heels and everything will be fine.”

Vanessa fell back onto the mattress, bringing her leg up and resting her foot against Zac’s chest, “FYI, these are not heels, they’re wedges.” She lifted her eyebrows, “And you said my legs looked sexy in these shoes.”

Zac was already undoing the buckles on the sandal, “They do, but your legs also look sexy with flats, barefoot, in jeans, in skirts, in nothing…” Vanessa rolled her eyes as he tossed her shoe to the floor of his messy bedroom, grabbing her other foot and repeating the process, “and none of those other options wound my new mattress.”

Vanessa was smiling at him, “You’re just mad because I forced you to spend money.”

He tossed her other shoe to the side, “There was nothing wrong with that mattress!”

She sent him a look of disbelief, “Zac, it didn’t even last one round of sex.”

“Because you sabotaged it!” Zac said, pointing an accusing finger at her.

Vanessa couldn’t even believe they were having this argument, “Zac, be reasonable…”

“Ah hah!” Zac said triumphantly, “So you admit it, you did do it on purpose.”

Rolling her eyes, Vanessa looked up at the ceiling, “Yes, I admit it, I seduced you just so I could pop your air mattress and force you to actually get a real bed, happy now?”

“Yes.” Zac said shortly, “Now I’m going to take a shower because I feel dirty and used.” Vanessa let her head drop back as she shook with laughter while Zac turned and made his way towards the in suite bathroom, “Oh,” he added, turning back to face her, “and as lovely as it was to celebrate my success with you this morning, don’t think that little wake up call is going unpunished.” He pointed his pointer and middle finger at his eyes before moving them in her direction, “I’m watching you, Hudgens.”

Vanessa raised her eyebrows but Zac just turned and walked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. She paused for a second, rolling her eyes at how weird her boyfriend was only to widen them as a thought entered her head. She sprung off of his mattress and scurried over to the corner where there were a few boxes holding her things, pulling the box on top off and letting it ‘thump’ onto the concrete floor while she dug in the box beneath it.

“What are you doing?” Zac asked from within the bathroom.

“I’ve been thinking and you’re completely right about the wedge thing.” Vanessa grinned as she found what she was searching for.

“Not wedges, Vanessa, heels, all heels.”

She sat down on the floor and slid the black shoe onto her foot, “Stilettos are so much better.”

She heard the door open and she rapidly tried to buckle the thin black strap, but Zac was too quick and she squealed when she felt his arms curl around her waist and yank her up off of the ground, hoisting her over his shoulder. “Give me that shoe!”

Vanessa was kicking her feet, trying to prevent him from grabbing it, “Never!” He was finally successful in gripping the heel and Vanessa gasped as he tossed the heel across the room, “Christian Louboutin!” he started moving towards the bathroom with her still over his shoulder, “Put me down you shoe murderer!”

Zac shook his head, “No, I can’t trust you so I’m just going to have to take you in the shower with me.”

She rolled her eyes but smiled despite herself, “Zac, I’m already ready, I already took a shower!” she told him, “We don’t have long until the game,” Zac was ignoring her as he kicked the bathroom door shut behind them, “we’ll be late!” she squealed as the sound of the shower turning on drowned out any further protests. Her Vanessa day wasn’t just going to be good.

It was going to be perfect.


An Efron Christmas
j&d
kirsalessi
Title: An Efron Christmas
Author: HPincognito247/kirsalessi
Summary: Oneshot about the condom story.
Pairing: Zac/Vanessa
Rating: T

Three hours was not that long.

It was slightly longer then a Pirates of the Caribbean and just slightly shorter then a Lord of the Rings. It was the time it took, if you were having a good day, to record and perfect a hit song. Or, if you were having a bad day, the time it took for you to get completely frustrated and chuck your notebook against the wall. It was the length of an awards show with commercial breaks. Enough sleep to function about six hours on before passing out. And the time it took her and Ashley to get ready for an event.

Three hours was not that long.

And especially not now. Not when the sun was shining, the roads were relatively vacant, and the cops were noticeably absent, allowing her to go slightly above the speed limit to be able to reach her destination quicker. Not when she had been able to spend three whole days with her family without interruptions, baking cookies, doing some last minute shopping, and scheming with Stella over which presents belonged to who and what they could be. Not when she was driving to somewhere she knew there would be no chance that any photos of her would surface enjoying the holiday. And not when she had just spent three days with zero contact with Zac Efron.

No, three hours were a freaking picnic compared to that.

Vanessa Hudgens always believed that she would never need anyone outside of her family. She always believed that as long as she had her corny father, quirky mother, and loveable/annoying little sister she would be okay, she didn’t need any other friends, her mother was her best friend, and her father was the only man she could ever possibly want. But that was before she met Zac Efron.

It was his own stupid fault. His stupid floppy hair that he didn’t cut or wash enough. His stupid gorgeous face that just made her want to stare at him all day. His stupid perfect blue eyes that when coupled with a pout on his perfect lips could make her do anything. Not to mention his perfect body and magic hands that could make her…

Stupid boyfriend!

And what the hell kinda plan was this? Who, in their right mind, would suggest three days without contact? It was stupid, it was irrational, it was…

You.

Vanessa huffed inside of her black Audi S4 Cabriolet as her brain answered her own question. Okay, so she had been the one that suggested it, informing Zac that Christmas Eve, Christmas, and the day after Christmas were to be family days, and no calling, texting, or anything like that was to occur (okay…minus the tiny text they exchanged two days earlier, but it would’ve been rude to not wish one another a merry Christmas). But it wasn’t her fault! Stella kept pouting, and her mother kept giving her the stare. Resistance was futile. And it was three days! It should’ve been easy, they had spent three months apart earlier in the year.

It had started off great. Vanessa had spent Christmas Eve hanging out with her sister, making tons of cookies, going shopping, watching movies, and eagerly anticipating the next morning. But then the text came. Her phone had been abandoned in her room for presents and she hadn’t gotten to check it until much later in the day, finding a short but sweet message of, ‘Merry Christmas, babe. I love you, Z.’ She had grinned and typed a similar response before abandoning her phone again, and it was all downhill from there.

After that, everything reminded her of Zac.

That evening they had a special Christmas roast in which her mother had included carrots because her father and sister liked them, and all she could think about was how if Zac had been there he would’ve snuck the carrots off of her plate because he knew how much she disliked them. Then, that night, Stella had been struck with the sudden urge to watch Transformers and all Vanessa could think about was how much Zac loved that movie. Then, the next morning, when Vanessa, her mom, and her sister had gotten up ridiculously early to go shopping, everyone had been dressed in plaid. Everyone. Vanessa was eternally grateful that they already had plans to celebrate Christmas with his parents (the pair having already celebrated with her parents on the 23rd), because she wasn’t sure how good it would look to his parents if she just invaded their Christmas and tackled Zac.

She was nervous, however, because from the lack of contact, Vanessa really had no idea how Zac felt. He could be miserable like her or jumping for joy. She could arrive at his house and find that he was actually annoyed with her interruption of his family time rather then glad she was joining it. Or maybe it wasn’t that he was annoyed with her, maybe he was mad about the whole keeping out of contact. He hadn’t been too keen on it, but he wouldn’t dump her for it. Right?

Biting her puffy bottom lip, Vanessa suppressed her fears as she turned her car onto Zac’s street, he wouldn’t have invited her if he didn’t want her there, plus Starla loved her, so if all else failed she could be a reprieve for the only Efron female. Slowing down as she turned into the Efron driveway, Vanessa maneuvered her car carefully to position it next to the silver Alero that now belonged to Dylan, blocked in by Zac’s navy Audi parked behind it. Vanessa smiled as she caught a glimpse of a scratch on Dylan’s bumper, remembering Zac telling her how he had backed into a pole a week earlier resulting in a grounding from both of his parents once they found out he had been somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be.

Killing the engine of the car, Vanessa immediately pulled down her visor, checking her reflection in the mirror, touching up her lipgloss and wiping away a smudge of eyeliner at the corner of her eye. Her hair was down in curls and she had chosen a silky red tank top that dipped down into a V, worn over a white camisole (it was Zac’s parents after all), and paired with a pair of dark wash skinny jeans. She had completed the outfit with a white cardigan that ended just below her chest and white flats, making her look very festive for the season.

Pushing open her door she hurried around to the trunk, pushing it open and sighing in relief when she saw the tray of cookies she had made had survived the trip. She had promised Zac cookies and boys got cranky when they didn’t get their food. Looping her arm through the two bags of Christmas presents she had for his family and her overnight bag, Vanessa carefully balanced the tray on one hand while she shut her trunk and locked her car with the other. The doorbell was a difficulty once she arrived at the front door, but by some fancy maneuvering she managed to ring it with her elbow and waited patiently for someone to answer.

A lock shifted and the door swung open, a smile immediately gracing Vanessa’s features as she came face to face with her boyfriend of three years. He was dressed, not surprisingly, in jeans and a blue and white plaid button up, grinning just as widely at her as she was at him, immediately erasing any fears Vanessa had that she was interrupting anything.

“Merry Christmas!” Vanessa said brightly, Zac chuckling slightly at her excitement.

“Merry Christmas!” Zac responded, stepping out of the way and allowing Vanessa to walk inside of the house, opening her mouth preparing to ask him where he wanted the cookies only to feel her mouth otherwise occupied once Zac’s lips claimed hers. Good, he had missed her too.

Vanessa couldn’t help but smile into the kiss, a muffled giggle escaping her lips, “Zac…” Vanessa tried, but Zac didn’t seem to want to let her talk, removing the plate of cookies from her hand and setting them down on the table before Vanessa allowed her bags to drop to the wooden floor. His arms wound around her waist and hers circled his neck, allowing her to properly kiss him back, his tongue darting into her mouth as soon as she parted her lips.

“Oh,” the voice behind Zac made the two jump and pull apart, finding an unamused Dylan staring at them, “Vanessa’s been here five seconds and you’re already making out. Wonderful.”

Zac groaned and rolled his eyes, “Don’t you have someone else to annoy?”

“Nope,” Dylan said simply, “I am the little brother, it’s in the contract that I annoy you, should’ve read the fine print. Van,” Vanessa smiled and Zac shot his brother a look as Dylan pushed his way between the couple, wrapping his arm around Vanessa’s shoulders, “have I ever told you how happy I am that you’re dating my brother?”

Zac looked towards the ceiling, “Dylan…”

“I mean really,” Dylan continued, ignoring Zac, “you’re just so sweet and kind and pretty…”

“Dylan…” Zac said more firmly.

“…and none of his other girlfriends were nearly as good at video games as you are.”

“Dylan, she’s not letting you drive her car.” Zac cut in, “No way, no how, deal with it.”

“You know, Zac,” Dylan retorted, “I was talking to Vanessa, and last time I checked, you didn’t make her decisions.”

Vanessa giggled, “Dylan, you can’t drive my car,” Dylan looked at her sharply and Vanessa immediately felt guilty, “I’m sorry, you’re not covered under my insurance.”

“So?” Dylan asked rhetorically, “Zac’s not covered and you let him drive.”

“Yes,” Zac interjected, “but I’ve been driving for five years without an accident, you didn’t last five minutes. Plus…you’re grounded.”

“Actually,” Dylan started triumphantly, “the car is grounded, I’m able to go wherever as long as I have other means of transportation.”

“I know,” Vanessa spoke up, lifting her hand as if she had a question, “why don’t you ask your brother.” She gestured towards Zac.

“Because his brother wants his car in one piece,” Zac responded, “and is not an idiot.”

Dylan sent him a look, “That’s debatable.”

“Dylan,” all three looked over to find the eldest Efron, David, leaning against the arch of the walkway, “if you’re finished trying to get around your grounding by using your brother’s girlfriend, would you be so kind as to take Vanessa’s bag upstairs?”

Dylan shook his head, “I’m not done…”

Zac shoved Vanessa’s bag into Dylan’s stomach, “That wasn’t a question.” Dylan begrudgingly took the bag, before turning and walking up the stairs, muttering to himself as he went.

Vanessa smiled at Zac’s father, “Hi David,” she reached over and pulled the plate of cookies off of the table, “merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” David responded, accepting the plate, “we’re glad you could make it up, even if it’s just for a night.”

Vanessa nodded, “I’m glad to be here, I wish I could stay longer, but my mom’s got all these holiday traditions, and Stella gets angry if we don’t stick to them.”

David nodded before moving his head in the direction of the living room, “I understand,” he said, walking into the living room, Vanessa and Zac following, “Zac’s barely able to pencil us in anymore.”

“Oh ha ha,” Zac laughed sarcastically, walking over and setting the bag of presents next to the still lit Christmas tree, “I come home every chance I get, its not my fault the holiday season was extremely hectic this year. I didn’t ask for HSM3 to be released just before my birthday, nor did I expect to be traveling all over the world around the holidays.” David had disappeared into the kitchen and Zac lowered his voice so only Vanessa could hear him, “Not that I didn’t enjoy missing the chaos that is Christmas decorating.”

Vanessa pouted, “I missed putting up the tree.”

Zac smiled at her pout, taking a step closer to her, “Oh, baby…”

“Vanessa!”

Vanessa turned sharply, smiling brightly, as she saw Starla Efron coming towards her, a large smile on her face. Vanessa loved Starla. She was sweet and kind, she was warm and inviting with everyone she met, and it was just impossible to not like her. She had raised Zac and Dylan, as well as lived with David, for over twenty years, and that in and of itself was saying something. Some days Vanessa couldn’t even stand Zac, she couldn’t imagine mini-Zac and older-Zac.

“Starla,” Vanessa returned her hug just as tightly, “merry Christmas.”

Starla pulled back, “Merry Christmas, how was the drive?”

“Fine.” Vanessa answered shortly, her eyes scanning down to take in what Starla was wearing, black shimmery pants and a green v-neck sweater. Maybe Vanessa should’ve dressed up more, “I love that sweater,” Vanessa observed, “what’s the occasion?”

Starla rolled her eyes, “This function at David’s work, they’re having a lunch thing today, we completely forgot about it until two days ago, it’ll only last a couple of hours and then we’ll come back here for dinner.” She sent Vanessa an apologetic look, “I hope that’s alright?”

“Oh yeah,” Vanessa said immediately, “it’s completely fine, trust me, I understand things coming up at the last minute.”

Starla smiled, “Good, look, we’ll need to leave here in about forty five minutes, so what do you say we open presents now so Zac and Dylan don’t bother you the entire time we’re gone.”

Zac rolled his eyes, but Vanessa just smiled, “Sounds great.”

Starla nodded and turned away from the pair, towards the kitchen, “David, get the camera.” She started inching towards the steps Dylan had reappeared down, “I’ll go run and get your present real quick, Zac, Dylan, show her what you got for Christmas.”

Vanessa turned and walked over, retrieving the bag Zac had set by the tree, while Zac claimed one of the couches and Dylan flopped onto the opposite one, “I got clothes, video games, movies, and music,” Dylan announced immediately, “and anything else I got is insignificant. Zac…” Dylan paused, sending his brother a look, “…what did Santa bring you?”

Vanessa plopped down into the spot next to Zac, “You mean your parents found you something that you didn’t compulsively buy yourself?” Vanessa asked sarcastically.

Zac returned her playful glare, but Dylan interrupted him from saying anything, “Oh, he’s bought these, but his supply needed to be replenished.”

Vanessa was looking curiously at Dylan before moving her gaze over to her boyfriend, who was glaring harshly at his little brother, “Just video games and such,” his eyes move over to Vanessa, “plus the basics, socks, underwear, a few more shirts…oh,” he brightened slightly, “they got me a few things to go in my house, I’ll show you after they leave, they’re really cool.”

“And…” Dylan supplied.

“And…” Zac started, “what did you get for Christmas?”

Vanessa opened her mouth and prepared to talk, but Dylan cut her off, “Zac didn’t tell you about his best present.”

Zac sent Dylan a look, “Shut up, Dylan.”

Vanessa was looking back and forth between the two suspiciously, “What?”

Dylan smirked, “Let’s just say, Zac’s got a certain area of your lives covered for quite some time.”

“Dylan!”

Vanessa’s brow furrowed, “Why do I get the feeling I’m missing something?”

“Nothing, nothing,” Zac said quickly, “you’re missing nothing, oh look, mom’s coming.”

Vanessa looked over to see Starla descending the stairs, but wasn’t finished with her conversation with Zac. She turned to continue, only to find Zac getting up to walk over to his mother, helping her with the presents in her hands. Vanessa narrowed her eyes before turning to look at the youngest Efron, taking in the satisfied look on his face. She was most definitely missing something.


The present exchange was relatively short and sweet. Zac and Vanessa still hadn’t swapped presents, and planned to do so in private, but each of the Efrons had gotten her a present and in exchange she had gotten all of them one. For Dylan she had researched, through Zac, which game he wanted but didn’t have, made sure Starla knew she was getting it for him, and got an excited hug in response to the ‘most awesome’ gift. For Starla, Vanessa had picked out a Coach purse that was ‘just mom enough’ in Zac’s words, and thankfully she had loved it. David was, by far, the hardest to shop for. Even Zac had difficulty. In the end, after remembering what a huge baseball fan David was, Vanessa found a collection of old and new baseball cards, featuring the players of the San Francisco Giants, and luckily he had liked it, or at least pretended to to make her feel better.

The parents had left about five minutes earlier and almost immediately Dylan began complaining how bored he was, but Zac and Vanessa just drowned him out.

Vanessa turned to Zac, “So, show me what your parents got you.”

Zac smiled and grabbed her hand, leading her over towards the stairs, “Actually, I’d rather give you your gift.”

Vanessa sent him a look as he practically dragged her up the stairs, “But…I thought we agreed that this year we’d just get stuff for our houses for each other?” they reached the top of the stairs, “Wasn’t that the point of the whole shopping together? We agreed to combine birthday and Christmas…you already broke it on my birthday…”

Zac detached their hands once they arrived at his bedroom, and he went fishing off in a corner while Vanessa observed the chaos that was Zac’s room, “I only kinda broke it, and this is super small…super tiny.”

Vanessa rolled her eyes, “Did it cost a quarter?”

Zac turned around and revealed a small wrapped present in his hands, smiling widely, “If I told you yes, would you accept it?”

Vanessa narrowed her eyes at him before taking the box reluctantly, “You’re making me seem like a bad girlfriend by not getting you a gift.”

Zac watched her tear the paper, “When we get back in LA, we’ll go out to lunch or dinner, you can buy and we’ll be even.”

Vanessa sent him a look as she removed the paper, “Yeah right, you’ll slip the waiter your card before I even realize the check has come.” Vanessa raised an eyebrow when she found a jewelry box sitting in her hands, “Zachary David Alexander Efron, this better have not cost over twenty dollars.”

“Mm-hmm,” Zac said distractedly, “open it.”

Vanessa was struggling with inner demons. On the one hand she loved jewelry, especially from her boyfriend, it wasn’t her fault, it was the female weakness inside of her that loves anything sparkly. But on the other hand, they had an agreement, they each bought one another something for their house as their birthday and Christmas presents. Groaning outwardly, she cracked open the lid, not daring to glance up at the triumphant look on Zac’s face. However, once she took in the contents of the box, any resistance she previously had, faded away instantly.

Nestled into the soft velvet of the square box was a thin, gold chain with a small butterfly pendant attached to it. It wasn’t particularly flashy, there were no diamonds, but the intricate work on the tiny charm was amazing, and Vanessa thought it was positively beautiful. “Wow…” she whispered, running her fingers along the smooth gold.

“I know you said you didn’t want jewelry,” Zac said quickly, “because of how much everything is analyzed and stuff…and you don’t have to wear it all the time…just occasionally when you feel like it, but I had to get it, I saw it and I knew I just had to get it.”

Vanessa smiled as she looked up at her boyfriend, finding Zac staring at her with a mixture of hope and fear. “It’s beautiful.”

Zac broke out into a smile and reached for the necklace, “Here, let me.” Vanessa relented, turning around and lifting up her hair, allowing Zac to lift the necklace out of the box and place it around her neck, securing it into place.

Vanessa dropped her hair and reached down, running her fingers over the cool metal as she smiled up at Zac, “I love it, thank you.” Zac smiled, but didn’t respond, choosing instead to wrap his arm around her waist and pull her closer, Vanessa instinctively closing her eyes as Zac leaned into her, pressing his lips to hers and instantly warming every inch of her. It had just been three hours on top of three days, but it felt like eternity up until this point. Vanessa wrapped her arms around his neck and Zac pulled her even tighter to him, Vanessa tilting her head to the side as the kiss intensified, her mouth opening to his probing tongue.

The two froze at the sound of a gagging noise behind them, and Vanessa could almost hear the groan rumble in Zac’s throat from annoyance. “Oh, I’m sorry,” Dylan said from the doorway, “I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.”

The two pulled apart and Vanessa swore she could feel the frustration radiating off of Zac, “Don’t you have anything better to do?”

Dylan walked into Zac’s room and made a beeline for the corner where a mound of presents was haphazardly stacked, “Nope, I’m grounded, remember?”

Zac rolled his eyes and turned back to Vanessa, “You wanna go for a walk or something?”

Vanessa shrugged, “Sure, that’s fine.”

The sound of shuffling came from where Dylan was and the pair turned to see him rifling through Zac’s presents, obviously looking for something, “Where are they?”

Zac rolled his eyes, “Not in there.” Dylan stood up, glancing around the room before darting over towards his nightstand and yanking open the drawer, “Not in there either.” Zac turned back to Vanessa and nodded his head towards the door, “Let’s go.”

Dylan groaned before walking over to his dresser, “Oh come on, there’s only so many places you can hide condoms.”

Zac was trying to drag Vanessa out of the door, but she stopped and looked at the younger Efron, a smirk growing on her face, “Ooo,” Vanessa said in a taunting voice, “who’s the lucky girl?”

Dylan sent Vanessa a sarcastic look, “Oh ha ha.” He muttered before continuing on his search of Zac’s room.

Zac tried to tug Vanessa again but she ignored him, “Dylan, Zac doesn’t keep condoms here, he has no reason to, he ain’t getting lucky at his parents’ house.”

Dylan was down on the floor looking under his bed, “That’s where you’re wrong.” He pushed up from the floor, “Well, maybe not about the getting lucky thing, that’s between you and him…”

“This conversation’s completely irrelevant,” Zac cut in, “come on Van, let’s…”

“Ah ha!” Dylan said triumphantly as he rummaged inside of Zac’s closet, “Found them!” He pulled back and Vanessa sent him an odd look as he revealed a red, green, and white decorative stocking stuffed to the brim with something as well as the name ‘Zachary’ written in cursive writing at the top. “Now Zac, why would you hide your stocking in the closet?” his tone was sarcastic and everyone picked up on it.

“To throttle my brother with when he’s not looking.” Zac deadpanned, not removing his eyes from his little brother.

“Could it be because it’s filled with…” Dylan paused for dramatic effect as he inverted the contents, spilling them onto Zac’s comforter, “…condoms.”

Vanessa’s eyes widened as a multitude of condoms, all in a variety of colors, spilled onto the mattress out of the stocking that had been stuffed by his mother. She turned her head to look at Zac, “You got condoms for Christmas?” she asked exasperatedly, “Just because your parents know we’re having sex doesn’t mean you broadcast it!”

Zac was looking at the ceiling and sighed, not shocked that she had freaked out, “It’s not like I asked for them.” He rebutted, “It’s my mom’s sense of humor about the whole sex shop thing.”

“It wasn’t a sex shop!” Vanessa protested loudly, “Do you have any idea how much explaining it took to convince my dad not to kill you? And now your parents are joking about it…”

“Babe, chill,” Zac said quickly, “it’s just a joke. It’s just my parents’ way of pretending their okay and cool with me having sex while subtly telling me their too young to be grandparents.”

“Ooo,” Dylan was sifting through the various condoms, “strawberry.”

The couple ignored him, “And it’s not like my parents and your parents are talking about our sex life,” Zac pointed out, “and plus, what did your dad think we did when you spent the night at my apartment? Played board games?”

Vanessa pointed at Zac, “Hey, we did that one time.”

Dylan snickered and Zac shot him a look before refocusing on Vanessa, “It’s not a big deal,” Zac continued, “it’s just a joke, and if it makes you feel any better, I’ll throw them away, I’m sure my mom won’t care.”

Vanessa sighed, looking down, “No, I just…do you ever feel like sometimes our relationship involves way too many people?”

Zac sent Dylan a withering look, “All the fucking time.” Dylan smirked and Zac rolled his eyes, “But this really was just a joke, my mom didn’t mean anything by it.”

Vanessa nodded her head, “Yeah, I know,” she glanced at the pile of condoms on the bed, “and…I mean…I guess we don’t have to worry about them for a while.” Vanessa smiled as she turned her eyes back on her boyfriend, “And I guess it could be fun.”

Zac smirked, “Lots of fun.” He recognized her smirk and wasted no time in closing the space between them, his lips pressing firmly to hers as her arms snaked around his neck, pushing her body up against his, “Lots,” Zac mumbled between kisses, as his lips moved along her jaw and down the column of her neck, “and lots,” his hands had moved down her body, resting on her hips momentarily before moving to her backside, one of his favorite parts, “and lots…”

Vanessa was trying to turn her head to see the clock, whilst enjoying Zac's lips as they sucked on the column of her throat and ignoring the frightened look on Dylan’s face, “What time did your parents say they’d be back?”

“Ew, gross!” Dylan protested, walking away from the bed and over towards the couple, “You just said he’s not getting lucky in his parents’ house!”

Vanessa giggled slightly as Zac found the ticklish spot on her neck, “But your parents aren’t home.”

“But this is his childhood home!” Dylan protested, “You’re tainting that with sex!”

Zac finally detached his lips from Vanessa’s neck before reaching into his pocket and pulling out his keys, “Go see a movie or something.” He shoved the keys into his chest, “Scratch my car and I’ll kill you.”

“This is supposed to be family time, Zac.” Dylan protested as Zac rolled his eyes and turned back to Vanessa, claiming her lips in a steamy kiss, already beginning to move her towards the bed.

“You better go now,” Vanessa warned, once Zac freed her lips, “Zac can be a real screamer.”

Vanessa’s hand was halfway up Zac’s shirt, and he assisted her in pulling it over his head, “Oh Vanessa,” Zac mocked, his voice raspy and elevated, pretending to scream, “oh Vanessa!”

Dylan visibly flinched as he backed away as quickly as possible, yanking the door shut behind him to block the view of his brother and girlfriend, as he darted down the hallway and stairs, determined to get out as quickly as possible.

“Ooo, they come in glow in the dark too!”


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