Chapter 1: Scarif Ride
The waiting was the worst part of this competition. Waiting meant being confined in that tent just outside the starting booth, watching the other competitors leave one after another, trying to block out the commentary spilling from the saturated speakers...
Jyn was trying to focus on her ride, trying to take it as any other competition; but it wasn't any other competition. It was the Scarif Ride, the only path to get to the Death Star Ride, the Holy Grail of the professional snowboard competitions.
Her head snapped up at the sound of her coach approaching.
“Only two left and it's you,” Saw said with a smile.
Jyn nodded, got up. She started her warm-up and stretching routine one last time, Saw guiding her through the moves.
Finally, she got out of the tent and into the starting booth. Saw buckled her helmet, clapped her shoulder.
“Be one with the board, I know.”
He let her go after a quick hug. The staff member next to her started counting down to the start.
The first part was easy, a steep wall ending with two rails. She slid frontside on one then jumped on the other backside and finished the trick with a twist 180 before tackling the next obstacle, a larger rail ending with a small cliff. She performed a backflip 360 and landed smoothly, picking up speed for the last trick. The Scarif Ride was known for its impressive ramp, one of the best to perform air tricks as high and as complex as possible.
She had trained for that ramp with one trick in mind, a backside double cork 1260. Saw had called her too reckless, not realistic enough, but she had managed to land it perfectly a few times. She only had to do it again. Easy.
She heard the roar of the crowd and the frantic exclamations of Art and Pio, the commentators, as she went up in the air but blocked out the noises to focus on her position. The hardest part wasn't the trick in itself, it was the landing. After so many spins, finding her balance wasn't an easy task.
The moment her board touched the ground, she knew it wasn't going to end well. She fell and tumbled in the snow. The world became a blur of white and cold and when it finally stopped moving, she found herself on her back, staring at the clear blue sky and trying to catch her breathing, the crowd a dull rumor above her.
“Jyn! Jyn, you okay?”
She gathered herself and rose on her elbows to see her brother running toward her. She waved at him and she heard Pio shout “She's fine, she's fine!” in an anxious but relieved voice. Bodhi fell to his knees beside her.
“Yes, Bodhi, I'm fine. Don't worry.”
She started to unbuckle her feet.
“You got anything good?” she asked, gesturing at the camera dangling across his body. His face lit up.
“Yeah, I'll show you later.”
He helped her stand up and she tried to shake as much snow from her as possible before waving to the cameras with a self depreciating smile. She wasn't gonna compete in the Death Star Ride this year, that was for sure.
They exited the track and Saw found them a few minutes later. He engulfed her in a massive bear hug.
“Are you hurt?”
“Only my dignity,” she answered. “Also I need air.”
“You scared me. I told you you weren't ready for that trick. You should've done a double cork 720.”
She rolled her eyes.
“I've been doing the double cork 720 for the past two years, I don't want to become predictable.”
Saw sighed, hugged her again and disappeared in the crowd, talking about finding someone from the sponsors or something.
“So,” Bodhi started, taking her in a headlock, “how about grabbing a beer? I need a drink after watching my little sister almost break her neck.”
She struggled against him, but despite his lanky frame, Bodhi had strength and wasn't gonna let her go so easily.
“Alright, alright! Lemme change first, I'm fucking soaked.”
“Hotel lobby in thirty,” he said as he released her. She saluted him and left the competition area after leaving her board with the competition staff.
Their hotel wasn't far and she did a quick job of removing her wet clothes and hopped in the shower. She felt a few bruises starting to form on her legs and lower back, but she counted herself lucky not to have broken any bones in her fall.
She toweled herself dry, tied her hair in a messy bun and grabbed clothes randomly. Neither her nor Bodhi where what you might call tidy and their hotel room looked like a suitcase had exploded inside. While she managed to put on skinny jeans that were definitely hers, the hoodie was Bodhi's, its too long sleeves covering her hands. She slipped on a pair of sneakers, grabbed her wallet and joined Bodhi in the lobby.
The bar was already packed, mostly male snowboarders she recognized from the morning session of the competition. Some recognized her as well.
“Nice fall, kiddo!”, she heard from a guy in the back. She vaguely waved in his direction and followed Bodhi to the counter to order their beers, then they found a free booth and sat down on either sides of the table.
“To my non-DSR qualification!”
“To your next year DSR qualification!”
Jyn snorted and took a long swig of her drink.
“Fuck that's good. So, are you gonna show me the pictures or do I have to beg?”
Bodhi shook his head but turned on his camera and gave it to her. She scrolled through the pictures, zooming in and out to analyze her position, trying to see where she had gone wrong in her jump.
“If you ignore the ones where I'm mid-fall, you could almost believe that that backside double cork 1260 was perfect. We could send this one to Dad,” she pointed to one where she was mid-jump, “followed by this one right after,” she pointed to the one where she was under a wave of snow, having clearly butchered her landing.
“Yeah, I'm sure he'd appreciate it.”
They drank their beers commenting the performances of the other competitors Bodhi had shot, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. Bodhi wasn't competing, not really fond of the pressure, but he had a sharp eye for details and techniques.
“That guy,” he showed her the picture of a beige and brown clad man, taken mid jump. She remembered him. American, younger than her but with a indescribable talent. “See his arm? It didn't move during the entire spin.”
“What was his name again? Lukas?”
“Luke. Luke Skywalker. He qualified for the DSR. His sister was riding too. Not quite as technical but terribly elegant.”
Jyn drained her beer.
“Careful there, I might start to think that you wanna ditch me for them,” she laughed and got to her feet to get them a second pint each.
“You're my sister, I can't ditch you!” he called after her.
Getting to the counter wasn't as easy as the first time. With the day's sessions over, people were rushing to the bars. Snowboarders were known for their love of beer after all. Jyn was glad they were in Italy and not in the USA, where she was still considered too young to drink.
She nudged her way through the crowd and finally reached the counter. She should've sent Bodhi, at least he wasn't risking getting crushed because he wasn't reaching most people's eye level.
She raised the empty glasses to the barman who nodded and started filling up two glasses again.
She turned toward the voice. Two guys were leaning against the counter, one extremely tall, with asian features and prematurely grey hair and the other a bit shorter, quite tan, his long black hair sticking out from under his beanie.
“We saw you today. Except for the landing, your final trick was pretty neat,” the second one said before drinking from his pint of stout. She couldn't pinpoint his accent but she was pretty sure she had seen him ride in the morning.
The barman slid her beers down to her and she handed a bill, telling him to keep the change.
“Thanks,” she said to the two guys. “We have a booth, wanna join?”
They exchanged a glance. The tallest one shrugged.
“Sure, why not”, he answered with a distinctively British accent.
Jyn grabbed her beers and went back to their booth. Bodhi gave her a questioning glance when he saw the two guys behind her but didn't say anything when they sat down.
“Guys, this is Bodhi. Bodhi this is two random dudes who liked my disaster.”
The one who had sat down next to her snorted.
“Nice way of introducing us. I'm Cassian, this is my buddy Kay.”
Kay raised his beer silently.
“Yeah I remember you, you competed this morning, right? I think I shot you actually.”
As Bodhi was scrolling through his hundreds of pictures, Jyn turned toward the newcomers.
“So. Kay. You're English?”
“From Liverpool, yes. From your accent I'd say you're from London?”
“And yet you're riding under the Swiss flag. How's that?”
“We've been living in Geneva for the past... Hey, Bodhi when did we move to Geneva?”
“Nine years ago,” he answered, not even rising his head from his camera screen.
“For the past nine years, then.”
“You both moved to Geneva at the same time?” Kay asked with a rather confused expression on his face.
“Well yeah,” she shrugged. “Our father got a job at CERN so we didn't have much choice.”
Her declaration was met with a silence. She glanced up from her beer to see Cassian looking from her to Bodhi several times.
“Did I not mention we're siblings?”
“You didn't,” Bodhi said flatly, still searching for the shots he had taken of Kay and chewing on the end his hoodie's string. “There! Got you!”
He turned the camera triumphantly. On the screen, Kay, dressed in all black, was in the middle of an inverted 360.
“Nice. Did you qualify for the DSR?” Jyn asked.
“No. I got beaten at the last minute by Han Solo. Bloody American.”
She turned to Cassian.
“What about you?”
He shook his head.
“I was really awful today. I hope you don't have any pictures of me, Bodhi,” he added laughing.
“I'm looking actually. You were dressed in navy with a Spanish patch on the back, right?”
“And Mexican. But yeah, I spent most of my life in the Pirineos.”
“Nice! I love riding in the Pyrenees. Are you going to the Fest Tour this year?”
“Yeah. One of my friends will be there too, maybe you know him. Kes Dameron?”
“Can't say I do. I only started the senior circuit this year.”
They all leaned toward the center of the table where Bodhi was holding the camera. On the screen, Cassian was clearly struggling to hold his position. Jyn remembered now. That one has ended in a spectacular fall as well.
“What the hell were you trying to do?”
“A 900? I think?”
The rest of the evening was spent talking and sharing stories about previous competitions, memorable rides, how to land the hardest tricks and which riders to avoid drinking with if you didn't want to wake up with the worst hangover. Apparently Han Solo, the other American veteran (meaning they were older than 25) Lando Calrissian, and their Czech American friend Baca were notorious dangers when it came to alcohol. Kay also had a few stories about Art, one of the commentators.
“He's half my height but he can drink twice as much without blinking.”
The bar closed at 2 in the morning, but despite the alcohol and the exhaustion of spending a day on her board, Jyn wasn't ready to sleep.
“Wanna go back to our hotel and play some games? We have a deck of Uno.”
Next to her, Bodhi was nodding excitedly.
“C'mon it's like, two streets over!”
They grabbed a couple of packs of beer in the 24/7 mini-market and headed to the hotel. By the time they got there, Jyn was freezing, still only wearing a tshirt and Bodhi's hoodie.
“Fuuuuck fuckfuckfuck, c'mon guys, hurry up!”
“Why didn't you take a fucking jacket, it's December!” Bodhi exclaimed.
“It wasn't that cold earlier!”
Once in their room, Jyn piled up the clutter on her bed to clear a spot on the floor and fished the Uno game from one of her bags. She and Bodhi were ruthless, but Kay was calculating and methodical while Cassian was attempting to guess which cards the others had in their hands.
There was a lot of shouting, a lot of swearing and a lot of alcohol.
When she woke up the next morning, Jyn was glad she wasn't riding that day. She made a mental note to add Kay and Cassian to the list of riders who were dangerous to drink with.
Chapter 2: Wobani X-Games, part 1
Glad to see that this fic hasn't been completely ignored.
I'm not sure what the rhythm of publication will be, but every chapter is planned out and the only thing left to do is write.
Also this fic is totally self-indulgent: my high school was a boarding school in the French Alps and at least half the people there were kids from ski resorts who were on their way to become professional snowboarders/skiers/skateboarders/ice hockey players.
Long story short, I basically spent three years of my life being surrounded by people talking about "method grab" and "quadruple barrel roll" at the breakfast table.
Another thing: most of the figures mentioned here can be found on YouTube.
Jyn didn't like the Wobani X-Games.
First, because Bodhi wasn't there with her, having gone back to Paris for his second year of school. Second, because most of the staff were jerks. Utter jerks. And third, because the weather conditions were downright shitty, forcing the organizers to cancel and report events several times.
But she had to participate because some of her sponsors wanted her to and what the sponsors wanted came before any of her personal opinions.
On the days where it was snowing so much the visibility was at a zero, she had nothing better to do than play cards with Saw, or, like now, sprawl on a couch in the hotel lounge and watch videos on her laptop. The wifi was better there than in her room and there was only so much daytime TV she could stomach.
She saw someone stopping next to her from the corner of her eyes. When the person didn't leave, she paused the video and removed her headphones.
“Fancy seeing you here,” said an accented voice above her. She looked up and recognized Cassian.
“Hey!” She put her laptop on the coffee table, rose to her feet and hugged him. Melted snow seeped into her oversized sweater—one of Saw's actually. “Fuck you're soaked!”
Snow fell from his beanie as he laughed.
“Yeah I just came in.”
“The fuck were you doing out there?”
He shrugged. More snow fell down to the carpet.
“I wanted to see if I could ride a bit and do some recon of the track but you can't see a fucking thing.”
“How surprising,” she deadpanned and sat down again. He leaned against the armrest of the couch.
“What were you watching?”
“Kenobi's DSR ride from 2005.”
“That man was insane.”
“Still is. At least according to Saw.”
“Saw Gerrera. My coach. He's an old friend of Kenobi. He asked me to watch his videos because if I'm gonna do reckless tricks, at least I should do them with style,” she said the last part mimicking Saw and rolled her eyes. “Saw's words, not mine.”
“Well he's not wrong. Kenobi might be crazy but he's classy. But, hey, speaking of the DSR, are you gonna watch it at the hotel bar with everyone?”
“The first part is tonight, right?” Cassian made an affirmative noise. “Then yeah, sure.”
“Cool,” he smiled down at her before straightening up. “Okay, not that I don't enjoy chatting with you, but I need to change before I catch pneumonia or some shit. See you later!”
Jyn waved him off and went back to her video. Yep, Kenobi was definitely missing a few marbles up there.
She was still in the same position when Saw came to find her. He ruffled her hair, dodged her punch with a laugh and sat down on the opposite armchair.
“According to the local experts, the weather won't be improving in the next two days.”
Jyn closed down her laptop and sank further into the cushions.
“This competition sucks.”
“Did you watch Kenobi's videos?”
“Yep. How is that guy even still alive?”
“I'm asking myself the same question every time I see him. Wanna play cards?”
Cassian reappeared an hour later, while she was kicking Saw's butt during a game of Speed.
“Are you growing roots into this couch?” he asked as he approached them.
“Until there's something better to do, I am,” she answered without looking up. Saw was equally focused on the game.
Cassian sat down next to her and watched them finish their round. Or rather he watched her crush her coach mercilessly.
“Ha!,” she exclaimed when she won her eighth game in a row. “Take that, old man!”
Saw lowered his head to the coffee table in defeat.
“I'll have my revenge, kid,” he mumbled against the wood.
“Whatever helps you sleep at night.”
Saw snorted and lifted his head from the coffee table.
“And who's this young man?”
“Oh yeah, sorry. This is Cassian...,” she paused and glanced at him with a grimace. “I actually don't know your last name?”
“Andor. Nice to meet you sir, you must be Jyn's coach?”
“Saw Gerrera. And yeah, I'm in charge of that brat.”
Jyn rolled her eyes.
“He's a lousy loser,” she stage-whispered to Cassian who glanced down at her with a smile. Saw tsk-ed and shook his head.
“You're riding, kid?”
“Come on, lose the sir, it makes me feel like an old man. Whatever you're going to say, Jyn, don't say it,” he added pointing at her menacingly with the deck of cards. “Who are you training with?”
“He's alright once you get to know him.”
Saw made a non committal sound, but knowing him like she did, he probably had a strong opinion of the man, and not a good one. She nudged Cassian's knee with her own.
“Wanna play Speed?”
“No Uno this time?”
“Ugh, don't talk about Uno, she and her brother are obsessed with that game,” Saw complained dramatically.
“It's a great game and you know it.”
“Speaking of, Bodhi isn't here today?” Cassian asked.
“No, he's back in school. In Paris, away from this stormy freezing hell. So. Wanna play or not?”
“Saw, you're playing?”
“Nah, I'll leave you to it, I'm gonna go complain about that insufferable kid I'm training to Euwood, he owes me a beer.”
“Love you too,” she called after him, shuffling the cards.
Cassian moved to the armchair and tied up his hair away from his eyes. She could see him put his game-on face.
“You know how to play?” She smirked.
“Bring it on.”
Cassian was a more challenging opponent than Saw. His reflexes were lighting quick and he countered a good number of her moves.
They talked about what Bodhi was studying (photography), where Kay was (out buying groceries because we can't spend our lives eating junk food, Cassian), how they did on the first event of the Games (better than at the Scarif Ride for both of them), what was the most beautiful spot they had been to (Argentina for him, Norway for her), if they had ever seen the northern lights (yes on both accounts).
“Got any plans for the after season?” he asked after beating her for the third time.
“Finishing high school,” she answered, gathering the cards and shuffling them.
“You still go to high school?”
“Yeah, I'm only 18.”
“I thought you were doing it like, uh... A distancia, uh you know-”
“Like online courses?”
“I actually do that during the season. I'm in some kind of special high school where only “high-level” athletes go or something. We all have custom schedules and stuff.”
“Got any friends there?”
“Not really,” she shrugged. “A lot of the people going there are filthy rich and full of themselves. Another round?”, she added, holding up the cards.
He shook his head.
“I think the DSR broadcast is gonna start soon.”
Jyn looked down at her watch. They had been playing for over an hour.
She gathered her laptop, headphones and the pack of cards and stuffed them in her backpack.
“Is Kay coming too?”
Cassian checked his phone.
“He's already there.”
The bar was packed but Kay had miraculously managed to save them a table with a good view of the big screens. Cassian went to the counter to get them their drinks, gesturing for her to go sit down.
“Jyn Erso, my fellow British friend,” Kay greeted her when she reached the table. She bent down to half-hug him.
“Hi, Kay. I heard you were trying to make Cassian eat something else than burgers?” she said playfully and sat down on the other side of the booth.
Kay rolled his eyes.
“He'll thank me when he doesn't die from clogged arteries.”
Cassian joined them a few minutes later with three pints. He put them down and slid on the bench next to Jyn.
“To a better weather!”
“To never participate in this competition ever again!”
“To healthy food!”
The Death Star Ride had been aptly named. The track was the steepest of the circuit and the obstacle course was one of the most dangerous. And of course the judges were heartless. It was the competition with the highest percentage of injuries and forfeits.
One guy was already out after a bad fall.
“Looks like a dislocated shoulder to me!” the commentator was saying gleefully.
“Well, that's never fun,” Kay said with a grimace.
“That happened to you?,” Jyn asked.
“Four years ago, yes. During the half-pipe session of the X-Wing Jam.”
“I had to help him get dressed for three months,” Cassian helpfully added.
“Thanks for sparring my dignity, Cassian.”
“Anytime, my friend, anytime,” Cassian replied and raised his glass in a mock salute. Kay glared at him before turning to Jyn.
“Ever broken anything?” he asked her.
“I sprained my knee a couple of times, but nothing major. Still sucked, tho. What about you Cassian?”
“I broke my nose.” Jyn made a face. “Twice.”
“Ooow. Ow. Ow. Ow.”
“That's the idea, yeah.”
“Isn't that the kid that was with us at the Scarif Ride?” Kay interrupted them, his face turned to the screen where a beige and brown silhouette was performing crazy tricks after crazy tricks.
“Yep, that's Skywalker.”
They watched him without a word. The commentators were rambling insanely about his skills.
“... His mentor must be proud!”
“He's perpetrating the Kenobi legacy, that's for sure! Just like his father before him!”
Cassian and Jyn looked at each other.
“He's trained by Kenobi?” Cassian asked.
“And he's a Skywalker as in Anakin Skywalker?” Jyn added.
“That explains a lot. Like. A lot.”
“The probabilities of this kid winning that event of the DSR are high. Very high.” Kay said, looking quite impressed.
On screen, Skywalker was earning the biggest score of the event as he was hugging his sister and his coach. The coach was definitely Kenobi.
“Hey the next one is Solo,” Cassian noticed.
“The one from the Don't Drink With Them List?”
“Just FYI, I added you guys to that list.”
“Why?!” Kay exclaimed in pure outrage as Cassian just started laughing in his glass.
“Because of the bloody hangover I had after the last time we got together. I don't even remember you leaving the hotel room!”
“To be fair, we don't remember either.”
“Speak for yourself, Cassian. Now shut up and watch Han eat snow.”
Solo had indeed fallen flat on his face after the second ramp. They replayed his jump in slow motion.
“What was he trying to do?” Jyn wondered. Solo's moves were making no sense to her.
“A double back-barrel roll with a 360 landing?” Cassian said, his voice unsure.
“No, that looks like a double laid-out 720 flip.”
“Whatever that was supposed to be, we can safely call it a disaster,” Kay concluded before standing up to get more beers.
The broadcast ended with Skywalker predictably winning the first event. Two known faces, Antilles and Darklighter, came second and third, while Solo forfeited with a broken wrist. People started to leave the bar until only a few remained.
“Should we go up and play Uno again?” Kay offered. “I bought a deck after Scarif.”
“He did,” Cassian sighed.
“Guess Bodhi and I aren't the only one addicted to that stupid game.”
“Definitely not. I'm sure with a bit of work we could get Davits to play with us too,” Kay said.
“Davits?” Jyn asked.
“Draven, our trainer. And no, Kay, bad idea, we talked about it.”
Kay shrugged and muttered something sounding suspiciously like “spoilsport”. Jyn downed the rest of her beer.
“As nice as it'd be to stay here and get drunk with you two again, I'm supposed to meet Saw early at the gym tomorrow.”
“Sounds fun. He's probably gonna kick your ass after you destroyed him at that card game earlier.”
Jyn's shoulders sagged and she glared at Cassian.
“Why did you have to tell me that. I already didn't want to go.”
Cassian smiled at her, unapologetic. She tugged down her beanie.
“Ugh, you're a terrible person.”
“I've been saying that for the past six years.”
Jyn and Kay high-fived before she nudged Cassian out of the booth. She gave them both a quick hug and bid them goodnight.
The next morning, Saw gleefully handed her ass to her in retaliation for his loss at the game. It didn't even surprise her.
Chapter 3: Wobani X-Games, part 2
The weather finally cleared enough three days later for the last session of the Games. The snow was heavy and wet and the icy wind was getting inside their multiple layers, piercing even through thermal leggings and long-sleeved shirts. Everyone was left feeling they had frozen bones.
The women were riding in the morning and despite all the warm-up exercises Saw was putting her through, Jyn was still feeling like her muscles were tense and rock-hard.
“Remind me who's the bloody sponsor who wanted me to do that bloody competition?”
“The energy drink one.”
“Fuck them, I'm gonna join the Drink Water movement.”
“Win this round and we'll talk about ending that contract.”
“Well, that's a motivational speech if I've ever heard one.”
“Don't sass me, kid.”
“I wouldn't dare.”
He smacked her in the back of the helmet.
“Show them what you got-”
“And be the board, I know.”
She didn't get creative on that event, doing one mastered trick after another, topping everything with her signature double cork 720. Her brain was too frozen to think about doing anything requiring more than muscle memory. Which doesn't mean it was bad. It was just boring and mechanical.
She saw Kay and Cassian at the finish line, cheering with the others. She waved at them and waited for her score as she unbuckled her boots from the board.
She marked an impressive amount of points but came second only to Shara Bey, a Canadian who probably had springs instead of legs. The woman was flying.
Jyn left the finish line, gave her board to a staff member and joined the boys in the crowd.
“Very neat performance,” Kay commented when she reached their level.
“Not my best one. Absolutely no imagination there.”
“I think you're too hard on yourself.”
“And I think I'm gonna freeze to death if I stay here. How the fuck did you manage to stay out here?”
“C-” Cassian jabbed an elbow in Kay's ribs, stopping him from finishing whatever it had been he had wanted to say. “We wanted to see you at the finish line. We know how you've been miserable and full of hatred for that bloody event.”
“Even more without your brother here.”
“Aww, you guys are too sweet. Let's have some hot drinks before we die of hypothermia.”
They walked to one of the large tents that had been put up next to the competition tracks. One side of it was a counter with a buffet of food and drinks and the rest was littered with tables of various sizes. Two big screens showing what was happening outside were hung on opposite walls.
Jyn felt her muscles relax from the simple fact of being in a somewhat warm place. There was already a lot of people inside and only a couple of tables were free. Kay motioned to one of them.
“Go claim it, I'm taking care of the food.”
Jyn and Cassian sat down opposite each other at a four seats table. It wasn't far from one of the screens. Jyn glanced at it. One woman had just finished but her score was far from Jyn's.
“Are you worried?”
She snapped back to Cassian. He was looking at her, leaning his chin on his hand.
“Not really,” she shrugged. “The only reason I'm here is because one of my sponsors wanted me to. I'm not really into it you know? Winning the Wobani X-Games has never been a life goal for me or anything.”
“Yeah. It's a bit of a bastard competition, what with happening at the same time as the DSR and all.”
“You make it sound like it's made for losers.”
He smiled and raised an eyebrow as if to say “well, isn't it?”. He was on the verge of adding something when Kay appeared with a tray full of mini-sandwiches, pastries and three large paper cups.
“Tell me this is coffee,” she said, grabbing the cup he handed her.
“It is. I didn't know how you were taking yours so here.” He put down cream containers and a few packets of sugar next to her cup.
“Ever got told that you're a life saver?”
“Actually no, most of my friends are ungrateful bastards.”
Cassian choked on his coffee.
“Wha-” he started before swearing when he saw he had actually spilled coffee on the front of his jacket.
“Sounds like you need new friends,” Jyn told Kay playfully while pouring two packets of sugar into her cup.
“Don't team up against me you two,” Cassian grumbled.
“I really don't know what you are talking about, Cassian,” Kay deadpanned and stole the pastry his friend was holding in his hand. Jyn laughed weakly at their bickering. She lowered her eyes to her coffee, suddenly missing Bodhi a lot.
She turned back to the screen. A tiny silhouette clad in burgundy was absolutely shredding the track. Jyn squinted and recognized the signature white and blue headscarf of Ahsoka Tano peeking from under her helmet. Jyn remembered her well. They had competed against each other several times during junior events. The Turko-Finnish woman was brutally efficient on rail tricks, but her sunny smile was so infectious you couldn't be mad at her when she was literally sweeping the floor with you. If someone was going to beat Jyn, it might as well be her, especially if the rumors of her having a new exceptional coach were true.
“Who's that?” Kay said from the other side of the table.
“Ahsoka Tano,” Jyn answered without taking her eyes off the screen. Tano was killing it and unless she was screwing up her landing on the last jump, she was going to take the lead. Kay almost choked on his beer when she did a sideflip to exit the rail.
“Did she just sideflip off that rail?!”
“Yep. She always does that, no matter the height she jumps from.”
“The risk of her breaking her neck is high.”
“You know her well?” Cassian asked.
“We crossed path a few times. She beat me twice at the Christophsis Battle.”
On screen, Tano was taking up speed for the last ramp. Jyn's fingers tensed around her cup. When Tano took off, everyone in the tent had their eyes on her. She was attempting one of the hardest jumps in the books.
“This... She's doing a roast beef...?” Cassian trailed off, his cup halfway to his mouth.
“A cab roast beef?” Kay continued.
“A cab 1260 shifty roast beef.” Jyn finished. She knew Tano's preferred moves and that jump had been on the Turko-Finnish woman's to-do list for almost as long as she had been competing. It looked like she had finally mastered it enough to perform it in competition.
Her landing was a bit wobbly but the rest of the execution was flawless. Outside the tent, people were cheering and clapping enthusiastically.
“Why wasn't she at the Scarif Ride? She could destroy everyone at the DSR with tricks like that.” Cassian said, Kay nodding next to him.
Tano got the highest score of the morning. There were only four riders left, but Jyn didn't recognize any of their names as one that was a direct threat to her third place. She went back to her coffee and nibbled at a sandwich.
“So what's your program for this afternoon?”, she asked. “Is one of you going to try a crazily sick jump like that or what?”
“Some of us still have some instinct of self-preservation, Erso.”
She snorted and smirked at Kay.
“We're riders, Kay, of course we don't have any of that,” she said matter-of-factly.
“I've been practicing for a triple cork actually,” Cassian piped up between two bites of his pastry.
“Frontside or backside?” Jyn asked.
Kay rolled his eyes.
“You're insane. I'm just going to stick to a backflip barrel roll and not break my face on that bloody track.”
“Yeah actually I wanted to warn you, careful after the first set of rails, the snow is really shitty, it's like a wet sludge with icy balls in the middle. Could totally fuck your landing.”
As if on cue, the competitor on the screen messed up her rail exit, fell down and didn't get back up immediately. When she did, she was holding her arm close to her torso and was obviously in a lot of pain. She slid down the rest of the track on the edge and went directly to the medical team once at the bottom.
“This is a bloody joke! Are they trying to kill us?”, Kay exclaimed, his indignation written all over his face.
A murmur of agreement rose in the tent. Jyn definitely wasn't the only one to despise the Wobani X-Games.
They separated half an hour later, the boys going to prepare for their ride and Jyn going back to the finish line to have her picture taken with Bey and Tano before going to the hotel to change. She would have loved nothing more than to catch a quick nap, but the thought of not going to cheer Cassian and Kay when they had done it for her filled her with guilt.
She was just out of the shower, dressed in a pair of thermal leggings and an oversized tshirt over a thermal long-sleeved shirt, when someone knocked on her door. She opened it and was immediately smothered by Saw's thick arms.
“I'm really proud of you, kid.”
“Thanks, Saw. Breathing is still a thing.”
Saw laughed and let her go.
“Did you call your father?”
She rolled her eyes.
“No. He's probably busy creating a black hole or something,” she said bitterly. Saw was more of a dad to her than her actual father was. She knew Galen was a workaholic and that he had a Very Important Job, but sometimes she couldn't help but resent him for never being around. “I'll call him tonight,” she added. “It's the middle of the night in Geneva anyway.”
Saw looked like he was going to scold her but ultimately didn't.
“Any plans for this afternoon?,” he asked instead.
“I'm gonna see Cassian and Kay.”
“What?,” she said defensively.
“It's good to see you make friends.”
“Don't say that like I don't have any friends,” she sulked.
Saw raised a mocking eyebrow.
“I do have friends!” she insisted.
“Bodhi doesn't count. And I don't either.”
Jyn crossed her arms.
“You're an asshole.”
Saw pulled her into a hug again.
“I'm just saying, it's time you connected with people,” he said softly and kissed the top of her head.
She reluctantly let herself melt against his chest and felt like the little girl she used to be, full of anger and resenting the world after her mother's death until Saw took her under his wings and put her on a board.
“Love you, kid.”
“I love you too, Saw.”
He ended the hug and ruffled her hair. She glared at him, but she was still smiling.
“Now go get ready to go cheer on your boyfriend and his giant friend.”
She swatted his arm.
“Get out of here, old man!”
He dropped a kiss on her forehead and left the room.
Jyn shrugged on a pair of snow pants, Saw's sweater and her snow jacket before tying her snow boots. She put her wallet, her phone and the hotel keys in her pockets, grabbed a beanie and a pair of gloves and left for the competition track.
A couple of people were already at the finish line and Jyn noticed Tano talking with a somewhat familiar-looking man. She joined them.
“Hey again, Jyn!” Ahsoka greeted her. She had changed out of her snowboard gear but she had kept the Finland flag scarf she was using as a hijab. “You know Rex, right?”
Jyn turned to the man.
“I'm not sure? You look familiar, tho.”
“Maybe you know one of my siblings. Or one of my cousins.”
“You're a Fett,” Jyn realized.
“I'm a Fett,” Rex laughed.
The Fett family was everywhere in the snowboard world. And the surf world. And even in the skateboard one. Their name was present in every competition, as if the New-Zealanders had decided to invade every glide sports invented. And succeeded.
“I think I met Kix. Or Jesse. It was at the Kamino Junior. Maybe it was both.”
Rex and Ahsoka laughed. The Fetts were not only everywhere, they were also very difficult to distinguish from each others.
“You're competing?” Jyn asked him.
“Not anymore. I'm training my cousin, Tup. First time in a senior competition for the kid.”
“And he's gonna be great!” a voice came from behind Jyn. The newcomer threw an arm around Rex's neck. “Stop worrying.”
“I'm not worrying.”
“You're totally worrying.”
Rex rolled his eyes. Jyn looked at the other man. Shaggy brown hair, scar across his brow, tall. He looked familiar too.
“Leave Rex alone, Skyguy, you weren't any better this morning.”
“Wrong. I was sure you were going to shred everyone, Snips. Also, hi, I'm Anakin!”
Jyn shook the hand offered to her. Anakin Skywalker. Kenobi's former protégé and best friend, Luke's father and Ahsoka's mentor. No wonder she was fearless in her tricks.
The crowd was growing around them and they nudged people to reach the fences. Rex left them to join his cousin at the top of the track. Anakin turned to her.
“So you're trained by that good old Saw right?” He asked.
“You know him?”
“Hell yeah, we were always in the same competitions him, Obi-Wan and me! Is he around? We should get a drink together, I haven't seen him in a few years!” Anakin said excitedly. He was vibrating with raw energy and his eyes were twinkling with mischief.
Ahsoka rolled her eyes. She was about to say something when the speakers crackled and the voice of the commentator announced the beginning of the session.
The first two competitors were unknown to Jyn. The third one, Ezra Bridger, was vaguely familiar and apparently a good friend of Ahsoka. He was taking risks but the execution was often sloppy. He almost fell when he landed on the bad snow and was destabilized for the rest of the track. At the finish line, he didn't even wait for his result and stomped off, ignoring a man and a green-haired woman who were trying to talk to him.
After a few riders, Jyn heard a familiar name. Codo Cadera had used to train with her in Switzerland before leaving for Austria a couple of years back. She recognized his style, cocky, a bit too sure of himself and always a show off. He had progressed since the last time she had seen him, but he wasn't innovative.
He reached the finish line with a flourish and lifted his mask, smiling to the cameras and to the crowd. She could pinpoint the moment he noticed her in the crowd, his smile growing while he winked at her. She rolled her eyes. He hadn't changed a bit apparently
He waited for his score before exiting the track. A few minutes later, he was cutting through the crowd to come stand on her left, pushing Ahsoka in the process.
“Jyn Erso! What a surprise!” Codo exclaimed, not noticing the glare Anakin was directing at him.
“Codo,” Jyn greeted flatly. “Didn't know you were here.”
“I could say the same for you! You still with Saw?”
“How about we grab a beer together tonight? We need to catch up! You know I almost qualified for the DSR this year!”
The guy was a professional bullshitter. She had assisted to every events at the Scarif Ride and he hadn't been there.
“Really. Didn't see you at the Scarif Ride.”
“You were there too? Dude we totally need to exchange our numbers! We should tour the competitions together, just like old times!”
Jyn remembered why she hadn't exactly missed him. He was always talking, always trying to pick her up and he loved to hear himself talk. She would have taken a full day of listening to the shitty pop music that was blasted through the speakers over ten minutes stuck with him anytime.
He was still blabbering in her ears when she saw Kay's name on the big screen. She tuned out Codo to focus on Kay's performance. Just like he had said that morning, he wasn't taking unnecessary risks, preferring a neat execution to difficulty. He managed to avoid the bad snow spot, topped his ride with his backflip barrel roll and slid smoothly to the finish line. He nodded at her when he saw her against the fence. He unbuckled his boots from the board as he waited for his score. He took the lead before Codo, who predictably started protesting about “boring moves” and “having chosen the easy way”. He shut up when Kay came to stand next to Jyn.
“Nicely done, Kay,” she said.
Codo looked at her with an air of utter betrayal. Behind him, Ahsoka and Anakin were trying not to laugh.
“Thank you,” Kay said, oblivious to what was happening on Jyn's left. “Your tip about the bad snow was helpful.”
Cassian's turn wasn't before a couple more competitors. Kay was still leading, but Codo was third, thanks to the performance of the Chinese Wenton Chan. Jyn secretly hoped for Cassian to mark a great score, not only because he was a talented rider, but also to eject Codo from the podium once and for all.
“Hey Kay, what are the odds for Cassian to beat you?” Jyn asked flippantly. Codo's eyes bugged out, as if he was profoundly shocked by the fact that she not only knew several other competitors, but was friend enough with them to hope they'd win against him.
Kay seemed to have caught on the situation.
“Well, if he lands his triple cork backside, there's 86% chances that he's taking the lead,” he answered with nonchalance.
“A triple cork backside? Please, it's an extremely difficult trick.”
“For you, maybe,” Kay said. Jyn tried not to smile at his disdainful expression. “But Cassian is an extremely talented man.”
Codo clicked his tongue away, miffed. Jyn and Kay exchanged a look and it took everything she had in her not to burst into laughter. Anakin was smirking while Ahsoka was turning away from them, her shoulders shaking in silent laughter.
“Why don't we go grab that beer, Jyn?” Codo finally said to her.
She rose a disbelieving eyebrow. That guy was full of it.
“I'm good where I am.”
He stared at her for a few seconds before turning away and stomping off the crowd.
“What a douche,” Ahsoka commented.
“You don't know the half of it,” Jyn replied.
The commentators finally announced Cassian's turn and they all turned to the screen. He avoided taking unnecessary risks in the first part of his ride, performing stable and clean tricks on the rail and securing his landing away from the bad snow spot. Once that obstacle passed, he became more daring, sideflipping off the second rail with a switch. Jyn's hands clenched on the fence as he was picking up speed for the final ramp.
“C'mon c'mon c'mon”, she was muttering under her breath.
The crowd was silent when he jumped, holding his position as he was spinning and rising in the air. He landed his triple cork backside without a hitch and the crowd erupted in cheers loud enough to drown out the music, joined by the commentators.
A few people over, a middle aged man with fair hair let out a loud “That's my boy!”. Probably the famous Davits Draven, then.
Cassian got to the finish line with a triumphant smile on his face, stopping just on the other side of the fence in front of Kay and Jyn. He removed his helmet and unbuckled the board straps. Before leaning over the fence to hug Kay, who slapped his back a couple of times.
“That was pretty sick”, Anakin said behind them.
Cassian nodded to him over Kay's shoulder before moving on to hug Jyn. She ruffled his hair and he tried to get away from her, laughing.
Predictably, he took the lead and they all high-fived each others.
“Douchelord is out!” Ahsoka said with a vicious smile.
“Douchelord?” Cassian asked.
“An old friend of Jyn, apparently,” Kay smirked.
“That pretentious asshole is no friend of mine.”
Cassian joined them on the other side of the track to watch the rest of the session. One guy screwed his final landing and twisted his knee, exiting the track on a gurney.
Tup was the last one to compete. When he finally launched himself from the starting gate, Ahsoka grabbed Anakin's arm anxiously.
“Don't worry, Snips, he'll be fine.”
“You totally just jinxed it, Skyguy. I'm gonna tell Rex.”
It was obvious that Tup wasn't sure of himself, but he avoided major mistakes, even if his rail tricks were a bit wobbly. His final jump was a 360 frontspin with a sad air grab, simple but efficient. He reached the end of the track but didn't wait around for his score. Anakin and Ahsoka excused themselves to go join him.
“So what's the plan now?” Jyn asked. “Uno and beer?”
“She knows our weaknesses, Cassian,” Kay said flatly.
“We're compromised,” Cassian deadpanned back.
Jyn rolled her eyes at them.
“Go get your picture taken with Chan and meet me in the lobby when you're ready.”
She mock saluted them as they left to go to the podium.
She was skyping Bodhi in the lobby when Cassian and Kay crept up behind her.
“Hi guys,” Bodhi said when their heads stuck up next to Jyn's. “Congrats on your ranks.”
The four of them chatted for a bit before Bodhi had to go back to his classes, his lunch break being over. Another thing Jyn didn't like about being in Wobani: the seven-hours difference with her brother.
Jyn took her laptop to her room while the boys were securing a table at the hotel bar. When she joined them, a pint was waiting for her and Kay was shuffling the cards.
They spent their evening between playing and watching the re-broadcasting of the DSR half-pipe session that had taken place during the afternoon. Luke's sister, Leia, had literally whipped the floor with the other competitors.
Jyn left Cassian and Kay a bit after midnight, with promises to see them at the Fest Tour at the end of the month.
Chapter 4: Fest Tour, part 1
Sorry about the massive delay!
I wanted to write all the Fest Tour in one chapter but I realized I had waaay too much to say so I had to break it up in parts and then my beta, who also happens to be my sister, had to take care of her moving back from the US to France so she didn't exactly had the time to read this chapter and then there was this little matter of me having a nervous breakdown soooo... yeah.
Here's the fourth chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
They could have gone to Fest by plane, but Saw was the type of person who avoided flying as much as he could. Going to China for the Wobani X-Games had been enough for the month.
Which was why they were currently stuck in Lyon's train station in France, sitting on the floor next to the Starbucks and waiting for their TGV that was already thirty minutes late. Saw had gone to the info desk fifteen minutes ago and had yet to return.
“It's not that bad”, Bodhi said while shuffling the deck of Uno.
Jyn snorted. “Right.”
“No, really, thirty minutes for a long-distance train isn't the worst that can happen in France. Remember when I went to Marseille? Two hours of delay.”
Jyn sighed and stretched, trying to release the tension in her back. She let out a satisfied noise when her spine popped. Bodhi grimaced.
They started another round of Uno, checking the screens above their heads every five minutes, growing discouraged each time the delay was getting worse. Saw came back with no news and sat down with them, joining the game.
They were so bored they weren't even protesting or shouting at each other when one or several +4 cards were dropped.
“Starbucks anyone?” Jyn asked and got to her feet.
Saw held out a couple of bills to her and asked for “the most sugary shit they want to pass for coffee”. Bodhi asked for an Americano and stuff to eat.
Jyn went to the waiting line and checked her phone mechanically. She was surprised to see she had a message from Cassian.
hey! when are you coming to fest?
tonight if our fucking train decide to show up.
you're there already?
why are you coming by train? there's an airport in pamplona
saw doesn't like to fly
She pocketed her phone when her turn finally came. She placed her drink order, grabbed a bag of pastries and waited at the end of the counter for the drinks to be ready.
When she came back to their spot, Bodhi had put on his headphones and closed his eyes while Saw had started reading a book. She gave him his monstrosity in a cup and sat down next to Bodhi, nudging him with her knee. He opened his eyes and took his coffee, mumbling his thanks. She put down her bag of pastries in the middle of their stuff and took a sip from her mocha. Her phone buzzed a couple of times. She fished it from her back pocket, wriggling against Bodhi and laid her head on her brother's shoulder.
kay is asking what's the train station you're arriving to.
he says if you're arriving in toulouse you might miss the last connecting train to fest.
Her coach lifted his head from his book.
“Is our connection in Toulouse?”
Saw put down his book and his coffee cup and started ruffling through his backpack. He took out their train tickets and checked the details.
“Yes it is. Why?”
She held out her phone.
“According to Kay and Cassian, we might miss the last train to Fest.”
“Do they have a solution?”
we are arriving in toulouse. we were supposed to be there around 6pm but with the delay it won't be before 7. if we're lucky.
the last train from toulouse leave at 7:34.
is there any other way to get to fest?
wait a sec.
“So?” Saw said.
“I'm waiting for an answer. But the last train leaves Toulouse at half past seven.”
“Fucking French trains.”
we could give you a ride. we're in carcassonne for the afternoon, it's just next to toulouse.
“Cassian says that they're in a town next to Toulouse today and that they could give us a ride.”
“Well, isn't that nice of them. Thank your boyfriend for me.”
Jyn rolled her eyes, already typing her answer. “Not my boyfriend.”
that would save our lives. thanks.
An hour later, their train was finally announced. They grabbed their backpacks, their travel duffles and the huge bag containing their boards and headed to the platform. They got on the train, with their stuff taking half the compartment they took over. Jyn and Bodhi took the seats next to the window.
Saw took off his shoes, propped his legs on a duffle and rolled his jacket to make himself a pillow. “Night, kids.”
“Wanna play Uno?” Bodhi asked, without much hope.
“Pass. I have a few podcasts to catch up on.”
Bodhi nodded and put his headphones back on. Jyn fished her ipod from her bag and put on her earbuds. She closed her eyes and let herself get lost in sci-fi adventures.
When she woke up, the sky out of the window was dark and her earbuds were silent. She took them off. Saw was snoring lightly. Bodhi was looking out the window, his chin in his hand, his elbow propped on the small table between them.
“What time is it?”, she yawned.
He checked his watch.
“Almost seven. Your phone buzzed when you were sleeping.”
She stretched and rubbed her face, trying to shake off the annoying feeling of having fog in her brain. She grabbed her phone.
let us know when you have an ETA.
“Do we know when we'll be in Toulouse?”
Bodhi shook his head.
“They said we had a delay of an hour and a half but they didn't give a precise time of arrival.”
we won't be in toulouse before 7:30.
nice pic by the way.
Jyn frowned. What was he talking about? She turned on her data roaming and waited for her phone to find the 4G network. It started buzzing with notifications. She skipped the facebook ones– they were almost always from people from her school and she couldn't care less. App updates and other useless things were skipped as well. The ones remaining were from Instagram. She opened the app. Bodhi had identified her in a picture.
“Did you take a picture of me sleeping?” she sighed. Bodhi looked at her with a shit-eating grin. “You're such an asshole.”
“But a very lovable asshole.”
On the screen, she was asleep, her hand supporting her head. Underneath Bodhi's caption and a few comments from some friends from Geneva, there was a comment from Cassian: a single sleeping emoji with a trail of drool hanging from its mouth.
i do not drool.
Jyn checked her Instagram feed. Shara was already in Fest. Ahsoka had taken a selfie with Anakin Skywalker and his kids. She scrolled through the countless pictures of mountains and people taken mid-trick.
“I'm bored,” Bodhi mumbled.
“Wanna play cards?”
“I'm too bored to play cards.”
She stared at him. “That makes absolutely no sense.”
A few minutes later, the speakers crackled.
“Mesdames, messieurs, nous circulons actuellement avec un retard d'une heure et quarante-cinq minutes, retard dû à la présence d'obstacles sur les voies entre Mâcon et Lyon. L'arrivée en gare de Toulouse-Matabiau est prévue à dix-neuf heures trente-sept. Des agents de la SNCF vont passer parmi vous pour vous distribuer des formulaires de remboursement. Merci de votre compréhension.”
Jyn looked at Bodhi. Her French was good but not good enough to understand everything that the controller had just said. Her school, while in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, was an international school and classes were in English. Bodhi, on the other hand, had gone to regular French-speaking schools and was studying in Paris, when he wasn't on vacation. Crazy the amount of vacation France had.
“Basically we should arrive in Toulouse at 7:37 and because of the massive delay, members of the staff are gonna give us papers so we can get a refund for our tickets.”
Saw choose this moment to wake up. Bodhi updated him on the latest news while Jyn was giving Cassian their ETA.
i'll be waiting next to the car rental office.
People in the Toulouse train station could be classified in two groups: the first was composed of people clearly going to the Fest Tour. They were easily recognizable by their huge and colorful bags and the fact they were all dressed like they were eighteen years old no matter their actual ages. The second group was the wealthy French people taking advantage of the February French vacations to go ski in the mountains. Those were already wearing snow gear and branded snow boots, as if Toulouse was a ski resort.
Jyn adjusted her grip on her bags and looked for the sign for the car rental office. Bodhi found it first. Cassian was leaning against the wall, playing with the strings of his Peruvian hat. He and Bodhi shared the weird handshake-slash-half-hug that most male snowboarders were familiar with, then he hugged Jyn before shaking Saw's hand.
“We owe you one, son.”
Cassian dismissed it with a gesture of the hand.
“Don't worry about it, we were around all day.”
He took the boards bag and led the way to the parking lot, to an old white van with blue graffiti and approximately two hundred stickers stuck on each side. Kay got out to open the back doors. They piled their bags on top of the ones already in there.
Cassian opened the side door so they could get on the back bench.
“It's not really comfortable, sorry.”
They managed to all fit, Jyn squeezed between Saw and Bodhi. Kay closed the door while Cassian took the wheel. Once Kay on board, Cassian started the van. Rock music blared from the speakers before Cassian lowered the volume.
“Bloc Party? Really?” Bodhi said jokingly.
Cassian glanced at him in the rear view mirror.
“Don't say anything bad about Block Party. It's my entire childhood.”
“It's always better than the shit they were playing in Wobani,” Jyn grumbled.
“That wasn't music. That was a crime against good taste,” Kay agreed.
Saw chuckled. “Jokes aside, how long will it take to get to Fest?”
Kay took out his smartphone and checked the traffic conditions.
“If we don't hit any traffic jams, around three and a half hours.”
Saw called the hotel to let them know they were going to arrive much later than expected. Kay and Bodhi started chatting while Cassian was focused on the road, maneuvering through the city's narrow streets and unending succession of street lights and roundabouts.
Cassian only relaxed and started talking when the van reached the highway.
“So,” he started, “the competition doesn't start before the weekend. Any plans for the four days to kill 'til then?”
“Beside training and doing recon of the track? Not really. How's the weather?” Jyn answered.
“For now, good. It snowed quite a lot a couple days ago. The avalanche risk was high but now the snow has settled so unless it snows again, we should be good for the rest of the week.”
“We could go enjoy some powder tomorrow then?”
Cassian smiled at her in the rear view mirror.
“As long as you packed some avalanche beacons in your bag.”
They talked about the best riding spots and Kay and Bodhi joined the conversation. Saw decided to resume his nap, rolled his jacket into a makeshift pillow and leaned against the side window.
After half an hour of yawning, the temptation to cuddle against him was too strong to resist and Jyn fell asleep against his arm.
She woke up an indeterminate amount of time later, Saw's arm around her, her head pillowed on his chest. She could feel the vibrations of his voice but her head was still too foggy to make up any clear words. She blinked a few times and stirred.
“Hello Sleepyhead,” Saw said.
She slowly sit up, rubbing at her face, and looked around. Kay and Cassian had switched places, Kay driving and Cassian propping his feet up on the dashboard. His fingers were drumming on his legs. On her right, Bodhi was sleeping. She took out her phone and snapped a picture that she posted on Instagram right away. Saw snorted.
“What?,” she shrugged. “He did the same to me in the train.”
She leaned toward the front of the van and tapped on Cassian's shoulder. He turned to her.
“Yeah. Where are we?”
“We just passed the frontier. We should be there in an hour.”
“Want to eat something? We bought some snacks when we stopped at the gas station.”
Cassian put his feet down and reached for a plastic bag in front of his seat. He offered it to her. She took a chocolate bar and a can of soda.
They reached Fest after an hour of driving up the mountain on a narrow and sinuous road. The ski resort was a beacon of lights and colors in the night.
Kay parked next to the hotel and shut down the engines. They all get off the van and stretched. Jyn's legs felt like they were weighing a ton. Kay's back popped when he straightened up and Bodhi made a face at the sound.
“You get used to it,” Cassian commented as he opened the back doors.
“If you say so...” Bodhi answered and he started taking out their bags.
Jyn went to help him while Saw was going to the reception to get them registered.
“Are you staying here too?” she asked Cassian.
Cassian shook his head.
“We're renting a studio with another friend. We're staying in Fest until the Alderaan Challenge.”
“I'll never be able to get rid of you then,” she joked.
He chuckled. “You'll be there?”
Saw came back with their keys and shouldered the boards bag. He extended his hand to Cassian.
“Thanks for the ride, kid.”
“Don't worry about it.”
“At least I didn't have to listen to Bloc Party for three hours,” Kay said when he shook hands with Saw.
Cassian looked at Kay in absolute betrayal. Saw laughed.
“Have a good night, guys. Don't fight over terrible 00s music. Jyn, Bodhi, see you tomorrow.”
He grabbed his duffle bag, gave the second key to Bodhi and disappeared in the hotel.
“I would have asked you if you wanted to come up and play Uno but I'm dead,” Bodhi said.
“Welcome to the club,” Kay answered.
The guys shared their handshake-slash-half-hug, Jyn hugged Cassian and Kay and they separated with promises to make plans to go hit the powder before the start of the competition.
The plan for the next day was to spend it on the slopestyle course, getting familiar with the snow, the rails and the ramps. They could take their time, being among the first competitors to arrive.
The track was a complex one, with three sets of rails and three jump ramps. Jyn was pleased to see that at least one set of parallel rails had enough space between them to sideflip from one to another. She wasn't sure if Ahsoka was going to be there, but she needed to outdo herself. She needed to show something new, something creative after the mind-numbing boredom that Wobani had been. She wanted to land the backside double cork 1260 that she had failed during the Scarif Ride.
She spent half of her morning testing her rail tricks, alternating between backslides and frontslides. It was a good way to warm up and find her balance. Bodhi was on the edge of the course, trying to find the spot that would give him the best angles during the last and main jump– the one they called the money booter.
Once she felt like the board was just an extension of herself, she decided to move on to the jumps. Saw joined her above the first ramp.
“Have you thought about what you were gonna do?”
“Cab 720 tail grab, frontside double cork 720 and then backside double cork 1260.”
“I get that from my coach.”
“Sounds like a nice guy.”
“Alright show me what you got.”
Jyn adjusted her helmet while Saw was buckling the straps of his board. She glanced at him and he nodded, ready to follow her on the edge of the course.
She landed the first two jumps several times, but the last one was giving her hell. Over-rotated, under-rotated, on her heels... Every time she was correcting something, a new issue was appearing. Saw gave her pointers, but got a phone call and had to leave the track earlier than planned.
After a dozen tries and as many falls, she punched the snow in frustration.
“For fuck's sake!”
“I get it's a bad time?” a voice above her said.
She raised her head.
“Hi Kay. You been there long?”
“Just saw you hit the ground. Are you trying the backside double cork 1260 again?”
“Trying being the key word.”
He held out his hand. She took it and got to her feet. They started walking toward the edge of the track.
“What's your plan for that one?” she asked him.
“I don't know yet, I haven't done any recon. Cassian did, though, and his plan betrays his total lack of self-preservation.”
“I'm almost afraid to ask.”
“Then watch,” he said, nodding to the top of the course.
She recognized Cassian's jacket at the foot of the rail garden. Bodhi had noticed him too and joined them.
“Hey Kay. What's his plan?”
“Being reckless and breaking his face,” Kay answered flatly.
Jyn snorted. On top of the track, Cassian raised an arm. Kay did the same, giving him the go. Cassian picked up speed rapidly and launched himself from the ramp. His first jump was a cab 1260 roast beef with a tail grab. His landing was perfect and he didn't waste a fraction of second before preparing for the second jump.
“Holy...,” Bodhi trailed off.
Cassian landed a perfect frontside double cork 1080 and topped it all off with a backside 1440 on the last ramp. Cheers erupted from the edges of the track where people were watching.
“What the fuck has he been doing since Wobani?” Jyn marvelled. “That combination is fucking sick!”
“Did your coach push him into slaving over those jumps?”
“Cassian doesn't need Draven to be an overachiever.”
Jyn and Bodhi joined Cassian at the bottom of the course, while Kay was going to the top to start his recon.
“If you do that on Saturday, you're sure to be on the podium,” Bodhi said in greetings.
“That's the plan.”
“How did you manage to do those three jumps in a row and not loose balance? That's so many spins!” Jyn exclaimed.
“And a good morning to you too, Jyn.”
She rolled her eyes.
“I've been trying to land that combination for several months. The fact that we have a clear sky today helps, at least I can differentiate the sky from the ground,” he explained.
He wasn't wrong. When you were rotating and spinning so many times you might as well be in a washing machine, the senses of up and down were screwed and having a blue sky was a massive advantage.
“How have you been doing?” Cassian asked her.
“I'm going for a cab 720 tail grab, frontside double cork 720 and backside double cork 1260.”
“And the first two are killers,” Bodhi interjected.
Jyn glanced up at him and smiled.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence. But I'm still not getting anywhere with that last double cork.”
She looked at the course. She could see Kay's dark silhouette testing out rail tricks.
“Yeah okay, what the hell.”
She left them to get to the ski lift. She saw them go back to Bodhi's preferred spot next to the final ramp. Once on top of the track, she recognized a few people but settled on just waving at them. She didn't feel like making conversation. She adjusted her straps, checked her helmet. Kay came to her.
“Cassian asked me to. Maybe he'll see what the problem is.”
“I could ride next to you if you want? So you have another angle?”
She decided to ride the entirety of the course, rails and sideflip included. After so many tries, her legs were starting to ache but if there was one thing Jyn had gotten from her mother, it was her stubbornness.
She wobbled on the third rail exit but found her footing back for the first jump. She put too much impulse in it and had to turn it into a cab 900 but landed it all the same. She switched feet before the second jump and went for her frontside double cork 720 without a hitch. The money booter was just ahead, taunting her. She knew she could do the backside double cork 1260. She had done it during a few freerides in the Swiss Alps, with worse weather and snow conditions. So why couldn't she do it here?
She took off, spinning high in the air. She maintained her position, keeping count in her head so as to not over-rotate her jump. Everything was as it should be, but she landed too much on her heels and fell on her back.
Kay stopped next to her and helped her stand up.
“Nice catch up on the cab 900.”
“Yeah but I still can't land that fucking double cork 1260.”
“Let's debrief with the others.”
They slid down the rest of the track and joined Bodhi and Cassian on the side.
“Did you accidentally do a cab 900?” Bodhi shouted to her as they were approaching.
“She did,” Kay answered for her.
Jyn sighed. “Okay, let's hear it. Where am I screwing up?”
“From what I could see,” Cassian started, “you landed on your heels because you arrived at the bottom of the landing. You should be landing 10 or 15 meters higher, where the slope is less steep.”
He pointed to the landing spot before recrossing his arms.
“He's right,” Kay added, “and there could be several reasons as to why you were too low.”
“Too much speed?” Jyn asked.
Kay glanced at Cassian. The two of them looked like they were having a silent, telepathic conversation. Kay looked back down to Jyn.
“Could be. But I think it's more a problem of taking off a bit too late and also an angle problem.”
“An angle problem?” he said before Jyn had the time.
“Yeah if you approach your jump with an angle too small, let's say 20 degrees,” he started, squatting to the ground. He traced the shape of the money booter on the snow and added an arrow with a low angle. “you go further down the track but less high in the air and arrive too low on the landing. It can keep you from doing enough spins or rotations and fuck your landing.”
“And if I took off with a wider angle, I go up higher, have time to do my shit and land on the right knuckle of the landing!” Jyn completed excitedly. “Fuck why have I never really thought about that?”
Cassian turned to her with a smile.
“Because you never trained with a physics nerd before?”
Kay rolled his eyes.
“Having gone to college doesn't make me a nerd, Cassian.”
“No, explaining everything with math does.”
“It's because math is everywhere!”
Bodhi and Jyn snorted at their friends' antics.
“Should we let you two to your old married couple bickering?” Bodhi joked.
Kay rolled his eyes hard enough to move his upper body along.
“Yeah I'm beat. We should let you train.” Jyn added on a more serious tone. “Not that you need it apparently.”
She threw the last part to Cassian, who chuckled, dipping his head toward his chest, almost shyly. That guy didn't know how to take a compliment. And was that blushing? Jyn wanted to get closer if only to make sure... and then tease him mercilessly.
“Alright guys, see you later!” Bodhi said with a salute gesture and started walking away.
Jyn grabbed her board and waved at the men before catching up with her brother.
“What was that?” she asked, falling into step with him.
“What was what?”
“You, fleeing the scene, all of a sudden?”
“Well we had decided to leave, hadn't we?”
“Yeah, but, I mean.. That was. Quick.”
“I was cold, I'm hungry and if I had to wait for you to leave we'll still be there and the tension was choking me.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
Bodhi rose his hands in the air, as he always did when he was frustrated about something.
Jyn stopped dead in her tracks.
“What about me and Cassian?”
Bodhi stopped and turned to her, disbelief written all over his face. Amazement too?
“Oh my god, you don't even know you're doing it!” he marvelled. “Wow this is too good.”
He turned back and resumed his walk. Jyn stayed stunned for a few seconds then ran to him.
“What am I doing, Bodhi?”
Her brother just smiled and didn't answered. He stayed silent for the remaining of the walk to their hotel, his smile growing bigger as she was pestering him.
“C'mooon, what are you talking about?!” Jyn finally exclaimed as they were getting into the lobby.
“Absolutely nothing, apparently.”
“You're such a little shit.”
“I know,” he said proudly and gave her the key to their room. “See you in the cafeteria!”
She sighed before dragging her feet to the elevators. She considered napping after changing instead of joining Bodhi and his cryptic smile, but she was also hungry. The morning session had taken a lot out of her.
Once in her room, she disposed of her gear, stored her board and changed clothes quickly. She dressed in her usual oversized jumper and skinny jeans combination, slipped into a pair of sneakers and went down to the cafeteria. She picked up a tray, loaded it with food and joined Bodhi at his two-seats table near the window. He was busy typing a reply to an email so she took her sandwich and bit into it.
She was in the middle of her third bite when Bodhi spoke up.
“So. You wanna shag Cassian.”
She dropped her sandwich and choked on her food.
“What the fuck,” she coughed. “Where does that come from?”
“Oh please, I could see the sexual tension between you two! And I'm not judging! I mean, it's not my thing but I totally can see why someone would want to shag Cassian or get shagged by him, I mean whatever-”
“Oh my god,” Jyn groaned, hiding her face in her hands.
“Why? You're both adults and free to make your own choices and he's totally into you! Go for it.”
Jyn's head dropped to the table.
“And it's a good way to relax, or so I heard.”
“Please stop talking,” she moaned against the wood.
He outright laughed.
“I'm never gonna be able to talk to him again without thinking about... that.”
Bodhi's laugher somehow managed to get louder.
“As if you weren't thinking about it already.”
Jyn lifted her head from the table to glare at him. “I wasn't.”
“Oh come on, you can't be serious,” he said, still laughing a bit. He abruptly stopped when she didn't say anything. “Holy shit, you're serious. You really weren't thinking consciously about shagging Cassian?”
“Please stop saying shagging.”
“What do you prefer? Screwing? Doing the dirty? Fu-”
“Just stop talking about it! Cassian and I are just friends, I don't want to sleep with him, and before you say anything, you can't know if he's into me, maybe he has a girlfriend or a boyfriend or a whatever else-friend, but it's not relevant anyway because nothing is going to happen between us. Case closed.”
She crossed her arms and stared at her brother who was nonchalantly chewing on a croissant.
“So you want me to find if he's already in a relationship?” he asked flippantly. His poker face was betrayed by the mischievous glint in his eyes.
“Ugh, have you listened to anything I just said?”
“Just the interesting part.”
Jyn groaned. “Why do I even bother with you.”
“Because I'm always right.”
Bodhi stoop up, picked up his tray.
“I'm going back to the track, I still have some stuff to do there.”
“You are not playing matchmaker,” Jyn warned him.
Bodhi wiggled his eyebrows and left. Jyn sighed. Her brother was ridiculous.
I took inspiration from the Men's Snowboard Slopestyle Course from the 2015 Aspen X-Games for the setting of the course and several figures. Actually, if you want to see what Cassian is doing in this chapter, go see Sven Thorgren's performance (starting at 5:50) in this video: https://youtu.be/ZQYDoMgXMg8?t=5m50s
Chapter 5: Fest Tour, Interlude
Sorry for keeping you waiting for two months. Stuff happening IRL kept me from writing as much as I wanted, then I had a major writer's block. Should be okay now, tho.
Thanks to my sister @alyyks and to @stephrc79 for the beta reading.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jyn didn't have a lot of appetite left once Bodhi left the cafeteria. She absent-mindedly chewed a bit of her sandwich but soon dropped it back on her tray and cleared the table. She went back to her room, sat on the bed. She looked around, trying to find something to do. At this point, her choices were either doing her homework or taking a nap: it wasn't like they were planning for real down time when they were packing for a competition. With a sigh, she flopped down on her back and closed her eyes.
She startled awake when her cell phone blared and vibrated next to her face. It didn't stop even after clattering to the ground. She reached blindly over the side of the bed and tried to grab it, but it kept vibrating away from her wandering hand. Catching it and unlocking it in the same fumbling move, she brought it to her ear without checking the caller ID, pushing her hair away from her face with her other hand.
“Wha,” she mumbled.
She had no idea how long she had been asleep or who was calling her. She was also fairly sure she wouldn't remember half this conversation, being in this weird half-asleep half-awake state where everything was blurry and unreal.
“Did I wake you up?” the person on the other end asked her. A man, it was a man. She just needed to focus and she would be able to recognize him.
The other person chuckled.
“Well, I won't feel too bad telling you this then. I know we had planned to go hit the pow this afternoon but we're too dead for that right now.”
So that was Cassian then. A bit of the fog permeating her brain cleared.
“Hi, Cassian,” she croaked. She sat up slowly, rubbing at her eyes.
“Did you hear anything I just said?” he laughed.
She hesitated before replying: “No pow?”
“No pow. Sorry I woke you up.”
“S'okay. I had stuff to do.”
People were talking and shouting around him. Everything was muffled for a few seconds, as if he had put his phone against his jacket, but she could still pick up his voice saying goodbye to the others.
“Sorry,” he said back to her, clearer than before. There was no more noise in the background, as if he had stepped in an empty room. “Bodhi told me to tell you that if you're looking for him, he'll be at the coffeeshop next to the ice rink.”
“So what are your plans?”
“If it's anything science-y you can ask Kay for help.”
Jyn laughed. “I love how you're volunteering him without checking if he even wants too first.”
Cassian snorted. “The only thing Kay loves more than snowboarding is math. He'd be happy to help, trust me.”
Jyn got up to find the backpack where her laptop was, leaving the phone on the bed with the speaker on. “Too bad for him, it's not math or physics,” she said while rummaging through her and Bodhi's stuff. They really needed to be less chaotic in their mess. She found loose Uno cards and a broken hair tie. “Crap.”
“What?” Cassian asked.
“The hair tie holding together my deck of Uno snapped so now I have cards literally everywhere.”
Cassian laughed. “What are you doing anyway?”
“Looking for my laptop, wait a sec.”
She finally spotted her backpack under one of the board bags. She kneeled on the floor and pulled it to her, knocking over a pair of snow boots in the process and a pack of gel shin guards. Sitting back on the bed, she took her computer out. The backpack slid down on the carpet, spreading more Uno cards around. The less chaotic part of her life wasn't happening now.
“Okay,” she said, flipping the laptop open, “let's see what the torture of the day is.”
“What a suspense,” Cassian deadpanned.
“Shut up, there's a possibility that it'll be economic science.”
“Why the fuck would you do that to yourself?”
“Because,” she started and paused to clear her throat, “literature and art studies are for dreamers who have no future and if I insist on not following my father's footsteps in physics or engineering, I should at least study something useful like economic or political science, because snowboarding isn't forever,” she said in a mocking voice, trying to imitate the tone her father had taken when they had had this particular conversation.
“Ouch,” Cassian answered after a few seconds of silence.
“Mhm. What did you study?” she asked while logging in her school website.
“Nothing. I dropped out of high school.”
She didn't ask why.
“So,” he said after a beat, “did you find your homework?”
She sighed. “Yep.” It was right in front of her on the screen in all its shining, depressing glory.
“What part of it?”
“The Cold War.”
“It's not that... bad?” he said, his voice rising at the end.
“Yeah. Could have been worse. Like the Middle Ages. Or the Roman Empire,” she added with a shudder.
“What's wrong with the Roman Empire?” he chuckled.
She threw her hands in the air, even though Cassian couldn't see it.
“What's wrong with the Roman Empire?!” she exclaimed. “The question isn't what's wrong with it, the question is what isn't wrong with it!”
“Lots of feeling about the Roman Empire,” Cassian laughed. “Got it.”
“Yeah, well, you would too if you had been forced to spend half a year studying it,” she grumbled.
“Guess we'll never know. I should probably let you study.”
“Probably,” she said, even though she didn't want to study and didn't want to hang up either. They let the silence stretch between them for a few seconds
“I almost forgot!” he exclaimed just when Jyn was ready to say what would have probably been an awkward goodbye. “Kay is cooking tonight, you should come over with Bodhi. And then we could plan something for tomorrow?”
“Uh, yeah, sure.”
“I'll text you the address.”
The door opened a few hours later and Bodhi came into the room with two steaming cups of coffee. Given the lack of coffee aroma, it definitely wasn't good coffee.
“Hey,” she greeted him without breaking from her contemplation of the almost blank page in front of her. Who knew a blinking cursor could be so fascinating.
“I thought you were going to join me. Cassian didn't tell you where I was?” he asked as he was making his way to her bed. He sat down next to her, peered over her shoulder and upon seeing her screen, immediately shoved one of the cups in her face. “You need this.”
“Thanks,” she mumbled and took the cup. A few drops of burning hot coffee spilled over her hand. She swore and brought her hand to her mouth, not that licking the coffee away was really gonna make a difference.
“History,” she mumbled, her mouth still against her hand. The spot where there had been coffee was tingling. “I reviewed all the documents, I answered all the questions but I can't write the analysis.”
Bodhi took a sip of his coffee. “What's the question?”
Jyn rolled her eyes. “How did the Cold War end?” she said in a mocking tone and drank her indeed terrible coffee, as if caffeine could help her forget the absolute absurdity of the question.
Bodhi's eyebrows shot up. “How did the Cold War end?” he repeated. “Seriously?”
“Yup,” she said, dragging the word.
“Well that sucks,” he said. “When is it due?”
“Don't I know it.” She swallowed more coffee. “And next week.”
Too bad the coffee wasn't Irish.
“Cool, you have some time then!” Bodhi got up. “C'mon.” He held out a hand to her.
“Come on where?” Jyn asked, squinting suspiciously.
“Get up.” He grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her toward the bathroom.
“I haven't finished my coffee!” she protested.
“Go take a shower and try to look human.” He closed the bathroom door behind her.
“Bodhi!” she shouted. She banged on the door, shook the handle. “Bodhi, let me out!”
“Nope, I don't want to hear any complaints, we're invited tonight and I won't let you go looking like a potato,” he shouted back, holding the door closed.
She sighed. “That's nice and all but unless you want to see me coming out of here naked, I'm gonna need my towel.”
Jyn emerged from the bathroom ten minutes later, steam rising behind her. She grabbed some clothes from her bag on the floor, shook out a couple of Uno cards from her tank top and went back inside. When she came out the second time, she was dressed in her skinny jeans and the same oversized sweater she had been wearing that afternoon.
Bodhi sighed immediately after looking up from his phone.
“I said you were not supposed to look like a potato,” he stated, tossing his phone on the bed.
She pointed at the bathroom. “I showered. I changed socks for the second time today,” she added, gesturing toward her feet. “What more do you want?”
“No oversized sweater. That one is mine by the way,” he pointed out and walked to her.
Jyn crossed her arms. “I know it's yours. And what's wrong with it? I always dress like this.”
Bodhi put his hands on her shoulders and bent a bit to look her in the eyes. She frowned.
“That, dear sister-mine, is the problem.”
He released her to ruffle through her bags. Her frown deepened.
“I don't have anything else to wear,” she warned. “I wasn't exactly expecting you to go all makeover on me.”
“Off with the sweater already,” he ordered without looking up from the bag he was currently going through. “Bloody hell, do you have anything that isn't mine or Saw's?”
“My bras,” she said as dryly as she could while she took off the sweater. Sometimes going against her brother was a lost cause.
“Ha!”, Bodhi shouted triumphantly. Jyn turned to him, curious and apprehensive at the same time about what could possibly cause such a reaction. He had fished out a plaid shirt that looked like it was more or less her actual size. “There, try this.”
She took the shirt without saying anything and put it on over her tank top. Bodhi made her button it, then unbutton it, then half-button it before settling on unbuttoned but with its sleeves rolled up.
“Can you tell me what this is about?” Jyn sighed when he started studying her hair.
“We're having dinner at the guys' place tonight,” he said like it was the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.
“I know? And...?”
Bodhi scowled, as he was doing every time she was being deliberately uncooperative. Let's just say that he was scowling quite a lot. “We are having dinner at the guys ' place tonight,” he repeated and looked at her pointedly.
Their conversation from lunch came back to her. “You're pimping me out!” she exclaimed.
Bodhi rolled his eyes. “I'm not pimping you out.”
“You're totally pimping me out!” she accused him, hitting him with a fist for emphasis.
Her phone buzzed on the bed, the screen displaying a picture of Saw mid-sneeze. Totally unflattering. It helped her put his sometimes authoritarian and intimidating behavior into perspective. He had tried to make her change his contact picture several times without success. To be fair, her contact picture in his phone had been taken when she was 14 and suffering an impressive sunburn on her entire face. Two words: acne and blisters.
She answered and put the speaker on.
“Bodhi is pimping me out,” she said without waiting for Saw to greet her.
Her coach barked a laugh. “Good for you.”
“You're a terrible person.”
“I know, I know. So I guess that means you have plans for tonight?”
“Yeah, I'm gonna go stand under a street lamp and change my name to Roxanne.”
Bodhi rolled his eyes. “Stop being so dramatic, I'm just making you wear a plaid shirt your size, not a red dress.”
“All that only because we're seeing the guys!” she protested.
“Okay I'm gonna leave you two alone and I'll talk to you later, have fun!”
Saw, a wise man who knew when it was in his best interest to leave the siblings to their bickering, hung up.
“What time do we have to be there?” Jyn asked.
“Seven. Leaves us plenty of time to do something with your hair.”
She glared at Bodhi. “You are not doing anything with my hair. This is not a date, remember?”
He crossed his arms. “Killjoy. At least don't tie it up in a knot– aaaand you're doing it.”
She secured her hair tie around the bun without breaking eye contact. Bodhi sighed.
“Do we have to bring something?” Jyn asked.
“They didn't say.”
She grabbed her phone and shot a text to Cassian who answered with a single word. Beer . She snorted. As if anyone in their right mind would go to a snowboarders' get-together without beer.
anything beside beer was my question
He sent back the picture of a bag of Lays. Jyn snorted.
“What did he say?” Bodhi asked.
She held up her phone to him.
Jyn and Bodhi walked as quickly as possible to the guys' flat, trying to avoid the puddles of half-melted gray snow on the sidewalks while staying protected from the icy wind. Around them the ski resort was buzzing with energy despite the below zero temperatures. The numerous pubs and bars were crowded, groups of people were taking up the entire street, skiers and snowboarders coming home after a late ride, tourists looking for a place to eat, restaurant staff calling out to people and promising authentic and home-cooked food.
Ski resorts were like no other place. The people, the noises, even the air were different. It smelled like snow and cold, with an undercurrent of gasoline, board wax, beer and sweat. It smelled like home.
They stopped in front of an off-white square building with cluttered wooden balconies on every one of the five floors.
“Is that it?” Bodhi asked.
Jyn took her phone out of her parka pocket and checked the address. “Yup.”
They walked to the front door, only to realize they needed an access code to unlock it. Of course Cassian hadn't given them the code when he had sent the address.
Bodhi leaned against the glass door and crossed his arms. The building’s entrance was mostly protected from the wind but it was still seven at night in February, deep in mountains. The weather was tolerable when you were moving, but standing still as they were, it was freezing.
Jyn brought her phone to her ear, silently chanting “pick up pick up pick up”, hopping from one leg to another.
Finally the tone stopped.
“Oï we need your access code!” Jyn said without waiting for a greeting of any kind.
On the other end, Cassian laughed. “Kinda cold out, yeah?”
“Stop laughing and give me the bloody code or you'll have two frozen corpses coming back to haunt you. Won't be pretty.”
“Okay okay, no threat. It's 1412.”
Jyn hung up and punched the code as quickly as possible. The door opened. They hurried inside, basking in the warmth for a few seconds.
“Third floor?” Bodhi asked. Jyn nodded, rubbing her hands together and blowing on it to get some sensation back in them.
They opted to take the stairs, as the rumbling and rickety sounds coming from the elevator weren't exactly reassuring. The building was old, probably from the sixties or seventies, with carpet everywhere, brown and burgundy, on the floor, on the walls, in the open staircase. Where there wasn't carpet, there was dark wood panelling. Everything smelled like industrial cleaning products, board wax and the inside of a locker room after practice: typical ski resort building smell.
They climbed the stairs two steps at a time. Skis, snowboards, poles and boots were littering each floor, dripping on the carpet and permeating the air with a pungent stench of stale sweat and moldy cheese. It was exactly the kind of smell you had to learn to deal with when you were in the winter sports world, as there was absolutely no way to avoid it.
One of the doors was slightly ajar on the third floor. Jyn recognized Kay's board next to it.
“Knock knock!” she shouted when she crossed the threshold.
The first room they stepped in had bunk beds pushed against the left wall and what was probably a coat rack under the ton of jackets and other various items of clothing on the right. The right wall extended to a wall of closets in the tiny hallway, without a door to separate it from the room they were in. The carpet next to the bunk beds was buried under a variety of books, magazines, bags and other not-immediately-identifiable stuff. The bunk beds themselves were covered with discarded clothes. The big hint that this was not a temporary rental studio was in the multitude of posters and pictures pinned to the parts of the walls not occupied by closet, beds or clothes.
“Come in!” came Cassian's voice from the yet unseen rest of the flat.
Bodhi closed the door behind him and they went through the hallway. They passed a door on the left, probably the bathroom, and arrived in a tiny living room where Cassian was sitting on a couch, his feet propped up on a coffee table covered with magazines, empty beer bottles and an ashtray. The far wall was a set of sliding glass doors that opened onto a balcony where more gear was drying.
The corner directly to their left was taken by a tiny kitchen where Kay was stirring a pot with entirely too much focus. It could have been a nuclear experiment and he would have probably been sporting the same expression. He answered their greetings with a wave from his spoon.
A wooden counter cluttered with onions and several spice bottles was separating the kitchen from the rest of the room. A large flat TV screen was taking most of the right wall and shelves covered with books, DVDs, comics and magazines were taking the rest of it. Definitely not a temporary rental. It was too cosy, too homey, too lived-in.
“Glad I won't have to deal with two frozen corpses,” Cassian said as he rose from the couch.
Jyn glared at him. “How do you forget to give someone your access code when it's the North Pole outside?”
Cassian laughed and hugged her. He then turned to Bodhi and took the grocery bag from him after their bro hug.
“Is she always this cranky?” he asked him. He crouched in front of the mini-fridge and started transferring the beers. Jyn and Bodhi shed their layers of winter clothes.
Bodhi snorted. “Only on the days ending in Y.”
“Haha. You're hilarious,” Jyn deadpanned, chucking her bunched up scarf at his face. Bodhi caught it, grabbed her parka, beanie and gloves from her hands and went to put all of their stuff in the first room.
Kay made shooing motions at Cassian. Two people in the kitchen space and it was too crowded to move freely. Cassian went to the living room corner, cleared the coffee table by shoving all the magazines on the floor and put down three cold bottles of beer, the bags of chips and the salsa dip. Jyn ignored the couch, preferring to sit on one of the floor pillows arranged around the coffee table. She grabbed the lighter lying next to the ashtray and opened a beer with it.
“Hey didn't you say that you had a third flatmate?” Bodhi asked as he was coming back. He plopped down next to Jyn. She gave him the open beer and took one for herself.
“Yep, Kes. He'll be here soon, he had to go help Shara with her car or whatever excuse it was this time to go make heart eyes at her.” Cassian shrugged and gestured to the lighter.
Jyn tossed it to him. “Shara Bey?” she asked.
“The one and only,” Cassian nodded as he opened his beer. “Hey, isn't she the one who won the silver at the slopestyle course in Wobani?”
“Yep. She's coming over too?”
“If Kes grows a pair, maybe,” Kay answered from the kitchen.
“Oooh, gossip!” Bodhi grinned.
Jyn rolled her eyes. “I swear you're worse than Chirrut.”
Bodhi turned to her, his mouth gaping in indignation, as if he wanted to reply but couldn't find anything to say. Jyn smirked.
“I'm-I'm-” he started and then closed his mouth. And opened it. And closed it again.
“You look like a lost goldfish, bro.” Jyn took a swig of her beer.
Cassian came to his rescue. “Who's Chirrut?”
Jyn turned to him, ignoring her sulking brother. She didn't know why he was so shocked, she needed to get revenge from all the pimping her out thing.
“A friend of Saw's. He's my physical therapist back home. He's awesome and also probably magic. Or psychic.” She shrugged.
Cassian raised an eyebrow. “And a huge gossip?”
“And a huge gossip,” she agreed.
When Kes arrived half an hour later with Shara, Kay put the lasagna in the oven and they all sat around the coffee table. They made quick introductions where necessary before methodically destroying the chips, salsa and dry sausage Kes had brought.
Bodhi, Kay and Jyn switched sides around the coffee table when Kes decided to put on the video of the previous Fest Tour on the TV screen. They sat at the feet of the others, Kay staying the closest to the kitchen in case his sixth sense picked up a lasagna related problem, Bodhi sitting cross-legged in front of Kes and Shara, leaving Jyn in front of Cassian. She strongly suspected her brother to have made that arrangement happen on purpose, but he was consistently avoiding her eyes, staying focused on the screen and bickering with the others about the riders' techniques and styles.
Jyn mentally shrugged and decided it was best not to fight it. She leaned against the couch, her knees to her chest, Cassian's legs on each side of her.
“If you're thinking of using my head as a beer rest, I will punch you,” she warned him when he leaned forward, his elbows on his knees and his hands almost on top of her head.
The oven's alarm rang as they watched the Women’s Big Air. Shara, Bodhi and Kes were arguing about the legitimacy of Mara Jade taking the lead in front of Sakas Mikkian: Bodhi was defending Mara's technique while Shara was disagreeing and explaining how Sakas' jumps were better.
“You're biased because Sakas is your friend,” Kes said. He quickly drank from his beer when Shara turned sharply to him, her eyes narrowing.
Cassian leaned forward.
“And now,” he whispered, his face close to Jyn's ear, “a classic ‘Shara and Kes are totally married but don't know it yet’ moment.”
Sure enough, Shara was explaining how her friendship with Sakas had nothing to do with her appreciation of her performance, jabbing her finger in Kes' ribs, and Kes was making pacifying hand motions while apologizing. It looked like a recurring thing for them, as if they already knew what the other was going to say, but were playing along anyway.
Jyn snorted, half for his comment and half to refrain herself from giggling at the tickling sensation of his breath against her skin. Bodhi side-eyed her and smiled around the rim of his bottle. Jyn frowned at him. What? He shrugged almost imperceptibly – oh, nothing, don't mind me, swallowed a mouthful of beer and turned to the kitchen.
“Need any help in there?” he asked, but didn't wait for an answer and got up, joining Kay behind the counter.
The two of them brought out the plates and they all ate during the first part of the Men's Half-Pipe. Kes nudged Cassian when his name appeared on the screen.
“Isn't that when you fell flat on your face and broke your nose?” Kay asked in a way too innocent tone.
“Thanks for the reminder,” Cassian grumbled in answer.
After having thoroughly emptied the entire pan of lasagna and replayed Cassian's fall five times – and two of them in slow motion courtesy of Kes – they once again sat all around the table. Kay unfolded a map of the nearby mountains.
“How do we want to do this?” he asked.
“Do what?” Kes replied.
Kay rolled his eyes. “We're going free riding tomorrow.”
Shara shook her head. “I can't come with you guys, I still need to do some recon for the slopestyle and training for the Big Air.”
Kes nodded. “Same for me, I was terrible today.”
Kay looked at the remaining three. “Guess we're on our own, then.”
“Did you check the avalanche and weather reports?” Jyn asked.
Cassian took out his phone. “It's too cold to snow again and we're in the clear for the avalanche risk,” he said and held his phone up so she could see for herself.
“As long as we don't have to jump cliffs I'm good,” Bodhi said. “I have to take some recording equipment for your video reel, Jyn.”
Jyn groaned. She had forgotten about the reel. It was only the middle of the season and so far, all of her sponsors had agreed to renew their contracts but if Saw was keeping his word about getting her out of the energy drink one, she would need to find someone new to replace it. And with people like Ahsoka or Luke in the senior circuit, she would need a really good video reel to get their interest.
“Can't you just shoot during the competitions?”
Bodhi leveled his gaze at her. “I thought we could at least make it look like you have life outside competitions,” he said flatly.
Kes snorted from where he was sitting on the couch backrest. Jyn opened her mouth, but Cassian intervened without looking up from the map.
“I'm gonna climb up with the splitboard so I won't be able to ride down crazy places either.”
Kay showed them a possible path, Cassian traced another. They looked up at Jyn and Bodhi.
“What do you think?”
Bodhi's eyebrows almost reached his hairline. “We've literally never been there, how are we supposed to know?”
“... Good point.”
They spent the next hour figuring out different paths. Shara and Kes disappeared together after the first half-hour, one having an early start and the other pretending to be a gentleman walking her home. Cassian and Kay exchanged a smirk at that totally valid excuse.
After more beer and more debating, they all agreed on a path and decided to meet at the bottom of the cable car in the morning.
Kes never came back from walking Shara home.
Quick vocabulary point :
Pow = powder = fresh snow that hasn't been ridden yet.
Splitboard = a snowboard that can be separated in the middle length wise into two ski-like parts to hike just like in ski touring. Once you climbed all the way up, you reconnect the two halves into one board and you can ride down, just like a regular snowboard. It's not the best thing for extreme freeriding tho.
The rebloggable version of the illustration can be found here : http://tuntematonkorppi.tumblr.com/post/161896210397/illustration-for-the-fifth-chapter-of-get-off-your
Chapter 6: Fest Tour, part 2
I'm extremely sorry for the delay in updating, life outside the internet has been challenging. I hope you'll enjoy this (quite long) chapter :)
As always, thanks to my sister for the beta-reading.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The next morning a thick blanket of fog was covering the entire resort. Anything more than ten meters away was lost behind a blurry greyish curtain. The mountains had vanished and the only indication that the sun was rising was a hazy glow coming from the east.
The streets were still deserted: only the odd delivery and service truck was driving around.
“I feel like we're in Silent Hill,” Jyn said, avoiding a melting pile of dirty snow mixed with gravel and gasoline. “We should watch it again soon,” she added. “Watch all of them. Even the really bad ones.”
“And I will never sleep again,” Bodhi answered.
The wind had died down in the night but the air was still sharp and cold. Their fingers were numb despite the gloves and undergloves, stiff where they were holding on the snowboards. Jyn transferred her board to her left arm and shook the numbness out of her right one. A thorough warm up was going to be mandatory. She had heard too many stories about snowboarders getting injured during their free time because they hadn't warmed up properly. Saw would kill her for such a ridiculous mistake and her father would take it as a sign that it was time for her to become a responsible adult with real decent career plan instead of an immature hobby.
They reached the wooden barriers signaling the entrance to the ski trails starting point. They slowly trudged their way up to the cable car station, the furthest building away from the entrance. They walked by still closed ski lifts, an empty ski pass office and one functioning chairlift with no one around.
“It's like we're the only people alive here and this lift is haunted,” Jyn commented, hiking her board across her shoulders.
Bodhi glared at her. “You do realize that right now we're like at the beginning of a horror movie, right?”
Jyn snorted. “Yes and we're gonna get into the cable car and the guys will be there but once we'll be up they'll turn into zombies and we'll have to jump from the wagon and hide into a crevasse and then I'll have to kill you and eat you to survive.”
“Why am I the one being eaten?” Bodhi protested. “I'm all skin and bones. I should be the one eating you, you have more muscles.”
Jyn shrugged the best she could between her board and her backpack. “You couldn't do it.”
“Oh and you could?”
“Whatever it takes to survive, mate.” She turned her head to him to flash him a grin and barked a laugh when she saw his furrowed brows peaking from under his beanie.
“You worry me sometimes,” he mumbled.
The cable car station finally appeared through the fog a few meters away from them. They climbed the wooden stairs, pulled the set of heavy doors and hurried inside. Bodhi grimaced at the acrid smell of old metal and mechanical oil coming out of the multiple beams, ropes, rigs and pulleys.
They showed their ski passes to the lone, clearly bored, employee and sat on the bench running along an entire wood-panelled wall.
“You think they saw the weather and thought we weren't doing this anymore?” Jyn asked after several minutes of reading the various posters and signs plastered across the room. Most of them were at least 15 if not 20 years old. One was in French and Jyn couldn't guess for the life of her if the prices showed were in new or old francs. She was also pretty sure that the kid skiing on that same poster was on wood skis.
It was a bit absurd to still have sunglasses ads from the eighties and posters for soda brands long gone, but Jyn liked that about small ski resorts. They had a soul, a story. It wasn't the madness and luxury orgy that she had witnessed in some super expensive ski resorts, with hi-tech gadgets, heated lift benches, jacuzzi in every hotel room and champagne on top of the ski slopes. People there were more interested in taking the perfect picture for their Instagram account than in actually enjoying the snow and the mountains. They just wanted to say that they had been skiing in Aspen, Gstaad or Courchevel when their colleagues would ask them how they had gotten a tan in the middle of the winter.
“They would have called us,” Bodhi said.
“Or maybe they got lost and have been eaten by the creatures hiding in the mist,” Jyn replied with spooky hand gestures.
“We're not in a Stephen King movie. What are you doing with your hands?”
“Ghost hands.” She dropped them back in her lap. “You're the one who said we were horror movie characters,” she pointed out, leaning her elbows on her knees, her chin on one hand.
Bodhi sighed. It wasn't long before he made to stand up when the doors opened on Kay and Cassian.
“Hey guys,” Bodhi greeted them. “See Jyn? Not eaten by creatures of the mist,” he added in her direction.
“What?” Cassian half-asked half-laughed as he and Kay showed their passes to the still alone, still bored, employee.
“We were wondering if you had bailed on us or if you two had become the first thirty seconds of a Supernatural episode,” Jyn answered.
Kay snorted. “Cassian compared the weather to Silent Hill, but Supernatural works too.”
Jyn didn't need to turn toward Bodhi to see the shit-eating grin splitting his face. She knew her brother like the back of her hand and she could almost hear his thoughts about her and Cassian, as if making the same pop culture references meant that they clearly were soulmates.
Jyn clapped her hands once. “Alright, now that everyone's here, it's equipment check time!”
They went through the list they all knew by heart, checking the batteries on the avalanche beacons safely secured around their chests, making sure they all had a shovel and a probe, a first aid kit, snacks and water.
After checking the avalanche risk report and the weather one last time with the cable car employee, they climbed into the wagon and started the ascension to the top of the mountain range. Everything was grey outside the windows and they couldn't see the mountains or the ski resort.
“Do you really think the guy was right and it's clear above the tree line?” Bodhi asked, unconvinced about the whole thing.
“Yeah don't worry,” Cassian replied with a wave. “It's always like that in the morning 'round here. The sky is very low and then you climb a bit and suddenly you can see for miles and miles away above the clouds. You'll see.”
Sure enough, the wagon emerged from the fog after a few minutes of ascending. The mountain range stood before and behind them, a stark contrast against the cloudless blue sky. They all blinked in front of the blindingly bright snow.
Around them, the mountain peaks were islands surrounded by a white ocean, waves of clouds licking their sides, hiding the valley under a thick sea of rolling fog. True to Cassian's words, each mountain peak was shadowed by another, less clear and white than the previous one, until a vague, light blue silhouette was all they could make out on the horizon.
Bodhi whistled and plastered his face to a window. “Okay, that's pretty cool.”
Cassian laughed, a small, secretive smile on his lips, the same kind of smile he had had when Jyn had complimented him on the track the day before. Like then, she sort of wished to get closer to him to see if he really was a blusher. She caught herself staring at his lips and quickly dropped her gaze to the cabin floor, hoping he hadn't noticed. She didn't want things to get weird. She glanced at Bodhi to see if he had seen any of what had just happened, but he was still mesmerized by the view. Her relief was short-lived when she caught Kay staring at her with a knowing and calculating look in his eyes. She frowned. He smirked and tilted his head in Cassian's direction. She immediately shook her head in the most discreet way possible. Bodhi was still at the window and Cassian was checking his snowboard straps but she didn't want to take the risk of them wondering about her silent argument with Kay.
The cable car stopped with a jerk. Outside, the entire mountain range was spread out in front of them, an abstract composition of cliffs, glaciers, forests and snow emerging from the clouds. Bodhi skipped ahead, already fiddling with his camera settings. Knowing her brother, he probably regretted not having packed his analog camera: he loved taking black and white film pictures of the mountains when the contrast was so high. Cassian joined him but Kay lingered behind, standing right next to Jyn.
“So. Cassian, uh?” he said.
She held up a hand. “Nope. Whatever you think you saw back there, it's not real.”
“I'm not having this conversation right now,” she sing-songed and skipped away from him, walking past the ski patrol cabin.
Cassian and Bodhi had turned away from the valley and were facing the top of the mountain, apparently talking about their itinerary. She got closer to them. Cassian extended a hand toward a saddle in the range and Jyn only caught the end of his explanation.
“...we climb up and then it's on.” He dropped his hand. “Ready?” he asked Bodhi.
Cassian patted him on the back, smiling, open. Not for the first time, Jyn wondered how someone could be so damn friendly. How friendship could come so easily to him. How he could just let himself be open, let others get in and act like it wasn't one of the most terrifying things on the planet. Cassian always acted as if he had known them for ages when it had only been three encounters over the course of four months. In the end, they hardly knew each other. And yet here they were.
Cassian turned to her.
“Hey, did we lose Kay already?” he asked her. She looked behind her, expecting to see Kay's black clad silhouette, but no one was there.
“Looks like it,” she shrugged.
After a few minutes, Kay jogged back to them from the ski patrol cabin.
“I gave our itinerary to the patrol, we're good to go now,” he said and hiked his snowboard on his shoulder, starting to climb in the direction of the mountain pass Cassian was pointing at a few minutes earlier. Bodhi followed behind him, with Jyn and Cassian bringing up the rear.
“You didn't take the splitboard?” Jyn asked when Cassian started walking with his board across his shoulders.
He shook his head. “Nah. The state of the snow and our hiking path don't justify the hassle, you know.”
The ascension took them the better part of what was left of their morning and they took advantage of the flat section of the saddle to have a quick snack break. Kay and Cassian promised them they only had one last slope to climb before the real fun could begin.
They had to use their boards as leverage for the last steep portion of the climb but the view at the top was worth the shot. The Pyrenees were extending all around them, rows after rows of peaks, valleys and ranges, veiled in blue and white. Cassian pointed to a peak at the south east.
“That's el Aneto, the highest peak of the Pirineos, and just next to it is el Pico Maldito on the left and in front of it is el Monte Perdido.”
“I don't even speak Spanish but those last two names sound awfully gloomy,” Jyn pointed out.
Cassian chuckled. “Wanna know why they're named this way?” he asked. Behind him, Kay made frantic shutting down motions.
“Sure.” Jyn smirked. Kay facepalmed.
“Alright so basically, in the old times, people were calling places very pragmatic names, yes? And in the Aneto valley, there's a plant that grows and it's called el eneldo, or anet in Catalan. In English it's- hum. Kay?”
“Dill. How do you forget? You ask me every time you tell the story!”
Cassian shrugged. “Whatever. So the people basically called the mountain 'the place where dill grows' even though it's covered in snow and there's no way anything is growing up there.” He paused.
Jyn and Bodhi exchanged a glance.“That's it?” Jyn said.
“There is another story about this place. There's a legend that says that the mountain is actually a giant called Aneto sleeping and you can hear him cry during storms.”
“Does the giant has anything to do with dill too?” Bodhi asked.
“I don't know, my grandfather never said anything about that.”
“What about the other two?” Jyn said. If one peak was named after a mythological giant, the other two were probably a reference to something just as cool.
“Well,” Cassian started with a grimace, “el Monte Perdido basically means the Lost Mount.”
“Creepy,” Jyn commented.
Kay cleared his throat. “Wait for it.”
“Because it's quite isolated from the rest of its range,” Cassian finished.
Jyn flatly stared at him. “Are you serious? No scary story about lost explorers? What about the other one?”
“El Pico Maldito means the Damned or the Cursed Peak-”
“Now we're getting somewhere,” Jyn said. Kay tried to stifle his laughter.
“-because almost every guy who tried to climb it the first few times during the 19th century died because they didn't have the right equipment yet.”
“That's it? You have a mountain called the Cursed Peak and there's no ghost story, no weird disappearance or radioactive corpses?” Jyn exclaimed.
“That's the Dyatlov Pass Incident,” Bodhi sighed.
“And that's not even a mystery, everything can be explained with the Kármán vortex infrasound theory,” Kay added.
Jyn stared at them, defeated. “Stop ruining a perfectly good creepy event.”
Kay shrugged. “Science wins every time,” he said, smug and unapologetic, making Cassian burst into laughter.
Kay and Bodhi headed down first, Kay because he was familiar with the environment and Bodhi because he needed to shot Jyn as she was riding down. Cassian stayed back with her as if it they had discussed it beforehand. They watched them ride down, slicing their way across the virgin expanse of fresh snow, the swooshing sound of the powder dying down the further Kay and Bodhi went.
A buzzard's cry resonated between the cliffs. Jyn raised her head and saw two birds flying in circle above them. She smiled. She had been hearing that particular cry for the past ten years of her life, but somehow it always reminded her of hiking in the French Alps with her mother when she was just a child.
She turned to Cassian, finding him already looking at her.
“It's a beautiful place,” she said. She felt the urge to duck her head down and hike up her scarf above her nose to hide her blushing cheeks, but Cassian dropped his gaze down and smiled his shy smile of his.
They both turned to the slope. Kay and Bodhi were still riding it down, taking their time to assess the environment and its potential.
He glanced at her. “Yes?”
He fully turned toward her with a puzzled look on his face, but before he could say anything in return, Bodhi and Kay called them, gesturing them that they were ready for them to come down.
Jyn strapped her helmet on and gave her board the impulse it was waiting for to dash down in the fresh snow.
Further down the mountain side, they found a great spot to practice their jumps and spent several hours riding it down and climbing it back up, with Bodhi capturing their every move. Jyn went for a backside double cork 1260 several times, and almost nailed one, while also doing other jumps she had already mastered for her video reel.
She was on top of the slope watching Kay do his thing, which was mostly him going for whatever he felt like at the time with not planning whatsoever, when Cassian climbed up and stopped next to her.
“Maybe you should try to do like him,” he said. “Not put so much pressure on yourself and just enjoy the moment. This is not training or recon.”
Jyn shrugged. “I have to do some neat stuff for the reel anyway. Might as well train at the same time,” she added and turned to him with a self depreciating smile.
Cassian frowned. “Why do you need that reel to be so perfect? You already have lots of sponsors, right?”
She grimaced. “Yeah but-” She sighed. “Saw and I plan on breaking the energy drink contract because they're basically assholes, but it's my biggest one. So I have to attract a new company or I won't have the money to travel outside of Europe for competitions.”
“Ahh, I see,” Cassian said. “But didn't you tell me that your dad is like a top notch engineer in that huge center? Can't he help you with the travel costs and stuff?”
Jyn scoffed. “My father really doesn't support this whole snowboarding stuff. I'm mostly living at Saw's when I'm in Switzerland and Bodhi is in Paris.”
“I didn't know it was so bad. Sorry.”
“Yeah well, it's how it is. It's okay. Don't worry,” Jyn said, turning away from Cassian, his worried eyebrows and his sincerely apologetic eyes. She waved at Bodhi who waved back, giving her the go for her jump.
They left their spot and rode down the rest of the off-track part of the slope, catching up with the official ski trails in the middle of the afternoon. When they reached the bottom, Kay went to the ski patrol station to check in and give updates about the state of the off-track section while Cassian, Bodhi and Jyn stayed outside.
“So,” Cassian started while they were dusting off residual snow from their pants and jackets, “any plans for tonight?”
“Actually yeah we're eating with Saw and turning in early, I'm training tomorrow,” Jyn answered, beating Bodhi to it and silently willing him not to object.
If Cassian was fazed by her hurried response, he didn't show it. Kay returned a moment later and they said goodbye to each other.
Jyn power-walked to the hotel, trying to ignore Bodhi asking her to slow down and wait. She marched into their room, stored the board on the balcony and took off her snow gear before flopping down on her bed with her hands on her face. Bodhi arrived a few seconds later, took the time to dispose of his board, his filming equipment and his snow gear before sitting down next to her.
“Alright”, he started calmly. “What happened?”
“Uggggggghhh,” Jyn mumbled, the sound muffled by her hands.
“Jyn, c'mon.” Bodhi grabbed her wrists and moved them away from her face. “We both know we're not having dinner with Saw tonight because he's busy getting drunk with Kenobi and Skywalker so why did you made that up? Why did you suddenly decide to avoid Cassian?”
Jyn took a deep breath and sighed. “Kay is suspecting something.”
“O-kay,” Bodhi said, nodding. When Jyn didn't add anything he asked: “That's it?”
Jyn sat up and laid her head against his shoulder. “No, that's not it. We had like... a moment. Two moments. And I told him about Dad.”
Bodhi put his arm around her shoulders. “What about Dad?”
“How he doesn't support any of this and that I don't really live with him. I don't know – we were talking about sponsors and why I need the video reel to be great and it kinda got personal.”
“And it freaked you out.”
“And it freaked me out. Because it's not like me to share stuff like that. I don't even know the guy.”
Bodhi jostled her gently. “You know him a little.”
“Not enough the start talking about personal shit,” Jyn muttered. She let herself go boneless against Bodhi, her panic receding into a light anxiety in the back of her mind. Bodhi always helped her center herself when a possible anxiety induced crisis threatened to drown her.
“You know what?” Bodhi said after a few minutes of cuddling in silence. “I say tonight calls for take-out and X-Files marathon.” He shook her out of her semi-asleep state and got up, pulling her with him. “Go take a shower while I order.” He flipped through the take-out menus that had came with the hotel welcome flyer. “Room service, pasta, pizza?”
“Yes,” Jyn answered. She grabbed her pajamas from her bed and headed to the bathroom, avoiding the still loose Uno cards among the other various items cluttering the floor.
“You're supposed to pick one,” Bodhi called out to her back as she closed the bathroom door behind her.
Jyn spent the next day training with Saw, switching from off-board training to slopestyle to half-pipe to big air. She pushed all thoughts of Cassian out of her mind. Nothing but her board and the track mattered. She had to prove to her father that he was wrong, to Saw that he hadn't made a mistake when he had taken the decision to coach her, and to herself that she could do it, that she was good enough, that all the sacrifices she had made had been worth it. She needed to push herself beyond her limits. She wasn't going to settle for something just good.
Fest wasn't Wobani. The snow quality was perfect for riding, the sky was clear and blue once the fog had cleared out and her body wasn't locked stiff by the cold. Thus there was no reason for her to rest on her laurels and just rely on a predictable jump combo.
Saw knocked on her door at the end of the day. Bodhi had taken his turn in the shower without giving her the blow dryer before locking the bathroom door and her hair was dripping on the hoodie she had borrowed from him. Served him right.
“You did great today,” he praised her. Jyn smiled in spite of the soreness in her back and thighs and the bruises blossoming under her clothes. “But don't push yourself too hard either. We still need your strength for the actual competition and for the last two of the season.”
He ruffled her damp hair, water spraying everywhere and pulled her into a hug. His thick sweater was rough and itchy against her skin, but she closed her eyes and relaxed into his embrace, surrounded by his deep, earthy scent.
“Are you okay, kiddo? You were quiet today,” he asked after a few minutes.
She opened her eyes. “I'm always quiet,” she mumbled against the wool of his sweater and felt more than heard his brief, silent laughter at her answer.
“Something is troubling you, kid,” Saw said quietly.
They had talked extensively about ending the energy drink contract and going on the hunt for a company wanting to sponsor her, but during all that talk, they hadn't made any mention of her father, the big bright pink elephant in the room.
Every time they had even came close to the subject, she had been able to stir the conversation into another direction, and had tried to ignore the regret she could see in Saw's eyes. He wished his friend had been a better father to her. She wished he had been a father at all after her mother's death. She wished it could be as easy for her than it was for Bodhi, who could be around him, talk about his life with him without it ending in a family drama. She had been jealous and angry the first few years, then she had given up trying to get along with her father, much to Bodhi's dismay. Saw had tried to comfort her, saying Galen had a hard time because she looked so much like her mother, and that it'd get better with time.
“Bullshit,” was all she had answered and with that, the conversation had been closed and never reopened.
It hadn't gotten better with time.
She mumbled something about the video reel and the sponsors and the energy drink contact. She didn't know if Saw understood anything with her face buried in his chest and she didn't really care. She only wanted to stay in his arms and fall asleep.
Saw put a hand on the back of her neck.
“Don't worry about the sponsors. I've got your back.”
She sighed. “You always do.”
“And always will.”
The fog stayed out of the ski resort the morning of the day the competition finally begun. The tense vibe that had been permeating the atmosphere around every snowboarder disappeared with the clouds and Jyn's mind cleared up of any sponsor worries as she approached the half-pipe competitors tent. Shara and Leia were warming up, chatting with Ahsoka as she was adjusting her white and blue hijab. Jyn caught sight of Mara Jade as well as Sakas Mikkian when Anakin Skywalker entered the tent and started to loudly and excitedly encourage both his protégée and his daughter. Jyn smiled. Skywalker looked and acted as if he was still of age to compete with them. It was weird to remember that his kids were almost not teenagers anymore when he was behaving like a teenager himself.
The first few women running were unknown to Jyn and, except for one very technical and perfectly executed McTwist, pretty forgettable. Sakas Mikkian tried to do an Haakon Flip followed immediately by a Backside 720 but didn't pick up enough speed. She didn't go high enough above the pipe, under-rotated and ultimately screwed up her landing and fell hard on her ass.
Shara winced next to Jyn. “That's a pretty dumb mistake to make.”
“I guess,” Jyn replied with a shrug.
The next woman was Mara, who, according to the commentator, was just out of recovery for some torn-up cruciate ligaments in her right knee. Unlike Sakas, she didn't take any risk and presented a clean but quite bland succession of tricks, giving her enough points not to be eliminated, but not what was needed to be on top of the ranking.
Ahsoka and Leia were next, immediately upping the bar to the next level, with incredibly hard jumps like a perfect Double McTwist 1260 for Leia and the highest Backside 720 Transfer Jyn had ever seen from Ahsoka.
A couple of less noticeable snowboarders went, and then it was Jyn's turn, finally. The half-pipe had never been her strong suit, but she had perfected a few neat tricks and she intended to give her best. She jumped what was probably her best Michalchuk and a quite high Air to Fakie and topped everything up with a Crippler followed by an Alley-oop Rodeo. She hoped Bodhi had gotten some cool footage and pictures. She took off her ski mask and waved at the photographers massed at the end of the pipe. She shook off some snow from her board to reveal the sponsor stickers decorating it and waited for her score, smiling for the cameras when her rank appeared. Third one after Leia and Ahsoka. There were still a few snowboarders left, though, and Jyn didn't nurtured the hope to stay there, as Shara hadn't had her turn yet.
Shara was the last one to go. Jyn, still at the third place, picked up Kes from the crowd, cheering at each of her jumps, beaming like the proud boyfriend he was. Maybe they weren't at the labels-stage yet, but Jyn doubted it would take them long to reach it. She turned back to the halfpipe where Shara was giving a stellar performance, as if gravity didn't have any hold on her.
Jyn fiddled with her helmet. She'd be lucky to be at the fourth place. Shara gained speed for her final jump and launched herself into a Cab 1080 but didn't stuck her landing. She wobbled on her feet and toppled over.
Jyn bit her lip. “Shit.”
She knew Shara hadn't fallen from high enough or with enough speed for having seriously hurt herself, but a dislocated elbow or a twisted knee was never far in their world. She let out a breath she didn't know she was holding when Shara got back to her feet and slid down in the middle of the halfpipe to the end of it, where she made a few depreciating jokes at the cameras. She shrugged with a smile when she appeared at the fourth place. Her eyes found Jyn and she winked at her before being engulfed in a hug from Kes.
The Men Halfpipe was happening in the evening, like practically every Men events. The women had to wake up early to compete while the guys could nurse their hangover and that fact would never make Jyn not envious.
She was alone in the hotel room, Bodhi was busy networking with magazines and websites and whatnot while Saw was probably looking for a solution to the sponsors issue. Or having a beer and a trip down memory lane with other coaches. Or both.
Jyn treated herself to a luxurious bubble bath and room service and tried to relax the best she could. She was sorry for Shara to have lost points at the very last moments, but she couldn't let that cloud the fact that she had made third place during a challenge she was no master at.
She had just finished her chocolate mousse when her phone pinged with a message.
nice job this morning!
Jyn frowned and tapped the little phone icon on top of the conversation.
“You were there?” she said when Cassian picked up.
He chuckled. “Hello to you too. No I wasn't there, I ran into Bodhi and then I got a recount second by second from Kes.”
Her eyebrows rose up. “And Kes talked about me? I'm surprised he didn't only talked about Shara.”
“Don't worry, I also know everything that happened with Shara, probably even better than if I had been there.” Jyn snorted. “Sorry, by the way,” he added in a more serious, quiet voice.
“Not being there this morning.”
Something warm and weird settled in her stomach. How was she supposed to react to that? She scrapped the side of the chocolate mousse container with her spoon. She chose to chuckle and deflect.
“Uh. It's not like we signed a contract forcing you to come freeze your balls off at every events I'm at. Knowing you, you probably had a tequila hangover to cure or something, right?”
Cassian laughed. If he had picked up on her being weirded-out, he didn't let anything out.
“Not tequila actually. Patxaran.”
Jyn left the container alone and pushed the room service cart away from the bed.
“What the fuck is that?”
“The trickiest alcohol in Spain. It's sweet and sneaky and will get you way too drunk way too quickly.”
Jyn laid down on her bed with Cassian's voice in her ear, explaining how that alcohol made from sloe berries and cinnamon was responsible for all the dumb shit in his life and that it was Kes's fault in the first place and at least with tequila you weren't tricked into thinking you were drinking fruit juice.
Her bed was soft and her pillows fluffy, and resisting a nap after hanging up was way too hard. Fighting the urge to sleep was useless and Jyn needed the rest if she wanted to appreciate the Men Halfpipe that evening.
Night events were always way cooler than day events. The music was less shitty for one, less mushy pop and more rock or actually enjoyable electro. Bright spots were illuminating the pipe and the public was usually halfway drunk, which was taking away a layer of seriousness and pressure from the competitors. Sometimes, Jyn was wondering if the competitors weren't halfway drunk themselves. She didn't know what would be the most surprising: if they were or if they weren't.
Solo was the first one to compete. Jyn found his way of snowboarding infuriating. He was always doing everything flippantly, almost nonchalantly, as if nothing mattered and he was just there for the laugh and the booze. The other American, Calrissian, was pretty much the same, although more focused and a tad less douchebaggy about it. They weren't awful, far from it, but their attitude was rubbing her the wrong way.
The contrast with Luke Skywalker was almost violent. The kid was eager to show his best, full of energy and going all over the place. He reminded her of a golden retriever puppy – an extremely talented puppy, but a puppy all the same. He often over-rotated his jumps but somehow always found a way to stick his landing without falling flat on his face.
The next one was Baca, the Czech American friend of Solo, whose first name was containing too much accents and consonants for anyone but Czech people to pronounce it correctly, thus making him go by his middle name, Chet, even on the scoreboards. He was snowboarding aggressively but in a focused and precise manner, his energy channeled entirely into his jumps. His physique only added to the power of his style, all the two meters, huge brown beard and long hair of him.
An unknown Italian guy fell down in a rather creative manner after his first jump. Cassian was next. His tricks were clean and technical, clearly privileging difficulty over aesthetic. He closed his performance with a Frontside Double Cork 1080 that made some of the more inebriated members of the public lose their minds. His program got him the second place after Baca. A few reporters jumped on him as soon as his results were announced.
That was another thing distinguishing the men's events from the women's. Women's had cameras and photographers. Men's had all that, plus actual reporters asking questions and writing articles about the athletes. At the moment, Jyn wasn't envious of Cassian who looked like he wanted to be anywhere but near a snooping journalist, but she was still mad at the differences. Nobody cared about what women had to say, they just had to be cute and smile for the camera.
Her eyes followed Cassian when he managed to ditch the journalists. He went back to the tent to dispose of his gear and got out almost immediately after, only to catch her eyes. A smile stretched his lips and he made a beeline toward her.
“Nice gig,” she said when he was within hearing distance. “Did you make some new friends?” she added, pointing the reporters group with a movement of her chin.
Cassian rolled his eyes and leaned on the fence. “Tell me about it, I hate those moments. I always feel like an idiot saying the same shit any competitor says after an event.”
“I gave everything I had, I think I can be proud of my performance tonight?” Jyn asked mockingly.
“Ugh, it sounds like every football player ever.”
“You guys are athletes, not poets.”
Cassian snorted. “What do you tell them?”
“Nothing. No one ever asks us anything afterwards, except to smile and wave.”
Cassian frowned. Kes's name appeared on the screen. She elbowed Cassian lightly in the ribs.
“It's Kes's turn.”
Cassian grimaced. “Halfpipe hasn't been his forte this year.”
Kes, while far from being terrible, didn't indeed look confident on his board. His jumps lacked finesse and looked rushed, while his landings were often wobbly, making him lose speed between each jumps, speed that he had to regain to the detriment of doing more tricks. However he didn't fall or made any rookie mistake, which got him enough points not to be eliminated after the challenge.
Kay was the one directly after him. Like Cassian, he was preferring technicality and difficulty to aesthetic.
“Does he know this isn't the Big Air yet?” Jyn said after a series of high jumps.
Cassian's smile was short lived: Kay screwed up the landing of his last particularly high trick and fell down in a mess of snow.
“Fuck. C'mon Kay, get up,” Cassian muttered between his teeth. Jyn felt a pressure around her left wrist and saw his hand gripping her tight. In the middle of the pipe, Kay moved but didn't get to his feet. Instead, he gestured to the medic team to come over.
He left on a gurney, his hands around his knee. Jyn tugged at Cassian, who was seemingly frozen on the spot.
“Come on,” she said, taking his hand in hers and dragging him away from the pipe and toward the med station. He squeezed her hand and followed her without a word.
You can see gifs of all (I think) the halfpipe tricks I'm talking about in this chapter here: https://mpora.com/snowboarding/snowboard-half-pipe-tricks and here: https://whitelines.com/features/snowboard-halfpipe-10-best-first-hits-of-all-time.html
Chapter 7: Fest Tour, part 3
In which life sucks for Kay, Jyn has it bad and crazy tricks are performed in the competition
I KNOW IT'S BEEN FOREVER AND I'M SORRY BUT HEY LOOK I'M BACK!
And I even have the 8th chapter started.
As always, thanks to my sister for beta-reading my stuff, and also thanks to Shihachii for awakening my muse. This chapter is for you.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The medic tent was relatively empty. Two guys who probably had had too much to drink were lying down on their side, each one with a bucket at arm's length. Opposite them was another man, icing his swollen wrist. Kay was at the back, laid down on a bed. He was grimacing in pain as a medic was removing his boots and snow pants.
Jyn and Cassian approached him, only to be stopped by another medic.
“Are you injured?” she asked.
Cassian shook his head. “We wanted to know how he was doing.”
The medic squinted at them. “You family?”
Kay's voice rose from behind her. “They're my friends– Ouch! Yeah it hurts you sadist!” he snapped at the man who was examining his leg.
The woman let Cassian and Jyn walk to the bed and went to check on the man with the injured wrist. Kay was sporting the grumpiest face.
“Just my luck, fucking up my leg during the first event,” he mumbled, still glaring at the medic as he was touching his calf.
“It might not be so bad,” Jyn said, trying to be optimistic even though she wasn't convinced herself. “A bit of ice and anti-inflammatory gel and you'll be good as new.”
Kay snorted. “I find your optimism suspicious.”
Cassian chuckled. “Just try not to see everything in black immediately.”
The medic cleared his throat and they all snapped to attention.
“Ahem, so,” he started, squirming under their stares. “It's not really good. We'll need to do a radio and a scanner, but I'm pretty sure you just dislocated your knee and tore up your cruciate ligaments. I need to make a call, I'll be back in a few minutes,” he added and left them alone.
“Well, fuck,” Kay said in a flat voice. “Guess I'm done for the season.”
Cassian sighed. “Looks like it, yeah. Physio is going to suck, man.”
Kay winced. Draven chose this moment to storm into the tent.
“Andor, they need you for the podium bullshit!” he shouted in their direction before taking off as suddenly as he had arrived.
Cassian's shoulders dropped. He sighed again.
“Guess I have to go,” he said. “You gonna be alright?” he asked Kay, who rolled his eyes and made shooing motions.
“I'm not dying, go look pretty for the pictures.”
“I'm staying here anyway,” Jyn said. She gave a little push to Cassian who finally made his way to the entrance of the tent.
“He looks like he's going to be hanged,” Kay idly said as they were watching him go.
“Not everyone likes to be under the spotlights.”
Kay shrugged. “One more thing you have in common then.”
Jyn glared at him. How he could look so smug while being in what was no doubt a terrible amount of pain was beyond her. Maybe they had given him pain meds? He didn't have the typical glassy stare associated with painkillers, but maybe Kay wasn't affected by the fun side effects of the drugs. It wouldn't be the first weird thing about him.
“You sound like Bodhi,” she muttered.
“Well, Bodhi is a rational man who can both see and think, so it doesn't surprise me.”
Jyn really wanted to punch his satisfied smile, but it was probably frowned upon to further injure a man who was lying in a med tent bed with mashed potatoes for a knee.
“Did you tell Cassian?” she asked instead.
Kay snorted. “He's a very perceptive man for a lot of things but he's basically blind when it comes to romantic feelings. He wouldn't believe me even if I was explaining everything with a PowerPoint.”
Jyn released a breath she didn't know she was holding. She was about to ask Kay if he thought Cassian was even interested but the medic came back to Kay's bed.
“We're gonna transfer you to the hospital in Pamplona,” he said. “The helicopter is on his way.”
Kay rolled his eyes. “Is that really necessary?”
“Nothing in your knee is where it should be, Kay,” Jyn answered with a pointed glare. “So, yeah, it is necessary.”
“Ugh, fine. Tell Cassian I'll call him later. And make sure he doesn't exclusively eat hot dogs and pizza,” he said sternly.
“Yes mom,” Jyn mocked. “Take care,” she added as the medics wheeled him away.
Jyn joined Cassian at the podium area a couple of minutes later. The crowd was starting to clear up now that the entire event was over, and the competitors were easy to pick, being the only ones carrying some gear.
“They took Kay to the hospital in Pamplona,” she told Cassian before he could even open his mouth. “He said he'll call you later. And also that I have to feed you vegetables. That guy doesn't trust you to take care of yourself,” she added.
Cassian shrugged sheepishly. “I may have traumatized him with my eating habits, yes.”
Jyn cocked an eyebrow. “Such as?”
“Nah, you don't want to know,” he answered. He picked up his board and started walking toward the ski resort.
She caught up with him. “Oh, but I do. You have awakened my curiosity.”
He glanced down at her, a smile at the corner of his lips. “How about we talk about it around a drink? The Big Air challenge is in the afternoon tomorrow, right?”
Jyn gestured to the bars they were walking by in answer. They were all already bursting with people.
“My place? I still have some Patxaran left,” Cassian offered.
Jyn chuckled. “Trying to spread your bad life choices, are you?”
“Let's see it as sharing the local traditions,” he innocently replied. They turned away from the main street, the noise from the bars fading in the background. Jyn recognized some buildings. They were probably two streets away from his apartment. A knot of anticipation and excitement formed into her belly.
“Fine,” she said. “But if I have to run with a hangover tomorrow, you'll have to get up and come out in the cold as well.”
Cassian stopped walking, put down his board and extended his right hand.
Jyn shook his hand with a smile. They without a doubt looked like two idiots, standing in the middle of the street and shaking hands, but she couldn't care less. Being serious and concerned about the world could wait until the next afternoon.
Cassian's studio was empty when they arrived.
“Kes and Shara must be together,” Cassian said. He put his board on the balcony and started to shed the rest of his snow gear. “I'm gonna take a shower, help yourself to whatever.”
Jyn poked her head into the fridge. “Should I make something to eat?” she asked loudly so he could hear her from the other side of the studio.
“Starting Kay's mission already?” he answered, his voice closer than what she had expected. She raised her head and found him peeking from the hallway. Most of his body was hidden by the wall but she could guess that his torso was naked. She forced that particular thought far, far away to the back of her mind.
“I never said I'd make us vegetables,” she said, trying to keep her voice as flat and unaffected as possible.
Cassian leaned against the wall, his entire body now in plain view. He was thankfully clothed below the waist but it took all of Jyn's will to keep her eyes in the general area of his face.
“What do you have in mind then?” he asked and crossed his arms. His biceps bulged.
He was doing that on purpose. No other explanation was possible. Jyn turned away from him and opened a cupboard, its door hiding her face.
“Grilled cheese sandwiches?” she offered, holding out a bag of sliced bread without coming out from behind the cupboard door.
“Fine by me.”
She grabbed some cheese and butter from the fridge and looked around for a pan, not once looking toward the hallway until she heard him leave and lock the bathroom door. She leaned against the counter and released a deep breath. The guy was a menace with the most perfect air of innocence on his face.
He came back from his shower fully clothed in sweatpants and a Henley and Jyn wondered, not for the first time, why men in Henleys were so fucking attractive.
“Should we eat before, after or during your tales of terrible eating habits?” she asked.
“Depends if you have a delicate stomach,” he answered and sat down on the floor next to the coffee table.
They were done with the sandwiches and the stories–and no, Jyn could definitely not understand how someone could just consider eating a cheese omelette with Nutella on top a perfectly normal thing to do – when her phone pinged with a message.
She fished it from her back pocket and swiped it open.
“Everything alright?” Cassian asked. He had taken the bottle of Patxaran out and was pouring her a glass.
“Yeah, just Bodhi. He's having a drink with some magazine people. Just wanted to warn me he'd be home late.”
“With the Patxaran, he won't be the only one,” he said with a smile. He held out his glass. She took hers and raised it to his.
The alcohol was sweet and a bit thick, almost like a syrup in her throat. The burning came a few seconds later and her entire body felt hot.
She coughed, making Cassian laugh. “Holy shit. And you said it feels like drinking fruit juice?! The hell is wrong with you?”
His laughter doubled up. “I guess I'm too used to tequila and mezcal, nothing is wrong with me.”
She stared at him. “You think dumping nachos directly in the jar of salsa and eating the whole bloody mess with a spoon is a completely fine meal, everything is wrong with you.”
“If you don't believe me on that, you'll have to try it yourself,” he answered and got up.
She watched him go to the kitchen with a frown before getting up herself and following him. He grabbed a jar of salsa from a cupboard, a bag of nachos from the counter and dumped the content of both into a bowl. He stuck a spoon into it and held it out for her.
“You're not serious,” she said.
“I'm dead serious. C'mon try it. I usually add a bit of sour cream to it but we're out.”
She took the bowl from him and suspiciously raised the spoon filled with broken bits of salsa-covered nachos covered to her mouth.
“You gotta eat it fast otherwise the nachos soften too much,” Cassian pressed on.
She rolled her eyes and took a bite. It wasn't that bad but she didn't want to admit it. She wasn't sure he wasn't gonna make her try the Nutella covered cheese omelette next.
“Alright, it's not that bad,” she sighed.
Cassian smiled triumphantly. “You know what goes perfectly with this?”
Jyn raised an eyebrow. “Patxaran?”
“And a movie.”
Cassian grabbed a second spoon and they flopped down on the couch, the bowl between them, the bottle and their glasses on the coffee table in front of them.
“What are we watching?” Jyn asked.
“Do you know ELVES?” Cassian said with the face of a kid who was about to do the best prank ever.
She squinted at him. “...Should I be afraid?”
Cassian burst out laughing at that. “Probably? It’s one of the worst movies ever and it’s so awful it’s hilarious.”
“Okay I’m curious now. Bring it.”
For a movie he had described as absolutely terrible, Cassian still had it ready to be played on his DVR. Jyn chose not to comment on that, because she wasn’t sure he wouldn’t make her eat more of his weird kitchen experiments, but also because the movie was starting and it was already a massive shitshow in all its cheap 90s style glory. And it definitely was one of the worst movies she had ever watched. She could feel Cassian’s eyes on her, could feel how delighted he was with her reactions—reactions that were mostly comprised of muttered “what the fuck” and “bloody hell”, while steadying drinking the Patxaran and eating from the bowl of nachos without looking.
At the end of the movie, she was definitely a little drunk, but there was no way she would have made it sober.
“What the fuck was that.”
“Kes’ favorite movie.”
“I’m now seriously judging his life choices. And Shara’s,” she added, finishing her glass in one go. The Patxaran wasn’t burning as much anymore. “Wait, has he already tortured her with that shit?” Cassian shrugged. “If not, I’m gonna have to warn her. I can’t let her walk into a trap.”
His laugh was infectious. “C’mon, don’t do that, she has to know the consequences of boning Kes.”
She gasped. “Female solidarity! I can’t let her suffer through that like I did. Also you’re a terrible person.”
“Aww, thank you so much,” he cooed with his hands over his heart. She punched him in the shoulder. “Hey!” he protested, “Don’t damage the goods.”
She snorted and tried to ignore how his smile was doing all sort of stuff to her nachos-filled belly. She cleared her throat.
“I should go,” she said. “It’s late.” She tried to get up only to fall back on the couch, her head spinning and her legs feeling like jelly.
“You okay there?” Cassian asked, looking quite amused and almost smug.
“I might have had a little too much to drink. Jeez, that shit is strong.”
“Going back to the hotel is gonna be fun. Not.”
Cassian bit his lips and shrugged. “You can sleep here if you want.”
Jyn might have been drunk but she was almost absolutely certain that Cassian was blushing.
“Are you sure? I have to wake up early.”
“I see to recall that we have a deal. I’ll have to wake up and brave the cold with you anyway.”
Her eyelids felt like they weighed a ton. She could feel herself drift almost immediately when she closed her eyes. She snapped them back open, only to meet Cassian’s soft smile as he was watching her, leaning against the couch backrest.
“Where do you sleep?” she asked, her voice much lower than before.
“The couch unfolds. That’s my bed. You can take it, I’ll brave Kes’ on the other room.” His voice had dropped too.
“Kay’s mattress is basically a wooden plank. That guy is weird.”
Jyn huffed. “You realize that now?” His only answer was a small laugh. “Also why are you saying you need to brave Kes’ bed?”
“Pretty sure there’s more dirty socks in it than in the entirety of this building,” he murmured, starting to fall asleep as well.
“We can always share the couch,” Jyn suggested. And okay, the Patxaran was certainly making her braver than her usual sober self, but sharing a bed with Cassian wasn’t the worst scenario she could imagine—especially now, all sleepy and soft and looking like the World Champion of Cuddling.
He opened an eye, seemingly unfazed by her offer. “I’m a snuggler,” he warned.
“As long as you don’t snore or punch people in your sleep.”
“No one has ever complained of that so far.”
After reluctantly getting up to unfold the couch, brush their teeth and borrow a t-shirt and some gym shorts for Jyn, they finally got into bed. They were both lying on their backs and Jyn tried not to think about the fact that it was a little bit awkward now that she was slightly less drunk and a tiny bit more awake than when she had suggested sharing the bed. She sent a text to Bodhi who only answered with a winky face and set up an alarm for the next morning.
“How are you feeling?” Cassian asked. His voice was a bit hoarse and low, barely above a whisper in the otherwise silent flat.
“The world has stopped spinning. But tomorrow is gonna suck.”
Cassian huffed a laugh and turned on his side, facing her. “Sorry ‘bout that.”
She glanced at him with a smile. “Please. You’re not even a little sorry.”
“Am I that transparent?” he asked, a yawn eating the end of his words, his eyes drifting closed.
She settled on her side as well. Easier than cranking her neck. “Right now? Yes, yes you are.”
A ghost of a smile danced on his lips but he otherwise didn’t answer.
She was pretty sure he had fallen asleep. She rearranged her pillows and sank into them, closing her eyes and appreciating how comfortable she was at the moment.
“Hey,” came a voice in front of her.
“Hm?” she answered without opening her eyes.
“I’m glad we got to know each other.”
She smiled and shuffled until her head met the arm he had extended in front of him.
“What are you doing?” he whispered.
“Y’said y’were a snuggler.”
Cassian snorted and came closer to properly cuddle her and rearranged their limbs in a comfortable way.
“Okay?” he murmured into her hair.
Jyn woke up to her alarm blaring way too loudly and way too close to her head. She reached out blindly to hit a button, any button to make the noise stop and turned back to hide her face into Cassian’s chest. His arms tightened around her as she did so.
“I hate you,” she mumbled against his t-shirt. He hadn’t lied. Patxaran hangovers were pretty fucking terrible.
“I know. I hate myself too right now.”
He pulled the covers and wrapped the end tightly around Jyn.
“Are you burritoing me,” she asked. Her mouth felt as if a mummy had settled in it and sucked up all the moisture. Tasted like it too.
“It’s not gonna make me forgive you.”
“You’re the one who forgot I was on your Don’t Drink With Them list.”
She had a second alarm set for fifteen minutes later and snuggled closer to Cassian. The world could wait a bit more.
The second alarm wasn’t met with any more enthusiasm than the first one. The world was still too loud and too bright for Jyn’s liking and the only thing she wanted to do was go right back to sleep on her Cassian-shaped pillow.
“C’mon Jyn,” Cassian tried, completely unconvincingly. “We have a competition to attend.”
“Fuck that, I have a hangover to nurse.”
He started to disentangle himself from her octopus limbs. She groaned at the loss of human heat next to her and vowed to forever deny she had done so. She was hungover and waking up in Cassian’s bed after being the one suggesting they sleep in it together, but she still had some dignity to preserve.
“Thought you hated me?”
Saw was in Bodhi’s and her room when she came back to the hotel. He and Bodhi stopped in the middle of their conversation to watch her walk into the room and they didn’t even try to hide the smugness on their faces.
“What?” Jyn all but barked.
“I honestly should be mad at you for sleeping over at a guy’s place before a competition but I actually feel like a proud papa right now,” Saw said, wiping imaginary tears from under his eyes.
She tried very hard not to blush. “I was just too tired to walk back here in the middle of the night.”
“Tell us everything.”
“We watched a terrible movie and if you keep being noisy fuckers I’ll tie you to some chairs and force you to watch it too.”
“Ooooh, someone didn’t get enough sleep last night,” Bodhi said.
Jyn glared at him. “I’m gonna kill you in your sleep.”
Her brother laughed and stopped abruptly. “Wait. You were not wearing this hoodie yesterday. That’s not even one of your hoodies at all!”
“Bravo, you’re a marvelous detective, can you get off my back now?”
Saw walked past her, ruffling her already messy hair. “Don’t kill your brother and be at the Big Air slope in an hour.”
As soon as the door closed behind Saw, Bodhi jumped on Jyn and pulled her to sit on the bed.
“What happened. I need to know.”
Recognizing a lost battle when she saw one, Jyn briefly summarized her evening and night, hoping Bodhi would calm down once he realized that nothing had happened. Instead, he squealed loudly and went on about how cute she and Cassian were and how much he shipped them together.
Jyn blinked slowly. “This is super disturbing,” she said.
“You’re wearing his hoodie.”
Her Big Air performance went flawlessly, much to her surprise. It wasn’t her forte and she was still hungover, but she nailed all the jumps she had planned to do. She would never be the best in Big Air, but she was happy with herself.
When she reached the bottom of the slope, she easily spotted Cassian who was smiling from ear to ear. She waited for her results—second place behind Leia, but she had no doubt she was going to get pushed back by a few of the next contestants. Cheers erupted from the crowd. She waved and smiled at the cameras and went to the tent to drop off her gear. Saw arrived a few moments after her.
“You were awesome, kiddo. You should do sleepovers more often.”
Jyn rolled her eyes but accepted the bear hug. She would have given her left kidney for a nap right here and then, but she unfortunately had to stay in the world of the livings until the end of the Women Big Air. Saw ushered her out of the tent, saying he was taking care of her stuff and telling her to find her boy.
“Not my anything,” she replied mechanically.
“Yet,” Saw pointed out and turned back to the tent.
She decided against trying to reason with him and went into the crowd to join Cassian. A few people congratulated her as she was trudging through the crowd. Her answers were only tired smiles; she was way too exhausted to try and chat with anyone. She finally caught sight of Cassian, flanked by Bodhi, Kes and Anakin. She avoided being crushed between two giant dudes in ice hockey jerseys—why they were here and wearing that she had no idea—and emerged just next to her group of friends.
“Hey sis!” Bodhi exclaimed, bringing the attention of the others to her.
“Cool tricks,” Skywalker said, “I almost feel bad about my kid getting a better score.”
Jyn scoffed. “No one believes you here,” she said with a smile, wrapping herself around her brother for support.
“I said almost.”
“You were really good up there,” Cassian said. She turned her head to him to give him a smile, that he returned with a soft one, a private one that felt like it was meant only for her. Next to her, Bodhi cooed but the announcement of the next contestant was loud enough to cover it. She hoped it was anyway. She jabbed her brother in the ribs, hard, and straightened up to watch Shara taking up speed at the top of the slope.
Jyn had little doubt that the Canadian was going to push her to the third place: the Big Air was one of the things she excelled at.
The event predictably ended with Leia, Shara and Ahsoka on the podium and Jyn abandoned her friend to go take a nap before the Men Big Air that night.
She wrapped herself into Cassian’s hoodie after her shower and promptly fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow.
Bodhi woke her up a couple of hours later when he came into the room. He made himself comfortable next to her and showed her a few of the pictures he had taken that afternoon. Jyn had always been adamant that her brother was a talented photographer, but some of the shots he was showing her were just next level. Published in a magazine next level. Could be on the cover next level. Or a giant poster next level.
“Actually,” Bodhi said when she told him, “I’m meeting with a publisher tonight.”
Jyn was speechless. Snowboarder was basically the biggest magazine in the snowboard world. She and Bodhi had grown up reading it religiously. It was their own personal Bible, their walls had been covered with posters, cut out articles and pictures from it. Being published in Snowboarder was to Bodhi what winning the Death Star Ride was to Jyn: a lifelong dream and the crowning achievement of a career.
“Don’t scream, lose your mind or congratulate me yet. It’s just a meeting and I don’t want to jinx it by celebrating early,” Bodhi warned her.
She nodded slowly, a smile creeping up on her lips. “I’m still super proud of you.”
“Thanks. Now c’mon, get ready, we have to go cheer on your crush.”
Jyn punched him in the shoulder before he sauntered away to the door. She got up to slip on some pants, kept the hoodie, put on her snow jacket, her boots and grabbed her phone. She had a text from Kay complimenting her on her Big Air ride.
thanks. how’s your knee?
I’m getting surgery tomorrow morning. Hospital is boring but at least they have the TV channel for the Fest Tour.
Once again, the Men Big Air setup was way cooler than the Women one. The speakers were blasting Carpenter Brut, a tent was sheltering a bar behind the crowd at the bottom of the slope—Jyn could make out three or four different beer taps, and she was pretty sure the guys working on each side of the launching ramp were setting up pyrotechnic gear, because who doesn’t want to have fireworks going off when you’re jumping a Double Backside Rodeo 1080? Photographers and cameramen were huddled on the edge of the slope, ready to capture every single jump performed that night. Bodhi joined them and Jyn took a spot at the bottom of the slope with a good view on both the landing part and the giant screen.
Chet Baca was the first to go. The commentators started talking about his stature, and how it had been an issue for him, how being heavier and way taller than basically anyone else was preventing him from performing certain high-point jumps. Jyn tuned out the voices to focus on the slope. Sure, Baca wasn’t going as high as most snowboarders and he wasn’t rotating as much either, but his technique was ruthless and flawless. A few journalists asked him questions when he was done, but he wasn’t as charismatic as Calrissian or charming as Solo and he was mostly ignored. Snowboarding was a world dominated by appearance and coolness factor. Sometimes Jyn hated those dumb implicit rules urging the men to look like cool and laid-back underwear models, the women to be ready to pose for a pin-up calendar.
The screen showed a few of the next contestants waiting at the top of the slope. One was holding a wool ball for his coach who was knitting next to him—the Finnish team then. Cassian and Kes were sitting on a bench talking to each other and waved when they noticed the camera was on them.
Jyn couldn’t help herself but smile.
Shara found and joined her just when the third contestant—the Finnish guy—was getting ready to go.
“Congrats on your second place,” Jyn greeted her. Shara smiled and the faintest blush colored her cheeks.
“Thanks. I hope I’ll manage to beat Leia at some point.”
“That woman has supernatural abilities.”
On the screen, the Finnish guy was attempting a Straight Triple Backflip, but he lost his equilibrium as he landed and crashed in a cloud of snow. Jyn and Shara winced at the same time.
“Remember the time when we weren’t trying impossible tricks?” Shara asked with a sigh. “There’s a rumor that someone is planning on doing a Switch Quadruple Underflip 1620.”
“Sounds like something Kenobi would try.”
“You think it’s gonna be a Luke Skywalker thing then?”
“Definitely. No one else is crazy enough for that.”
“I don’t know, Solo seems plenty crazy.”
Jyn laughed. “From what I’ve seen, he’s more of a show-off than a total daredevil with no self-preservation instinct.”
Shara conceded her point and went to fetch them two beers. Calrissian gave a neat performance, but it was definitely lacking some pizzazz to give him enough point to end up on the podium. He didn’t seem disappointed though, and addressed a dashing smile to the journalists shouting for his attention. Shara came back just in time for the end of Solo’s jump, a Frontside 1080. His name appeared at the top of the ranking but he didn’t whoop or celebrate in anyway: there were still quite a lot of snowboarders waiting for their turn and any one of them could eject him from his first place.
The next one was Skywalker who, as predicted, did the rumored Switch Quadruple Underflip 1620. He stuck his landing perfectly and the crowd went wild, roaring, cheering, whistling and all in all deafening. Luke was assaulted by his twin sister and Ahsoka as soon as he reached the bottom of the slope, not even waiting for the ranking to be updated. There were at most three professional snowboarders able to perform that particular jump in such a flawless way and he was now the fourth one. There wasn’t any doubt to have that he was gonna be at the top of the podium.
“That was...” Shara said, awestruck.
“Yep,” Jyn nodded, in the same state.
Kes landed the Straight Triple Backflip the Finnish guy had failed to and reached the third place behind Skywalker and Solo.
The wind started to rise just as Antilles was preparing for his turn. The screen showed him exchanging a nervous glance with Cassian. Wind and Big Air was not the best combination for riders. The organizers gave Antilles the go anyway. He performed a Double Backflip with a wobbly landing and exited the slope with an angry expression on his face.
Cassian was the last one. The camera zoomed on his face as he was getting ready. The mask was obscuring his eyes, but it was clear that he was worried. Jyn caught a flash of his teeth worrying his bottom lip before he pulled his scarf over half his face.
He launched himself onto the slope, gathering as much speed as possible. Jyn had seen him training for Big Air jumps when they were up in the mountain, but she had never seen him going so fast for a jump. When his board left the launching pad, the commentators went silent and so did the crowd. Nobody had been expecting what they were seeing. Jyn was gripping the metal fence so hard her fingers were hurting but it didn’t matter compared to the prowess she was witnessing. When Cassian touched ground again and didn’t fall, the spectators screaming as much, if not more, than they had for Luke Skywalker. Cassian had just landed a Quad Cork 1800, a trick that had been thought unachievable by most of the snowboarding world before being landed only one time in the past.
Without taking the time to overthink it, Jyn jumped over the fence and ran to Cassian, who immediately caught her in his arms. After a second of stillness around them, more snowboarders joined them, jumping around excitedly, screaming about how much of a sick trick it had been, followed by dozens of “DUDE” “what the hell was that” “DUUUUUDE” “so sick, so fucking sick” and other typical and very eloquent snowboarder exclamations.
Cassian’s name appeared at the top of the ranking almost immediately, provoking more cheers and more shouts from the audience.
The organizers asked them to clear the slope after that and they were pushed and pulled toward the podium and the mass of journalists and photographers.
Cassian squeezed Jyn’s hand before he had to go.
“You’re joining us for the celebration at the bar afterwards, yes?”
“You bet your ass I am.”
His smile was the only answer she got before he was kidnapped by his coach, someone who looked like a sponsor PR agent and a few dozens of reporters.
ELVES is a movie one of my best friends made me watch. Imagine the worst movie ever. You're not even close to how awful ELVES is. Here's the link if you're interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLo795JFfpg
Carpenter Brut is some awesome synthwave music and you should all listen to it.
Also this chapter is heavy on trick names so here are links to videos where you can see the absolute madness the Big Air was.
Double Backside Rodeo 1080: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDSc7hQ0bzg
Straight Triple Backflip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubltog4UlHI
Switch Quad Underflip 1620: https://youtu.be/KSdx9gNmqlc
Frontside 1080: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXL0MMULOrk
Double Backflip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlNmeM1XdM4
Quad Cork 1800: https://youtu.be/_MFNYVPESzA