Author's Note: At this current point in time, I'm not sure what inspired me to write this. It just sort of...happened.
My friend would like me to include the following: "Shake your bon-bon." - William Hung.
Disclaimer: I don't own this. Although, one day I hope to own the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Obviously, I am referring to the one with Zac Efron on the cover.
The small apartment was comfortably warm for the unnaturally cool Albuquerque night. He'd spent all day cleaning, something he didn't normally do. But everything had to be perfect tonight. It was of the utmost importance. Glancing around, he anxiously grabbed a pillow off the couch and began fluffing it up. Returning to the kitchen, he opened the oven, checking on their dinner.
He had to admit; he was clueless in the kitchen. He'd failed Home Economics six years ago in his senior year at high school, and he hadn't gotten any better since. His mother had come over earlier and helped him prepare. But Gabriella didn't have to know that.
Returning to the living room, he glanced at the pictures that littered the bookshelves. They'd been together for seven years already. He couldn't believe it. Seven years of absolute bliss. He raised his hand and ran his fingers over a silver frame. They were cuddled together on a hammock, the one that used to hand in his back yard before the cat ripped it, and he was gently kissing her temple. She was smiling contently with her arms wrapped around his torso. That was probably taken during the summer between their senior year at high school and their freshman year at college.
A smaller gold frame to the left displayed a picture that she had threatened, many times, to burn. He was seated on the diving board of the Evans' pool and she was straddling his lap, her arms draped around his neck, her lips planted firmly on his. They were both clad in only their bathing suits, dripping with water. Ryan had snapped that picture during the summer break between their second and third years of college. Everyone had come home for a visit.
Moving to the very end of the second bookshelf, he grinned at the large wooden frame, tucked safely in the corner. He plucked it off the shelf, looking down at it in the better light. It was a picture that her mother had taken shortly before they left for prom. She looked gorgeous and his eyes remained focused on her only, but in the picture she seemed more concerned with him. Her head was resting against his chest, gazing up at him as he beamed down at her.
He replaced the frame on the shelf, turning away from the wall. All day, he had kept busy vacuuming and dusting and cooking. And now he had nothing to preoccupy him and keep his mind off the churning sensation in his stomach. Reaching into his pocket nervously, he jumped when he heard someone outside the door. Exhaling shakily, he moved towards it as it swung open and she stepped inside.
She slammed the door shut, tossing her keys onto the door-side table. Taking off her coat, she slung it on the coat rack and ran a hand through her hair.
"Troy, I'm ho- Oh, there you are," she grinned, moving towards him. Her slightly-higher-than-knee-length skirt swirled around her legs as she clicked across the wood floor in her high heels. Her arms found his neck as his found her waist and their lips met.
"Mmm," she moaned happily against his lips. Slowly, she eased her tongue against his lips, begging for him to deepen the kiss. He grinned, squeezing her waist and opening his mouth. Moments later, she pulled away, breathing heavily.
"What was that for?" he asked breathlessly, overly aware of the small item in his pocket. She shrugged, pecking his lips again before pulling away, and bent down to pull her heels off.
"Thank God," she groaned, rubbing the ball of her foot. "I should have broken those in before I wore them to work. My feet are killing me." He chuckled at her, grabbing onto her arm to keep her from falling as she stumbled. "What do you want for dinner?" she asked after regaining her balance.
"I made dinner for us," he announced as she walked towards the kitchen. She stopped and turned around, her eyebrows raised.
"Is it toxic? Do I have to call poison control again?" she teased, backing into the kitchen. He made a face, following her inside.
"No," he retorted, "It's totally and completely edible." She giggled as she bent down, pulling open the oven door.
"It does smell delicious," she admitted, closing the door again and standing up to full height. He pulled her close, leaning back against the counter.
"And you doubted me." She rolled her eyes, gently teasing the hair at the base of his neck with her fingers. Her nails scraped his skin once, sending shivers down his spine. "It's almost done, so why don't you go put your feet up in the living room and I'll bring you your plate?" She narrowed her eyes slightly, smirking.
"Is there something you want?" she asked suspiciously, "Something involving a bedroom, maybe?"
"Me?" he gasped dramatically. "You think I'm doing this because I want sex?" he asked, placing a hand over his heart. She raised an eyebrow. "Well this time, Miss Montez, I have good intentions. Don't worry; all we're having tonight is dinner, I promise." She ran her index finger down his jawbone.
"Depending on how good the food is, I might let you have some dessert," she whispered, leaving the kitchen with a slight bounce in her step.
"Tease," he called hoarsely after her. He got only a giggle in response. Rolling his eyes as he turned around, he grabbed two plates out of the cabinet.
Minutes later, he entered the living room to find Gabriella with her feet propped up on the coffee table and her head leaning back. After placing the plates down carefully and silently, he bent over her unmoving form, pressing a small kiss to her exposed neck. She let out a small moan and let him kiss down to her collar bone before pushing him off.
"I'm hungry," she whispered quietly. He grinned down at her, handing her a plate. They often ate on the couch, and he didn't want to make tonight any different. If things were too different from their normal routine, she would start to suspect, and he wanted to surprise her completely. Sitting beside her, he offered her a glass.
"Wine?" she questioned as she carefully accepted the wine glass. "What happened to the usual 'root beer, iced tea, or water' question?" He smiled at her, taking a small sip of the red wine.
"Unusual isn't necessarily a bad thing, my dear." Her eyebrow rose at his tone, but she was grinning beneath it.
"Mmm," she nodded, sipping her own glass. He knew he was being watched carefully for the time being and didn't dare slip his hand inside his pocket again; he knew it was still there.
"So how was your day off?" she asked, picking up her fork from the table. He shrugged through a mouthful of food.
"Not bad," was his short reply. She looked around the table.
"You went through this place with a fine-tooth comb," she exclaimed, looking around at the freshly cleaned apartment. Turning back to him, her eyes were wide. "You cleaned on your day off?" He nodded and she scooted closer to him. "God, I am a lucky girl," she giggled, kissing him lightly. "What other guy would clean on his day off from work? I mean, you are fantastic." He smiled, glad that she was happy. "You cleaned and you cooked. Oh, today is a good day." But her smile had faltered slightly.
"Taylor called from Chicago," he said, reaching over to the end-table. Handing Gabriella a pad, he continued, "She wanted to tell you something important. I think she said something about Christopher Harlem getting married." Gabriella gasped.
"No way!" she exclaimed. "That freak is getting married! Oh, my God, I have to call her back later." Troy raised an eyebrow and she giggled through her sip of wine.
"Taylor works with him. He's such a weirdo, I swear. She told me all about him. He starts chanting these random words in the middle of meetings and all this other crazy stuff. She can't stand him. And he's getting married." She shook her head slightly. "It seems like everyone is, doesn't it?" He nodded.
Zeke had proposed to Sharpay almost three years ago and they were finally getting married in June.
Ryan had asked his girlfriend to marry him about a month ago; they still hadn't set a date for the wedding.
Chad had asked Taylor to become his wife on the day of their high school graduation. That was something to remember. She'd said she had to think about it, but when he gave up his dream job to follow her to Chicago, she couldn't find it in her heart to say no. They had gotten married about four months ago.
They had just about finished eating when he asked, "How was your day, other than the shoe issue?" She didn't answer at first, placing her plate down on the coffee table and finishing her glass of wine.
"We have to talk about something," she said softly. He frowned slightly, not particularly liking her tone of voice.
"What's wrong?" he asked, placing a soft hand on her knee. She placed her own hand atop his, gently patting it.
"I got a job offer. It's basically like a promotion; it's a higher position in the same company and it pays more money and it's really the type of job I was working for." Troy sat up.
"That's great," he said, grinning.
"And I really want to take the offer," she said, almost on her verge of tears. "Troy, this is a fantastic opportunity for me. This is the job I've wanted for so long." He smiled, taking her other hand in is.
"Gabriella, you don't have to convince me; if you want the job, just take it." A single tear slid down her cheek and he moved closer to her. "What's the matter, baby?"
"The job," she whimpered, "It's…it's in the New York branch of the company." He blinked. She was crying heavily by now.
"Y-you got a j-job in N-new York?" he stuttered. New York? Of all the places for her to get a job, she got one that's across the country?
She nodded. "Troy, it's a great job."
"You would be going to New York?" he asked, staring at her. She nodded again.
"I would have to live there," she whispered, wiping her tears away. "I would have to move there, to New York." He looked away from her, staring at the picture frames on the bookshelves.
"Do you really want the job?" he murmured.
"Troy, it's a fantastic job…"
"I said do you really want the job?" he repeated, turning to her again.
"Yes," she whimpered, looking down at her clasped hands as they sat on her lap. His fingers felt the outline of the box in his pocket. Taking a shaky breath, he looked down at his hands.
"Then take it," he sighed. "If you want it, if it's your dream and your future, you have to go for it." She reached out a hand and grabbed his arm.
"But what about you?" she asked softly, pulling at him. "I love you." He wiped the hot tears away from her face with his left hand.
"I love you, too, Gabriella." Her jaw was shaking. "But you said the job is your dream. You have to go for your dreams and give it your all. Go to New York; live out your dream." It hurt to tell her to leave. Her fingers brushed against his leg and she stared down at her knees.
"I can't ask you to wait for me," she whispered, "If I go, I might not come back." He felt a stab in his chest and the tears started pulling at the back of his eyes. "What about us? We've been together for so long. How can we just give that up?" His stomach twisted violently and he knew that he needed to leave. Bringing his right hand up to cup her face, he brushed against the box in his pocket.
"You're the only one who can see your future, Gabriella," he whispered quietly, "I'm just not in it." Her chest heaved at his words, the tears falling rapidly down her face. He stood quickly, and with a quick, "I'll be back later," he grabbed his coat and walked out the door.
"What the hell do you want?" a groggy voice demanded, swinging open the door. "Troy?" Troy nodded at his best friend, watching recognition cloud his eyes. "How did you…? Where…? What are you doing…? What time is it?" Troy chuckled, lightly in light of the situation.
"Taylor told me you were in town visiting your folks. Why didn't you call, man?" Chad shrugged, stepping aside and letting Troy into his hotel room. "You could have stayed with me; you didn't have to spring for a hotel room." Chad grinned.
"Would you have made my bed every morning?" Troy rolled his eyes, the twisting sensation in his stomach slowly returning. "What are you doing here, man?" he said softly. "It's kind of late." Troy shot him a look.
"What are you talking about? It's only," he glanced at his watch, "eight-thirty at night." Chad shrugged.
"You know me; I sleep all day long. And I didn't sleep at all yesterday. We had a freakin' family reunion, spur of the moment. It was insane. I was up until four thirty in the morning." Troy nodded. "But seriously, what are you doing here? Why aren't you with Gabriella?" Troy sat down in a desk chair, running his hands through his hair.
"I cannot comprehend," he said after a few minutes, "the way my life just flipped upside-down." Chad's eyebrows furrowed as he sat down on his bed. Reaching into his pocket, he grabbed the small velvet box and tossed it to Chad. The bushy-hair man opened it slowly, his eyes widening when he saw the ring inside.
"Did she say no?" he asked unsurely. Troy shook his head as he rubbed his eyes. "She said yes?" he asked, very confused. Troy shook his head again.
"I didn't even ask," he confessed, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. "I was going to ask tonight, after she got home from work. But before I got a chance, we were talking about the day and she said something about needing to talk." He broke off, shaking his head.
Moaning, he said, "She's going to New York, Chad. She's moving to New York to take a job, her dream job. It's not temporary; once she goes, she's gone." Chad watched his friend crumble. "Chad, I love her. I can't let her turn down that job. But I can't go with her either. My life, my family, my job, is here in Albuquerque. My life isn't in New York, but her future is." Chad stood, walking over to his friend, and clapped him on the back.
"It'll work out," he said quietly.
"No, Chad, it won't. We might have made it this far, but it's over. She'd going to go to New York. And I'm going to stay here. I can't go there; I just can't. It would be pointless. But how can I ask her to stay?" he yelled, slamming his fist down on the small desk. "How can I ask her to give up her dream job?" Chad sighed.
"So she said she's going? She didn't even talk to you about it?" Troy shook his head.
"No, she wanted to talk about the offer. But she wants the job so bad, man. You should have heard her talking about it. I can't make her stay." Chad shifted his weight to his other foot.
"You have to go home and talk to her," he said softly. "I can't help you here; this is between you and her." Troy sighed.
"I just can't face her," he said softly. "You know," he said softly, "I almost proposed to her. We were going to spend our lives together." He shook his head, "I thought this was going to be the beginning," he laughed at the irony. "But it's the end."
He'd stayed at Chad's hotel room for about another hour, not mentioning Gabriella once. On the way back, his cell phone had rung; she was calling him. He ignored it, turning down a different street and just driving around for another hour or so. Finally arriving back at the apartment, he opened and shut the door silently, hanging his coat on the rack. Turning the corner, he found Gabriella asleep on the couch, her face tear-stained and her work clothes wrinkled from being slept in, tissues lying around on the floor.
Guilt was gnawing at his insides, telling him to wake her up and talk it all out, but he ignored it, letting her sleep. Crouching down beside her, he brushed a strand of hair out of her face, pausing when he saw her nose twitch.
Watching her sleep only increased the churning in his stomach. He brought his finger up to brush the moist patch on her cheek, cocking his head. Letting her go wasn't going to be easy. She rolled over in her sleep. Saying goodbye was going to be impossible. She moaned slightly, stretching out her right leg. He grabbed the blanket off the back of the couch and draped it over her sleeping form. Bending down, he brushed his lips against her forehead.
"I love you," he whispered. Slowly stroking her hair, he watched her nose twitch again. "I wish I was in your future." He knew it was a corny thing to say, but it was true. He wanted to be with her more than anything. Well, almost anything. If going to New York was going to make her happy, so be it. She would have to go to New York.
Going to the bedroom, he stripped down to his boxers and climbed into bed. He was staring at the ceiling for about an hour before he realized that he hadn't gotten the ring back from Chad before he left.
Turning to his right, he looked at the light blue pillow where Gabriella was usually sleeping peacefully. His hand brushed the soft material, sighing. Groaning, he rolled away from the pillow, closing his eyes.
Author's Note: Just like Police Tape, there is a PART TWO to this story. This is NOT the end.