Troy Bolton knew a lot of things about Gabriella. He knew she was obsessed with shopping and chocolate. He knew that she wore this little heart shaped locket he had given her for her birthday a few years ago, almost every day. He knew she loved dogs and the little SPCA ads made her so sad that she almost started to cry. He knew that she had to always wear a safety pin in her costume for every performance as part of her superstitions, one that Troy had also adopted, and that her skate guards had to be lined up at a certain angle when they were placed on the boards. He knew that when she was little, he hands got cold quick, so she had always worn these huge mitts on her hands. But what Troy didn't know was how much pain Gabriella was in.
Gabriella took a deep inhale and braced herself to go onto the ice, for practice. Her shins had been hurting for a while now, but she had convinced herself it was because of the amount of training they were doing, which had been partially true. The compulsory dances were so much about being on your edges and keeping your knees bent, that Gabriella blamed her shin pain on that.
The two had been working on their lifts with acrobats that Elena had brought in to help raise their degree of difficulty. One day Elena came in with a ballet magazine in hand. She showed the two a picture of a ballerina, arms spread and balanced on one knee on the back of her partner, who was in a squat position.
"What?" Gabriella said, thinking the old Russian woman was a little batty. "There's no way," Troy reasoned.
Sure, enough she convinced the two to do the lift. The two had practiced on mats before attempting to try it on the ice. It took a while for them to get their balance right that Gabriella would stay perfectly balanced on his leg. When it came to actually doing their lift on ice, Gabriella was terrified. She wasn't worried about herself; she was scared of hurting Troy, that her blade might cut his leg.
"Look, I trust you," he said, trying to reassure her that he would be fine. After training for 4 months off ice, he was confident that she would be able to do it.
Carefully she placed her skate in the pocket and hoisted herself up with the help of Troy, as soon as she got up, she came back down.
He turned to her and placed his hands on her shoulders, "I know you can do it, so go for it," he said. She nodded. Taking a deep breath, she went back up and held herself up for a few seconds before coming back down.
Troy stood back up and gave Gabriella a huge hug, "See, I told you could do it," he mumbled as he kissed the top of her head.
After seven months of perfecting the lift, which they had humorously named 'The Goose' since it looked like Gabriella was flying on the ice. Troy had begun noticing that after practice, Gabriella would immediately take off her skates.
Troy skated over to where she was sitting and carefully sat down beside her. "Hey you okay?" he asked, concern written all over his face.
Gabriella snapped up, "Um, yeah, just a little sore, that's it," she quickly rattled off. Troy stared at her for a second and then decided to drop the subject.
The couple had placed first in their first Grand Prix event but in the Grand Prix Final, Troy made a mistake in the twizzle sequence and their performance never recovered. Even with their flawless free dance, their marks still weren't high enough to place. They ended up in fourth place.
Gabriella watched as Troy stared blankly out the plane window, just watching the world pass him by. Gabriella got out of her seat across the aisle from him and sat next to him.
She gently tapped on his shoulder, "Hey," she spoke so quiet it was almost a whisper. He turned to her with a solemn look on his face. "It's my fault, I screwed up, we were doing fine until…." He sighed.
"It's not your fault, they were just that much better than us," she said. "No, we should have beaten them, we're the best, and that's not my ego talking. It's the truth." He sighed.
Gabriella didn't say anything but leaned against his arm, he lifted his arm and wrapped it around her small shoulders. She snuggled into his side and the two just sat there in silence for the rest of the trip home.
Gabriella got ready in her room before she left to go to the rink for practice again, she was only going to live there for another year and then she was planning and finding her own place. Her twenty year old partner had moved out a year ago and found an apartment near the rink and without him the house didn't feel as much like a home as it used to.
She said goodbye to the couple and headed out to the rink. She went inside and put on her skates. When she went out on to the ice, she skated around, bending her knees to loosen her legs.
Olympics were less than two years away, and they had people commenting on how they were America's best chance at the Olympics or how the fans swore that they were dating. Troy and Gabriella simply took at as a compliment that they were portraying their characters effectively.
Gabriella started to do some twizzles when suddenly her legs started to give out and she fell hard on the ice. She tried to move but the pain was so unbearable so couldn't move.
"GABRIELLA!" she heard a male voice yell and suddenly Troy was kneeling beside her.
Troy had taken Gabriella in his car and drove like a mad man to the hospital. Since they were in Salt Lake City, Troy had been the only one there for Gabriella. He called their parents and informed them of the situation.
He went into her room and saw her sleeping peacefully in the hospital bed. He pulled up a chair beside her bed and gently held her hand. Gabriella's eyes fluttered open at the sense of his touch.
"Hi," her soft voice croaked out. Troy smiled, "Don't scare me like that," he said as he softly stroked her hair.
"Hey, I see your awake, good," the doctor said as she walked in. Gabriella sat up but Troy didn't let go of her hand.
"Hello, I'm Dr. Patel and your Gabriella, correct?" she politely asked. Gabriella nodded. "And I understand, that you two are skaters," she questioned.
"Uh, yeah, we're ice dancers," Gabriella explained.
"This is going to be difficult, but I am going to get right to it. You have what is called Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome. You have over used your muscles. You see the problem is that the tissue around your muscle is so tight that the muscles cannot expand when you exert yourself." Dr. Patel explained. "And because of this, the blood flow is limited and the waste and toxins are stuck there."
Gabriella sat there shocked. "How long have you had this pain?" the doctor asked.
Gabriella sighed, "Umm, a couple of months" she said. Troy looked over her, his face a mixture of confusion and disappointment. "So, what happens next?" Gabriella asked.
"Well your options are you could have surgery which may not work, or you can retire.