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.