A/N: Hey guys! Sorry for the wait, I've just been extremely excited for the holidays, which I would assume as all of you are. Thanks for all the amazing reviews. This chapter is a little bit longer than the others, since I haven't updated in awhile.

Hope you enjoy and please send feedback.

Disclaimer: I do not own High School Musical or any related characters.

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Chapter 7

The sun rays beamed through the cracks of the blinds, shielding the two adults in the dark room only slightly. Gabriella cracked an eye open, groaning softly into her pillow at the sudden brightness burning through her eyelid. For a moment she sighed softly in content, oblivious to the world around her and allowing herself to enjoy a moment of peace in the warmth of her bed. However that moment had ended so soon as her conscious reminded her that she was lying in a bed with a man.

Gabriella snapped her other eye open in bewilderment and pivoted her whole body around to face the other side. The sheets that covered her torso rustled from over her and she was aghast to find the other half of the bed empty. Gabriella frowned and glanced towards the closed door of her room, wondering exactly what time it was. She rubbed her eyes tiredly and yawned before preparing herself to actually place her feet on the ground and get moving for the day. The brunette's feet hit the ground softly and Gabriella did not find her toes as she was expecting when she looked down to the ground. Instead, she was startled in finding a clump of a figure surrounded messily by blankets, the man's face buried deep in the white fluffy pillow.

Gabriella couldn't help but smile to herself as Troy let out a soft snore, echoing into the pillow. She barely questioned how he had ended up on the ground but rather felt uncomfortably guilty in knowing she was probably the reason why he slept on the cold, hard floor.

Tip-toeing ever so quietly, Gabriella clicked open the adjoining bathroom door and closed it shut behind her. Her first priority, she had decided, as she leaned her back against the cool, raspy wood was to let out the breath she hadn't noticed she was holding. There was something about seeing Troy Bolton lying asleep on his stomach, his breath hitching in and out slowly, blowing strands of his sandy hair, that made him look…sexy. The blush crept up on Gabriella's cheeks as she also remembered seeing that he had thrown off the shirt she had seen him in last night before they went to bed.

Gabriella let a shiver coil through her, suddenly aware of how cold she felt. Her hands felt like ice when she lifted them to her face, burning as they connected with the warmth of her rosy cheeks.

She moved quickly through the bathroom and avoided any thoughts that could shatter her from her distractions. The daily routine kicked in and Gabriella rushed to splash cold water over her face. Her breath spurted out in slow gasps and she rested her face against the plush towel she had applied shortly after. The soft, chocolate brown eyes sparkled back at Gabriella as she glanced into the mirror in front of her for a moment. Gabriella sighed and reached into the medicine cabinet to retrieve her toothbrush. She quickly applied paste to the brush and stuck it in her mouth, violently brushing each of her teeth. It was hard for her to deny the fact that she was already desperate to see Troy again, even if he was asleep in the next room…

The door clicked open beside her and Gabriella let her breath hitch in her throat as Troy's silhouette poked through the cracks. She forced herself to gulp down a breath and didn't stop herself as she swallowed a whole mouthful of toothpaste. She couldn't help herself from letting her eyes stray down the length of his body, taking in his messy brown hair that stuck up in all places to his ocean blue eyes glancing back at the brunette tiredly. He had at least had the decency to put back on his wife beater, much to Gabriella's dismay.

Gabriella turned away from Troy's slowly spreading crooked grin and felt the embarrassment kick in again, struggling to keep her face hidden beneath her curls as she shakily continued to brush in silence. "You could have knocked…" She managed to mutter with a mouthful, trying her best to actually sound annoyed or even angry about his abrupt appearance. Even she could here the reluctance in her voice and she watched Troy's face cautiously through the glass mirror as he full on grinned back at the picture of them.

Troy shrugged nonchalantly. "It's not as if you weren't dressed. I heard you brushing your teeth, plus I knew you got up only a couple of minutes ago." His words didn't seem to bother him and Gabriella felt her cheeks slightly go red at how much he still was at ease with her. Gabriella forced herself not to pull back into the memories of them…his arm wrapped around her waist, gently pulling her closely against his chestenjoying the time they spent in the shower together…

Gabriella shook her head and knocked the blurred images of their college years out of her head completely, ignoring Troy's intense stare at her. She imagined he was attempting to read her face for any signs of what made her suddenly unhappy and she could tell by the scrunch of his eyebrows that he had failed.

"I could have been naked though…you never know" She glared intensely back at the man through the mirror.

Troy's eyes danced with sudden amusement. "You brush your teeth naked?"

Gabriella growled and punched the sandy brown-headed guy in the ribs, her hands fiercely pushing the brush harder on her teeth than before. Troy chuckled quietly and reached over her front to grab his own tooth brush and just moments later they were both looking at each other coyly through the mirror in silence.

Gabriella was first to spit out her remains in the sink and nosily turned the knob on the sink up as high as it could go. He was laughing at her she knew, but she refused to glance up at him again until she had successfully wiped all white blotches off around her mouth and on her lips.

Gabriella wondered why he didn't bother to say a sentence like, 'It's not like I haven't seen you naked before', but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that he was actually aware of her discomfort. Because when she looked back towards Troy, he had shifted away from her and continued to brush his teeth over at the other end of the counter, but still holding his own over the sink.

He grinned timidly at the brunette who stared at him with her eyebrows raised and he leaned over the sink quickly to spit in it. She gave him a moment to wash and dry his face, patiently waiting until he finished.

Troy turned to the gorgeous curly-haired woman in front of him and grinned, showing off his sparkling white teeth. "Sorry Montez, I didn't mean to cramp your space."

Gabriella's eyes rolled slightly and she turned her back on him and strolled wordlessly through the door, planning in her head to grab a towel in her closet and then finally kick him out of the bathroom until she actually finished up in there.

She paused in the middle of her room to see Chantel whirling around curiously, her eyes lighting up in sudden excitement. Gabriella groaned and didn't want to know what her sister could possibly be thinking, knowing fully well that Troy had indeed followed her out of the bathroom. His chest heat radiated into the small of her back resulting from the extreme closeness of their bodies and Gabriella restrained a shiver.

"Oh…I-I didn't mean to interrupt…" Chantel's eyes twinkled mischievously, aware of the icy glare that she was receiving from her older sibling, "None of us wanted to wake you. Well, nana told us not to anyway, said to give you two some alone time." Troy coughed loudly from behind Gabriella. She wanted to kick her leg out behind her and plant it deep into his shin.

It sounded just like Isabella too. She had gotten this crazed idea planted in her head that Troy and Gabriella were actually together for good and not just going on a date forced on by an evil younger sister who had conned her into it because it would be for her wedding day.

"It's wasn't a bad idea actually…" Chantel continued to babble endlessly and Gabriella shot her sister a look worthy of devil's advocate. She paused sheepishly in her drabble, chiding herself in the fact that she had forgotten that Troy was also there. Chantel tended to tease her sister a lot but she knew Gabriella wasn't one for it in the public eye of others. "Anyways. I was coming to see if you two were up and getting ready, since because you missed breakfast, we need two extra pairs of hands to help set up for the picnic this afternoon."

Gabriella groaned, smacking her head inwardly for forgetting about the picnic and for shamefully sleeping through breakfast. Chantel sensed her sister's mood and quickly added, "It's okay though. It's so hectic down there that hardly anyone noticed." Liar. "And after the picnic, us young ones" The light brunette winked over at Troy and Gabriella suggestively, "Get to go out for a night on the town!" Chantel clapped her hands together with excitement.

Gabriella moaned quietly and pleaded, "Oh no, we are not going to another one of your numerous strip joints!" It was hard for the dark brunette to picture the numerous outings in her head that resulted in her dragging her wasted sister back to their loft at just the crack of dawn.

"A strip club?" Troy sounded faintly amused.

Gabriella shot him a devilish glare and Chantel bit her lip to suppress the laugh that would have tumbled out of her. Troy's chagrin face was absolutely priceless and it was like Gabriella had immediately taped his mouth shut to dislodge any further comments.

Chantel shook her head coyly, smiling only to herself. She straightened and looked her sister mockingly in the eye. "Now get in the shower, you two. Preferably not together since there are children here…come down as soon as you are both done." The younger Montez turned on her heel automatically, purposely avoiding her sister's jaw-dropping gaze.

Gabriella could hear Troy's laughter rumbling silently in his chest and she didn't dare to look at him. "Not. A. Word." The midnight girl grinded her teeth together viscously and huffed before yanking a towel out of a nearby closet and stomping back into the adjoining bathroom.

Troy turned to swat out a wholehearted comment but only received a gust of wind followed by an impeccable slam of a door.

"Alright…I'll just wait here."

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The brunette beauty stepped out into the fresh air wearing a yellow sundress that tumbled down to her knees and showed off her deep brown curls. The one-piece hugged tight to her hips and implicated her curves nicely. Gabriella's dress sashayed back and forth from the California breeze as she walked through the sliding glass doors to greet her impeccably large family. The grass tickled her tan-skinned bare feet as she padded softly across the sun shade and into the beaming light where her relatives finally were able to catch a good glimpse at her.

"GABI!!!!!!" Two young voices shrieked from a direction to her left and Gabriella snapped her head just in time to reach out and grab the bodies of the youngest kids in the family.

"Luiz! Antonio!" The brunette smiled brightly at her twin cousins, both a mere age of four. "My, you guys are getting so big! I feel old!" She oddly laughed as she groaned slightly from the pressure of weighing the twins on both sides of her hips.

The two dark-headed boys grinned cheekily back at her. "Primo Gabi, you're never too old for us! You're our favorite!" Antonio wistfully spoke, determination spreading through his golden eyes. Luiz nodded his head simply in agree and it didn't take long for Gabriella to be pulling both of her cousins into a bone-crushing hug,

"Oh have I missed you both!"

She roared as she spun them around, still clinging them tightly to her waist. They squealed with laughter and had everyone around them raising their heads to watch the precious scene before them. Gabriella giggled softly along with the boys, singing harmoniously to the tune of "What a Wonderful World." The lazy brown-headed woman continued to spin in circles until dizziness clouded her mind and her back ached for the intense weight to be lifted off of her.

"Oh. Okay, boys. Gabi must be getting old cause she's going to have to let you down now" She grunted with discomfort, stretching out her muscles immediately after the two look-a-likes fell to the ground. They ran off chasing each other wildly, giggling to themselves, coming up with their own kind of entertainment.

Gabriella cracked a smile slightly standing up straight and pleating out the skirt of her dress. Her gaze lifted to skim over the large amount of faces that crowded the tiny space of her grandparents' backyard. The pulse in the brunette's heart skipped a beat when her eyes landed on one particular face that stood out to her more than the others. Troy leaned coolly against the brown picket fence off to the side, staring back into her brown orbs deeply, a smile tugged up on one corner of his mouth. He had witnessed the whole scene involving her cousins and Gabriella sheepishly admitted to unknowingly showing off, not knowing that he had come down from the showers yet. Her delicate, olive-skinned hands reached up to tug subconsciously at her curls, searching for any signs of displacement or tangles from her previous activity. Troy chuckled lightly, realizing what she must have been thinking before shaking his head with a glint in his eye as if to say she looked perfect to him.

Her heart sped up when she noticed him take a step forward as if to walk over to her, but a gentle pull on the hem of her bright yellow dress knocked her gaze reluctantly off of his momentarily. A little girl about the age of six, stared openly up at the older woman, fascinated by her extreme height compared to her petite size. Gabriella's heart melted at the chocolate brown eyes that bugged out and the dark midnight curls that cascaded down the small length of her back. The little girl's face was porcelain white, a small hint of tan blended within. This girl was almost an exact replica of Gabriella herself and if someone didn't know any better, they would have initially thought that she was her own child.

But boy, did she wish. "Annabelle!" Gabriella soothingly reached out to the six-year old and softened at the bundle of joy that snuggled automatically into the curve of neck. "How are you doing sweetie?" She purred as she rocked her cousin lightly from foot to foot, not caring how many muscles she was going to end up straining by the end of the night. There was something irresistible about children to her. Having this little one in her arms at the moment made her heart yearn to have one of her own.

"I'm fine Miss Brie." The mumbled child-like voice sounded clearly and Gabriella was amazed at how eloquently Annabelle was beginning to speak. The little girl suddenly perked up and showed off her glistening teeth. "Look! The tooth fairy came last night!" The bubbling excitement made the small girl bounce up and down lightly in Gabriella's arms, making the older brunette giggle softly and reach out to brush a curl out of the young one's face.

"Awesome! How much money did you get?" Gabriella enthused.

The small girl frowned in Gabriella's arms and squirmed in disappointment. "Only five bucks!" Annabelle pouted and crossed her arms with a mild attitude. Gabriella stifled a laugh at the girl in her arms that was slowly turning into a young diva. She decided to just go along with it and poke fun with her.

"Well just wish harder next time."

Annabelle rolled her eyes slightly and caught the eye of the twins rolling around in the grass. Her big brown eyes lit up, "Oh! Me too! Me too!" She wiggled her way free of Gabriella's arms and jetted quickly over to the boys, leaving Gabriella smiling and shaking her head.

"You're very good with kids" A husky voice whispered from behind the older brunette, forcing Gabriella to freeze in her spot. The feeling of Troy's hot breath on the nape of her neck sent chills down her spine that she couldn't ignore. Troy's chest was pressed hard against her back, connecting their bodies all the way down to their feet…it reminded her of their position this morning. Instead of reveling in the heated moment, she decided to keep up an act for her suspicious relatives and turned straight into Troy's arms, locking her hands around his neck.

"Thank you" She suppressed a grin, keeping her mouth tight in a firm straight line. Troy looked down at her in shock, wondering why exactly she had openly showed some sort of affection to him, initiating it like she had wanted it. And in some ways, she did want it. In fact, she yearned for it. The feeling of longing passed over her slowly as she remembered how natural this scene truly did look. It felt suddenly as if no years had passed…and they were still just Troy and Gabriella. Gabriella and Troy. Never one without the other.

Even though Troy seemed genuinely surprised at this impulsive gesture he was also quite pleased. However, he in no way wanted to let Gabriella know that, so he just kept a firm grip around Gabriella's tiny waist, not pulling her closer or pulling her farther apart. His arms felt like a moat around her; it wasn't a tight embrace and his hands felt rough this time around and not soft and protective. It most definitely was not a typical Troy and Gabriella embrace. More like strangers.

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A few hours later, the guests were rolling with laughter, some gathered around picnic tables discussing the wedding with Bryan and Chantel. Others were merely lingering around, chattering with distant relatives or watching the kids play.

Gabriella had proudly sat through a platonic discussion between her mother, grandmother, and sister about why Chantel had chosen the color pink as one of her main colors in the ceremony. It had to have been the most boring topic to discuss about and Gabriella would rather sit and watch a special on TLC than that. God forbid she ever get married. Luckily, after a good solid hour, Gabriella was able to escape and excuse herself from the table and try to get some kind of food or drink in her stomach in hopes to settle her nausea.

Gabriella strolled along the snack table, humming surreptitiously to herself. She suddenly thought about Troy, realizing she hadn't talked with him since an hour ago, just before she got sucked into everlasting hell. Subconsciously, she lifted a chip out of a cream bowl and munched on it while scanning her eyes around the crowded yard in search for her date. A few loud little voices in the corner caught her attention and Gabriella craned her head to get a better view. The three youngsters were running in circles, screaming and laughing, followed by a much larger man who was apparently chasing them. She raised her dark eyebrows in amusement as she zeroed in on Troy, who was in the middle of flying Antonio into the air like an airplane. The small boy squealed in delight and Gabriella was able to catch Troy's wide grin on his face as he turned around and around with the toddler. The other two children tugged impatiently on both of Troy's pant legs, not wanting to wait for their turn.

It took Gabriella a moment to realize that she was grinning from ear to ear, until she felt a light tap on her shoulder. Reluctantly, Gabriella turned away from that adorable sight and focused her eyes on her mother, who was smiling at her knowingly. "What?"

Maria rolled her eyes annoyingly at her daughter, not able to believe how oblivious she really was. She was however aware of how broken up her daughter was about Troy's departure some years earlier and placed a comforting arm around her shoulder lovingly. "Honey, let me tell you something." Gabriella was now fully enveloped into the conversation curiously. Maria stretched out her long finger to point over at Troy with the kids. "You once told me when you were fifteen years old, that if you could find a guy that was so charming and had you mesmerized…" The brunette strayed her eyes away to glance back at the first guy who ever stole her heart. She bit her lip and fought her emotions as she watched his beautiful blue eyes shine in the sunlight, his sparkling smile lighting up the whole entire place as if it wasn't even sunny before he arrived. "Then you would be happy. But…" Maria paused in her speech, taking a moment to scan Troy, as if to confirm her thoughts. "If you could find a guy that would love and cherish kids the way you do…you would be perfect."

The four voices in the corner echoed with laughter, their harmonious voices ringing blissfully soft in Gabriella's ear. She fought to keep her eyes off of Troy's disheveled face…his features so perfectly outline. The brunette beauty's chocolate eyes rusted up with salty tears. Maria softly kissed her daughter's forehead comfortingly.

"I'm scared, momma."

Maria's heart almost broke at Gabriella's croaked voice, whispering out like a frightened child. "I know, baby. I know." She patted her eldest soothing on the back. Abruptly, she pulled back and stared Gabriella squarely in the eye. "Just do what's right for you." The older Montez let her dark-greyish hair swish upward as she let her eyes scan one last time at the sight in front of her before wordlessly turning around to continue her rounds around to their guests.

Gabriella sighed and silently brushed the hot tears from her cheeks delicately. She fanned a hand in front of her face to dry it from the wetness and turned back around to face the irresistibly cute scene before her. Troy had quit playing with them, instead watched contently from the sidelines as the three played an innocent little game of tag. And then she decided. Before Gabriella had recognized the movements she was making, she was making a quick beeline to Troy, not wanting to be stopped by any of her relatives.

His back was facing her now and she was sure he hadn't heard her approaching since she had lost her sandals a while back and snuck up behind him quietly. The bright green grass tickled her bare feet as she walked, but she would worry about the grass stains later. Without muttering a word, Gabriella slid to his right side and immediately wrapped both her arms freely around Troy's torso. He jumped reflexively as the warm hands slid around his waist and hugged him gently to her body. It was quick though, as he almost immediately responded and cradled her gently into his chest. Gabriella sighed blissfully and dug her face into the crook of his neck, breathing in his fragrance of scented soap.

"What's this for?" He whispered softly, his lips touching her earlobe scarcely. Whatever it was for, he wasn't protesting, as he crushed her body against his even tighter than before.

Gabriella closed her eyes for a moment, letting her soft, full lips rest smoothly on the base of his throat. She felt his muscles tense spasmodically and smirked to herself. "I realized I hadn't hugged you since I've seen you again. And it's long overdue." Her words came out mumbled, but the way he affectionately kissed her head in response, made her certain that he was thinking the same exact thing.

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Hope you liked it! I'll try to update as soon as I can! Thanks for the support. By the way, this rating is going to soon change to M…well, at least slightly. You'll see what I mean.