~ Monday December 24th, 2012 ~

The feeling of having every inch of her body stimulated was never anything but overwhelming. From the moment they'd met and for every day since they'd been dating, first kissed, united physically and finally confessed their love – Troy overwhelmed her. He looked at her and she felt overwhelmed by his love, he touched her skin and she felt overwhelmed with sensation. Some days, it almost felt like too much – almost.

The world outside was irrelevant – work, friends, family; were all so distant. On Friday afternoon, she'd walked out of the Inspire office in Palo Alto on annual leave for a whole delicious week, and she'd been met by the man who she had fallen in love with. They hadn't made plans to go anywhere, instead, it was time to celebrate each other.

He would thrust into her depths and caress her tender button, so fine tuned into how to send her soaring. She tipped over the edge and was brought to a place where she felt almost as though she was going to unravel completely. He always succeeded in bringing her back down – back down into the comforting love of his arms.

They lay together, slightly damp from the exertion of their lovemaking, completely entwined underneath the covers. She wanted to be near to him as her heart beat would regulate and she'd come down from the high and he was more than happy to oblige.

"A year ago today, my life changed," Troy murmured by her ear.

Gabriella thought about this, and then observed quietly, "Last Christmas Eve, we were working."

Troy pulled away from her, just ever so slightly, their heads both resting on the same pillow, noses almost touching.

"Last year, December 24th was the first full day that we spent together, from the moment that I woke up until the moment that I slept, we were together. We only separated for minuscule periods of time. We ate all three meals together. We showered together. Last year, on December 24th, I realised that I wanted to be around you all the time, all day, every day. And over the last 365 days, nothing has changed."

"Troy..." she murmured, tenderly stroking his cheek.

Troy reached over into 'his' drawer in her dresser, and pulled out an envelope, and pulled himself back up. He handed the envelope to her, which she curiously took from his hand, shuffling herself to sit up slightly. She didn't bother with pulling up the covers, they were beyond basic modesty.

"This is my first Christmas present for you," he said softly.

Somewhat tentatively, Gabriella opened the envelope, and pulled out a simple sheet of typed white paper. She began to read. It was a letter, dated two days earlier.

To whom it may concern,

I write this letter to formally tender my resignation from my position at Inspire Solutions...

Gabriella didn't read any further, before demanding, "What?"

"I handed this in two days ago. I've given them two weeks notice, which, effectively means that after my leave I go back and do one week and then, I'm done. They offered to keep me on the books to do a shift here and there but... I declined."

"I... I don't understand!"

"I told you it wouldn't be forever," he said seriously. "I've been there longer than I ever thought I would be. I should've done this six months ago, really."

"You're done there?"

"I'm done."

"No more crazy hours?"

"No more crazy hours."

The copy of the letter was tossed to the side, and Gabriella practically leapt at him, peppering kisses to his lips and cheeks and face.

"I take it you're happy," he remarked with a laugh.

"I'm grateful not just for me, not just for us – but for you. This was running you so ragged Troy."

He nodded. The last six months had been the hardest. There had been a few weekends where he was so exhausted that they didn't even have sex when they met up.

"That's not it though... there's kind of a part two..."

Gabriella pulled back, cocking her head curiously. "Oh?"

"This... well... it's just a suggestion, and one which I make with no pressure attached whatsoever if you don't like the idea. But um, well... my lease is ending in about a months time. And so, I was wondering, if maybe... we could talk about whether perhaps we might be ready to... to move in together?"

He sounded so uncertain that Gabriella couldn't help but tease him. "Is this a solution to your lease ending, or is this something you want to do?"

"The second! How could you- of course I want to! I've kind of been thinking about it for a while but I didn't want it to be like, some half assed solution to us never seeing each other. It wouldn't have actually changed anything and I suspect it would've made things worse if we'd done it before I quit Inspire."

"Troy," she interrupted. "I'm teasing you."

His tense face broke into a smile, and he pushed her arm playfully. "How could you? I ask you something really serious and you tease me?"

She giggled. "I'm so sorry but... you just... it was so adorable how nervous you looked."

"Um, I'm still feeling nervous since you haven't actually answered me..."

"Yes! Yes I want to move in with you!" she immediately blurted out.

"Seriously? Really?"

"Seriously, really," she confirmed. "My lease doesn't end for a few months though..."

"I know. I uh... well. I had a few thoughts. I thought maybe I could move in here for the timebeing, if that is okay? And then... well, we could talk about whether we want to stick around this area, or maybe even look at somewhere in the Fremont area. Now that I'm not gonna need to go to Oakland, it'll only be like half an hour up the bay from Fremont or half an hour from here across the bay to my school."

Her lips curved into a smile. "You really have thought about this, haven't you?"

"Of course I have."

"You do know that when our parents arrive in two days... they're going to put pressure on us?" Gabriella said with a small smile. It was no secret that their parents had all decided that marriage was inevitable. Lucille and Jack Bolton and Maria Montez were all flying into San Francisco on the 26th, and although they'd spoken on the phone prior, it would be the first time for them all to meet.

"Let them," Troy declared. "You know... for us... this is the next step toward that. For all I know, after living with me for a month you'll realise you can't stand me and kick me out."

Gabriella giggled. "I very much so doubt that."

Troy smiled and pressed his lips to hers softly. "I love you."

"I love you too."

Ooh, you make the season bright
With the lights reflecting in your eyes
All my dreams are comin' true tonight
It's Christmas Eve and I can see we're in love


AN: This was only ever meant to be a bit of holiday fluff, but somehow it went a little longer because I just couldn't let go! There's so much I could write with these two. I won't rule out writing an outtake or two over time if I feel inspired.

I dedicate this story to my counterpart in the after hours support team at my own workplace. We are not involved nor am I interested in him in that way, but he makes me smile regularly with our laughter and camaraderie. One silly joke made by one of his colleagues one day somehow led to the birth of this version of Troy and Gabriella.

Thanks to everyone for the support of this story - I don't have time to respond to reviews, generally, but I read each and every one and they mean the world to me.

Until next time (you know, when I actually update one of my other WIPs...) good day, good afternoon and good night!