Summary: After being apart for ten years, Gabriella and Troy meet on a long flight. Will they reconnect or will their history together make this the longest six hours of their lives?
Chapter One- Boarding
Gabriella Montez sighed in aggravation as she waited to board her apparently very full flight from Newark to New Mexico. She hated flying more than anything- the waiting, being completely cut off from the outside world for hours on end, the endless delays. Inevitably, she was seated between two gargantuan hairy men with no sense of personal space. She quit checking her bags after her last trip west when her bags went to Utah, forcing her to desperation shop for a new business suit an hour before a very important presentation. The hassles of travel were nothing compared to the stomach churning nerves that began the moment she arrived at the airport and did not stop until she was safely in a cab to her destination. This trip was causing even more upset than usual and the long lines did not help matters.
Gabriella checked her watch for the third time since lining up to board the plane. They were sure to be late out of the gate, making it very likely she would be late for her afternoon meetings. She was just about to pull out her Blackberry to call her assistant when it began to vibrate in her hand.
"Taylor! I was just going to have my assistant call you. I'm sure we're going to be late. Can we go over the media buys over dinner tonight instead?"
"That's fine. I just wanted to check in, remind you to breathe your way through this flight. It's only six hours. You'll be in sunny Albuquerque in no time."
"Somehow, I don't find that comforting. Only for you would I step foot back in New Mexico. Why couldn't you have stayed in Connecticut and started your illustrious political career there?" Gabriella sighed as she finally stepped onto the waiting airplane and slowly proceeded to her seat at the very back of the plane.
"Because I want to make a difference HERE, where I grew up, where my heart is. It's been ten years, Gab, what's the likelihood you would actually run into him here? I don't think his parents are even here anymore. I think they retired to Phoenix or something. Sharpay mentioned that at lunch the other day."
"Leave it to her to know exactly where everyone ended up. How was lunch anyway? Any Evans contributions to pad the campaign coffers?" Gabriella asked as she inched closer to her seat and scouted out the overhead compartments for the small zebra print wheeled suitcase she dragged behind her.
"I think so. Derby even offered to sponsor some Women in Business lunches at Lava Springs. And Sharpay's ready to start making calls to all the East High connections she can come up with, see what comes of it. Though I think part of her motivation is to find out the dirt on everyone. You might want to consider using her help in opposition research when this thing gets rolling. She is a whiz at digging up dirt."
"Don't I know it." Gabriella sighed as she hoisted her bag into the compartment above her seat and flopped into the middle seat of the very last row. Seated at the window was a man much too large to fit into a normal airline seat, which had already pushed to armrest up to allow his body to seep into the next seat. His upper lip and forehead were already moist with sweat. Gabriella lowered herself into her seat and tried not to sigh in frustration again.
"I'm guessing your flying karma is still rocking based on the silence on the line. Six hours, Gab, six hours and I'll be there to pick you up." Taylor tried to restrain herself from giggling as she remembered the last horror story Gabriella had shared about a two hour flight that became an eight hour ordeal squished between an aging weight lifter and elderly obese woman with flatulence. Just then, a perky voice over the in flight intercom.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the pilot has just informed me that there is a minor problem with the aircraft that the mechanics are going to be working with. It shouldn't be long, so we'll continue the boarding process. We will let you know when we are ready to be underway." Taylor heard the announcement through the phone and burst out laughing. Gabriella released a long deep breath
"Your laughter is very unbecoming a future congresswoman. You don't seem the least concerned with my troubles or struggles."
"Sorry, Gab, you aren't a constituent, you're a consultant. I don't really care about your troubles as long as your polling numbers turn out than my favor."
"Nice. Mind if I leak that?" Gabriella teased.
"Oh shoot, Gab, I'm late for a meeting. I'll see you this afternoon, I hope. Call me when you land!"
"Ok. Talk to you soon, I hope." Gabriella disconnected her call and bent down to tuck her phone into her briefcase as the man who apparently had the seat next to her shoved his duffel bag above their seats. Something about the way he flipped his sandy hair out of his eyes clenched Gabriella's stomach, so she quickly pulled some demographic reports out of her briefcase and pretended to study them carefully as she watched him out of the corner of her eye. Her flight karma couldn't be this bad…that was cruel and unusual punishment.