Disclaimer: Not mine. Never was, and never will be. Excuse me while I go and sob into my pillow.
A/N: What if Troy and Gabriella broke up after their graduation? Would fate still bring them back together? And, twenty years since they first fell in love, would history repeat itself with their children? This is what this story explores. Each chapter is named after a Beatles song, because I love them and I think their songs are completely universal, regardless of race, gender, age, even time. I hope you like it, and please tell me what you think! All comments are appreciated.
NB: bebita is Spanish for my little baby girl.
Now on to…
I Feel Fine
She could feel the cool leather of her wallet, the rutted cylinder of her lipstick. She even discovered a broken pen, the end half-chewed, when the tip stabbed her in her palm. But try as she might, Gabriella could not find her keys. She groaned, shaking her bag in frustration. She could hear a jingle. They were definitely in there. Shoving the DVD precariously underneath her arm, she attempted the search once more. This time she was successful, and as she brought the keys up to the light, she smiled triumphantly.
As she opened up the door, she could hear the sound of Anabela's voice, drifting down the hallway.
'So, that's one number eighteen, two number twenties, and one number thirty-five. Yeah, that'd be lovely, George. Oh, you know we love you. Okay.' Anabela turned around at the sound of Gabriella entering the room, the phone still clutched at her ear. Gabriella held up the DVD proudly, and Anabela grinned. 'Thanks George! See you later.'
'Chatting up George now, are you?' Gabriella teased, giving Anabela a quick peck on the cheek as she made her way to the kitchen sink, pouring herself a glass of water.
'Hey, I got us a free serve of rice. I don't think you should be complaining.' Anabela held out her hand expectantly. 'So, now that the ritual Thai food has been ordered, what did you get us to watch?'
Gabriella laughed. 'Before you say anything, Ryan almost died when I told him you had never seen this movie. He made me promise I would borrow it for our next Friday night extravaganza. Okay? So no punishment for me.'
Anabela just laughed. 'My Fair Lady? Hey, I'm not complaining. Better than when he suggested Dirty Dancing.'
'Be careful what you say about that film – Ryan would ignore all the love he has in his heart for you if you ever told him that face to face!'
Anabela shrugged. 'I think that boy needs to find another guy to drool over. I just don't get what the Patrick Swayze attraction.'
Gabriella sighed. 'Trust me, I've been trying to, you know, push him along that path. God knows there are enough gorgeous men in his occupation. But he just changes the subject whenever I bring it up. Back on to me, and my love life.'
Anabela giggled. 'What's there to talk about?'
Gabriella glared at her. 'Hey, that's not nice.'
'It's the truth. You haven't been out for a really long time. Just because the last guy you went out with was a disaster…'
'He was more than a disaster. The entire date was a catastrophe. He spilled noodles all over my silk shirt and didn't even apologise! And he ate with his mouth open.'
Anabela sighed. 'So, there was one bad guy. Not all guys out there are horrible pricks. You should get out there and find someone new. You're gorgeous, and still young!'
'I'm almost 38.'
'Oh, come on. You'll be 38 in six months. Until then, you're a hot, sexy 37-year-old, who I just know could get any man she wanted to!'
Gabriella blushed. 'This is not a pep talk I want to be having with you. And besides, I am quite fine with being single for now. Why don't we follow Ryan's example, and shift the focus to you? How's your love life going?'
Anabela shrugged, playing with the corners of the dishcloth, a small smile tugging the sides of her mouth up. 'Ethan's great. He brought me a rose today, for no reason other than he felt like it. He's just so lovely. Unlike any other guy I know. I mean, Luke's lovely and very sweet, but...'
'He's no Ethan?' Gabriella finished.
'Exactly. And besides, he's completely smitten with Rebekkah.' Anabela smiled. 'But even if he was available, the only man I want is Ethan!'
'You sound like a love-struck teenager, bebita.'
'Perhaps because I am a love-struck teenager, Mom?'
Gabriella only laughed at the look on her daughter's face. 'How about we get this DVD ready, huh? The food will be here in a minute.'
'We're here!' Troy yelled, his voice hardly louder than the noise bursting from the other end of the house, a combination of football commentary, men's laughter, children's screams, and women gossiping.
Charlie pushed through the door next to him, an impatient look on his face. 'Come on, I think we've already missed the first few minutes.'
'I wasn't the one taking forever in the shower!'
'I wasn't the one that insisted that we had time "for just one more game"!'
Troy frowned, throwing his keys in the big bowl of keys, broken pens, paperclips and empty lolly wrappers by the front door. 'Okay, you win this round. But don't act like you didn't want to play!'
Charlie just rolled his eyes.
The two stuck their heads through the kitchen door, where Taylor and Rachel were sitting, laughing uproariously at something.
'Oh, hey, Troy, Charlie,' Taylor said, wiping her eyes and giving the two a huge grin. 'I think the game's only just started. They're waiting for you.'
'Thanks, Tay!' Troy and Charlie said in unison, elbowing each other as they made their way down the hall to the lounge, where six heads were already seated around a giant plasma screen, where the kickoff was just taking place.
A chorus of, 'Hey, guys', was heard, although all faces were turned to the screen in excited expectation.
'I hate being late,' Charlie grumbled as he took a place on the floor. 'No couch space is ever left.'
'I'd like to prove you wrong!' Troy announced, as he collapsed in the middle of the couch, half-sitting on Chad's knee and accidentally placing his elbow in Zeke's neck. Chad's youngest, the eight-year-old Jesse, realised something had to give and, with a world-weary sigh that made Charlie and Jake share a grin, slumped off the couch to the ground. Jake pulled his brother beside him, ruffling his hair. The three adults shifted themselves so they were placed more comfortably, Chad wordlessly handing Troy a beer as he did so, and resumed watching the game, yelling out insults and excited cheers at particular times.
As the half-time whistle blew, the guys picked themselves up, and made their way into the kitchen, where Taylor and Rachel were now surrounded by enormous plates of food.
'You're brilliant, you know that?' Chad told his wife, giving her a kiss. Jordan, the middle Danforth, groaned and mimed being sick.
'Keep telling me that, gorgeous,' Taylor said, watching in amusement as, at the hands of eight hungry males, the food literally disappeared before her eyes. There were murmurs of thanks and noises of pleasure as the salad, potatoes and chicken skewers were devoured, all the while talking about the game and who was expected to win. Within minutes the food had disappeared, and Zeke brought out a number of large containers filled with sweets from his pastry shop. The entire group, including the two women, tramped back into the lounge, now full and ready for the next half.
The team they had been cheering for ended up losing, much to the group's disappointment, and Chad muted the TV in disgust.
'I can't talk about football anymore. It's too depressing.'
Troy groaned and stretched his arms out over the back of the chair. 'I think I know what time it is now, then.'
Chad grinned. 'Why, yes, I think this time does call for a little bit of Bolton grilling. Tell us all that has been going on in the Boltons' lives this past week.'
'Chad, we see you almost every day. We live two houses apart, for God's sake.'
Chad ignored Troy. 'I'll start with the little Bolton.' Charlie, who had been laughing with Jake, the eldest Danforth, groaned at this.
'Oh, leave me alone, Chad.'
But Chad was having none of it. 'Charlie, you've been working pretty much all summer. We hardly ever see you!'
'Chad, I work at Zeke's pastry shop. You come in there every day to buy dessert. I see you all the time. Honestly, you can ask me questions all night, but there is really nothing to know!'
'I'd like to contradict you there, Mr Bolton. What is this I hear about a certain cheerleader coming to the pastry shop every day?'
Charlie groaned as the group laughed and made kissing noises.
'Is she hot?' Jordan asked unashamedly.
Taylor glared at her son but smiled at Charlie. 'What's she like?'
Charlie looked heaven-wards. 'God, guys. Her name's Danielle, okay?'
'You mean Danielle Roberts?' Connor asked. When Charlie nodded, both Connor and Jake made faces, while their parents looked at each other, confused.
'This is a bad thing?' Rachel confirmed.
Connor looked at his mom. 'That is the worst thing.'
'She's the head cheerleader. The evil head cheerleader. She's had her eye on Bolton here for a good couple of months, at least,' Jake explained.
Charlie shrugged. 'I maintain that she's just coming into the shop for dessert.'
'Yeah right, dude. Only if that dessert comes with you attached.' Jake and Connor laughed, giving each other a high five.
'I don't like her. She's only concerned with trivial things. Her nails. Her shoes. Her clothes. She treats her friends like dirt and has attempted to sleep with every guy in the year. This is one girl I will never willingly get involved with.'
Troy smiled sympathetically at his son. An image flashed across his eyes, of one very dramatic blonde sashaying across a stage, grinning widely at him as he gripped his microphone awkwardly; they had been practising for some talent show at her country club. Troy shook his head and smiled, very happy that his high school years were over.
'Okay, I think that's enough grilling of my son for now. We'd better get going, anyway. Basketball practise tomorrow morning and all.'
Charlie threw Troy and grateful smile, but Chad pulled Troy back down when he attempted to stand up. 'Not so fast, Bolton. What about you? How's your love life right now?'
Troy shrugged. 'I'm going to repeat what Charlie said earlier: there's nothing to know.'
Zeke sighed. 'Come on, Troy, you have to get out there! You're still young, and in good shape.'
'Zeke, I'm 38. And besides, I really don't feel up to a relationship right now.'
Chad rolled his eyes. 'You just don't think you're ready for a relationship. Trust me, you are. Why doesn't Taylor set you up with one of her friends?'
Taylor shook her head. 'The last time I tried to do that, honey, Troy ran out of the restaurant after barely ten minutes.'
Troy shook his head. 'It was a disaster. She kept going on about her ex, and then started to bawl her eyes out when I tried to change the subject.'
Chad was determined. 'Taylor can try harder to find someone you'd like.'
Taylor scoffed, but Troy was already shaking his head. 'Really, guys, I'm fine. Both Charlie and I are fine. We don't need you guys to set either of us up. We can manage things just fine.'
'Doesn't sound like you're fine to me. People who are fine don't repeat that they are fine three times in the space of a minute, Troy-boy,' Chad teased.
Troy rolled his eyes. 'Okay, Charlie, we're leaving. Thanks for the lovely dinner, Tay, and we'll see you guys over the weekend, yeah?'
Before he left, Troy made sure he hit Chad upside the head.
'Oi, what was that for?'
Taylor laughed. 'Oh, honey.'
'I'm coming, Mama.'
'Here, to Albuquerque?'
'Yes.' Suddenly Gabriella's mind was absolutely clear. 'Anabela and I will pack up tonight and we'll be most definitely there, in Albuquerque, by Tuesday. I need to be with you, Mama, I can't leave you alone.'