Homecoming: Part I

SUMMARY: Troyella Two-shot - Gabriella and Troy have been apart for eleven days, eleven days of missing each other and longing for one another. They are both looking forward to Gabriella's return home. M because I just can't seem to help myself. LOL!

DISCLAIMER: I do not own these wonderful characters (or any part of the HSM franchise)...I just love them like the rest of you. :-)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: So, this is apparently what my muse wanted me to publish next...if you're a LBMF reader, please know that yes, I am working on the epilogue, I promise, but I was just inspired to write this little two-shot (2nd part - where the M really comes into play - will be up soon). If you want, you can picture it being LBMF Gabriella and Troy or give them your own background story as you see fit...hope you'll enjoy! Thanks much for reading!

Gabriella took an excited breath. The wheels of the plane had just touched down on familiar ground. She had been gone far too long and fidgeted anxiously with her purse as she waited for the plane to arrive at the gate, getting her one step closer to him.

She had spent an amazing eleven days with her girlfriends vacationing in L.A., seeing the sights, and even getting to attend a Hollywood premiere. But as she watched that movie, starring two of her favorite actors who also happened to be romantically involved in real life, making the on-screen chemistry that much more intense, all she could think about were Troy's arms being around her like she was seeing on the screen, and dances and other similar times she'd shared with him.

He had been so sweet and understanding about her taking this trip, knowing how much she and her friends would enjoy it. They'd spoken on the phone everyday but nothing could serve as a substitute for feeling his arms around her, kissing his lips, and going to sleep and waking up next to him. Her days didn't quite feel complete; she didn't quite feel whole. She missed him and she needed him…and she was going to get to see him in a matter of minutes.

As the plane stopped at the gate and the seatbelt light went off, she unbuckled hers and stood up with the other passengers. She retrieved her laptop bag from the overhead bin and slung that and her purse over her shoulder, standing on her tiptoes and shifting her head from side to side trying to see if people rows ahead of her were exiting the plane yet. She willed herself to keep breathing steadily as she saw that they slowly but surely were moving off the plane.

When her turn came, she walked as swiftly as she could down the aisle and up the jetway into the terminal. She made a very quick stop at a restroom to run a brush through her hair and make sure she didn't look too travel-weary. She wanted to look beautiful for him, the vision he'd had in his head while she was away.

Exiting the restroom, she walked briskly through the terminal toward the baggage claim area. She tugged on her dress once more to straighten and smooth it and stepped onto the escalator descending toward the baggage carousels. She let her eyes dart around the area below and then she stopped, her dark eyes meeting with his bright blue, the intensity of his gaze coupled with the adorable, happy smile spreading across his face melting her right there on the spot. She felt her own smile lighting up her face and she felt the wetness in her eyes. Oh, how good he looked to her!

Or at least that's how she had envisioned it all happening…

In reality, Gabriella sat on the airplane in L.A.…still…unwelcome salty tears filling her eyes, a few spilling over and running down her cheeks, one hand coming up to swiftly wipe them away, the other gripping onto her cell phone. She looked down at the phone, resting in her hand. She looked out the window at the ground staff motioning to one another, catching sight of the plane in the neighboring hangar moving back from the gate and toward the runway, mocking her.

She had been sitting on the plane for nearly two hours now. Initially, they had said they just needed to check on a belt or something on the plane and then they'd be under way. Then, they'd said it would take a little longer and that they needed everyone to just sit tight. She had texted Troy to let him know they were delayed. It had seemed a minor annoyance. Now, minutes after hearing the latest announcement letting the passengers know that it would take a while more and that any connecting flights would likely be missed, she sat there knowing she needed to call Troy but not wanting to.

The woman in front of her was also traveling to Albuquerque and had just asked the flight attendant if there were any more flights out of El Paso that night if they missed the 9:30pm connector. The flight attendant had looked at the time and let her know that the connector would most definitely be missed now and that she would go check on the possibility of other flights. She had returned not long after to say that the 9:30 was the last flight to Albuquerque that night and that there weren't other flight routing possibilities so the airport would take care of putting her up for the night and fly her to Albuquerque in the morning.

Gabriella had felt the sting of this confirmation of what she'd already imagined would happen to her own plans. It was not that she hadn't been through this before. Months earlier, in fact, on a business trip, she'd been delayed due to mechanical failure and put up in a hotel for the night…but that trip had been a short one, so one extra night didn't seem so bad. She had been away for ten nights, eleven days. She wanted nothing more than to lay her head on her pillow next to that of the man she loved. She didn't know she was crying until she felt the first bit of wetness run down her cheek. She blinked, trying to control her emotions, trying to argue with herself that one more day would not be the end of the world and wondering at her reaction. She didn't think she was the type to be found sitting on a plane crying because her travel plans were delayed. She was an independent woman. She had been away from Troy before. None of these arguments changed the wetness of her eyes. She missed her husband. She supposed she hadn't realized how much until that moment.

Gabriella had dug in her purse for a tissue, dabbed at her eyes, taken a few deep breaths, and held her finger over her phone, poised to dial Troy with the bad news. Her fingers moved automatically and she held the phone up to her ear, waiting two rings before he answered.

"What's up, babe?" Troy answered, the caller ID on the phone already indicating to him that it was his wife calling.

Gabriella sniffled slightly, much to her own embarrassment. She was glad at least that the seat next to her was empty as it wasn't a full flight.

"Ella? What's wrong?"

"Troy, I…there's no way I'll make the connector…there are no more flights tonight…they're going to put me up in a hotel for the night and probably on a flight home in the morning," she finished with a sigh.

The silence on the other end of the line told her Troy was unhappily processing this new information.

"I'm sorry, babe," she continued. "I should have gotten an earlier flight out or something."

"Ella, it's not your fault…you couldn't have known. It just…sucks. I really wanted to have you home tonight."

"I know. I really wanted to be home with you tonight. It stinks to be able to get so close even…it's almost worse," she sniffled again.

"I love you. Babe, don't cry, okay? We'll be together again soon. I promise."

"I know. I'm trying. I know one more night is doable. But, I miss you…and, man, I'm being such a girl."

Troy chuckled. "I miss you too. And, you're supposed to be a girl. I'd be disturbed to find out otherwise."

Gabriella choked out a small laugh at this, making Troy's lips curve into a small smile on the other end. At least he'd made her laugh. That's about all he could do over the phone.

Just then, they both heard another announcement coming over the P.A. system on the plane. "Ladies and Gentlemen, we hope to push back from the gate once more in just a few minutes. Thank you for your patience and we apologize once more for the delay. At this time, please discontinue the use of all cell phones until we reach our gate in El Paso. Thank you."

"Troy? Did you hear that?"

"I did. It's okay, babe. It'll be okay. Just…try to get some rest and relax on the flight and I'll talk to you once you land. I love you."

"I'll try…and I'll call once I've landed. I love you too, Troy."

After a brief pause in which they both silently conveyed the longing of their hearts, Gabriella pulled the phone away and hit the End Call button before turning off her phone to meet airline regulations. About fifteen minutes later, her flight was under way.

Hearing the phone click on his wife's end, Troy hung up his phone as well. He stood there staring at the computer screen in front of him. He'd answered the phone at his desk. Holding onto a thread of hope, he pulled up a new browser and started searching to see if there were indeed any other flights from the El Paso airport that might take Gabriella even to some other airport before getting her to Albuquerque. But, unfortunately, the flight attendant had not been uninformed. There were no other flight possibilities tonight.

Letting out a sigh of disappointment, Troy thought of his wife, sitting on that plane, tears in her big brown eyes. He turned his head in the direction of their bedroom and let his gaze run over the bed, the bed that had felt much too empty for too many days now. Troy looked down at his watch. It was 8:30 now. If her plane had taken off minutes ago, she'd get to El Paso in about three and a half hours. Three and a half hours…just about the same amount of time it would take him to drive to El Paso. Eyes darting to the picture he had on his desk of his beautiful wife, smiling that radiant smile of hers, he made a quick decision and sprang up from his desk, moving quickly to the stairs, jogging down them, grabbing his keys from the table in the foyer, patting his jeans pockets to make sure that he had his cell phone and wallet, and heading out the door without a second glance.

Three and a half hours later, Gabriella blinked, feeling groggy from her semi-restful flight. The plane had just touched down and she had her purse in her lap and was waiting for the announcement that cell phones could once again be used. It felt bittersweet touching down. She was glad to have at least made some geographic progress toward her home, but she knew it would feel like a long night, no matter how comfortable the airport hotel was. Once the flight attendant made the announcement she was waiting for, Gabriella dialed home. She was surprised when Troy didn't answer but merely considered that he may have fallen asleep waiting for her call or something. She left a message on the answering machine letting him know she had made it in safely and he could call if he wanted to and otherwise, she would touch base the next morning before her flight out.

Even more sad now at not having gotten to hear his voice again, she went through the motions of standing up with the rest of the passengers, gathering her stuff, and moving off the plane. Once in the terminal, she was handed her voucher by waiting airline staff and told where to wait for the shuttle to the hotel once she'd finished collecting her suitcase in the baggage claim area. She still took a few moments to visit the restroom just feeling the urge to freshen up after having been on the plane for two and a half hours longer than anticipated. She stared in the mirror at her doleful expression and sighed. She had envisioned it all so differently hours earlier.

A few moments later, she exited the restroom and moved with the crowd toward the baggage claim area. Like the Albuquerque airport, the El Paso airport had its baggage claim on the lower level. She approached the long escalator down and stepped on behind a happy couple who was currently leaning into each other speaking softly. Gabriella looked away dejectedly, waiting until she reached the bottom and stepping off after them. She made her way to her baggage carousel and waited patiently until she saw her suitcase appear. Why not be patient? There was no particular hurry to get to the hotel. Having retrieved her suitcase and pulled the handle up getting ready to walk outside to find her shuttle, she paused as she heard her phone ring. She pulled it out of her purse quickly and answered, figuring it was Troy since it was too late for anyone else to be calling.


"Stop looking so sad. I want to see that smile of yours."

"Wha- What?" she asked with surprise, looking around, an idea popping into her head despite its unlikelihood.

"You heard me," Troy returned, except she wasn't hearing Troy in her left ear, the ear to which she had her phone pressed. She was hearing him through her right ear, where she felt a whisper of hot breath that made her skin tingle. She no sooner felt this than she also saw a bouquet of roses appear in front of her. Gasping, her eyes dropped to the arm holding the flowers and she turned swiftly and let out a squeal seeing her tired but handsome as ever husband standing there with a huge grin on his face, holding the flowers in one hand and tucking his cell phone back into his pocket with the other. Still holding onto her own, she launched herself at him, her arms wrapping around his neck as her lips connected with his.

Troy pulled her to him tightly and returned her kiss passionately, all of the longing and, in particular, the emotions of the last several hours being expressed right there in that airport standing next to Gabriella's bags, not caring one bit about the people milling around on all sides, the beeping and buzzing sounds of the surrounding carousels, the sounds of tired and cranky children…none of it mattered.

Pulling back minutes later, they continued to hold each other and just gazed into each other's happy faces. Troy set the flowers down on top of Gabriella's suitcase so he could bring that hand up and run it through her hair lovingly before bringing his thumb up to caress her cheek.

"I can't believe you're actually here," Gabriella murmured.

"I couldn't help myself. Tomorrow seemed much too far away," Troy replied huskily.

Gabriella giggled. "Troy, it is technically tomorrow."

Troy narrowed his eyes at her playfully. "Are you saying I should have been more patient?"

Gabriella laughed. "No. Definitely not. Impatience looks great on you."

Smirking, Troy leaned back in to kiss her again, relishing the feel of his wife in his arms again. Pulling back once more, he reluctantly released her and handed her the flowers so that he could sling her laptop bag over one shoulder with one hand and pull her suitcase behind him with his other hand. Gabriella slung her purse up over her shoulder and held firmly to the bouquet as they made their way toward the doors and stepped outside. Troy led them to the short-term parking garage where he'd parked and loaded their car up with Gabriella's stuff.

"Surprises for you inside," Troy threw over his shoulder with a smile as he was lifting her suitcase into the trunk...