The Holidays Can Change Everything

by: LunarEclipse360

Disclaimer: I don't own HSM if I did then HSM 2 would already be out on dvd

A/N: here it is everyone, my Christmas story. Every chapter is every day of the month of December, meaning they're going to be pretty long. This chapter was seven pages to be exact. Enjoy

Home For Christmas

December 1; 24 more days until Christmas

It had been three years since Troy Bolton had been home for Christmas. He hadn't seen his family or any of his friends since he left for college, with the exception of his best friend Chad Danforth. He always told them he was busy but the truth was...he was afraid to go back, to face the one person who had stolen his heart and he could never have. But this year Chad convinced Troy to accompany him to the Evans winter home on Long Island in New York.

Sharpay had invited all their friends and their friends' family to spend Christmas with her and her family. Of course everyone agreed but no one knew if Troy was going to attend. Chad had broken the ice when he informed his parents that Troy was, indeed, coming with. Troy had been hesitant when Chad asked, knowing who he would see once he reunited with his friends. Chad reassured him time and time again that everything would be okay.

"With all the things Sharpay has planned out, there's no way you two will be alone together."

"You sure?"

"Of course. Don't you trust me?" Troy nodded but his mind was still doubtful. He really didn't want to take the risk but he hadn't been with his parents for Christmas since his senior year in high school. He silently nodded and Chad cheered.

That had been a week ago. It was now December 1st and the two boys were on their way to New York from Los Angeles. It was a long flight, giving Troy some time to think about what he was getting himself into.

Six hours and fifteen minutes later, they landed in JFK airport in New York, tired of sitting down. They made their way to baggage claim where they spotted a few familiar faces. A bubbly blonde squealed before running towards them.

"I can't believe you got him to come." she said as she wrapped her arms around Chad.

"Well hello to you too Sharpay." Chad said and she playfully slapped his arm.

"Why didn't you tell me this in advance?"

"Cause I thought it would be a great surprise." he said with a smirk on his face. She shook her head before turning to face Troy.

"And you Mr. Bolton, where have you been all this time?"

"Busy."

"That's total bull Troy. We all know why you don't come around anymore."

"Then why did you ask?"

"To see if you'd actually tell the truth." Troy rolled his eyes and looked over to baggage claim.

"We better get over there. The bags are out." he said to Chad and they walked over to where other people stood waiting for their bags. After gathering their bags, Chad and Troy found that Sharpay was no longer the only familiar face around.

Chad smiled and went to greet his other friends but Troy chose to stay behind, already seeing the one person he didn't want to see. His breath hitched in his throat as her eyes connected with his. She smiled softly and he couldn't help but smile back. She walked over to him and he felt his heart speed up at every step she took.

"Long time no see, huh Troy?" he nodded before finding his voice.

"Yeah."

"Guys let's go. We got a long drive." yelled Chad, breaking the tension around the two.

"We're coming." Troy yelled and turned back to the girl in front of him. "We should go." she nodded and he walked ahead of her.

"Troy." he stopped and turned back to her. "It's great to see you again." he smiled and nodded.

"Happy to see you too, Gabriella." she smiled and ran to catch up with the others. He ran after her and soon they were with everyone else, making their way out of the airport and to the Evans' winter home.

"So why is this your winter home when it's near a beach?" Jason asked as the group sat in the back of the limousine that Sharpay and Ryan's parents had sent for them.

"Because I only spend my winters here and my summers in Lava Springs. I prefer being here for Christmas because it actually snows here."

"Though it has been snowing randomly." Ryan added as his long term girlfriend, Destiny, of two years snuggled into his chest.

"True. But I still like it here."

Troy was half-listening to the conversation going on. His mind was more out of the window instead of in the car. He knew he should just act like everything was fine but he knew nothing was fine, not when he was this close to Gabriella. Speaking of Gabriella, she was currently watching Troy through worried eyes. He hadn't spoken the entire time. The second he stepped into the car, he immediately turned his attention to the outside world instead of with the rest of them. She was concerned about him, not fully understanding why he was acting the way he was.

"Troy." she said loud enough for him to hear but not to attract attention from their friends. He snapped out of his trance and turned to her. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah." he said nodding. "I'm fine." he smiled but his smile did not reach his eyes. Gabriella could see it clearly but chose to just ignore it. She didn't want to make him talk about something he might not want to talk about. She smiled sadly and nodded an 'okay' before letting him turn his attention back onto the passing trees. Gabriella turned back to the conversation that was still going on but her attention was still on Troy, her eyes glancing at him at every passing second.

Two hours later, the party finally reached the beach house that belonged to the Evans family. The chaffer hopped out of the front seat and went around to open the door. The first one out was Troy and he immediately made his way to the trunk to get his things. He got his stuff out and the second he turned around to move out of the way, he found himself staring into Gabriella's brown eyes.

"S-Sorry." he mumbled and moved around her. She watched him walk away, a frown setting itself upon her lips. She grabbed her bags and walked over towards where Troy stood silently. She stood beside him, mirroring his silence and glancing at him every few seconds.

Minutes later the group of ten friends walked into the cottage-type house. While everyone stopped to admire the lovely interior of the house, Sharpay and Ryan walked to the front of the group and turned towards them.

"Welcome to the Evans winter home." Sharpay said excitedly.

"It's beautiful Shar." Kelsi said.

"I know. Follow me everyone." she said and led her friends up a flight of winding stairs. When they reached the top, she stopped and turned towards them. "Down this way..." she said pointing to the left side of the long hallway "is our rooms, girls. There's two bedrooms and two bathrooms. On this side, is the boys' rooms." she said pointing to the right. "It's the same as the girls', two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The bedrooms are connected by a door so you can go in and out of each other's rooms without actually leaving your room."

"Why can't we just sleep in the same rooms as our girlfriends?" Jason asked.

"Because my mom does want any 'funny business' going around."

"But we're twenty one. We should be aloud to do whatever we want." Ryan said.

"Unless you want mom coming over to make sure we're all in different rooms I suggest you keep that to yourself." Ryan nodded and everyone didn't say anything more. "Okay dinner is at eight so until then...what do you guys want to do?"

"Maybe we should unpack first Shar." Zeke said and Sharpay nodded. Everyone went off to their respective sides of the hallway.

Troy went into the first room with Chad and Jason and put his stuff down on the first bed he got his hands on. He let out a sigh and began unpacking.

"Dude you okay?" Chad asked.

"Yeah I'm fine it's just...been a long ride."

"Yeah and I'm beat."

"Same here." Jason said as he went face first onto his bed. "I hope whatever we do doesn't involve leaving this house."

"Agreed." the other two boys said just as Kelsi walked into the room.

"We're going downstairs to play a game, you guys coming."

"What game?"

"Guitar Hero"

"Alright." Chad said and bounced out the door followed by Troy, Jason and Kelsi. By the time they got downstairs to the game room, everyone had already taken a seat. Troy made sure to stay away from Gabriella so he took a seat beside Ryan and Destiny.

"Ryan you know mom hates it when you put your feet on the furniture." Sharpay said as she stared at her twin with his feet on the coffee table.

"But she's not here, now is she Shar?" Sharpay rolled her eyes and walked over to the Playstation 3 system.

"Speaking of parents, when is ours getting here?" Taylor asked.

"They're actually already here. All the parents are in the next house that's like a mile from here."

"So what do you own this whole beach?" Gabriella asked.

"No just six miles of it." everyone looked at each other than back to Sharpay. "So are we gonna play this game or what?" she asked and put the game into the system.

As everyone played the game, Troy sat back watching them. He knew he should enjoy himself but it was hard to do when the object of his despair sat only a few inches away. His eyes glanced over towards Gabriella and his eyes scanned over her smiling face. Her eyes sensed his and she looked at him. She smiled and he smiled slightly before turning back to the rest of his friends.

Dinner rolled around and everyone sat at the large table in the dining room. No one expected what was to come next.

"Who's hungry?" Sharpay asked as she walked out of the kitchen.

"Shar...you cook?" Kelsi asked.

"Of course. Just because I have maids and butlers back home doesn't mean I don't know how to cook. That's probably the only reason why I come back here every year, I actually get to cook for myself. Mom and dad don't allow maids and stuff here. They say it helps when you're out on your own."

"Okay that answered the 'you can cook' question. How about the 'can you cook' question?" Chad asked.

"Kind of but I had hours of help back home thanks to Zeke." she smiled at her boyfriend and he sent her a reflected smile. "So let's eat." she said and set the food on the table. She went in and out of the kitchen, setting food on the dining room table.

Everyone dug in and conversation struck up around the room. Gabriella looked over at Troy who was in deep conversation with Jason. She smiled slightly at seeing him interacting with everyone but the smile slowly slipped off of her face. She couldn't deny the pain in her heart that had been there since high school. She loved Troy, she knew she did but she didn't know if he loved her back. His reaction to her earlier gave her a sense that he didn't want to be around her.

"Gabi." she snapped out of her thoughts and looked up at Taylor who had been staring at her. "You okay?"

"Yeah I'm fine."

"You sure?"

"Yeah." Taylor gave Gabriella a look that said 'I-don't-believe-you' and Gabriella sighed. "It's just...ever since we got here, I feel like Troy's been ignoring me."

"He's not ignoring you. I saw him smile at you when we were in the game room."

"But that's all he did. He hasn't said a word to me since I bumped into him when we were getting our stuff out of the limo. He's been nothing but quiet to me."

"Maybe he's just going through something." Gabriella sighed and turned her eyes to Troy, who was now sitting quietly eating his food.

"I just wish he would open up to me again...like he did when we were back in high school."

"You love him, don't you?" she turned towards Taylor and blushed slightly.

"It's that obvious isn't it?" Taylor smiled and nodded.

"Yeah."

"I do...I love him more than anything in this world but...I don't think he feels the same."

"Then why not find out?"

"Because I'd rather go on not knowing than be rejected." Gabriella went to eating her food and Taylor watched with a sad face. She glanced over at Troy and knew she had to talk to him before Gabriella went crazy.

After dinner, everyone went into the living room and sat around the tv, watching one of the many Christmas shows. Troy decided not to be involved in the much needed friend moment so he went up to his room. Taylor followed up behind him and stopped him in front of his door.

"Hey Tay. What's up?"

"I need to talk to you."

"About what?"

"About Gabriella...she thinks you're avoiding her." Troy's eyes widened before lowering to the ground. What she said was true. Troy was avoiding Gabriella. He couldn't stand being around her and not being able to hold her like he wanted to.

"I'm not avoiding her." he lied. "I just have a lot on my mind."

"So how about you spend your time with Gabriella tomorrow when we go out?"

"Tay..."

"Hey. You said you're not avoiding her."

"I'm not I just..."

"Then spend time with her tomorrow." he sighed and Taylor gave him a sad smile. "She's really missed you over these three years. It was hard for her not to see her support system." Troy smiled softly and looked at Taylor.

"Was I really her support system back in high school?"

"Of course you were. She couldn't do anything without consulting you first. When her father died, you were the first one she ran to."

"I was?"

"Yeah. I was second but I really didn't mind. You two were close back then, closer than me and her. When you never came home for those three years, she was a wreck. When I told her that you were coming, she was so ecstatic and couldn't wait to get here."

"I didn't know I was that important to her."

"You were and still are. Please spend time with her tomorrow. I miss having the old Gabi around and she's only the old Gabi when you're with her." Troy smiled and nodded. "Thanks." she smiled and went back down the stairs. Troy's smile grew a bit and he went into his room.