Chapter 1: It's Like Catching Lightning
“Okay, so how do we do thi-whoa…” Ricky trailed off, taking in the view from the rooftop.
The sun was about to set, and he could already see the sky begin to tint orange. Blending beautifully with the soft hues of blue. He had never been up here before, apparently they really did shoot the entirety of High School Musical at East High. Including the Can I Have This Dance scene that he would have to recreate for the final show of his high school career. Miss Jenn or Mrs. Bowen (still weird) had stuck with the theme and ordered the rights to High School Musical: Senior year. Partly because she loved those movies with all her heart, mostly for old times sake. Ricky got emotional just thinking about it but he wasn’t here to reminisce and possibly cry. He was here to meet with his instructor.
“I know right. I figured I could set the scene with this, the place is usually closed off and I’m pretty sure only the Green Club has access to it.” Gina’s voice filled the silence as Ricky’s gaze tore away from the sky to face her and-wow. She stood behind the staircase, in between two of the flower beds. Hair, wild and curly wearing a white dress that reached her knees and black dancing heels. She looked...beautiful.
It had been awhile since they really talked, Ricky was finding himself more and more consumed by senior activities and his relationship with Nini which had become a lot more exhausting than he thought it could be. He and Gina had lost track of their friendship as time passed by. In truth, he had missed having someone to talk to. Well it’s not like he didn’t have anyone, he just lost the person that came easiest to do it with. After her whole plan with EJ was revealed, Ricky needed a moment to rethink his whole life and what he was going to do. Whether to chose to believe Gina when she said it had meant nothing or take Nini's side and get his girlfriend back. Ricky had chosen Nini and her love. That pause in his and Gina's friendship seemed to grow into a stop altogether. Sometimes, especially recently, he wonders if he had made the right choice.
When Miss Jenn announced the show and rehearsals started, things almost felt like junior year all over again. Except it wasn’t. The roles had managed to stay the same but the energy had shifted. He and Nini weren’t the same people they were the first two times they played Troy and Gabriella and their characters felt like they were on a completely different world than they were. Sometimes it felt like they were together because they were scared of losing the familiarity of one another and not because they actually wanted to be.
Carlos and Gina were co-choreographing and Gina was tasked with showing him the steps for this number before he and Nini would come together and make magic happen. A lot easier said than done.
“If I had known there was a view like this, I think I might’ve joined the Green Club.” He said as he made his way over and Gina laughed, nodding in agreement.
“Good thing I did so you wouldn’t have to.” She told him laughing nervously. For a moment their eyes met and Ricky got a flash to Homecoming, after she had kissed him on the cheek in Red’s car. He had almost completely forgotten about it, almost. “So, just put your stuff in the greenhouse so we can get started.”
He nodded, doing as she said and returning back to stand in front of her. Gina bit her lip anxiously before shaking her head slightly. “So we’re gonna start by-”
“Don’t we like, need music for this or something?”
She shook her head, smiling at him like he was a little clueless.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life, trust me. Steps first, music later.” She instructed and Ricky nodded.
“Cool, what first?”
“Alright so umm…” Gina looked around before taking a step back.
“Hold out your hand for me.” Ricky listened.
“I’m gonna sing the lyrics so you know which lines the steps come in at okay?” She told him and he nodded in understanding, noticing the way her eyebrows crinkled a little. She must’ve been focusing.
“Take my hand.” She put hers in his own and Ricky ignored the warmth that spread through his palm at the action. He didn’t really get to hear Gina sing all too much, she was an alto. A nice, soothing voice that made him feel calmer than he had in a very long time.
“Take a breath.” She motioned for him to breath in deeply with her and he did. “Pull me close.” She stepped forward, closing the small distance between them and Ricky didn’t know whether it was her or the flowers that smelled so sweet. “And take one step.” She rested her hand on his shoulder and took a step backward. Instinctively, he looked down and watched her feet. Moving forward to fill the space in which she moved back in.
“Keep your eyes, ” Gina moved her hand from his shoulder and to his chin, “locked on mine.” The contact sent a ripple of something he hadn’t felt in a long time through him. For a moment, it looked like she faltered under his gaze but it was gone just as quickly as it had come. “And let the music, be your guide.”
There was no music so he would have to settle for holding onto her. Gina moved her free hand to his own, pulling it against her waist before placing it so that both her hands rested on his shoulders.
“So this is a simple box step okay. We move back, then side, then forward, then side again.” She told him and he nodded, glancing down at her black show heels and his own converses.
“Won’t you promise -oop.” She stopped, laughing a little as they both went back in opposite directions.
“My bad, I should’ve worded that better. My back is your forward and your forward is my back. So like for you, it would be forward, side, back and then side again. “ She told him and Ricky nodded, a little anxious as he took in her words. Gaze traveling back down to her feet.
“And Ricky?” His brown eyes met hers when she said his name. He forgot how soft and warm hers were.
“Look at me okay.” He nodded.
“It’s fine, so we’ll go from my line.”
He nodded in understanding and Gina smiled encouragingly. Ricky didn’t know if his heart skipped a beat because of her or because of the fear he had of stepping on her or falling down and taking her with him.
“Won’t you promise me?” And they moved, doing the box formation for the remainder of the pre-chorus. Gina only stopping to bring his gaze back to meet her own on occasion. Ricky found himself singing with her, he knew the song by heart and it would be good to associate the steps with some of his own lines.
“To keep dancing, wherever we go next.”
“Okay now, I want you to spin me.”
Alarm crept up inside him. Gina squeezed his shoulder encouragingly, “don’t worry. It’s just a simple spin. You’ve got this.” Her voice was gentle and reassuring, Ricky could feel the spring breeze on the back of his neck as ease flowed through his body. The sky had faded completely into a haze of orange, pink and yellow. Gina glowed under it. He didn’t mean to stare, she was just...she was wow.
“Okay.” He whispered and for a moment, she looked at him and he could feel goosebumps rising on his skin.
He took her hand and watching mesmerized as she spun, his heart skipping a beat in that second. For as long as he had known Gina, he had never seen her look so carefree. Her laugh filled the air as she moved and the sound made his chest feel fuzzy. And when she turned back into him, chest to chest and hair brushing against his cheek. Ricky felt electric.
Gina took a step back, gaze shifting from his but hand never leaving moving. “It’s like catching lightning. The chances of finding someone like you.” She continued, voice softer than before as she lead him back into a box formation. Together they moved around the empty garden rooftop almost in sync. He spun her again and this time, she did let go. Standing right across from him. He watched, a little in awe as she moved before coming to a stop in front of me.
“It’s one in a million.” She stepped forward and held her hand up. He followed suit and together they moved in a circular motion. Ricky almost lost his footing and ran into her when she switched directions suddenly. Unfortunately, his misstep knocked him into her and she lost her balance. Ricky watched in horror as she began to fall backwards, her hands reached for him and found themselves on his shoulders. Gripping for dear life as he wrapped his arms around her waist. Holding her still and against him as her head tucked safely into the side of his neck.
This was gonna sound cliche, beyond cliche but he could feel his heart stop as Gina moved from her safe place in his shoulder. Soft curls brushing his chins as she did. He had seen her a million times, laughed and talked with her for hours like it was second nature. Because she was Gina and he was Ricky and getting each other was just something they did. One of the easiest things he had ever done. It was simple. It was them.
He didn’t really notice her physical beauty, never bothered to take it in. Always an afterthought but now, up close he could admire it. Her warm lightly brown skinned, the faint freckles scattered across her nose, the depth of her brown eyes. The way her hair coiled perfectly around her skin, her lips. Full and tempting.
The realization of him leaning forward didn’t dawn on him until her nose brushed his own, her mint breath on his lips as he could feel his eyes begin to flutter close.
Unexpected and surprising, hearing that name fall from her lips in that moment.
The name sent a shutter of confusion through him as he pulled her up and Gina regained her balance. Then it hit him. Nini. Nini Salazar-Roberts.
Oh god, he just almost cheated on Nini.
“Oh god.” He whispered aloud, heart pounding as Gina rushed past him. “Wait, where are you going?! The question left him before he could think better of it.
“I-uh, I think we’ve done enough rehearsal for today.” She stated, moving towards the greenhouse. She wouldn’t look at him and jesus, could he really blame her?
The words took him off guard, his eyes widening and brows furrowed in confusion as she threw her bag over her shoulder and faced him from a safe distance of at least ten feet.
“Gina, we just almost ki-”
“It was an in the moment thing, you weren’t thinking straight and just got wrapped up in the song, the steps and we’re in flower garden for pete’s sake. It wasn’t you, it was just-the scene.” She reasoned, already moving towards the steps leading away from him.
For pete’s sake?
“Stop.” She froze from her place across from him. “Whatever you’re about to say, just stop. You’re with Nini and we’re sorta friends, this would crush her if it meant anything. But it didn’t so we should just- we should leave it alone.”
Her words hit him harder than he expected, stomach sinking at the realization. She was right, the sunset and the view...
The dress, the way she smelled, the flowers, the dancing...it was the scene.
It wasn’t her laugh and smile, it wasn’t her calming voice or warm reassurances. It wasn’t her comforting presence that Ricky had been missing for way too long. It wasn’t the way his heart skipped a beat in her presence. It wasn’t how easy she was to talk to or the memories of just being with her and effortlessness that came with it. It wasn’t her. It was the scene.
Ricky didn’t get another word in before she was gone, leaving him on the roof of the school. The sun was gone and he could hear the faint crackle of thunder in the distance. His feelings and thoughts ran rampant, cold gusts of wind and feelings in his chest replacing the warmth he once felt as he stood there. Completely, utterly alone.
Chapter 2: The Chances of Finding Someone Like You
Gina fills in for Nini during dress rehearsal and Ricky says something that changes the course of their relationship forever.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
“Okay, from the top everybody.” Miss Jen- well, Mrs. Bowen, announced.
Gina nodded, taking a shaky breath as she stepped out from backstage. Nini wasn’t here, family emergency with her moms so here she was, filling in during dress rehearsal. Surprisingly, despite the height difference she and Nini were about the same size. Kourtney had managed to get ahold of the floral dress Gabriella had worn on the rooftop, now all she had to do was make sure that Ricky didn’t step on her toes as they danced. Or allow the effect he had on her to show itself.
She made her way up the steps, moving to stand next to him. Putting her hands on the rail and looking out into the crowd. She could feel his eyes on her and she ignored the feeling that burned in her chest under his gaze.
“Do you think we’re gonna have to waltz?” Ricky started, projecting into the crowd.
“All I know is that my dad taught me when I was a little girl.” She said turning towards him. She froze a little under his baby browns. They hadn’t spoken since she first taught him the steps, he and Nini started practicing together and she and Carlos would sit in. Giving instruction when needed but they had never been alone together until now. Not that they were really alone it just, it felt like it.
“I-uh-I’d stand on his toes and he’d waltzed me around the living room.” She continued, smiling at him the way Gabriella would Troy. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
Gina reached for Ricky’s hand, ignoring the butterflies that fluttered in her chest. “Wait what?”
“Come on.” She goaded, guiding him down the stairs and towards the lower stage.
“But Gi-Gabriella, we’re on the roof.” She ignored his slip up and pulled him down the final step. WIthout a second thought, she slipped her hand out of his and kept walking forward. Looking back at him and laughed a little to herself as she recalled how the movie scene played out.
“Come here, you’ll love it.” She told him and he sighed. Shoving his hands deeper in his pants as he moved closer and stopping where she was. The music began to play and she held her hand out.
“Take my hand.”
He did and both their hearts skipped a beat.
“Take a breath. ” Her voice was deeper than both Gabriella and Nini’s but it made him feel calm. Rooted to the ground. He listened and they fell into the choreography with ease. She ran her fingers through his hair and he could feel his breath grow uneven at the action.
It was harder to sing than he initially thought. Mainly because she was pulling his focus every few seconds and when he moved to snake his hand around her waist he swore he could feel her shiver against him.
Losing themselves in the scene was easier than either of them wanted to admit. He wanted to tell her that he and Nini weren’t together anymore. They had broken it off a month ago and since then, he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about Gina. Even before they had broken up, he hadn’t been able to stop if he was being honest. He just didn’t know how to tell her, or how to even talk to her after the almost kiss thing.
He spun her and watched, mesmerized as she moved before pulling her back to him. It was weird how easily the world seemed to fade away while in her presence. Everything felt distant and when he dipped her, he had to fight the urge to repeat a mistake he had already made.
And as the number came to an end, her singing the last note that left him somewhat breathless, a feeling settled in his chest that he had never really felt before. Her hand wrapped around his neck and his on her waist, as they circulated one another.
Honestly, if asked what his thought process was in that moment he couldn’t say. Maybe it was the way she was looking at him like it was the only thing that mattered. Maybe it was the heat under the lights getting to him. Maybe it was the way she smelled or the way her hair fell against her face. Maybe it was just that he wasn’t thinking and if you had asked him. Regardless, the words came tumbling out.
“I’m in love with you.”
And just as the bomb fell, the aftermath began to show itself and it was devastating.
Gina’s Gabriella facade faded and a look of shock crossed over her face.
“Umm, Ricky. That’s not your line!” Carlos called from backstage but he barely registered it as Gina pushed herself away from him. The music died down and then she was gone, running out of the auditorium and away from him.
“Fuck” he breathed out.
Gina couldn’t breathe.
Ricky’s voice screaming after her wasn’t helping either. Gina pushed through the double doors of the auditorium and outside, not particularly caring for the dress that was integral to the show getting soaked by the rain. It didn’t matter. None of it mattered.
I’m in love with you
What does that-who does he even think he is? To just spring that on her out of nowhere, they had just started speaking again within the last few weeks. After everything that happened, he had left her hanging high and dry and now with this stupid production he thinks he can just waltz back into her life and proclaim his love for her. That isn’t-that’s not fair.
“Gina I-” She turned to face him and cursed the weather for blurring her vision of him.
“You and Nini have been together your whole lives and you always will be. I don’t want to be a casualty of your forever okay. You can’t just not speak to me for months and suddenly come back into my life and claim you love me Ricky! That you’re in love with me! That’s not how things work.” She was yelling at him, her words harsher than she intended but in her defense, she was kind of freaking out here. No one, no one besides her mom had ever said they loved her and certainly not the way he just said it. Out of nowhere, absolutely freaking nowhere. Who just blurts something like that out? Like it’s nothing.
“I know.” He shouted back, hands on his head as he stared at her.
“If you know then why do it?” She screamed back. She could feel her voice began to run hoarse but she didn’t care.
“Gina, I-I’m sorry. You were just standing there and I don’t know. I’ve never-I’ve never said that to anyone okay. I just, I don’t know what came over me.”
“Is there anything you do know?”
“I know that I’m in love with you!’
Oh god! There it goes again! He keeps saying it like it’s something people announce on a daily basis. What the fuck eve-
“Stop saying that! You can’t just proclaim that-”
“I mean it. I mean every word, every syllable, every consonant, I mean it. I’m in love with you Gina Porter.” He had taken a step forward with every word and Gina was frozen to the ground as the rain beat down against their skin.
“I’m in love with you. I think I have been for awhile now.” He stood in front of her now, brown hair sticking to his forehead and eyes deeper than she had ever seen. Her heart was ramming against her chest, it was like someone had set off a forest fire in her chest and the rain did nothing to extinguish it.
“Nini.” She found herself choking out, looking for a pin to drop in this. Something, anything to ruin this for her. Gina wasn’t the kind of girl who got proclamations of love from people. She never had been and never would be. Ricky was just confused, like he always was. It was Nini for him, it always had been.
Ricky stared at her, exasperated. He bit the inside of his cheek and she could see his forehead crease in the way he only did when he was trying to find the answer to something. Searching for what to say.
“Gina,I-look I love Nini.”
Here it comes, she could feel her heart beginning to sink as the words left his lips.
“I have since I was a kid and a part of me always will.” She wanted to turn away from him but she was rooted to her spot. She could feel the tears stinging in her eyes. Each word felt like a dagger to her heart, why did he do this? Why did he see it fitting to break her heart over and over again? Even when he didn’t realize he was doing it.
“But I’m not in love with her. I don’t think I’ve ever been.” He took her hands and Gina didn’t pull away as the words began to register. It wasn’t making sense...I-she couldn’t formulate thoughts as the words began to seep into her mind.
“I don’t think I even knew the difference until you. I’m in love with you. It was always going to be you.”
She stared at him, tears falling from her eyes as her brow furrowed.
“Oh no, don’t cry. Please don’t cry.” He moved his hands from hers and up to her face, wiping away at the rain and tears that lied on her face.
“I-I didn’t mean to make you cry. I just-I’m sorry. I should-”
“Don’t be.” She spoke out, voice hoarse and small.
Her hands moved to cup his wrists and she closed her eyes, breathing in deeply as the cool rain and Ricky’s warm touch washed over her. Trying to find the strength to finally exhale and release the words she never thought she could ever say to him. Something she had been swallowing months on end.
“Ricky I’ve been in love with you since Sophomore year.”
She could feel his body tense before relaxing but still, she didn’t allow herself to open her eyes.
“But I can’t do this to Nini. You guys are sti-”
“We’re not.” Her eyes snapped open at his words.
“We broke up a few weeks ago and things have been good. We’re friends and I’m pretty sure she likes Ashlyn.”
Ashlyn? Wow...Gina did not see that coming.
“Okay but you guys have broken up before so how-how is this different?” She didn’t know what to think or what to feel.
“Because, we’ve grown up and apart. And I-I have you. Or at least I hope I do. Nini is my past, she’s a comfort I could always go to but that’s all. She’s familiar and I’m not good with letting things go which is why it took us so long to end things. I was so scared of change but you make me less afraid.”
Her heart warmed at his words.
“And you don’t have to be with me now, I don’t want to pressure you into anything you-”
She didn’t want to hear it, she had been ready for this since she was fifteen. Gina leaned forward, closing the distance and bringing his sentence to an abrupt end with her lips against his own. Ricky froze against her at first and Gina’s heart clenched. Doubt filled her before she felt him reciprocate the action. His grip on her face grew stronger, more urgent as he pulled her closer and her fingers slipped from his wrists to his waist. Gripping him for dear life as they found their rhythm among the raindrops.
This kiss, held everything they had wanted to say to each other for the past two years and so much more. This kiss ignited something within the two that they never thought they could feel. This kiss was for them, even if the world would come crashing down tomorrow, this kiss would remain. Forever ingrained in time, etched into space. This kiss was all there was in that moment. It was everything and more.
It was Ricky and it was Gina. No longer separate broken entities but intertwined beings making one another whole.
It sealed them together. It filled them with warmth and acceptance. With a calming relief and surety. And that was all either of them had ever wanted.
Let me know what you guys think, sorry it took me so long to update. Pt. 3 coming soon.