'Tis the Season

Summary: Follow Troy and Gabriella through several holiday seasons, as their relationship with one another grows and changes. Fluffy AU Troyella fic.

Disclaimer: I do not own these wonderful characters (or any part of the HSM franchise)...I just love them like the rest of you. :-) I also do not own any Christmas songs, their lyrics, their rights, or the artists who have performed them...in case you actually wondered. ;-)

Author's Note: If you are awaiting part II of the LBMF epilogue, please know I have begun to write it. I have also begun to write an angsty one-shot and the barebones beginnings of a couple other stories. BUT, this new fluffy baby came to me two days ago and I just had to explore it. :-) I love the holiday season, particularly Christmas, and there are so many good things associated with it that I just thought I could have some fun playing with that. Hope you enjoy it!


Chapter 1 - 'Tis the Season...To Play

"I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus
Underneath the mistletoe last night.
She didn't see me creep

Down the stairs to have a peep;
She thought that I was tucked
Up in my bedroom fast asleep.
Then, I saw Mommy tickle Santa Claus
Underneath his beard so snowy white;
Oh, what a laugh it would have been
If Daddy had only seen
Mommy kissing Santa Claus last night."

"Troy, Gabi, you kids can go play now."

Nine-year old neighbors and friends, Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez looked at each other with relieved smiles lighting up their faces before standing up from the floor and dashing out of the living room, up the stairs, and into Gabriella's room. It was Christmas Day and they had just finished eating dessert while watching a movie with both of their families. They eagerly left Lucille and Jack Bolton and Maria and Eduardo Montez to continue their adult conversation well into the evening as their children scurried off to take advantage of the new toys they'd received that day.

Both families had shared the Christmas holiday for as long as Troy and Gabriella could remember. Both sets of parents, having moved far away from their hometowns, did not really have any extended family in the area. When they'd met each other, they'd quickly progressed from simply being neighborly to one another to becoming close friends. This had led them to spend a lot of time together, including the holidays. The families usually traveled to be with extended family for Thanksgiving but had always felt like they wanted their children to be able to have Christmas at home. So, as was the case each year, Gabriella and Troy had woken up that morning and opened presents with their respective families before getting dressed for lunch. This year, Maria and Eduardo were hosting -- the two couples took turns each year. Lunch had been good and the cookies for dessert had been even better. Gabriella had enjoyed the movie but was still glad to escape to her room. Troy had been fairly bored during the movie and had shifted around antsily during the whole thing until he'd heard the words his mom had spoken and taken off with Gabriella by his side.

Troy had brought over his new remote control helicopter, so he and Gabriella had fun playing with that for a while, flying it around the room and occasionally crashing it into things like Gabriella's dresser and lamps, causing quite a few bouts of laughter. After thirty minutes or so, Gabriella grew bored with this particular activity and plopped herself down on her bed, letting out a sigh.

"What?" Troy asked, lowering the helicopter so that it came to a rest in his hand.

"Nothin'...just, can we play something else now?"

"Uh, yeah, I guess. What do you want to play?"

Gabriella's face lit up with a grin, as she looked around the room, eyeing her new easy-bake oven. "Let's play house."

Beside her, Troy groaned.

"Come on, Troy. We played with your helicopter."

Troy shrugged.

Gabriella moved over to her new toy, and turned to smile at Troy again.

"Look! Since I'm the mom, I'll bake you and the kids a cake."

This perked Troy up. Food was always a good reward. Grinning back at her, Troy nodded his agreement and placed his helicopter and its remote down on her nightstand. "Okay, but I don't think we should let the kids have too much sugar," he said in a mock serious tone, repeating a phrase he'd heard their parents use before, "so, I'll have to eat most of the cake."

Gabriella giggled. She moved to grab two of her dolls and handed them to Troy. "Here. Play with the kids while I bake."

Troy rolled his eyes but began talking to the dolls and moving them around so that they were "practicing their wrestling moves" as Gabriella began taking out the mixes she needed to make the chocolate cake pictured on the front of the box. She ran down the hall to the bathroom to get some water and came back in, shutting the door again before heading back to the oven. Having put the small pan into it and turned it on to bake, she moved over to the bed and took the dolls back from Troy, taking them over to the bean bag chair she had sitting in one corner of her room and placing them down gently. She placed a short kiss on each of their plastic heads and covered them with a small blanket.

"Time for Eric and Susan to take a nap," she explained, walking back over to the bed and sitting down next to Troy.

Troy just nodded, staring down at the bedspread for a minute. "Time for cake yet?" he asked, turning his head toward Gabriella hopefully.

Gabriella just shook her head "no," watching as the disappointment crossed Troy's face.

"So, what else should we do then?"

Gabriella looked around the room, searching for inspiration. Getting up quickly, she returned to the bed with the old checkbook her mom had given to her to play with. She had said she could have it since the account no longer existed and if she remembered it was just for play. "We could pay bills." Mom and dad do that a lot.

Troy wrinkled up his nose. "That doesn't really sound like fun. I write enough for school. I don't want to write on Christmas."

Gabriella shook her head at that silly reasoning. She loved to write. She loved school. But, if this didn't interest Troy, she wouldn't make him do it. Thinking back to the movie they'd been watching earlier, she tried to remember what else that mom and dad had done. Then, an idea hit her.

"We could kiss," she suggested chipperly.

"Ew! Why?!" Troy exclaimed, eyes widening at the suggestion.

"I don't know. It's what moms and dads do. They did in the movie we were watching."

Troy eyed her warily, remembering the mom and dad in the movie and knowing she was right about that. "Well...we don't know how."

"It didn't look hard," Gabriella offered.

Troy tilted his head, thinking about this.

"Besides, in a few years, we'll have to start kissing people and going on dates and stuff anyway. Maybe it's good if we know how."

"I guess..."

"Okay then," Gabriella said decisively.

"Okay then," Troy said, less sure.

Gabriella turned so that her body was facing Troy's a bit more and Troy did the same.

They just stared at each other for several seconds.

"Well?" Gabriella asked finally, breaking the silence.

"Well, what?" Troy asked nervously.

"Well, you're the boy. You're supposed to kiss me."

"Well, I'm not ready yet, okay," Troy replied testily.

"Just...lean in and put your lips on mine," Gabriella instructed helpfully.

Troy blew out a frustrated breath. "I know that," he said huffily. "Just wait...and...close your eyes."

Gabriella did as he asked and closed her eyes and sat waiting patiently, hands folded neatly in her lap.

Troy figured that he'd better just do it or she might get mad and throw the cake away or give it to her parents instead or something. Taking one more quick breath, he leaned forward and closed his eyes just before pressing his lips against hers in a very quick peck before retreating.

Gabriella opened her eyes in surprise, looking at Troy curiously. Carefully, she spoke. "I don't think...it's supposed to be that quick."

Troy groaned.

"Troy, don't you want to know how to do this right so you don't mess it up with your first date?"

Troy scratched the back of his neck nervously. "I guess."

"Then, just...maybe we should hold it longer."

"Okay," Troy sighed.

Gabriella smiled before closing her eyes again and waiting.

Troy leaned in again, hesitating a bit less this time, and pressed his lips to hers again, this time holding them there for a slow count of five before pulling back.

Gabriella opened her eyes again and met Troy's. "Better?" he asked.

"Uh, yeah." Then, she tilted her head thoughtfully, still looking at Troy.

"What now?"

"Well, I still think we're missing something."

"Errr...they did kind of...move their mouths around a bit," Troy remembered.

"Yeah...and, they were lying down some of the time too."

"Well, I guess we could try that," Troy commented, now a bit curious about this whole kissing process himself, not because he liked any girls that way, just because he didn't like to not know how to do things right. Actually, there weren't any girls other than Gabi that he'd let talk him into trying this anyway. The rest of them were too gross. But Gabi played with his cars, his action figures, and now his helicopter and she was pretty good at video games too. She was fun to play with and pretty cool, he guessed, for a girl. So, when she wanted to do girly things like this, he figured it was only fair for him to do some of the things she liked. He drew the line at letting her put makeup on him though. He had actually let her play hairdresser and cut and style his hair once, for which they had both gotten into quite a bit of trouble with their parents. At least this seemed harmless enough and not likely to get them into trouble. Why wouldn't their moms and dads want them to play...well...them?

Troy's attention was drawn back to Gabriella as he watched her change her position so that she was lying on her side, tilting her head to look up at him expectantly. Troy followed suit and settled himself into the same position facing her.

"Gabi?"

"Huh?"

"You aren't going to like, tell anyone about this, right?"

"Nah."

"Okay."

"So, how are we supposed to move our mouths?"

"Um, I think they were just like twisting their heads a bit and like, opening and closing their mouths a few times."

Now it was Gabriella's turn to wrinkle up her nose. "Why would they do that?"

"I don't know," Troy answered defensively. "This was your whole idea in the first place."

"I know. Sorry," Gabriella replied sheepishly.

Troy sighed and looked at Gabriella pointedly until he saw her eyes tentatively flutter shut. He started to move his head toward hers...

"Wait!" Gabriella exclaimed, stopping Troy and causing him to open his eyes and back up again, looking at her with confusion.

"Maybe we should...hold hands or something," she said meekly, feeling suddenly a bit nervous.

Troy considered this briefly before reaching over and gripping her hand with his own. Looking back at Gabriella, he saw the small smile she sent him before taking a breath and closing her eyes.

Troy licked his lips and concentrated on the task at hand. He thought about his plan of attack and adjusted his head accordingly before moving slowly in again.

Gabriella could hear Troy rustling about a bit as she waited. She wasn't really sure how she would move her lips. She figured she'd see what Troy did and mimic that. She didn't have to wait too long. Soon enough, she felt the light pressure of his lips touching hers again, except this time, he didn't keep them frozen in place. He kind of...slid them over hers a bit and seemed to be tilting his head slightly at different angles. So, Gabriella slowly attempted to do the same.

Troy was not entirely sure about this. It wasn't horrible. It was just...different than anything he'd ever done before. As Gabriella began to move her lips and tilt her head like he was, he felt a bit proud, like perhaps they were doing this right and it was something he could feel like he accomplished. Remembering something, Troy decided to try one more thing. He let his lips loosen up a bit and separated them a bit before bringing them closed once more. Hmm. It made him feel like he was trying to eat her lip without using teeth. He tried again, picturing the action in his head as being similar to the way his goldfish at home opened and closed their round little mouths repeatedly. He wondered if fish were just trying to blow kisses then...hmm...definitely things he had NOT thought about before.

Gabriella had almost pulled back when she felt Troy open his mouth a bit and close his lips over hers, almost like he was getting too hungry for that cake and would settle for her instead...except she didn't feel any teeth, so she decided that wasn't it and Troy was just doing what he said the mom and dad in the movie were doing. She figured he was right. He was usually immediately good at anything physical, so kissing was probably no exception. She had nothing to compare this to. Remembering her goal to mimic, Gabriella hesitantly let her lips separate and close again over Troy's. Hmm. Interesting. She tried again.

Troy was pleased that Gabriella was following his lead. He liked being able to show her how to do things. And, despite the fact that he had never done this before, it still felt good to seem like he was in charge somehow. Feeling pleased with their efforts, even if not entirely sure he actually liked kissing, Troy pulled away from Gabriella and propped his head up on his hand.

Gabriella slowly opened her eyes and propped herself up on her hand as well. Looking down she noticed that she and Troy's hands were still linked. Troy's eyes followed hers and he swiftly let go of her hand, bringing his up to scratch at the back of his neck for a few seconds as he looked down at the comforter between them. Gabriella brought her hand back to rest on her hip.

Troy cleared his throat.

Gabriella felt like she should say something. "Well, that was..." she paused, at a loss for words.

"Weird?" Troy filled in.

"Yeah," Gabriella breathed out softly. Seeing Troy look unsure of himself, she felt like she should say something else to let him know he did fine. She knew he hated to not do well at anything. But she didn't really know what to say about it so she just said the first thing that came to mind. "Your lips are...um...really soft."

Troy blushed at this, which in turn caused Gabriella to blush and then blush some more when Troy replied. "Thanks...um...so are yours."

Shooting shy glances at one another for another few moments, the silence was broken when Gabriella started giggling and Troy couldn't help but start laughing with her. They rolled over onto their backs and clutched at their stomachs as they continued to laugh at their silliness. Wheezing and gasping for breath, they both finally turned back to each other and smiled.

"Let's never do that again," Gabriella suggested, her lips still twitching with laughter.

"Agreed," Troy said jovially, trying to stop his own laughter.

Ding.

"Oh! The cake's done," Gabriella exclaimed with a smile, getting up from the bed and going to remove it from the little oven.

Troy sat up and rubbed his hands together in anticipation, grinning as he watched her cut them each a piece, place them on two small plastic plates, grab two small forks, and bring them over to the bed.

"Thanks, Gabi!" Troy said enthusiastically, as she handed him his plate. He noticed she had given him a much bigger piece than she had given herself. Troy smiled, thinking to himself 'That is what makes her cool...even for a girl.'

"Merry Christmas, Troy!"

"Merry Christmas, Gabi!"

And, with that, they both settled down to eat their cake, soon moving on to playing a board game and putting their earlier "house" adventures out of their minds.