Open for Business

Summary: Rivals in business – Neighbours in life. Party animal and babe magnet Troy Bolton oozed confidence by the bucket load. Health nut and yoga freak Gabriella was bubbly and feisty when riled. Are there fireworks ahead?

Disclaimer: High School Musical and all of its characters belong to Disney. I just have them on secondment.

A/N: This stemmed from another random thought late at night that reminds me I really must keep off those pickles. A very special mention to a good friend of mine AKA Billy, she knows why. I hope you like it anyway.


Ain't Ever Gonna Happen

Gabriella Montez strode out of the realtors office dangling a set of keys from her fingers with a beatific smile on her face, happy to have successfully signed on the dotted line; the small two-storey town house was finally hers. She'd worked so hard over the last four years getting her business up and running with a little help from her grandmothers' legacy that she hadn't had the energy or the Benjamins to get a place that she could call her own but she knew renting was just cash down the drain and after speaking to her accountant, they had decided that it made sense for her to get on the first rung of the property ladder as soon as possible. She stopped beside her car and flipped open her phone to ring her friend as promised once it was a done deal.

"Hey Shar, it's Gabi," she smiled when her friend squealed down the phone nearly bursting her eardrums as she held the phone away from her.

"Please tell me you've done it."

"Yep all done and dusted," confirmed Gabi her smile growing wider as Sharpay squealed again.

"Great stuff, so when's the house warming?" Sharpay asked excitedly.

"Whoa! Let me get in there first Shar," Gabriella giggled at her friend's exuberance. "I need something to sit on and to sleep in first."

"So what are you waiting for, let's go shopping?" Sharpay suggested.

"Hang fire Shar, I have to go back to work, it will be the lunchtime rush in an hour and I've left Berry in charge," groaned Gabriella rolling her eyes.

"Say no more Gabi," Sharpay giggled, "how is the little urchin working out?"

"You may well laugh. She's bloody hard work let me tell you, this is the last favour I'm doing for you," grumbled Gabriella making Sharpay laugh at the other end of the phone. Gabriella owned a health food shop and tearoom and had been hunting around looking for suitable staff to help her when Sharpay stepped in begging and pleading with Gabriella to take on her young cousin Berry. The first meeting should have warned Gabriella what she was letting herself in for as Berry slouched into her shop her feet dragging across the floor with a sullen look on her face She had dyed black hair, short and spiked, a small ring was pierced into her left eyebrow above eyes coated with thick black eyeliner making her face appear pale and unhealthy looking and she was clad in black from top to toe. It was not an auspicious start to say the least as her replies had been of one syllable, her tone monotonous but Gabriella looked beyond her appearance and thought she'd give her a chance and not just because she was related to Sharpay. For the last three weeks she may as well have been on her own for all the help she had been and she'd started to regret her decision but only this last couple of days she had seen a glimmer of hope that maybe just maybe Berry would work out fine. Normal commonsense actions didn't sit well with Berry, asking her to clear away the tables took forever as she only carried away two items at a time instead of using a serving tray. It took Gabriella a while to work out why her stock of detergent was running so low until she discovered that Berry used a full bottle every time she did the washing up. Gabriella realised that just asking her to do something simply wasn't going to work, she had to show her in detail but once she had discovered that, things had taken a turn for the better; she was so nervous of leaving her 'baby' in Berry's hands but this had been important and there was no other solution, she had needed to sign the papers today.

"She's a good kid Gabs she just needs…uhm…direction," stated Sharpay humour evident in her voice.

"Yeah right! And what am I a traffic cop now," queried Gabriella tartly. "Look I've gotta go, my business could be in flames by now," she added panic in her voice. Sharpay giggled.

"Aw come on she's not that bad Gabs but I'd better let you go, speak later." Gabriella snapped her phone shut and hopped into her car, shooting out of the parking lot rapidly eager to get back to her business.

Her shop was situated in a great location in downtown LA on a busy shopping street and business was booming. The only blot on the landscape being the recently opened garish diner right opposite with its neon lighting and corny 50's theme running throughout. All the young teens seemed to congregate there playing on the pool table visible through the window all hours of the day, dropping their litter on the sidewalk with takeaway bags and soda cans making the street untidy and Gabriella hated that.

Her shop, 'Herbalicious' was double-fronted with large picture windows framed by lacy café curtains giving it a quaint old-fashioned look and she loved it, it was all hers lock, stock and barrel. She'd worked like a demon to make it the way it was, working long into the night decorating and putting up the shelves housing her herbal and health products. She pulled into her appointed space at the back of her outlet and jumped out locking her door before entering through the back door. The place was eerily quiet and she frowned, "where the hell was Berry?" She walked into the front of the empty shop and groaned, Berry had flipped on the closed sign and done a disappearing act. Gabriella cast her expert eye around noting that the pre-made sandwiches had been prepared and placed in the glass cabinet at the side of the cash register, the glass dome resting on the ledge above was full of flapjacks, carrot cake, pumpkin and millet muffins and her best seller melt in the mouth no cholesterol chocolate cake, a selection of smoothies had been placed in the chiller cabinet beside the bottles of spring water, iced tea and coffee and other healthy beverages, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee filled the room so she knew Berry couldn't be far away. She groaned as she walked to the door and flipped the sign back to open then she spotted Berry stood with her back to Gabriella on the opposite side of the road talking to a youth dressed from head to foot in black, leaning against the plate glass window of the diner. She flung the door open and stormed out of her shop scowling as a fast food bag wrapped around her leg causing her to look down and notice the array of wrappers and empty cartons that had worked their way over the street and settled against her wall. She bent to scoop them up automatically before walking purposefully across the road.

"Why is my shop closed?" she demanded looking daggers at Berry's back. Berry jumped in shock and twirled round to face her.

"It…it was quiet and I'd done everything you'd asked me to and…and then I saw Josh so I came over to talk…but I locked the shop first," she stammered as if it was good that she'd locked the door before leaving.

"Yippee do! And pray, how long has it been closed?" asked Gabriella sarcastically glaring down at the young girl.

"No…not long," stuttered Berry backing away.

"Well I suggest that if you want to keep your job you should get back there and do it," threatened Gabriella through gritted teeth, "and keep your fraternising to your own time and not mine. Got it?" Berry nodded glancing quickly at Josh before slouching back over the road. Gabriella was fuming, "I'm gonna fucking kill Sharpay. Gawd! What have I done to deserve this?" thoughts ran through her brain as her blood boiled. She glanced down at her hands full of wrappers and stormed inside the diner that seemed full of kids either playing on the pool table or the vintage replica 1970's space invader video game that leant against the side wall, some were lounging in the booths or stood near the Wurlitzer jukebox that was booming out an old Buddy Holly tune. It was the first time she's been inside this den of iniquity and was pleasantly surprised to find it bright and spacious, the black and white tiles on the floor were spotless, the waste bins empty. "Well, there's a surprise," she huffed silently. She walked over to the counter where a guy with his back to her stood in front of a industrial griddle, burgers sizzling and throwing steam up into the air. She cleared her throat hoping to attract his attention. Nothing.

"Excuse me," she said trying again to get his attention; still no response. She tapped her nails on the counter and he spun round.

"Sorry, didn't see you there," he apologised looking up his mouth dropping open at the sight of her. Her shiny dark hair cascaded down her back in large loose curls, her olive skin was clear and healthy, her lips full and inviting and her eyes the warmest brown he'd ever seen. His heart thudded so loud at the vision of loveliness in front of him that he thought she could hear it.

"Are you the owner?" she asked politely noticing his amazing blue eyes for the first time.

"For my sins," he said ruefully his blue eyes twinkling as a mop of shaggy hair flopped over his forehead as he moved nearer to the front of the counter.

"Yeah well your sins are spreading over to my side of the road," snapped Gabriella waving her hands full of his litter. His brows drew together at her tone.

"How do you know they're mine?" he asked more formally.

"Duh! Let me see, they have Bolton's written in big red letters, I think that kinda gives the game away don't you," she shot back tartly sarcasm oozing from her mouth.

"Listen lady, I don't know what your problem is but I am not at fault if people don't use the waste facilities provided, " he snapped back waving his hand at the receptacles dotted around the shop.

"Maybe you should put some on the outside then," Gabriella suggested more kindly.

"Yeah right and the council would be agreeable to that," sneered Bolton.

"How do you know, have you even asked?" she queried raising a perfectly defined eyebrow.

"Well no…but," he started to reply.

"But nothing, bet you haven't even given a thought to the effect you are having on the neighbourhood have you, as long as the cash is ringing in your tills, you're happy," she hissed her eyes flashing in annoyance, her stance on environmental issues coming to the fore.

"Well no, I haven't to be honest," he started to apologise but Gabriella had had enough and shoved the litter she had collected onto the top of the counter.

"Maybe it's time you started then, otherwise we'll be swimming in garbage by the time our children come along," she suggested turning around and striding out of the diner. Troy watched her retreat, his eyes mesmerised by her.

"Bossy bitch. Cute ass though, " he thought looking appreciatively at her derriere, "Did she say our children, forget it lady that ain't ever gonna happen."

Famous last words from Mr Bolton me thinks lol!