A/N: Okay, so here's my attempt for the ZA-Angels write off. The category is "Thanksgiving with Troy and Gabriella." Now, I'd like to point out that I am British, and do not celebrate the holiday, so if any of it seems wrong or whatever, I apologise in advance :)
Just the Two of Us
"Tay, seriously, I'll be fine!"
"Gabs, I promise you that it won't be any trouble – my mom and dad would love it if you came with us!"
Gabriella Montez sighed softly as she leant against the side in the kitchen of her small apartment. "Taylor, normally I'd accept an invitation to spend time with you and your family, but it's thanksgiving and I don't want to intrude."
"It's not called intruding when you're actually invited, you know," came Taylor's swift response, and Gabriella couldn't help but grin slightly.
"Look Tay, I've just had the same conversation with Sharpay – I'm fine! You guys are only gone until Saturday, so I'll just see you when you get back."
There was a pause on the end of the line before Taylor sighed heavily. "Gabs – I'm worried, okay? This is your first thanksgiving by yourself since your mom-"
"I'll be fine, Taylor," Gabriella interrupted, pressing her hand to her forehead, willing away the headache she could feel coming.
"I just don't think you should be alone today," Taylor said softly, her voice laced with concern.
Gabriella bit back another sigh. "I may not even be alone. Troy's still in town – I could see if he wants to hang out or something."
"But Gabs, he'll be with his mom and dad, celebrating…" Taylor responded and Gabriella heard someone calling her in the background. "Okay, I have to go now. Last chance…?"
"Taylor! Seriously, just go – have a nice time, and I'll see you when you get back!"
"Alright, alright!" Taylor laughed gently. "Love you, Gabs – have a nice time tomorrow, okay? Just…don't think about her – it'll make things easier…I promise."
"Love you too, Tay – and I'll try not to. Bye!"
Hanging up, Gabriella dropped the phone on to the counter and groaned softly. Why couldn't her friends understand that it wouldn't be easy for her not to think about her mom? It wasn't like she could just choose not to think about her. Her mom was always in her thoughts…especially now that she was de-
Don't think about it.
Shaking her head, Gabriella pushed away from the side in the kitchen and moved across the small flat towards the bathroom where she intended on relaxing by having a scalding hot bath. She plugged her iPod into the speakers and the opening chords of 'Hey There Delilah' filtered into the room, Gabriella humming along softly as she stripped down and climbed into the steaming tub.
She had been dreading this time of the year for almost nine months since her mom had…left her – and she didn't know what to do. Gabriella had never been alone on Thanksgiving or on Christmas before, and it was something that she never intended to do. But clearly, things don't always go to plan. Nothing could've prepared Gabriella for what happened on that day over eight months ago.
Sliding down further into the bubbles, she let out a gentle sigh – her eyes closing as she hummed along to the song, thinking about her phone call with Taylor – and the one before with Sharpay. They had both invited her to stay with them over the holiday, and celebrate it with their families, but Gabriella had been reluctant, claiming she didn't want to interfere with their family time.
However, there was more to it than that.
The idea of her having to watch her friends interact with their families, happy and uncaring, made her feel sick; not because she didn't want her friends to be happy, but because she couldn't do any of that.
There would be no Turkey dinner, there would be no Sweet Potato Pie for dessert and there would be no watching the football games on the TV whilst pretending to understand what was happening. Instead, there will only be a good book whilst curled up in bed with a cup of hot cocoa.
Somehow, this year didn't seem as appealing as the previous one.
Pulling the plug ten minutes later, Gabriella eased herself from the tub and wrapped a fluffy pink towel around her body before slipping from the bathroom and padding softly to her small bedroom. She quickly changed into her pyjamas and pulled on an oversized jersey that belonged to her best friend – who had yet to realise that it was missing – before returning to the living room, scooping up her cell as she went.
Falling down onto the couch and curling up under the red blanket, Gabriella flipped her phone open and composed a text.
Hey Wildcat – hope you're not stuffing your face with food too much! Was just wondering if you wanna come over later for a movie night or something? Let me know! G x x
Her phone was down only for the briefest amount of time before it sprang into life – the shrill ringing echoing in the quiet apartment.
"What makes you think I'm stuffing my face?!"
Gabriella rolled her eyes and giggled quietly. "Uh, because you're always eating food?"
There was a brief pause before, "Okay, you got me there…"
"Like I usually do…"
"Hush," came Troy's teasing response and Gabriella smiled softly. "So…you okay? And don't give me the 'I'm Fine' crap – seriously, are you alright?"
Gabriella sighed for what felt like the millionth time that day. "Troy, seriously, I am fine."
There came a frustrated sigh from Troy and she bit her lip. "Gabs, don't lie to me. I don't know what shit you've told Sharpay and Taylor – but don't try it on me, okay?"
Gabriella nodded her head jerkily before she realised that Troy couldn't see her. "I'm…lonely I guess. I've never been by myself before on thanksgiving – I'm usually at home with m-mom but it just feels so empty here…" She trailed off to meet silence on Troy's end. "I'm sorry, Troy, I don't mean to make you feel guilty or anything, it's just…I need someone-" Gabriella halted her words at the sound of squeals and laughing in the background and she winced. "Oh my gosh! I totally forgot your family was there-"
"Gabs, it's fine, don't worry about it." There was the sound of someone calling his name, and Troy sighed heavily. "Oh jeez, I've gotta go – we're just about to have the lunch…"
Unable to help the tears that welled up and stung her eyes, Gabriella sighed shakily. "It's fine Troy – enjoy your lunch."
"I…wish there's more I can do to help. I feel so lousy knowing that you're feeling like that, Gabs…"
Gabriella winced at the guilt in Troy's tone. "Troy, I'm just being needy, don't worry. Enjoy the rest of your day – and I'll speak to you tomorrow…okay?"
"Uh yeah, sure Gabs. I'll see you soon." Troy sounded somewhat distracted as he hung up and Gabriella frowned.
Well…so much for that helping.
Bringing her hand up to wipe away a few stray tears, she stood from the couch and shuffled to her room before collapsing into her bed and allowing the tears to fall.
The knocking on her front door pulled Gabriella from the comfort of her bed two hours or so later. Passing by her mirror, she winced at her appearance and pinched at her cheeks to bring more colour to them before wiping at her eyes in attempts to reduce the puffiness.
There was another knock and she sighed, moving towards it, her feet dragging grudgingly along the carpet. She really didn't want to deal with anybody right now – especially any unexpected members of the family.
At the third knock, Gabriella took a deep breath – glaring at the door for a brief moment – before cracking it open slightly – only to freeze in shock.
There, standing in the dimly lit hallway was Troy, a crooked grin tilting his lips as he held a steaming wrapped up plate of leftovers.
"Happy Thanksgiving," he murmured, his cerulean eyes glinting softly. Gabriella inhaled sharply on a gasp and before she realised what was happening, tears were streaming down her pale cheeks and her knees buckled from beneath her. Troy reacted quickly, thrusting the plate of leftovers onto the little table by the door before sweeping Gabriella up into his arms and kicking the door shut behind him as he entered the little apartment.
Tucking her head under his chin, Gabriella sobbed into his neck, her salty tears staining the fabric of his pale blue button up as she clutched desperately at him. Troy sat them down on the sofa, his arms holding her tightly against him as she let out little whimpers.
"I-I'm sorry," she whispered against his skin, her runny nose inhaling deeply in order to comfort herself with his one-of-a-kind scent.
"For what?" Troy asked, surprised. "Gabs, you have every right to be upset. You don't need to apologise." Troy cupped her cheeks to lift her face to his, his heart breaking at Gabriella's broken expression. "I just wish there was something I can do to make you feel better."
"I just n-need you to h-hold me," she whimpered as more tears escaped from their confinements. Immediately, Troy's embraced tightened, and he leant them backwards until he was lying across the sofa, Gabriella's quivering form tucked tightly between his and the back of the couch.
"I miss her so much, Troy," she sobbed, her fingers scrunching up the fabric of his shirt against his chest. Troy gripped her fingers in his and lifted them to his lips to press gentle kisses against her knuckles. "I j-just don't know how I'm g-going to do this every year," she hiccupped as she sniffled. "It just hurts so much, Troy – knowing that she's n-not coming back to me like she usually does when she's a-away."
Troy clutched her hand tighter and dragger her closer to him, pulling her body on top of his so that she was lying along the length of his frame. He tucked her face into the crook of his neck as he stroked her back. "Gabs, I can't imagine what you're going through, I really can't – but please, you're breaking my heart. Please stop crying," he whispered against her hair, his own eyes scrunching tightly together to banish the tears that were slowly starting to well up.
Gabriella's trembles and whimpers slowly settled, her body falling limp against his, but Troy knew she hadn't fallen asleep due to the gentle tickling of her eyelashes against the skin of his neck. She wriggled slightly, her head lifting from its hiding place; her face so close to his that her uneven breathing fluttered against his cheek.
"Thank you," she breathed out, her nose gently nuzzling the curve of his jaw.
"For what," Troy asked in a similarly hushed tone.
"For being here," Gabriella responded and her lips tilted ever so slightly in a small smile.
Troy smiled softly in response, leaning up to kiss away the tearstains on her cheeks. "I'll be here for as long as you want me to be," he murmured and his smile quickly switched to a frown as he noticed the change in expression on Gabriella's features. "What is it?"
Gabriella looked confused, her eyebrows scrunched together. The look of hesitation flashed across her face and her eyes darkened ever so slightly as her eyes dropped their focus to his lips. A large lump suddenly formed in Troy's throat and his tongue darted out to lick his now dry lips, his eyes widening ever so slightly as Gabriella's followed the movement.
Gabriella's eyes flew back up to his as he spoke and she bit her lip, before leaning down to him, her gaze never wavering from his. She paused just before their lips brushed and swallowed heavily, her throat feeling dry.
She wasn't quite sure what was making her feel the need to kiss him – but she had felt the slight shift in the tension of the room as Troy had kissed her cheeks with such tenderness. Gabriella hadn't really ever had thoughts like this before, but those soft, gentle kisses made her want to know what those soft, firm lips would feel up against her own. Maybe it was the desperate loneliness she was feeling; the need to be felt loved and cared for – or maybe…it was something else entirely.
However, how would Troy react if she kissed him? Would he kiss her back? Would he stop her? The thought of possible rejection flooded Gabriella's mind and she faltered slightly. She couldn't handle him rejecting her. Not ever. She needed Troy with her more than anything right now, and if she scared him off and things became awkward? Gabriella felt a light shudder ripple down her spine at the mere thought of losing him.
The feeling of his fingers flexing against her back brought Gabriella back to her senses – and without pausing to think any longer, she closed the remaining gap between their lips; her lips delicately pressing themselves against his, her eyes remaining open and locked on his own. Seconds later, unable to help it, her eyelids fluttered closed and she hesitantly began to move her lips, stroking them timidly against his – and the returning pressure made her heart swell ever so slightly and her fingers gripped at him tighter.
Moments later, and it was over.
Their lips broke apart with the softest of sounds, their breathing soft and ragged as they gazed at each other, shock and fear flooding through their bodies. Eyes met in the most meaningful way and the two of them shared a mutual look; a mutual look that said: "Don't worry".
Lips curved into the smallest of smiles, reassurance radiating from the two and Gabriella inhaled on a shaky breath, watching as Troy blinked dazedly for a moment before grinning softly, his arms winding around her petite body to shift her body slightly, tucking her even closer to him.
Gabriella murmured her approval against the fabric of his shirt and she felt Troy reach to the floor to grasp the remote for the TV before turning it on and searching through the channels before he found the game of football he was searching for.
"So Gabs, want to wow me with your football knowledge?" He teased and laughed lightly as Gabriella thwacked him gently on the chest.
"I resent that, Bolton. I'll have you know that I'm super intelligent when it comes to this sort of sport. I mean look at…" she squinted her eyes to search for a name. "Jenkins. He just scored an awesome throwdown!"
Troy chuckled again. "I think you mean touchdown, Gabs…" He gave her a squeeze and Gabriella giggled, and Troy grinned softly as the musical sound resonated beautifully in his ears.
"Troy…?" Gabriella asked after a few moments of watching the TV in silence.
"I know this is a lot to ask but…I don't think I can spend Christmas by myself and I get that you've got your mom and dad but-"
"Gabs, I'll be here."
Troy grinned. "I'll even stay over on Christmas eve, if you'll let me. It'll be just the two of us."
Gabriella smiled and leant up to press a kiss against his throat. "Thank you, Wildcat – you're amazing."
"I know – but I like to be reminded ever once in a while, okay?" Troy teased again and gave her a quick kiss on the temple. "Now hush because I think the Eagles are about to score again…" His fingers linked with hers and he brought them up to rest of his chest, where he began to fiddle idly with them, his eyes trained on the screen.
Sighing, the torturous thoughts of earlier faded from her mind, and Gabriella closed her eyes serenely knowing that despite their silent mutual agreement about staying platonic, maybe they'd end up with the perfect romance that is read about in fairytales. For now, it didn't matter because they know that, as his fingers skirted softly along the length of her arm and as she buried her head deeper into the crook of his shoulder, that this... this was only the beginning for them.
Okay, so, yeah – that's it. Hopefully you guys liked it! :D
Thanks to the amazing Ashton for all her fabulous advice! *hugs*