Look Beneath The Surface
Disclaimer: I didn't own this when I started and I don't own it now
A/N: it's been a year since I started this story and now it's finally done. This is the longest chapter, being eight pages long. I hope this story has opened your eyes to what goes on in the world around you. People think slavery is dead, but it's not. It's still around, lurking in the shadows. There is a movie that addresses this issue further, but I can't quite remember the name of it. I want thank Megan(Megaton) for giving me the idea to start this story. I also wanna thank weirdreader and krfan for helping me with the Tagalog translations for this chapter and the past two. And finally I want to thank all of you, my readers and reviewers. So, now, here it is, the epilogue.
Two Years Later
Johannesburg International Airport
Ryan bounced on the balls of his feet as he awaited the girl he hadn't seen in two years. He looked once more at the arrivals board, scanning for the 9:40 flight from Moscow. It had arrived almost ten minutes early, but he still saw no sign of the brunette.
His head swiveled and his grayish-blue eyes caught sight of her. "Kelsi!"
He watched as she ran towards him before meeting her halfway. She dropped her bags and flung her arms around his neck. "Oh, I missed you," she said, hugging him tightly.
"I missed you, too," he whispered into her ear.
Pulling back, she looked around for the blonde haired girl she swore would have been there. "Where's Sharpay?"
"Didn't she tell you?" Kelsi shook her head. "She's studying in the states. She wants to be closer to Zeke."
"Aww. How sweet?"
"So shall we go?" She nodded and he went to pick up the bags she dropped. He escorted her outside to the parking lot and to his car.
"No car service?" she asked.
"No. My father suggested it, but I didn't want to," he answered as he put her suitcases in the trunk.
"Wanted to be alone with me?" she asked jokingly.
He looked up and with a serious face, answered, "Yeah."
Her smile dropped and she stared at him before taking two steps over to him. She took his face in her hands and crushed her lips to his. Dropping the bag in his hand, he wrapped his arms around waist and pulled her closer. They pulled away moments later, needing air, and looked into each other's eyes.
"Wow," she breathed and he chuckled. He pecked her lips before returning to put her bags in the trunk of the car. Moving to the passenger side, he opened the door for her and she slid inside. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," he said and closed the door behind her. He climbed into the driver's seat and pulled out of the parking space.
"So what do you have planned?"
"A lot of things. First things first, though, I'm introducing you to my parents."
"S-So soon?" she asked nervously.
"Yeah. They deserve to meet the girl I haven't stopped talking about since I got home two years ago."
She smiled and blushed. "I still can't believe it's been two years since all that happened."
"Neither can I."
"Have you heard from any of the others?"
"I haven't heard from them so much as Zeke has told me about them."
"How are they?"
"Well, Taylor and Chad are getting married."
Kelsi gasped. "Really? Oh that's so great."
"What about Troy?"
"He's…well, he's getting along. Zeke says he misses her, but he's okay."
"Poor guy. Has anyone heard anything about her?"
"No. Contact with her has been hard because of where she lives. She doesn't exactly have enough money to have a phone."
"That means Troy doesn't even know if she's still alive."
"She is. Zeke said that she sent him a postcard a few months ago."
"Still that was a few months ago. Who knows if she's still alive or not. She might even be in the same situation again."
"Kelsi, calm down. She's fine."
"How do you know that?"
"I don't, but being pessimistic isn't going to help."
"I guess you're right." He smiled and grabbed her hand, lacing their fingers together.
"She's fine. Right now, though, let's focus on us. Alright?" She nodded and smiled, squeezing his hand.
Zeke's apartment-Los Angeles, California
His hands held her waist gently as her petite body rocked against his muscular build. She leaned forward and kissed his lips, her blonde mane falling over them. He reached up with one hand and wove it through her golden locks, gripping them slightly. Her perfectly manicured hands ran over his shoulders and down his chest, causing a moan to escape from his throat. She giggled and pulled back from the kiss.
"What are you giggling about?" he asked lowly.
"Nothing," she answered before kissing him again. She pulled back and sat up straight as her orgasm neared. He took both her hands in his and laced their fingers as they came together.
Moving off of him, she laid down beside him and turned on her side. He mirrored her and looked into her eyes. He pushed a strand of her sweat drenched hair out of her face and kissed her softly.
"I love you," he whispered.
Her heart fluttered and she smiled. "I love you, too." He pulled her to him and wrapped his arm securely around her waist. "You do know I have class in an hour?"
"Yeah, I know, but I don't care."
"Zeke," she whined and he chuckled.
"Don't worry. I'll let you get up in time for you to get to your class."
"Are you gonna give me a ride?"
"Of course." She smiled and buried her face in his bare chest, kissing his left pectoral. "Have you heard from your brother?"
"No, but I'm guessing it's because Kelsi's supposed to be staying with him for a while."
"Someone's going to be getting some action."
She laughed, running a hand up and down his abs. "Like you just did?"
"Yeah." He kissed her forehead and ran his hand down her back.
Minutes later, she pulled away with no protest from him and got up. He watched silently as she walked around the room in all her naked glory, looking for pieces of her clothing. When she was fully dressed, she turned to him and gave him a pointed glare.
"I'm getting up," he said and got out of bed. She left his bedroom and went into the living room to wait for him. Minutes later, he walked into the front room, fully dressed. "Okay, let's go," he said, grabbing his car keys.
"I know I shouldn't be thinking about the future, but I'm gonna miss this when I have to go back to South Africa or England, whichever one my father's in, in two years."
"Or…" he started, grabbing her hand. "Or you could stay with me."
"Zeke, my visa ends when I graduate."
"I know, but there's a way to let you stay."
Stopping at a red light, he looked at her and kissed the back of her hand. "Marry me."
She gasped. "Y-You really want to?"
"If it means keeping you here with me, then yeah."
She smiled. "I'd love to marry you."
He leaned over and kissed her, not caring that the light turned green or that cars behind him were honking. All he cared about was the girl who had just agreed to be his for the rest of their life.
First Baptist Church-Canton, Mississippi
"Do you, Chad Andrew Danforth, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, to honor and obey, through sickness and in health, til death do you part?" the reverend asked.
"I do," Chad answered, looking into Taylor's eyes with a smile.
"And do you, Taylor Marie McKessie, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, to honor and obey, through sickness and in health, til death do you part?"
"The rings." Chad took his ring and slid it onto Taylor's finger. "With this ring, I thee wed."
"With this ring, I thee wed."
Taylor, in turn, took her ring and slid onto Chad's finger. "With this ring, I thee wed."
The reverend put his hands together and smiled. "By the power rested in me by God and the state of Mississippi, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride." Chad grinned and cupped her cheek, kissing her lips softly. "Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Chad Andrew Danforth." The church cheered and the two newlyweds made their way down the aisle.
After the ceremony, they stood at the back of the church, thanking everyone for attending. Once they had thanked everyone, they climbed into their limousine.
"I can't believe we're finally married," she said as she cuddled into his side.
"Neither can I. I never thought this would happen. I always thought you didn't see me as someone you could marry."
"Shows how much you know," she said with a grin.
He chuckled. "Yeah, it does."
She lightly traced her hand across his chest and laced her fingers with his. "You know I love you, right?"
He smiled and kissed the top of her head. "Of course I do. And I love you, too."
"How do you think the others are doing?"
"Well, I know Zeke told me that Sharpay's attending UCLA, so she's around."
"And you don't know anything about Kelsi or Gabriella?"
"What about Troy?"
"Zeke says he's…well, okay. He misses Gabriella a lot, but he's getting on with his life."
"Did he really think she would leave and he would forget about her?"
"Unfortunately, but that's proving to be harder than he thought."
"I feel so sorry for him."
"Yeah, but he'll figure something out. In the past two years I've known him, he seems like a guy that can solve problems easily."
"Seems like you two have become good friends."
"Yep. We clicked the first day."
She smiled and looked up at him. "We're gonna be okay, right?"
He looked at her and smiled. "Of course we are."
"And…what happened before won't happen again…right?"
"Not to you or to our children, I promise." She smiled softly and snuggled up to his chest. He tightened his grip on her and placed a kiss on the top of her head. The promise he made was to her and himself. He knew that if something like that ever happened again to her or any of the children they were gonna have, he wouldn't be able to live with himself.
Santa Cruz, Cavite City, Philippines-a few miles southwest of Manila
Gabriella sat staring at the setting sun, wishing she could be back with Troy. Sure, she sent him postcards whenever she had the money and he sent one back, but she missed him. It's been two years since she saw him last and each day, she could feel her memory of him slipping away from her.
"Gabriella!" She turned her head and watched her brother run up to her.
"There's someone here who wants to see you." Sighing, she got up and followed her brother back to their house. Her father had taught both her and her brother how to speak English and he encouraged them to use it between each other. Their mother, however, didn't speak the language so they spoke to her in Tagalog, keeping their knowledge of their native language fresh in their minds.
"Do you know who?" she asked as they stepped up to the door.
"No. He never gave his name."
"He? It couldn't be, could it?" As she walked through the door, her eyes caught sight of a familiar head of chestnut hair and her breath caught. "Troy."
He turned to her and smiled. "Hey, Gabriella, long time no see."
Grinning from ear to ear, she ran up to him and leapt into his arms, throwing hers around his neck. "I can't believe it's you."
He chuckled. "Well, believe it. I didn't spend all those hours on a plane for you not to believe me."
"What are you doing here?" she asked, pulling back.
"Came to see you. What else would I be doing here?"
"Gabriella, sino siya?"(Gabriella, who's this?) her mother asked as she stared at the reunion between her daughter and the strange man.
"Siya po si Troy, isang kaibigan. Tinulugan po ninya ako nung nasa Amerika ako"(His name is Troy. He's a friend, mom. He helped me when I was in America)
Her mother looked to Troy with a smile on her face before taking his hand in hers. "Maraming salamat, Troy, sa pagligtas mo sa anak ko." (Thank you so much, Troy, for saving my daughter)
Troy smiled and nodded. "Wala pong anuman."(You're welcome)
"Marunong ka magtagalog?" (You know Tagalog?) her mother asked, surprised that he could speak her native tongue.
"Konti po." (A bit)
Turning to her daughter, she smiled. "Gabi, Tamang-tama siya maging asawa mo." (Gabi, he would be a perfect husband for you)
"Nay!" (Mom!) Gabriella whined before shaking her head and turning back to Troy. "Sorry about her."
He chuckled. "It's okay."
"When did you get so good at understanding?"
"I've been getting lessons, preparing myself for when I came to see you and got a chance to meet your parents."
She smiled softly. "You've been planning this all along."
"Guilty as charged." She shook her head before wrapping her arms around his neck.
"What's going on here?" her father asked as he stepped through the door.
"Dad!" She unwrapped herself from Troy's embrace and walked over to her father. "Dad, I want you to meet someone." She grabbed her father's hand and led him over to Troy. "Ama, this is Troy. He helped me when I was in America. He's the one I told you about."
Her father's eyes widened before looking at the man in front of you. "Thank you. Thank you so much for keeping her alive in that hellhole," he said shaking Troy's hand.
"It was my pleasure, really. Gabriella's a great girl and I couldn't let them break her spirits."
"So what brings you to this side of the Pacific Ocean?"
"Well, two things. First things first, I had to check up on her and see how she's doing," he said looking at her. She blushed and shyly looked away.
Her father looked at the way Troy was looking at Gabriella and knew this man was in love with her. "And the second?" he asked, though somewhere deep inside him, he knew what he what the second thing was.
Troy turned his blue eyes away from the girl he had been missing so badly to her father, clearing his throat softly. "Well, the second thing was…" He took a deep breath before continuing "to ask your permission to marry your daughter." Gabriella gasped and her father looked at Troy with a smile on his face.
"You have my permission, my blessing, everything just as long as you make my Gabriella happy."
"Oh, I plan on it," he said before turning to Gabriella, her face still staring at him in shock. "So, Gabriella…" He got down on one knee and pulled out a black velvet box. "Gusto mo ba akong mapangasawa?" (Will you marry me?) he asked, opening it.
She smiled brightly, tears springing from her eyes and nodded. "Oo." (Yes) He smiled and took out the ring, slipping it on her right ring finger. "Looks like you've done more than just learning the language," she said as he stood up.
"Yeah, I've also looked up cultural things, marriage included." She giggled and he moved pieces of hair from her face.
Moments later, her mother walked up to him and kissed both cheeks. "Tinatanggap kita sa pamilya namin," (Welcome to the family) she said and walked over to her husband.
Gabriella smiled and grabbed Troy's hand, lacing her fingers with his. He looked at her, all the love he was feeling for her shining in his crystal blue irises. "Mahal kita," she said softly. He smiled and cupped her cheek before leaning in and placing his lips on hers.
A/N: I forgot to mention, the thing with him putting the ring on her right hand, in the Philippines the ring goes on the right instead of the left like it does in America and that's because the Bible states that 'The Son is seated at the right hand of the Father' so the wife and mother sits at the left and wears her ring on the right.