Here I am from SC once again, giving a great big southern "Hey, yall"! I promised a sequel of sorts, and here it is! "Birthdays and First Dates" does not need to be read to follow this, but you can if you want to hehe! I won't complain! Anyway, we found out in "Birthdays and First Dates" that Zac has a Big Plan, but how does Vanessa deal with the Big Plan? I don't own anything in this story, except for the storyline. Anything in this story that could possibly happen, has not (that I know of). I just made it up for the sake of the story. I thank yall for reading "Birthdays and First Dates". Everyone seemed to really enjoy it and I hope that you will enjoy this one just as much! God bless!

Chapter 1

It was New Year's Eve. Vanessa and Zac were going over to Ashley's to spend it with their mutual best friend and her boyfriend Scott. The four of them were planning a quiet evening in complete with sushi, drinks, and watching the ball. Not to mention the coveted kiss at midnight for both couples. Vanessa, however, couldn't help but wonder if her 2010 would start off with a little more decoration than she had to close out 2009. After her conversation with Zac on her birthday about his plans to propose, her imagination has wondered quite a bit. She found herself picturing Zac getting down on one knee in front of her many times since, and had always heard of couples getting engaged at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, and was giddy with the thought that, this year, she herself may be half of one of those couples.

She was sitting at the vanity next to the bed that she shared with Zac more times then she'd slept in it alone carefully applying her makeup when her eyes caught sight of the reflection in the mirror of the blue topaz ring that her boyfriend had given her for her birthday. The same ring that would only fit on one finger. Her thoughts traveled back to the time she had spent with her best friend the day before when the two girls met for coffee. It was then that she'd shared her thoughts out loud to anyone for the first time about tonight and what it might mean.

"Do you really think he's going to propose tomorrow night?" Ashley asked in disbelief.

"I don't know, Ash. I mean, he did say he has a plan and all, but what if tomorrow night is part of his plan? He told me that he wanted to do it in private, just me and him, but I would be okay with you and Scott there, too. I mean, the two most important people in our lives other than our families? What better time, right?" she asked trying to hide her excitement.

Ashley took a sip of her peppermint mocha latte to hide the small smile on her face. She knew Zac's plan. He had, after all, enlisted Ashley's help given the fact that he had been in Vancouver and found it hard to have any time to himself and away from Vanessa to make the needed phone calls. Ashley was more than willing to help her two best friend's find their much deserved happiness.

After her longer then necessary sip, Ashley was able to sustain her smile long enough to look in the dark chocolate eyes of on screen nemesis, and give a genuine smile.

"Nessa, if he does propose tomorrow night, you realize that I'm not letting the two of you out of my sight before you and I sit and plan the whole ceremony, right?"

"As much as I love that idea and can't wait till you and I can have our girl time and talk nothing but wedding plans, I think you know that Zac would fight you on the whole 'planning the ceremony' idea before our 'celebration', Ash!"

In a desperate attempt to get Vanessa's mind off the proposal that Ashley knew was coming in the near future, just not in the very near future, she racked her brain for a topic of conversation change. At that exact moment, the answer to her prayer come in the form of the paparazzi she spotted outside the coffee shop.

"Hey, Nessa, change of topic. Quick, before we're overheard," she stated, signaling outside at the photogs. When Vanessa spotted them, too, she quickly changed her tune.

"So, the plans for tomorrow night…" she said, starting a new conversation for her and Ashley.

Her attention was quickly drawn back to the present when she heard her boyfriend call out to her from downstairs.

"Hey, Van? Are you almost ready? Ashley just texted me and asked what time we'd be there. What should I tell her?"

Vanessa turned her focus from the blue topaz ring on her left ring finger and back to the present time. She stood up from the vanity in her room where she was applying her eye shadow before she started daydreaming when she caught sight of the ring in the mirror and made her way to the hallway, leaning over the railing of the stairs over looking the foyer of her magnificent home. She saw her boyfriend standing there on the floor below her and took in his good looks. He was dressed in the olive green button down shirt with vertical white stripes she had given him for Christmas, wearing the shirt unbuttoned, with a white t-shirt underneath and jeans. He had on his brown vans, and his hair had the messy look that she loved so much. She smiled down at him lovingly.

"You look good in that shirt. I love the way it looks on you," she told him.

"Why are you avoiding the question?" he asked with a smirk.

"Why are you avoiding the compliment?" she threw back at him.

"Fine, you win. Thank you. I really like this shirt. It's comfortable. I can't wait to see it off and on the bedroom floor, though…" he told her, waggling his eyebrows as he looked up at her with his blue eyes that she often found herself getting lost in.

"Tell Ashley about 30 more minutes and I'll be ready. Find out if she wants us to bring anything," she told him with a roll of her eyes before she turned back around and went into the bedroom to finish with her make up and hair as she heard his laugh behind her.

She sat back down at the vanity and carefully applied the eye shadow to her other eye. As she finished, she pulled away and sat back on her stool, looking at her appearance in the mirror.

"Just in case it is tonight, I need to make sure I look perfect," she said to herself.

"I think you always look perfect."

She jumped as she heard Zac's voice behind her.

"I didn't know you were there," she told him nervously. "How much did you hear?"

"Enough," he told her coming further into the room and sitting down on the bed. She heard him take a deep breath and turned to see him playing with his hands, a trait she knew represented his seriousness. "Van," he said after a pause "do you trust me?"

She looked at him, furrowing her eyebrows together in shock.

"What kind of question is that?"

"Just answer it."

"Zac, of course I trust you. I thought you knew that? Why-"

"Then trust me that it'll happen in the time that it's supposed to happen. Baby, I love you. I love you so much that I can't wait to ask you to be my wife and spend the rest of our lives together. But the time is not tonight. I told you a few weeks ago that I have a plan and the plan will play out when it's supposed to. But I need you to please be patient." He stood up and walked over to the side of her vanity stool and knelt down so that they were eye level. "Baby, please believe me," he finished as he reached up to brush a few strands of her hair behind her ear, resting his hand on her cheek.

Vanessa sighed as she allowed this new piece of information sink in. She covered his hand that rested on her cheek with hers and kissed the palm of his hand.

"I love you, Zac. So much. And I trust you. I do. I know it doesn't seem like it, especially at times like this, but I do. I'm sorry if I ever come across as being impatient, but I'm just-"

"- a girl. I know. You've mentioned that," he mentioned with laughter in his eyes. "Ashley asked if we could stop and pick up the champagne for the countdown tonight."

"Okay, just a few more minutes," she told him, taking his chin in her hands and leaning in to brush a kiss on his cheek. "I love you."

"I love you, too," he said as he placed a kiss on her lips. "I'll be downstairs. Let me know when you're ready to go," he told her as he stood up and walked out of the room.

Vanessa sighed as she turned back around to face the mirror of the vanity to finish her makeup, swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat, despite the fact that she tried hard to keep that from happening. She wanted so hard to be strong and not give Zac any reason to doubt her trust in him, but was finding it more and more difficult as time went on. Fifteen minutes later, when she was pleased with her appearance, she picked up her perfume that Zac had given her for the anniversary of their first movie premiering the previous year and sprayed it on her wrists and rubbed them together. She'd learned long ago to not spray perfume on her neck when there was a possibility of alone time with her and Zac as he complained of her neck tasting like perfume. She grabbed her purse, looked at her beloved Shadow, who was relaxing on her pet bed in the corner of the room underneath one of the windows, before picking her up, and walked out the door, turning off the light on her way out.

"Zac," she called as she descended the stairs, "I'm ready."

"Okay, let's go," he said as he stood up from the couch and turning off the TV as he did so, and then turned around to take in her appearance before he stopped. "No."

"Why?" Vanessa asked with a slight pout in her voice.

"Because we're not taking her!"

"But, Zac, she can play with Maui and actually run around and have fun! She's not been able to go out by herself without being on her leash lately with the backyard being all messed up."

Vanessa looked at Zac with the pouty eyes that she knew he couldn't resist and lifted Shadow so she was even with Vanessa's face and then lifted one of Shadow's paws.

"Please, Daddy. I really want to play with my friend Maui," Vanessa said, using her best child like voice with her lower lip poking out. Zac just looked at his crazy girlfriend and her even crazier dog. He fought hard to contain his laughter at the sight in front of him, both Vanessa and Shadow giving him the puppy dog eyes.

"You," he started, pointing at Shadow "only got those eyes from her" he said as he pointed at Vanessa. "and you can not give me the eyes because I have gotten immune to them in the past four years."

"Aarr," came Shadow's high pitched bark. Zac then looked from Shadow to Vanessa, who was trying to withhold her own laughter.

"Go get in the car," he told Vanessa.

"What about-" she started, pointing at Shadow.

"If you don't get in the car with her now, I'll change my mind!" he interrupted.

Vanessa was quickly out the door leading out into the garage, in a fit of giggles. "Good job, Shadow! Mommy taught you well!" Zac just rolled his eyes as he made his way from the front door to the back door, checking the locks as he went. As Zac came out and hit the button to open the garage door, she leaned over to open the door for her boyfriend. When he climbed in the car, he leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the lips before starting the car and backing it out the driveway and making the short trip to their friend's house for an evening of hanging out with no paparazzi around to see them.

The four friends had had a good time doing nothing at all. They just hung out all evening, eating sushi that Ashley and Scott had made and just being together. After her break up from Jared, Ashley had been heart broken and it had taken her awhile to open her heart again. Zac and Vanessa had felt a tiny bit responsible for their friend's pain after her messy break up from the backup dancer that they had introduced her to during the filming of the first High School Musical.

When she first broached the subject of Scott, her two best friends were hesitant to say the least. After their first double date with Ashley and Scott, they went back to Vanessa's house that evening and talked about how the date had gone and about how happy Ashley finally seemed to be. The two finally decided that whatever had happened between Ashley and Jared was just one of those things that happens, and the two were ready to accept their friend's new relationship. Now, almost a year later, they had never seen Ashley more happy than when she was with Scott. He truly made her happy and they saw it. They saw the way her eyes lit up when he was near. They saw the way she got all giddy whenever she talked about him. They just saw her happiness, period.

That's why when Scott did the unexpected that evening, although it took a moment to let it sink in at first, neither Zac nor Vanessa were surprised in the long run. Ashley, however, now that's another story all together. To say that she was surprised was the understatement of the outgoing decade. The group had finished eating about 2 ½ hours ago, and had just been playing American Idol on Ashley's Wii. At 11:30, they finally turned off the game and turned on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on ABC to watch the countdown and wait on the ball to drop. They watched Jennifer Lopez as she performed and, after the commercial break, 11:58 came, and Scott and Zac then stood from their position on the couch and moved to stand behind Vanessa and Ashley and each man wrapped his arms around his girlfriend's waist. Then at 11:59, they watched as Ryan Seacrest pushed the button to start the ball drop and the countdown started. Vanessa then turned so she was facing the handsome man who had his arms wrapped around her and she in turn wrapped her arms around his neck, playing with the hair at the nape of his neck, as he left his around her waist. On the other side of the room, Scott and Ashley were in a similar position. The countdown continued in the background.


Zac and Vanessa were staring into each other eyes and leaned towards each other so their foreheads were touching..


Scott removed his arms from around Ashley's waist, while she furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. Okay, what's going on here? she thought to herself.


Scott took a deep breath and reached into his pocket while moving to get down on one knee in front of his girlfriend.


Zac and Vanessa heard Ashley's gasp from across the room and turned just in time to see what was happening.


"Ashley, you are my whole world. This past year has taught me that I can't live without you and I want you by my side forever. Will you marry me?"


Zac and Vanessa's eyes grew three times their normal size as they watched, while holding their breath. Vanessa's hand went to cover her mouth which had dropped open in surprise.


Ashley's jaw dropped, as Scott held his breath


Ashley slowly nodded her head, before finally finding her voice.


"Yes!" she cried, as she put her arms on his biceps, pulling him up to his feet so she could wrap her arms back around his neck.


That one, short, three-letter word was all it took. Scott placed a kiss on the lips of his new fiancée just as the ball made contact to the base of the rod and the 2010 lit up all of Times Square on the TV. Zac, too, took his girlfriend in his arms and placed a gentle kiss on her lips, as she had her own thoughts swirling in her head, unbeknownst to anyone else in the room.

Vanessa continued the kiss for a moment, enjoying the comfortable feel of Zac's lips on her own. This was usually one of the things in life that brought her comfort, but at this particular moment, all she could concentrate on was one thing.

Why? I want Ashley to be happy. Why can I not be happy for her right now?

Just as that thought entered her mind, Zac pulled back and leaned his lips so they were against Vanessa's ear.

"Happy New Year, Baby. This will be our year," he whispered in her ear, before playing with her ear lobe with his mouth.

Vanessa just pulled away to look him in the brilliant blue eyes that she adored so much. She offered a slight smile and as she opened her mouth to speak, she caught a glimpse of the blue topaz ring on her left hand. She fought to keep the smile on her lips and the tears that she felt building at bay, trying hard to swallow the lump that she felt in her throat, for the second time that day, as well.

"Yeah," she told him softly, putting her arms around his neck and hugging him closer. "It will be."

When she and Zac finally got back to her house around 12:30, much earlier than either had expected, but they did have to give Ashley and Scott time for their celebration, Zac immediately brought it to Vanessa's attention that they had yet to ring in the New Year properly. Vanessa just gave him a forced smile and surrendered herself to Zac's passion, but for the first time that she could remember in their relationship, she found herself with her whole heart not fully involved. Their celebration didn't last long because she made it a point to just go through the motions.

A short time after his climax, when she felt his even breaths and she knew for a fact that he was asleep, she silently crept out of bed, slipped on a camisole and a pair of pants that she pulled from the dresser, and sneaked out of the bedroom. As she made her way down the hall, she found herself standing at the door of the only other bedroom on the second floor of her home. As she softly opened the door, she cringed at the squeak of the hinges, hoping that the noise wasn't as loud as it appeared to her delicate ears in the quietness of the big house.

Once the door was fully open, she stepped into the room and felt her breath catch in her throat. No matter how many times she came in this room, whether it be to clean or just to reminisce, it always took her back in time. As she looked around the walls of the room the two of them jokingly referred to as their "Bragging Room", she took in all of the High School Musical, Hairspray, 17 Again, and Bandslam memorabilia, the framed magazine covers, the framed movie posters, all of her cd covers, and all of the awards sitting on the bookshelves, she was taken back to a time when they were both merely teenagers and when nothing in their lives was complicated.

I so badly want to be happy for Ashley, but is it selfish of me to want to be happy, too? she wondered to herself as she came further into the room and ran her fingers over one of the many pictures of her and Zac in their Troy and Gabriella mode.

Things were so simple. His biggest fear used to be Dad! Now, apparently, it's commitment. She paused her thoughts as she felt the hot tears that she'd been holding in for hours finally stream from her eyes, forming silent rivers down her cheeks. God, Vanessa, stop! You trust him, you love him, and he promised you. Your time will come, she told herself, wiping at her tears angrily.

She jumped when she felt the arms of her boyfriend wrap themselves around her from behind.

"God, Zac, don't do that!" she exclaimed when she felt her heart rate return to normal.

"Don't do what, miss you when I wake up in an empty bed?" he asked her as he leaned in to place a kiss to her bare shoulder. He pulled back when he felt her tears hit the side of his cheek. "Baby? What's wrong?" Zac moved from behind her, grabbing her hand and moving over to the red director's chair with the Wildcat insignia on the back that was sitting in the corner of the "Bragging Room", with Vanessa trailing behind him. He sat down and pulled her down into his lap and re-arranged her so her legs were falling over the side of the chair and placed one arm behind her back, reached up to brush a strand of hair out of her tear-stained face and placed his hand back down so it was draped on top of her legs. He looked into the brown eyes that he loved so much and instantly knew the answer.

"Van," he started, "Baby, I love you more than I love my own life. I don't know how else to tell you how badly I can't wait until that perfect time. I've already talked your dad, by the way."

She looked at him with her eyes wide with shock. "You talked to Daddy?" When she saw him nod, she continued. "About what?" she asked, anxious to hear the answer. She watched as Zac rolled his eyes in frustration at her question directed to what he thought was the obvious.

"I asked for his permission to take Stella to the movies with us! What do you think I talked to him about?!' Vanessa grinned at his attempted joke. "There it is."

"There what is?" she asked him quietly.

"The beautiful smile that I love so much. I plan to see that smile everyday for the rest of the days of my life. I know why you're upset, Van. I wish I could make it better."

"But you can," she told him pointedly, as she reached up to place her hand on his cheek and stroke it lovingly.

"Yes, I can. And I will." Zac paused, as he took her hand from his cheek and placed a gentle kiss on the back of it before linking their hands together. "Van, do you trust me?" he asked, repeating the same question he'd asked her only hours before.

"With my whole heart," she told him as she placed her forehead against his.

"Then let's go to bed so you can make love to me properly this time," he told her, as he picked her up bridal style, carrying her out of their "Bragging Room" and back into the bedroom, gently laying her down on their bed as he kissed her.

As Vanessa felt his hand sneak under her camisole and softly rub her back, she moaned into the kiss, reaching her hands up to rub them through his hair, then down across his bare back. This time, when he broke the kiss to pull her camisole over her head and toss it to the floor, it landed on Shadow's head. He gave a soft chuckle as he looked over his shoulder just in time to see Shadow stand from her bed in the corner, shake the offending garment off her head, let out a small growl, and run out of the room.

"Sorry, Shadow," he called after the small pup. The couple heard a tiny bark from out in the hallway and laughed.

As Vanessa looked back in her lover's eyes, she saw all the promises from the previous month in the sea of blue. It was at that moment that she knew without a doubt that her time would come, too. She leaned her head up and gave Zac a kiss which she hoped showed him exactly how much she truly trusted him. He kissed her back with just as much passion and the two continued to make love well into the wee hours of the morning. This time, with Vanessa's whole heart included.