Everyone knew that Troy and Gabriella were meant to be, so when they announced their engagement the summer after graduation no one was surprised. The news brought smiles to everyone's face, including Sharpay who had given up on Troy after the Lava Springs incident—everyone except for Ryan Evans.
Gabriella and Ryan had gotten close to each other over the last summer and Ryan was finally able to break out of his shell and the shadow of his sister. Ryan tried out for the baseball team and made it straight to Varsity after the coach found out about all of the championships Ryan had won in years past. His being on the baseball team allowed him to spend more time with Chad Danforth, who also played baseball, which indirectly led him to hanging out with Troy and the other basketball players.
That one year with Chad, Troy, and Gabriella made Ryan realize that he really was a normal guy who just happened to like musicals. He performed in the winter musical as well as Gabriella who played his female interest for once, instead of his sister. One stage kiss was all it took to make Ryan realize that his feelings for Gabriella had passed platonic and moved into a more dangerous zone.
Of course Troy had caught on to Ryan when he lingered a little bit too long after a kiss during a rehearsal. That day, Troy had made sure that Ryan knew where he stood. Under no circumstances was Ryan to makes any moves on Gabriella; the play was just that, a play. Gabriella was never made aware of the confrontation or of Ryan's feelings for her, so when he stopped hanging around as much and cut their conversations short, making up some excuse or another, she was bewildered.
Ryan gave up on love and dedicated himself to baseball and school for the rest of the year. Eventually, he was able to be around Gabriella without feeling his heart shatter: now it just cracked in a few places. When he received the invitation to the wedding a year later, Ryan couldn't help but to breakdown right then and there. Luckily he was in his room with no one to witness the scene.
Gabriella was a girl for theatrics at heart and insisted on having a winter themed wedding. It was to take place in the beginning of December so that she and Troy would return from their Honeymoon one week before Christmas. The entire church was dressed in white fabrics and tulips, Gabriella's favorite flower. She wore a magnificent white umpire-waist gown with beaded edges and a short train.
The umpire-waist made Gabriella look taller, Ryan noted as he filmed her walking down the aisle. He zoomed in close on her face so that her radiant smile could be seen through the veil. Ryan stared longingly at Gabriella through the viewing screen on the digital camera and sighed. Sharpay put a comforting hand on his arm and whispered, "Don't worry. Your time will come."
Ryan glanced over at his sister sitting next to him and smiled. She thought that he sighed because he wanted to be married, and she was partly right, but he didn't want just any bride—he wanted the bride who now stood in front of him, arm-in-arm with another man.
Gabriella and Troy's honeymoon gave Ryan time to think about how he was going to move on with his life; he had always kept a little flame burning for Gabriella just in case. It was time to extinguish the flame.
Ryan sat on the floor of his room, large pieces of poster board lying around him with words scribbled on them. He was in the process of gluing a rather hideous picture of a decaying, mummified woman to one when Sharpay walked in.
"Ryan, I need you to--" she stopped mid-sentence when she saw Ryan trying to flatten out the picture of the mummy on his board. She held her hand up to her mouth in horror, eyes wide, and Ryan couldn't help but laugh at her expression. "What are you doing, Ryan? Planning on giving someone a heart-attack with that (1)'hideodious' thing?" Hideodious was Sharpay's new favorite word since seeing Wicked and she tried to use it at every possible opportunity.
"Nope," Ryan said to his sister simply, "Just preparing to take my last shot at love." He resumed his smoothing of the picture as if he had said that he was making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sharpay walked over and took a seat next to her brother, looking at all of the boards.
"What are you talking about? What is this?" She asked confused. Ryan had never told her about Gabriella since Troy had crushed that dream so early in its development. As simply as he could, Ryan laid out the entire story of his love lost. When he finished, Sharpay looked at him with deep understanding and sorrow in her eyes.
"There are other fish in the sea; you'll get over her," she said trying to comfort him.
Ryan looked at his sister hopelessly. "But I don't want any other fish. I want that fish, the angel-faced fish—the brown-eyed Gabriella Montez fish."
Sharpay took his face in her hands and spoke seriously, "Ry, anything less than mad, passionate, extraordinary love is a waste of your time."
Troy and Gabriella sat on the couch of their new home, still relishing in their newly-wed status, watching a Christmas Carol on the television. They were both in their pajamas but Gabriella had a robe on top of hers and was wearing lavender, fuzzy slippers. She lay in Troy's arms as they reclined against the soft cushions.
The movie was about half-way through when their doorbell sounded. Gabriella sat up from her position in Troy's arms to answer the door but he held her close. "Don't get it. We'll pretend like were not home." She playfully smacked his arm. "It's Christmas," she said to him. Reluctantly, Troy let Gabriella loose from his arms and she wrapped her robe tight around her as she went to answer the door.
When Gabriella opened the door she was surprised to see Ryan standing there with an armful of poster boards and a portable boom box. They heard Troy call to her asking who was at the door. She was about to speak when he put a finger to his lips and removed the top, blank sheet to reveal a message: Tell Him its Carolers.
"Its carolers," she called back to Troy obediently.
"Tell them to go away," he called back, but Ryan had already set the boom box to the ground and pressed the play button. The voices of a small choir filled the empty air around them as the song Silent Night began to play.
Ryan revealed the next card: With any luck, by next year…
He revealed the next: I'll be going out with one of these girls
He revealed the next which had a collage of beautiful supermodels pasted across it and he wagged his eyebrows; Gabriella smiled, trying not to laugh.
Ryan revealed the next card: But for now, let me say…
The next: Without hope or agenda…
The next: Just because it's Christmas…
The next: And at Christmas you tell the truth…
The next: To me you are perfect…
The next: And my wasted heart will love you…
The next: Until you look like this…
Gabriella prepared herself for what was to come next. Ryan smiled as he revealed the next card and Gabriella let a small giggle escape when he revealed the next card: the picture of the mummified woman.
As Ryan revealed the last card, the song began to fade. It said, in plain black and white, Merry Christmas. With that, Ryan simply gathered together his cards, picked up his boom box and walked back to his car. Gabriella hesitated on the steps for only half of a minute before running after Ryan. He stopped when he heard the snow crunching beneath her slippered feet and turned around. To his surprise and delight, Gabriella wrapped her arms around Ryan's neck and kissed him passionately on the lips, keeping a quiet as this silent night.