Winter Break was upon the former students of East High! Former rivals (such as the "Freaky Math Girl" and "Queen of the Drama Department") had long since settled their differences, spurring a tentative friendship between them. Now, they congregated at the local Olive Garden for a jubilant get-together, with plans for a movie sometime later on during their mini-vacation.
In the handful of months the Wildcats were separated, they each either fanned well-established flames or reaped the rewards of budding romance. Undoubtedly, Troy and Gabriella remained together, although Chad, despite what he told his best friend two days before prom, enthusiastically and successfully attempted a long distance relationship with Taylor. To Jason's minute disapproval, his ex-girlfriend Kelsi warmed up to Ryan, who only recently announced they were officially an item. As for Ryan's twin sister, upon deflating her ego to an extent, Sharpay suddenly noticed that Zeke, another Wildcat at the University of Albuquerque and baker of heavenly cookies, wasn't that bad of a catch. Even Jason, albeit a bit slow and uneasy at first with the concept of dating girls that weren't Kelsi, managed to find a sweetheart in college.
Unfortunately, for all the love at the table, none of the boys were particularly keen on watching "Bride Wars", which all their lady loves were dying to see. The girls saw it as sweet and hysterical. The boys saw it as the foreboding of a dark future. Well, save one.
"Gabriella, could you just 'convince' Troy to come along?" Taylor demanded. "If the captain goes, the rest of the lunkheads will follow."
"Fine, but you're gonna hate me for setting Women's Rights back a few decades. . . ." Gabriella replied with a timid smirk, ashamed and amused by how easily she could manipulate her sweetheart.
Sliding her fingers down the top four buttons of her blouse to unfasten them, she gently tugged at the bottom of her blouse to bring the cleavage low enough to subtly reveal her bra, a lacy black piece brilliantly selected to contrast her white shirt in case such seduction was called for. Striding over to an oblivious Troy, she seated herself in his lap so the left side of her body was directed at his chest, her legs innocently crossed. Needing to grab her boyfriend's attention, she lifted one leg high into the air and pivoted her body to face the young basketball star, her leg passing gracefully over his head and allowing gravity to tug on her skirt to reveal more of her bare thigh before she gently rested her leg on the opposite side of Troy's waste.
"Troy. . . ." she started, wrapping her arms around his neck to pull herself forward. Their bodies touched, her breasts directly below Troy's eyes and an eager part of him brushing against her ass. She silently giggled as she watched his eyes dart in every direction in their attempt to avoid being hypnotized by her female wiles. But, sure enough, she noticed the occasional glance flicker towards her cleavage.
"Gabriella, you know I'm really not all that interested in seeing 'Bride Wars'," he reminded her chest. Embarrassed, he hastily asked the ceiling, "I'm straight, remember?"
Obviously. Gabriella thought with a smirk as she witnessed another glance down her top.
"I know, but I figured you'd come for me. . . ." she pouted, leaning in so he could "sneak" a better view.
"Um. . . ." was all Troy managed to utter, unable to peel his thoughts from his luscious girlfriend who was currently straddling and seducing him in public.
"I'd be so happy if you came," she added sweetly with a smile. The smile quickly transformed into a "Come hither" look as she leaned forward to his ear and whispered:
"And I know a few tricks to get ya to come."
"Damn it, why am I such a sucker for double entendres. . . ." he whined, realizing his pending defeat. "Fine. . . I'm in."
"Yay!" Gabriella cheered to a reluctant Troy.
"But you owe me, Miss Montez," he scolded her as she buttoned her top off and threw her legs back together, although she remained facing him with her arms draped over his shoulders
"Mmm. . . Naked Halo?" she suggested, smiling playfully before kissing him softly on the lips.
"Nice," the athlete replied after they broke apart. With a smirk and a chuckle, he added, "And with you playing, the Arbiter will suck on multiple levels now."
"Hey, I managed to snipe ya before," she retorted, refusing to confirm or deny any underlying sexual insinuations.
"Yeah. In co-op," he reminded her for the umpteenth time before returning to passionately kissing the beautiful young Montez.
"Oh, get a room!" Chad groaned, half to be humorous and half out of disgust.
"Men's or women's?" Troy quickly inquired from Gabriella.
"Women's has more stalls," she replied as she leapt to her feet and enthusiastically darted for the restrooms, locking her hand with Troy's to get him to follow in a timely manner.
"Thanks for the idea, man!" he shouted back to his best friend, his girlfriend directing him towards the opposite side of the restaurant.
"I didn't mean literally!" Chad called back, half the Olive Garden's patrons turning to face the obnoxious commotion.
"They're really in love, aren't they?" Ryan sighed as he watched the blissful couple disappear behind the door segregating the restrooms and the dining room.
"Yeah," Kelsi replied, smiling sweetly ad she wrapped around her choreographer/boyfriend. Their semester at Julliard was demanding, excruciating on their minds and body, but joyful simultaneously. "They make me honestly believe in the words 'Happily ever after'" she admitted.
The group resumed its casual conversations, although they were cut short as an ear-splitting screech shattered all the glassware in the building. Moments later, Gabriella and Troy burst from the bathroom doors and beelined around waiters and tables towards the exit, their clothes slightly askew and loose but toothy grins plastering their faces.
Watching them exit, Jason asked to no one in particular, "Did they just skip the bill?"
Before anyone could reply, however, Sharpay sprinted to their table looking completely mortified.
"Ew! Someone was having sex in the stall right next to me!"
The next day, a bright Saturday heralded by the beaming sun, the former teammates Bolton, Danforth, Baylor, and Cross were resting up after an exhausting game between the three University of Albuquerque players versus the sole University of California player. Troy lost such an uneven match of course, but only by a margin of two points
As they doused themselves with their own drinking water, their conversation bounced between subjects: basketball, high school playoffs and memories, the changes occurring during their freshmen year, new girlfriends, old girlfriends.
"I never thought Gabriella could become so. . . ." Chad hesitantly admitted while mulling over the events at the restaurant.
"So what, Chad?" Troy demanded, feigning a serious tone to send his friend into a panic.
"Um. . . Adventurous in just one semester of college," he replied, hoping he played off any hints of a Gabriella gone wild.
"What can I say?" Troy shrugged, playfully smacking the back of Chad's head with his hand to reassure him he was joking earlier. "After she settled into the Stanford routine, she's become so excited at the prospect of trying new things. And college is a new set of experiences, a whole new world."
"Isn't that song about the female orgasm?" Jason thought aloud.
"Oh, you have no idea." Troy smirked.
"Well, just tread carefully, Troy. You don't want to move things too fast." Zeke offered wisely.
"Yeah. . . ." Troy muttered solemnly, shoving his hands into the pockets of his sports jacket.
"They've been dating officially for like a year and a half now, Zeke," Chad commented as if he was Troy's biographer. "I don't think we need to worry bout 'em moving 'too fast'."
But Chad's words and Zeke's rebuttal went unheard by Troy, who was silently contemplating the miniature velvet box he was fiddling with in his pocket.
Across town, Gabriella lifted her head from the bathroom counter, having vomited several times earlier that Saturday. Her insides were on fire, but she was terrified at the prospective cause.
Peering into the sink, she recognized the distinct blue line depicted on the back of the box.
She should be happy. She should be proud.
But all she could do was mutter an "Oh, man" before resting her nauseous head on the counter once more, completely exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Something's wrong. Troy thought to himself.
Gabriella wasn't returning his calls. Did he do something to upset her? Did she overhear his plans to "Boo!" throughout the entire duration of "Bride Wars"? What the hell was wrong?
Only one way to find out.
Thank God he learned to jump high for basketball. Otherwise, he'd never be able to scale the tree bordering the balcony outside his girlfriend's room. Reaching the platform, he carefully stepped over the railing and snuck up to the glass door. Peering inside, he noticed a sullen Miss Montez who was startled by his sudden appearance.
She moved to lock the door, but he quickly pried it open and leaned against the door, preventing her from closing it.
"What do you want, Troy?" Gabriella asked him, knowing (and secretly happy) that his love and persistence would prevent him from leaving her side.
"Well," Troy began slowly, opting to select his words carefully in case he was already in a quagmire with her. "I was hoping to find out why you've been avoiding me for the past week."
"I haven't been avoi--" she began but an unblinking look from her boyfriend cut her off.
"It's complica--" she fumbled to an unyielding gaze.
"I didn't want to scare y--"
Oh, the unrelenting power of the "I-know-you're-lying" stare.
"Damn it, Troy," she whined, slightly perking up as she seated herself on the edge of her bed. "Can't I just make up an excuse and sulk?"
"Well, if I let ya, I'd be a rather lousy fiancée," he admitted, planting himself beside her and embracing her lovingly. His hand slipped into his pocket and recovered a small closed box.
"And father," she blurted out, not quite registering that her boyfriend had vocally upgraded himself to "fiancée" and was now bearing a small gift. But, in a single instant, they both realized what the other had hinted.
"What?!" they simultaneously shouted in shock.
"You're pregnant?" he inquired of her still-flat belly.
"Is that a ring?" she demanded of the still-closed box.
"Well, I was hoping to ask you on Christmas Day, but now. . . ." he trailed off.
". . . But now you don't want to stick around and dash your dreams and future to raise our mutant basketball-playing braniac of a child. . . ." she finished for him, tears forming in her eys and rolling down her cheeks. She knew this would happen. At least if she kept him away, she wouldn't have had to hear it.
"Let me finish my own sentence please," he said softly, gently lifting her face out of hands so that their eyes can meet. He was smiling as he wiped away her tears from the stunned face of such a stunning beauty.
"But now I want to ask you right here, right now. If we marry earlier than I planned, our first child won't be a bastard," he explained, never breaking his sincere smile or his gaze into her eyes, telling her he spoke the truth and with love.
"Troy. . . ." she started, trying to fight back the tears since she couldn't determine whether they spawned from joy or fear. "I don't know. . . We're moving too fast and I'm scared that we won't be able to handle the changes and--"
"Hey, it'll be ok, I know it," he comforted, pulling her in so her head could rest lightly on his chest. After a few awkward seconds of silence, he began to sing:
"This could be the start of something new.
It feels so right, to be here with you.
Lifting her head, Gabriella smiled through her worries and tears, adding:
"And now looking in your eyes, I feel in my heart
The start of something new. . . ."
And with that, she leaned in and kissed him with all the passion and fire she held for him since the night they first sang that song together. And as their lips locked, Troy slipped the ring onto Gabriella's finger, the corners of her mouth curling as she felt the minute weight added to her hand.
They may be moving too fast, but the pace and her jogging mate were perfect to her.