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.