This is the other story I talked about in the author's note of "With Love." This one is much happier and less dramatic than WL, you're welcome Khali. :) Anyway, I played with a bunch of different ways to write this and finally settled on this one, so let me know what you think. Positive feedback will result in continuation, negative feedback will send this to the tiny little trash can in the corner of my screen. So review please!
And no, this chapter was not named after Miley Cyrus's song. I knew I was going to be asked that.
And I own nothing. Of course.
Chapter One: See You Again
Troy had always known Gabriella was the one.
Ever since meeting her on that frosty cold New Year's Eve, he knew hadn't wanted to let her go. But turning to find her gone in the black of the night was somewhat disappointing (and slightly embarrassing since he was talking to himself). Fate, however, decided to throw him a curve when he saw her again the following week, learning she was a transfer at his school. And after winning the championship game and the lead parts in the winter musical, something he never saw himself doing, he asked her to be his girlfriend, and she agreed.
It was then that he knew they were destined to be together.
They dated all the way through high school, even though Sharpay was determined to tear them apart. She gave up eventually, settling for various other boys she found attractive. A few cheerleaders thought Troy should be with them, but mostly the East High student body was glad Troy found someone who made him happy, and voted the couple Prom King and Queen. And even though senior year was a blast, that was the year the trouble started.
It was official. They were growing up and getting out. He was off to the University of Connecticut and she was going to UCLA. They were a whole country away, but truly thought they could keep a long distance relationship. If anybody could do it, they could, right? But the strain was too powerful, and they broke up within their freshman year. Try as they may, they couldn't even keep steady contact. Troy continued to excel in his basketball career, but opted towards a business end as well. The last he heard of Gabriella, she and Taylor were changing their majors from Biochemistry to Human Health and Science. She loved it, and knew that was the field she wanted to pursue.
He hadn't talked to her since.
Now, Troy Bolton was a twenty-seven-year-old 'Sports Marketer,' having retired his basketball career upon graduation, even though a few professional teams wanted him. He opted out of moving back to Albuquerque, but instead found a cozy apartment in downtown Santa Fe, still within reach of his family and most of his friends. He was in constant contact with Chad and Sharpay, Ryan had moved with Kelsi to New York, and Jason and Zeke were still in touch.
And Gabriella? He didn't even know.
Gabriella's life since high school had been nothing short of rocky.
Even since leaving Albuquerque for sunny California, something seemed wrong. At first she thought it was her major. Biochemistry was interesting but hard, and college level courses were extremely grueling. Many nights she and Taylor pulled all-nighters to study for exams, but still came out with something just short of failing. The world of carbon atoms and monosaccharide bonds was killing her, so she decided to change her major. It would be good to try new things, right? She made the switch from Biochemistry to Psychology and Human Health immediately.
But that wasn't it.
If it wasn't the classes, what was wrong? She surely didn't know, and it hurt her for a long time. It couldn't be California, because who was unhappy in California? She loved the school and loved the atmosphere. But then she realized something. That was the point in time when she discontinued speaking to Troy. Was that it? Did she miss him? Well, of course. Who wouldn't, when your love was that strong? At one point, she even decided to get back together with Troy, no matter the consequences.
And then along came Christopher.
Christopher Hanson, a senior at UCLA while she was a sophomore, came to her aid while she was distraught about Troy. Now obviously, he hadn't known about him. But still, on a rainy April night, while Gabriella was on her way to call Troy and try to straighten things out, she and Chris had crossed paths and ended up chatting the night away. By the end of the night, she had come out with a date the following week.
They were married two months after her graduation.
It had been a considerably small wedding, not exactly how she pictured it, but very nice despite the size. She had her immediate and extended family present, plus a few friends she'd met in college, and Taylor, her maid of honor. Chris's family was very small, but was all there as well. It was a small, September wedding, and the crisp autumn leaves were blowing in the cool wind while they said their vows. And inside that beautifully decorated and ornate church, surrounded by all of the people who loved her the most, she was happy.
However, something was still missing.
Gabriella felt it when she and Chris first came together as one, their first time as man and wife. She felt it in her new Victorian-style home on the outskirts of Albuquerque- where they decided to move back. She felt it as she went to job after job interview, wondering when she'd find just what she was looking for. And she felt it the most when she found she was pregnant with their first child. She and Chris were overjoyed, and spent hours upon hours decorating the nursery for their unborn baby. They picked out the best furniture, received the best clothing, and made sure everything was perfect for this arrival.
Their little girl was born in early June and neither one of them could be any happier.
And even though Gabriella loved her job at the photography office, was completely enamored with baby Olivia Claire Hanson, and enjoyed her life at home, something was clearly wrong. And as she nursed her infant at night, she realized that Chris had found out. He hadn't confronted her yet, but two years after their marriage he finally knew something was wrong with his wife. He decided he'd let her tell him, but when nothing came through, he used the last resort.
It was painful and hard, and the infamous words she remembered him repeating as they fought week after week were, "You aren't happy. I can see it in your eyes." It killed her to know that he thought she truly wasn't happy with her life. She loved Olivia and she loved Chris. What could make him think that? It was a brutal, ugly divorce that she didn't like talking about, but was settled in a matter of months. Chris kept the house while Gabriella moved on to a condo just outside of Santa Fe, but not too far from Albuquerque.
She didn't want to be too far away from the place she used to call home.
"Hey man, how's marketing and finance going?"
Troy groaned. "Chad, it's the weekend and I'm done with that for two days. Please do not mention it."
Chad Danforth held his hands up in surrender. "Dude, you're the one who said you love your job."
"I do, but it's so stressful. I can't stand it."
Chad laughed at the irony. "Cool man. Hey, isn't Sharpay supposed to be joining us?"
"Yeah, I think she's running a little bit-"
"Late?" The dainty voice of Sharpay Evans filled in as she slid in the barstool next to Troy. "Don't even tell me about it. I got held up at the school. Middle-schoolers are such brats!"
Chad had turned out to be an aspiring entrepreneur, and led his own business in advertising. He lived in the same complex as Troy, just down to hall to be exact, and was currently dating a girl on-and-off he met in his late years of college. Sharpay had become a middle school drama teacher, leaving her Broadway career after only four years when she had her tonsils removed (she claimed her voice was never the same). Now, she taught Broadway to a new generation of divas like herself.
"Why? Production not going the way you planned?" Troy asked, amusedly.
"Seriously? No." Sharpay growled in annoyance. "Cabaret is an amazing musical. These kids just don't understand."
"What'll it be, guys?" The bartender, slightly younger than the threesome, asked, approaching the location they were sitting at.
"Tall Coors Light for me and my man here," Chad laughed, slapping Troy on the back. "Shar?"
"I don't know," She sighed indecisively. "Something strong. Just surprise me."
The bartender looked from her to Troy and Chad before nodding slowly and walking away. Chad snorted.
"Wow Sharpay, the kids are that bad?"
"You don't even know. Sometimes I wish I were with Ryan. He gets to be this amazing dance teacher at some prestigious school in New York, while I'm still stuck in Albuquerque teaching 'Life is A Cabaret!' to kids who think the word 'penis' is funny!"
Chad burst into laughter. Troy rolled his eyes. "Dude seriously? Are you twelve?"
"Sorry, it gets me every time."
Troy shook his head just as the door to the bar pushed open. A slightly tanned, tall man walked in, his hand clutched to a little girl's beside him. He looked to be in his early thirties, if that; and the girl was tugging at his hand as if she didn't want to be here. She had lopsided pigtails of fine blond hair, blue jeans and a warm yellow t-shirt. The man seemed perplexed, as if his daughter was causing him trouble and called over to one of the men behind the bar.
"Joseph! I brought the forms, man." He called out. The bartender he summoned nodded hugely and started towards him.
"Daddy, I wanna go!" The girl whined again.
"Sweetheart we are going. I told you I have to drop this off first." He tried to sound patient but it was obvious that he was annoyed.
"I wanna see mommy!"
"And I want you to see mommy," The man mumbled, passing off the papers to the bartender. "Any chance I can get a Corona to go?"
"As long as you drink responsibly, man," The bartender laughed, handing him a bottle. "Thanks for the papers."
"Okay! We're going!"
The little girl glanced in Troy's direction before heading towards the door with her father, and it was then that Troy felt a pang of adrenaline. Her full-lipped pout, the slender nose, deep brown eyes- those especially- this little girl reminded him of Gabriella. Gabriella.He hadn't thought of her in a while. The girl whipped her head back towards her father, tugging his hand again as they left the bar and it seemed as if the sound decibel lowered about eighty points. Troy turned back towards his friends.
"Did that girl look like Gabriella to either of you?"
His best friend shook his head. "Gabriella's not blonde, Troy. Or a little kid, for that matter."
He sighed. "Never mind."
The bartender handed the men their beers and Sharpay her mystery drink. They each paid and he nodded again, walking off.
"I'm afraid of this drink," Sharpay started, eyeing the glass. "It's green."
"Please," Chad waved it off. "It's probably a margarita."
She sipped it slowly, and then winced as she swallowed. "A very very strong margarita. God! What's in this?"
"As much as I'm enjoying this little get together," Troy started, getting up after finishing his beer moments later. "I've got to get going. I've got a massage at four thirty and it's getting pretty close."
Chad almost choked on his alcohol. "A massage? Seriously?"
"Dude, my back's out of line. I need that adjusted."
He just laughed and waved his friend off. "Sure, sure. You have fun with that, you woman."
"Don't listen to him Troy," Sharpay swatted Chad. "Massages are amazing. You'll love it."
These are the words he remembered his entire way to the massage therapist. Little did he know, he was going to enjoy it a lot more than he thought.
"Hello Mr. Bolton!" A friendly voice greeted him at the front desk. Her nametag readHeather. "You're here for your four-thirty?"
"Yes," Troy confirmed with a nod.
"Alright. Your masseuse is with another client right now. But I'll let her know you're here. You can have a seat anywhere available."
Heather turned and walked through the back doors as Troy rounded and took a seat. He glanced around the room, which was painted a creamy yellow with white trim, supposedly calming. He began to relax already against the white couch, noticing there was no one around but another woman, who seemed irritated. No worries, an hour or so in here and she'd come out good as new. Troy had never gotten a massage before, but from the great remarks from his co-workers it sounded like the ideal thing to rid yourself of stress. The back door opened again, and he figured it was probably his turn. Instead, a middle-aged woman walked out, a masseuse following her with a kind voice.
"There you are Mrs. Jacobs," The voice cooed. "All good as new. You be careful around the home, okay? Don't lift things you shouldn't be."
"I won't. Thank you so much."
"It's my pleasure. Take care."
Wait a second, Troy thought. The wheels began turning in his mind. I know that voice...
"Alright Heather, where's my four-thirty?"
"Right over there, hun."
But before she had a chance to look, the front door to the therapeutic office burst open. The same little girl that Troy had seen at the bar just minutes before burst in, running towards the woman with the kind voice at top notch speed. The man who look pestered at the bar was there too, but noticeably further behind the girl. He seemed awkward as he stood back, watching his daughter run to her mother excitedly. Troy wondered why.
Until he turned around.
"Livvie!" The woman shouted just as excitedly. She scooped up her daughter into her arms and hugged her tightly to her chest.
It was then that Troy realized who she was.