[So, this is my first fanfic in the HSM-verse. Please be kind. Rated for themes, and who knows what else. R&R, I guess? (:
Disclaimer; I own nothing.
She rubbed her eyes tiredly and flopped back down on her bed. She stared at the ceiling and did everything she could to not think about tomorrow. Her first day at East High. She knew she was supposed to be excited and all that - her mother kept insisting it was going to be a "great new opportunity." She even promised not to move again until she graduated, obviously having no clue as to the effect this would have on her daughter. It wasn't that she liked moving, she just...liked having a fresh start all the time. No one asked lots of questions, no one knew too much about her, and no one felt bad for her.
She admitted to herself that she was bad at making friends. First, she didn't really have anything to really go on. She had never had any real friends before. Everyone always had so many questions for her, and she never felt comfortable enough to tell people answers. So, instead of getting to know them better so that she would feel comfortable, she just isolated herself in every school, never making any friends, and never having anyone to really talk to.
She heaved a sigh and got out of bed and made her way to her bathroom. So much for not thinking about it, she though wistfully. It was her junior year. The supposed "most important year of her high school career." All that college stuff was coming up... the mere subject made her nauseous. As she opened up her medicine cabinet and took out her daily pills, her mind strayed to the future. Would she even be able to go to college? She couldn't even handle summer camp last year. She had taken the pills out her first night and could barely sleep due to the whispers around her. The girls there actually thought she was a drug addict, with all the pills. They questioned and pestered her so much about it, and she never gave a decisive answer, that soon enough the entire camp was under the impression that she was heavily into drugs. She forced her mom to come get her not even 2 weeks into the 4 week long program. She tried to tell herself that if she lived with someone long enough, then she'd feel more comfortable about herself. She could have a real friend, someone who she could confide in, someone she could tell all about herself. But then the memories of summer camp came rushing back, and she realized that as much as she wished it weren't so, people were judgmental. People make generalizations the second they meet someone. Story of my life, she thought bitterly.
She swallowed her pills and turned the lights out. She laid down on her bed, turned on soft music, and tried to tell herself that maybe tomorrow would be different. She knew she was lying to herself, and tried to force the unbidden tears to leave. She heard the door creak open and she looked up. Her mother.
"Sweetie, you're crying." She stated, in case her daughter had missed it.
"Can't help it, mom." She responded in a monotone.
"You nervous about tomorrow?" Her mom inched more into the room, clearly looking for a bonding chat.
"No, I just can't help the fact that I'm crying. That's all it is." She replied more forcefully than normal. Her mother knew exactly why her daughter was crying, and she chose to disregard it, pretend it wasn't there, pretend nothing was wrong. She realized that her mother had been talking to her the entire time as she lay there, zoned out. She sighed, loud enough to be noticed by her mom.
"Okay, well I'll just leave you to be then. I'll be gone for work before you leave for school, so...I hope you have a good day tomorrow. Feel free to call me when you're home..." Her voice trailed off as Maria Montez left the room.
With renewed belief that tomorrow was going to be just as bad as she expected, Gabriella Montez burrowed into her comforters, and let the tears come.
When she woke up the next morning, no new sense of excitement or anticipation accompanied the new morning. It never did. Her mother always expected Gabriella to wake up and have all the previous emotions wiped away. Her annoying catch phrase was currently on a post-it note hanging on the fridge. "Every day's a brand new slate!" Gabriella sighed, crumpled up the note and let it fall to the ground, not caring enough to put in the trash can. She grabbed a can of juice from the fridge and made her way back upstairs to get ready for her first day at East High. For some unknown reason, Gabriella always put effort into getting ready. Not enough to look like she was trying too hard, but she figured that kids would say enough about her simply being the new student, she didn't need to bring anything else into the equation, like being the "weird girl that doesn't wear makeup," or "the weird girl who looks like she's ready to go to the prom all the time." She's seen it happen too many times. She liked to think that she's perfected the first day of school outfit. Jeans, a camisole, and a light button up sweater always did the job to help her blend in.
Finished getting ready, Gabriella took a deep breath, grabbed her backpack, and took a step outside of her house. The blinding sunlight almost caused her to step back in, blinded. Albuquerque was nice enough, she had decided. It was better than some cities she had lived in before, and it was suburban enough to still have neighborhoods, but not so suburban that you had to travel over an hour to find a decent mall. But, she was beginning to rethink her decision on Albuquerque. It was only 7 a.m. on a September morning, and the temperature was climbing and it seemed as if the sun was almost in the middle of the sky. Shielding her eyes, Gabriella locked her door and set off to East High.
She stood on the sidewalk, staring up at the behemoth of a school. It was larger than a few of the previous ones she had attended, and looked more than intimidating. She always felt awkward on the first day of school at a new place. Everywhere she looked there were old friends embracing and greeting each other, even though they had probably seen each other all summer. Despite Gabriella moving to Albuquerque mid-July, and her mother's pleas for her to get out and meet some kids in the neighborhood, Gabriella had chose not to. She was quite convinced that there was nothing more awkward than introducing herself to people that were only going to be her next door neighbors for a few months, if she had anything to do with it. Besides, it wasn't as if it was only at school that she had a hard time making friends. It was everywhere, and it never got any easier.
She shook her head slightly, and started to make her way up to the school.
She eventually made her way to the school's main office. She made her way up to the front desk, and after a moment, the secretary gave her a questioning look.
"Hi, I'm Gabriella Montez, it's my first day here." The secretary cocked an eyebrow at her. "Oh, right, I'm sorry, it's everybody's first day, except well, I'm new and..." she trailed off, embarrassed.
"Montez, you said?" The secretary asked, as she shuffled through the papers in front of her, never looking up.
"Y-yes. I was just, um, they told me when I registered to come here on the first day for my schedule, and-" She was cut off by a piece of paper being slammed down in front of her. She glanced at it, and sure enough it was her schedule. She looked up to thank the secretary, but she was already across the room, filing papers.
"Pleasant." Gabriella muttered as she looked over her schedule. She heard a laugh from behind her, and she whirled around. A pretty African American girl was looking over her shoulder as she stapled a flier to a bulletin board.
"She's always like that, you should be warned. Especially since the school board demanded that she only take 10 cigarette breaks per day." She said with a kind smile.
Gabriella smiled at the girl's pleasantries. As usual, her witty remarks and, responses in general, were at a loss to her. She went to walk out the door when a hand caught her arm.
"I'm Taylor, by the way." The bulletin board girl said with a grin. "And that lovely woman you just had to deal with is Ms. Lanthier."
"I'm Gabriella." She introduced herself.
"You're new, right? Isn't that what you just told her?" Taylor asked with a nod to the secretary, who was now blowing obnoxiously large bubbles and tapping her manicured nails on the counter. Gabriella nodded, and Taylor guided her out the door, leaving the office behind.
"Welcome to East High!" Taylor said with an exaggerated twirl in the corridor. "Do you know where all your classes are? This school is super hard to get used to." She said as she navigated the halls with ease, instantly confusing Gabriella.
"Well, no, not exactly..." Gabriella said distractedly, still staring at the map of the school on the back of her schedule, and trying to figure out where exactly Taylor had led her.
"Well," Taylor said as she crouched down and read the opposite side of Gabriella's schedule, "we have the same homeroom together. Let me lead the way, and then we can go over your schedule and I'll help you out."
They got to the room and it was already bustling with activity. It was packed with students, all still trying to catch up from summer break. She thought the chatter had paused when she walked in, but she must have been imaging it, because a second later and everything was back to normal. Taylor guided her to a free seat, and sat down next to her. They started going over her schedule in detail, with Taylor writing little notes on her schedule and map - easier routes to each class, what each teacher was like, what not to do in their class, et cetera. When she was done, Gabriella thanked her and turned to study the new notes. Maybe she doesn't want to be friends? Gabriella thought hopefully. Maybe she was just being nice to the new kid? Gabriella's hopes were dashed when Taylor leaned over and tried to resume the conversation.
"So, where are you from?" Taylor asked.
Gabriella resisted the urge to sigh. This was where it all got complicated. Gabriella had to set limits on what to tell people. If you tell people too much the first time you meet them, then they might get the impression that you're friends, and then they want you to tell them more. And when you don't, they just get hurt that you're not open and honest with them. Another reason, in Gabriella's mind, why friendships were overrated.
"I'm from...all around." Gabriella answered, distinctively vague. She turned back to her schedule, and was satisfied when Taylor made no other move to continue the conversation.
Taylor sat back in her seat, looking slightly perplexed at the brunette next to her. She seemed nice enough, maybe a little shy, but...there was something about her. She was just a little hard to read.
Gabriella sat, looking at the schedule intently, which she had already memorized two minutes previously, when she got distracted and looked up. It seemed as if half the basketball team was in her homeroom. A group of about four or five guys walked in, joking and pushing each other, throwing a basketball around. Gabriella looked back down just as quickly as she had looked up. She had no reason to care about the basketball team, let alone who was on it.
She continued studying the schedule to the point where she could've copied it word for word, when she noticed a foot tapping next to her desk. She followed the foot to the torso it belonged to, which was that of an apparent basketball player. The guy had a bushy afro type hairstyle, a basketball attached to his finger, and a shirt that read: "If you can read this, make me a sandwich."
"You seem to have taken up permanent residence in my seat, new girl." The boy said with a grin.
"Oh, I-I'm sorry. I didn't realize..." Gabriella said hurriedly as she began to gather her things.
"Chill, chill!" The boy said, putting a hand on her arm to stop her from moving. "It's cool, I was just kidding. Sit wherever you want. I'm Chad, and you are...?"
"Gabriella." Taylor answered for her, seeing Gabriella's still slightly shell-shocked face. She had clearly not expected anyone to say anything to her, let alone a basketball player. Gabriella had been there and done that before. She knew how the hierarchy of high school worked, and she knew that there wasn't exactly a place for new girls. She was well versed in cliques, and how they worked. She generally avoided them as a rule, preferring to be solitary rather than a team member.
"Gabriella the seat stealer. I like that." Chad joked, and slipped into the seat behind her. Not getting a reaction, he leaned up, to the side of her. "I'm kidding...you know that, right?"
Not wanting to offend him, Gabriella smiled slightly. "I know you're kidding. And it's nice to meet you, Chad." She said politely.
"So," Chad continued. "You're new here?"
"Stunning observation, Danforth." Taylor said, giving Chad a wink and effectively taking Gabriella out of the spotlight.
"Ah, if only your brains would rub off on me." Chad shot back, smiling widely. He leaned over and gave her a brief kiss on the mouth.
"Keep kissing me and maybe you'll be lucky enough."
Their banter continued for a few minutes more until another body slipped into the seat on the other side of Gabriella. Not looking, he hit Gabriella's desk.
"Dude, have you seen the way Sharpay has Zeke whipped?" Not receiving an answer, he turned to see a wide-eyed Gabriella looking back at him.
"Chad, you got prettier since yesterday." He said with a smile, realizing his mistake. Gabriella blushed and turned away. Looking back at him, she found that he was still staring at her.
"I'm Troy." He said, holding out his hand to her.
"Gabriella." She responded, shaking his hand. "And I don't know a Sharpay or a Zeke, so their extracurricular activities aren't really my business."
Gabriella almost put a hand up to her mouth after she said that. What has gotten into her? Making jokes with complete strangers? She must have lost her mind. Lucky for her, Troy let out a loud chuckle, attracting the attention of Taylor and Chad.
"So, you've met Gabriella the seat stealer, have you, Troy?" Chad asked with a smirk.
"Uh, yeah. Do you two know each other?"
"Mmhmm." Chad nodded. "We go way back."
Gabriella shot Taylor an incredulous look, which was met with an understanding smile.
"Boys, it's her first day. How about you make her feel welcome instead of like she was dropped into an alternate universe?" Taylor asked, coming to her rescue. Their response was cut short due to the appearance of their homeroom teacher, Ms. Darbus.
To call her eccentric was to do her a favor, Gabriella thought. She was wearing a completely mismatched outfit, spoke loudly about topics the students clearly didn't care about, and proved to be, simply put, the biggest cellphone Nazi Gabriella has ever encountered.
After she finished her spiel and passed out forms to be signed by parents and students alike, the bell rang and students almost trampled her to get out of the room. Gabriella made to move with the mass of people, when Taylor stopped her.
"Do you need help getting around? I definitely don't mind." Chad and Troy nodded behind her.
"We could help you navigate these 'hallowed halls.'" Chad offered, doing a dramatization of Ms. Darbus.
Gabriella just continued to back up towards the door.
"No, no, I'll be fine. I mean, thank you, but..." and she was gone.
"See you in Physics, I guess." Taylor called after her, sending a confused look to Chad and Troy.