Troy and Gabriella had been best friends for as long as they could remember. Lucille Bolton and Maria Montez - their mothers - had been friends forever and once their children came along, they created their own little family along with Jack, Lucille's husband.
Troy had always been by Gabriella's side, helping her through everything, from when her Dad left (to put it nicely) to staying by her side despite the school's opinion that a 'jock' shouldn't hang around a 'nerd.'
When they were young, the parents thought it was so cute how Troy would always protect Gabriella, they thought of him as her big brother. Gabriella had to laugh at that thought.
She sat on her bed as she reminisced back, a special day when she was 14 and Troy was 15.
Troy and Gabriella sat on the swings, gently swinging together. Their parents were sitting at the covered park bench about 20 feet away. Jack and Lucille were helping console Maria as they had finally become free of Carlos Montez.
(Flashback in a flashback? IDK go with it)
Gabriella's father had become very abusive, at first to Gabriella when she was 10, then to Maria. Gabriella stayed six months in silence before Troy found the bruises and confronted her. She had sworn him to secrecy but he tried to help Gabriella in anyway he could.
Another six months passed when Carlos started abusing Maria. Both kept quiet for a year until Carlos went too far. Gabriella had made a mistake and since Maria was working, he punished Gabriella in his own way.
He cut Gabriella with a knife, carving an X in the middle of her ribs on the right side of her back. She couldn't think, she just wanted Troy so she started running to his house which was three blocks away.
Saturday afternoons for both families were family time, but Maria was called into work.
Gabriella ran to Troy's house and knocked on the door. She had tears streaming down her face as Lucille opened the door. "Gabi, sweetheart, what's wrong?"
The girl shook her head and Lucille sighed, "come on in Sweetheart, the boys are in the living room."
Troy looked up to the door as they came in, his smile turning to shock as he saw Gabriella's state. He jumped up and ran to her, the girl willingly jumped into his arms, burying her face in his chest.
"Brie, what happened?" He whispered and she gripped him tighter.
'He... h-hurt... again-n." She sobbed out. "Tr-oy... tell... can't... any-ymmore."
"Troy, what's she talking about?" His Dad asked softly while he sighed.
"Just let me calm her down, I'll explain after." At their nodded, he leaned down. "I'm taking you into the dining room, ok Brie?" He didn't wait for a response, knowing he wouldn't get one but that she liked knowing what was happening to know she was safe.
He wrapped her legs around his waist and carried her with ease as he took her into the dining room and sat her on a chair. He crouched down in front of her and took her hands in his.
"Look at me Brie." Once he held her eyes, he continued. "You're ok, just take some deep breaths, there's no need to panic, you're safe Brie, you're with me and I won't let anyone hurt you."
He had been rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand while talking and noticed her breathing had improved.
Once her breathing was back to normal, he took her into his arms, where she buried herself. "You still want to tell my parents?" He asked quietly. At her nod, he guided her into the living room.
He sat down and pulled her into his lap where she laid against him, facing his parents as he started scratching her lower back.
"Troy what happened, what's going on?" He sighed at his father's question and told them everything while Gabriella hid her face in the crook of his neck.
Both parents were shocked. "Gabi, does your mom know about this?" Gabriella shook her head to Lucille's question.
Jack spoke up. "Troy, you knew about this? Why didn't you tell us?"
He sighed, "I wanted to but I didn't want to betray my best friend."
Jack raised his voice. "What were you thinking Troy? Do you know how stupid -"
He was interrupted by a whimper. "Don't be mad at Troy, I made him promise not to tell." She whispered and Troy held her tighter.
"Lower your voice Dad, it's scaring her."
"Yelling means hits." Gabriella whimpered.
"Not anymore Brie, I won't let anyone touch you." She closed her eyes and smiled slightly, cuddling into his chest.
Lucille smiled at the sight, she was glad to see the twelve year old calmed by her son and the thirteen year old showed such maturity when handling the girl; Lucille felt pride watching the pair. "Sweetheart, I'm going to call your mom and tell her she needs to come here straight after work, you can stay with Troy tonight, I don't want you at home tonight."
Gabriella nodded, timidly responding. "Thank you Lucille."
"No thank yous Sweetheart, you know I love you like you're my daughter." Lucille walked off to call Maria.
Troy whispered to Gabriella. "Brie, can I see what he did?"
She nodded, "my back."
"Are you ok with me lifting the back of your shirt, we can wait until mom gets off the phone so she can help if that'd make you feel better?"
She shook her head. "I trust you Troy, it's on the right side of my ribs."
He lifted her shirt to see the dried bloody X carved into her back. "Mom, you're gonna need to fix Brie up, it's bad."
Since Lucille was a nurse, she was able to patch her up and then Maria came; they discussed everything while Troy held Gabriella tight, whispering reassurances, telling her that everything would be ok.
(End of the first flashback)
Two years later, Carlos had finally disappeared from their lives with a restraining order and they were finally safe. Gabriella looked over at Troy from her place on her swing and noticed his nervous expression. "Troy, is everything ok?" He nodded in response. "You're hiding something."
They could read each other like an open book.
"I do need to tell you something Brie, you know I love you."
"Of course Troy, I love you too, you're my best friend."
"You know I love you as a best friend, but when I say I love you, I don't mean like a sister. I... uh - I'm in love with you Brie." Gabriella was shocked but he continued. "I didn't want to tell you because I -"
"Didn't want to ruin our friendship." She whispered - finishing his thought - as he nodded.
"Yeah I understand if you don't want anything to do with me, I just needed to tell you."
He went to stand but he stilled as he felt her hand on his forearm. In his stilled state, Gabriella stood from her swing and sat down on Troy's lap, wrapping her arms around his torso. "I... I love you too Troy, I have for a while, I was just scared to tell you, I thought you only saw me as your little sister."
He wrapped his arms around her before kissing her cheek. She smiled in response.
"Should we tell our parents?"
He smirked. "if you want to, personally I think if we keep it a secret for now, they won't get suspicious plus we'll be able to be alone together. But if you want to tell them we will."
"I like your idea but we'd have to hide from everyone because word travels fast in Albuquerque, but I don't want to hide forever."
"Not forever Baby Girl, just a while, especially until everything dies down."
"It's a deal."
Troy chuckled. "Ok to make this official, Gabriella Montez, will you be my girlfriend?"
She giggled before nodding. "Yes Troy, I will be your girlfriend."
Her thoughts were interrupted by a new weight on her bed and a familiar arm around her waist. Her boyfriend of two years placed a kiss on her cheek before whispering in her ear. "Hey Baby Girl."
She turned to face him. "Hey Wildcat, how was the party?" He groaned in response making her giggle. "That bad huh?"
"Brie you know those parties suck without you."
"I wasn't invited Troy, you know it was only for the popular crew."
"That doesn't make it any less stupid."
"How about we forget about the party and focus on us."
"Definitely, do I get anything for winning the championships Baby?" She giggled as she got onto her elbows, she leant down and kissed him passionately. They broke apart after their kiss turned into a ten minute make out session. "That was definitely worth the wait."
She giggled and pecked his lips before snuggling into him.
He looked into her eyes and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "You're beautiful Brie." She blushed and whined his name. "I mean it, you are the most beautiful and perfect girl in the entire world."
"You're crazy Wildcat."
"Only about you Baby Girl."
She shook her head, smiling. "You're really cheesy Troy, but I love it."
"Or what?" She teased playfully.
She wasn't prepared for Troy to manoeuvre himself so he was straddling her thighs and he started tickling her. Not that she was unfamiliar with this position, having surrendered their virginities to each other a few months earlier. She screamed as she felt his finger tickling her ribs before she started giggling. "Troy-y stop."
He laughed. "Say Troy Bolton is the hottest and best boyfriend ever."
"Troy Bolton... is the best... boy... friend ever."
He stopped tickling her but stayed in his position. "and?"
She smiled softly. "You're not the hottest Troy, you're a person but you are the most handsome guy in the world."
He grinned. "And you're the most beautiful," He said as he leaned down to kiss her.
They scrambled apart as Maria opened the door. "Is everything ok... Gabi, why is your face so red." She asked noting her daughter's blush.
Troy responded. "She was teasing so I gave her punishment, tickle punishment." He said, tickling her stomach.
"Ok guys, bed soon... It's so nice to see you two still best friends and have the same brother sister relationship."
After Maria walked out of the room, they erupted in laughter.
After they calmed, Troy pulled Gabriella to rest on his chest. "Brie, I think we should tell everyone soon."
"Yeah you're probably right, it's been two years, I'm just a little nervous."
He caressed her cheek. "You don't have to be Baby Girl, no matter what, we'll always be together and I can't wait to tell the whole world that Gabriella Montez is my girl."
She smiled and kissed him. "I can't wait either. I love you Troy."
"I love you too Brie."