AN: I published this story a long time ago, back when I used to write HSM fanfictions. It's still my most popular oneshot to date, so I thought I'd edit and repost a better version.
The door swung open, the bell tinkled and Gabriella looked up from the dirty dishes with a smile. She already knew who it was, because nobody else in their right minds would come to a late night, out of town cafe at 11 at night, especially as the establishment in question wasn't exactly famous for the finest cuisine around. They did however, have extraordinary tasting pastries, pies and cakes, hand made by Gabriella Montez.
The empty diner had seemed so bleak before, devoid of the friendly smile of the cafe's youngest waitress, but now it was as if it had come alive. He was here, and it didn't matter if she'd had the worst day in the world – it was all okay now. She spent everyday with two other waitresses, but one was old, cynical and always in a bad mood, while the other only worked every other day. It was a lonely job, as was the rest of her life, but how else was she going to pay for collage? It was just Gabriella and her mom at home. Ms Montez tried to be at home as much as possible, but her job was demanding and took her all over the country. Gabriella missed her, but she was used to being on her own; she had never had many friends anyway. She was just that math nerd to everyone at school; except him.
He leapt casually onto a stool in front of her; a grin plastered on his face, and linked his fingers together. He tilted his head and nodded towards the cake cabinet. "What have you got for me today then?"
Gabriella pretended to look hurt. She clutched her chest and said dramatically "Is that all you're interested in? What about a 'hey Gabriella, how was your day!?'"
"Well, that was going to be my next question" he said, stroking his chin with a thumb. Gabriella scoffed and slid onto the seat opposite him. She rested her head on one closed fist and began to draw circles on the surface with her finger. Troy chuckled at the determination in her face and rubbed his chest as she slapped him on it for laughing at her. It just made him laugh again, and she slid off the stool crossly, walking over to the cake cabinet and sliding open the door.
"So" she said "what will it be sir?"
"Well, miss," he said, cocking his head "what have you got left?"
"Sir, you ask me that everyday, and it's always the same answer; a sliver of my finest raspberry tart, two strawberry flavoured muffins and one whole apple pie. And you always either go for the muffins or the tart."
"True" he nodded. "But why is the apple pie always left?"
Gabriella extracted it from the shelf and placed it on the counter before him, along with the raspberry tart and the muffins. She sat down and wiped her hands on her tea towel. "Look at these" she said, indicating to the pastries and muffins. "If you had to, in a split second, which would you pick?"
Troy looked at them thoughtfully. "Well, I suppose I'd choose the muffins, because there's more."
"But that's not true" Gabriella said, raising her eyebrows "because the apple pie is still whole."
Troy shrugged. "I guess."
"So, what do you want?" Gabriella asked, pulling a plate from the draw, but not, Troy noticed, a knife.
"Why didn't you get out a knife?" Troy asked her
"Because it's not like you're going to want the apple pie is it. And" her voice hitched a decibel, her breathing quickening "I don't see anyone else around here who does" she said, throwing her hands in the air and sighing. Troy watched her face closely as she stood up and grabbed the plate with the apple pie on it. She walked over to the bin and began tipping it in.
"Wait!" he called. He stood up and vaulted swiftly over the counter. "Why does it bother you so much?"
"Why does what bother me so much?" Gabriella said distractedly, frozen over the bin, picking at crumbs from the rim of the pie.
"That no one wants the apple pie."
Gabriella laughed inside at the irony of the situation. She supposed it was ridiculous of her to think that somebody else may have understood the metaphor she was using. No one wanted the apple pie. No one wanted Gabriella.
Gabriella was a lonely girl. Her only friends were Troy and Taylor, a girl from chemistry club. She was bullied up until Troy had became her friend, when the bullying had suddenly stopped. Gabriella had always assumed this was Troy's influence over her classmates. She was generally happy and tried to never let the sadness she felt inside creep up on her, but she had never been able to fight the feeling that lived with her constantly. All she had ever wanted was somebody to love her, to care for her and someone she never had to be second best with. Her mother had never deliberately made Gabriella feel that way, but with her always being away at work, it was hard for the seventeen year old to get some attention.
Ever since she had become friends with Troy, she had known she was falling for him. How could she not with those electric blue eyes and that heartbreaking smile? She had known she was going to get her heart broken, just like the apple pie broke as it hit the bottom of the bin everyday. Under that pressure, it didn't have enough strength to hold its self together. Gabriella knew how it felt.
"Nobody is ever interested in the apple pie. I tell them it's there, but they ignore it, like it isn't there. It's unappreciated and left to go bad. How would you feel Troy, if someone made you feel like that?"
Troy watched the distressed look on Gabriella's face, and the way she ran a hand through her hair roughly. He looked at the plate of pie, trembling in her hands and plucked it from them, resting it back on the counter. He pulled himself up to sit on it and looked down at her.
"I guess I'd be hurt."
"Exactly" she mumbled, half to herself, half to him. "I mean," she turned to him "it's not the apple pie's fault. It's just that no one wants it. You see? You can try your hardest to make people want you – you can come with free whipped cream, you can be fresh out of the oven, but it doesn't make any difference! You can't make someone want you Troy. And it hurts to know you can't, but it hurts even more to know that no one wants you."
"Wow." Troy whistled. "For a pie, it sure does have a lot of feelings. It's a chick, right?"
Gabriella sent him a withering look and rolled her eyes. She folded her arms crossly and stared at the floor. Troy leapt off the counter and picked up the muffins and raspberry tart and put them back in the cabinet. He then grabbed a fork from a draw and sat on a stool, digging the fork into the pie and eating a mouthful. He closed his eyes and smiled contently. "This is good!"
Gabriella watched him sceptically for a moment, before smiling against her will and sitting on a stool next to him.
"Have some" Troy grinned, pulling up another forkful. Gabriella leant forwards to receive it and smiled as the fork entered her mouth and brushed her tongue, depositing the delicious desert.
"I should have started having this ages ago!" Troy exclaimed, shovelling more food into his mouth. Gabriella giggled as he dropped crumbs onto his trousers and wiped some more across his face by accident.
"Oh shoot" he cursed, wiping them off his black jeans. Gabriella's thumbs brushed across his face, removing crumbs that were splattered across his tanned skin. She had had to lean close to remove them, and now they were inches from each other. Troy's eyes glanced down to her lips and back to her eyes. He had always found it amusing how someone as intelligent as Gabriella had failed to notice that he loved her as much as she loved him, and he had also found it very amusing that she had compared herself to an apple pie. He leant forward and his lips caught hers, resulting on a sharp intake of breath on her part, and a smile on his.
He pulled her up off the chair and stood up, backing her slowly against the wall, his fingers tangling themselves in her hair. She wound her arms around his neck and opened her lips as he ran his tongue along them. She played with the hair at the tape of his neck, and pushed him off her slightly, enough to push herself off the wall but still stay attached to him. They slowly made their way to the counter where they had sat before, and Troy picked her up by the waist and placed her on it, so she was above him. She drew away for breath and watched Troy as he grinned at her and pulled her back into his arms. He kissed her forehead and she wrapped her arms around his chest tightly.
"Brie, you're right. You can't make people want you."
She looked up at him, a worried look on her face. She took her arms from around him and began playing with the corner of her tea towel. "So, what ... what is this? You don't want me, but you kiss me and -"
"Hey, hey!" he said softly, stepping close to her again and pushing her waist back against the counter. He took her face in his hands gently and smiled. "You don't have to make me want the apple pie. You don't have to make me want you. Because I already do."
He leant down and placed his lips upon hers for a second time and Gabriella grabbed his wrists, holding them in position so that his hands stayed on her face. They pulled away again, and rested on each others foreheads, faces aglow. Gabriella's hand found Troy's and she laced their fingers together and they fit perfectly, the same way the ice cream does with the sweet taste of apple pie.
AN: so there really isn't much of a change at all but ... enjoy :D