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Oh my goodness… I can't explain how sorry I am for how long it's taken me to get the second chapter up. A lot of things suddenly came up in my life, and before I knew it (after a lot of uh, "events") I was volunteering in Costa Rica for 2 months! Anyway, I lost my spark for writing for a while but I've forced myself to pick it back up. I want to thank the people who urged me to start writing again, because I truly do love it, and a special thank you to the reviewers of this story as well (GoodGuy567, Guest, and SSXLoverKaoriBrodiMac). I hope you all can enjoy this second chapter, and I PROMISE I'll post another very, VERY soon! If not, I give you all permission to officially fong me until my insides are out and my entrails become my extrails (A Knight's Tale, anyone? :D) Anyway, without further ado, I give you Chapter 2!

Chapter 2: Fun in the Snow

Kaori's eyes opened slowly as the first few rays of the sun shone through the glass panes of the windows, illuminating the room with a soft blue light. She could hear the birds begin to sing merrily outside, and the sound was peaceful. Her body was tired but her mind was awake as she struggled to force her body to sit up. She had stayed up later than usual last night, and she was no night-owl. She preferred to rise bright and early and enjoy the sunshine unlike some of the other riders, who often slept several hours into the early afternoon. She wasn't surprised, however, to see that Elise had already gotten out of bed and left even earlier. Elise had a strict schedule, Kaori found out, including things like exercise in the morning and an extraordinary amount of time practicing snowboarding. She was probably on top of the mountain right now, riding through the snow and perfecting her technique and tricks. Kaori admired her dedication and wished she herself did more training. It came as no surprise that Elise was almost always one of the finalists in the tournament every year.

Kaori rubbed the sleep from her eyes and hopped in the shower, letting the water run down her back and alert her senses, relishing every tiny little bead of water to splash onto her skin and fill her with indescribable warmth. She loved showers. It was one of the few places she felt at peace and could think, losing herself to deeper thoughts and feelings; separated from the rest of the world simply by the steam floating in the air. Kaori scrubbed her body clean and gently entangled her fingers in her hair, rubbing shampoo and conditioner in as she took slow, deep breaths to relax. She came to terms with the events that transpired from last night, and did her best to put it behind her. It was just a silly night at the club, after all.

Wrapping herself in a towel provided by the hotel, she began to do her usual routine and cleaned herself up. She was reminded once more of how much hard work it was to be a girl. The endless list of supplies and products needed to beautify oneself was long enough to fill an entire book, and most of all expensive. Her skin care alone must have cost over 100 dollars. She put on creams and toners, primers and foundations until she was satisfied with the way she looked. Examining herself carefully in the mirror, Kaori turned her head this way and that, staring at the angles and shapes her face made. She normally felt very confident in her country, she was considered very good-looking there. In Japan, it was desired to be petite and very kawaii, or cute. But people were different here, and she didn't know how she was perceived or felt. Here with the others, it seemed it was much more desired to have more shape and often maturity. It made her question her confidence as she found herself comparing the other girls to herself. She thought about what Marisol and Seeiah said, and looked herself up and down frowning.

"Do I really look like a kid?" Kaori was pleased to see that she had definition and womanly shape to her body, but perhaps not as much as the girls here. She thought about Marisol's curves and larger breasts, Elise's height and lean muscularity. Kaori could only see in herself a short, thin girl with small boobs. It made her feel like just a silly girl with no real things to offer. No womanly things to offer. The last word to describe Kaori was sexy. The words that came to mind for her were things like cute, sweet, and little. Pretty perhaps. But there was a difference between pretty and beautiful, Kaori knew.

Kaori sighed and turned away from the mirror. It wasn't like her to be so negative. Since when did she become this way? This wasn't the happy, cheerful, "Do your best!" Kaori. She tried to smile and shook her head. She needed to stay focused, the race was only in one day. "Shōten!"

Kaori approached her suitcase where a few Korean dramas and magazines had been strewn about, shuffling through her clothes in search of something simple to wear. She decided on one of her usual outfits, pink pants with hearts and stars, a black T-shirt and a pink jacket. Finishing off the look, she tied her brown hair into her signature pigtails, smiling with the outcome. Content, Kaori made her way down to breakfast.

Kaori could smell the strong aroma of food as the elevator doors slid open to reveal the hotel's café, a big sign in elegant italics calling it "Bella's Coffeehouse and Bistro." People inside piled their plates with giant mounds of food, pouring themselves cups of coffee and reading newspapers. Kaori only noticed Eddie and Brodi from the SSX group as they chatted at a table. She helped herself to some pancakes gracefully topped with strawberries and gathered some eggs. One of the first things she had noticed upon visiting other countries, particularly America, was how much food they ate. She couldn't believe the human body could ingest so much at one time, but she saw with her own eyes every bite swallowed in delightful anticipation in record timing. She was shocked when they went for seconds. Not to mention the food was so strange from what she was used to. She eyed some foreign dishes suspiciously and stuck with what she had. Smiling, Kaori seated herself across from Brodi and Eddie.

"Ohayo-gazaimasu Brodi-kun and Eddie-kun!" Kaori beamed with one fork in her hand. She stabbed it into her pancakes and took a bite, delighted to discover it had chocolate chips and banana inside. "Oshii!"

"Oh hey Kaori, what's happening?" Eddie smiled at her, and Kaori could see how tired he looked. Speaking of which, why was he up so early? Kaori knew Eddie was NOT an early-bird.

"Why are you up so early, Eddie-kun?"

"Oh, well THIS guy right here is a real stick up my ass," Eddie glanced menacingly at Brodi, motioning with an angry finger as Brodi smiled guiltily, shrugging his shoulders, "Brodi over here insisted I get up and practice on the slopes with him. Doesn't he know it's inhuman to be up at this hour?! INHUMAN. For real yo. He should be sleeping right now like a normal person like the rest of us."

Kaori giggled at Eddie's angry but amusing antics, putting a hand to her lips and smiled. "Brodi-kun, I never knew you were so mean."

Brodi scoffed and laughed. "Eddie just needs to learn how to come to peace with himself, he's really out of balance. I'm going to help him-"

"Peace my ass Brodi," Eddie fake-punched Brodi and sounded disdainful, but smiled, "I'm all about the love man. But there's this thing called sleep. It might sound foreign to you, but it's this really great thing man that makes a mad Eddie into a happy Eddie."

"You need to learn how to get up and do things Eddie, you can't sleep until three o'clock in the afternoon every day..." Brodi shook his head.

"Dude, I'm running on like two hours of sleep-!"

"-be one with the earth, balance Eddi-"

"DUDE!"

They were shushed by a middle-aged man reading the paper, glaring at them annoyingly over his glasses. "Keep your voices down, people are trying to enjoy the peace and quiet and eat their breakfast."

Eddie put his hands up, "Sorry man." He turned back to Brodi, frowning and lowering his voice. "Anyway, you're as cruel as they come. Is that whole peace thing an act?"

Brodi waved him off, "Eat your food." His attention turned to Kaori. "So, Kaori, would you like to go up the mountain with us? We were gonna practice for a bit and then maybe grab a bite to eat after."

Kaori's face lit up as she finished off the final pieces of her eggs, moving back to her pancakes. "Hai, hai! I mean yes! Sounds like fun."

Eddie shoveled his French Toast into his mouth, giving his approval as he chewed, "Shfweet!" Swallowing, he gave her a thumps up. "Well now I can chill with Kaori instead of this stubborn Nazi. Yeah baby!"

Kaori laughed as Eddie fist-pumped the air and Brodi rolled his eyes. "Are we finished? Let's get up there before it gets too busy."

"I just started eating bro. What's the rush?"

"You ready Kaori? Let's go." Brodi grabbed a reluctant Eddie and began to walk him away as Eddie stared mournfully at the leftover Bacon and French Toast sitting on his plate. Kaori excused herself and went to follow them, preparing herself for an interesting afternoon.

Together they walked through the freshly powdered snow, joking about this and that and discussing the race at Garibaldi tomorrow as they approached the ski lift.

"I am gonna kick all y'all losers butts tomorrow. It's my time to shine homies!" Eddie took a few steps ahead so he could turn towards us and walk backwards, his arms triumphant in the air as his smile radiated reassurance and confidence.

"May Buddha wax your way to victory." Brodi laughed and patted Eddie on the back, giving him a look like Eddie was making a good joke, which made Eddie scoff.

"Yo man! Where's the love?"

The three of them got in position for the lift to come behind them, unclipping one foot from the board and sitting as the chair lifted them from where they stood, rising steadily into the air and emerging into the beautiful countryside of the mountain. Kaori sat in-between Brodi and Eddie, staring at the wilderness in the countless trees lining the snow. "Bea-U-tifol." Kaori tried her best to say, beaming at the site. She had seen it countless times, but it still somehow made an impact on her as her eyes sparkled with the shine of sun on snow.

"I completely agree with you Kaori. It's really something up here, isn't it? Thank Buddha."

Eddie rolled his eyes playfully, "Totally. It is beautiful, just like… just like…" He paused in thought, gazing out with a heavenly look in his eye, "just like her."

Brodi and Kaori stared at Eddie curiously, grinning with amusement. "Like her?"

"Did I say that out loud?" Eddie looked embarrassed but smiled, "My bad."

Brodi couldn't help himself. "You mean Elise, right?"

Eddie looked appalled, his mouth opening in a big 'O' as he furrowed his eyebrows. "What? No way! What would make you ever think that?"

"C'mon, Eddie. We all know it." Brodi folded his arms and smirked mischievously.

Eddie only turned his head away from the two of them, committing himself to silence. Kaori and Brodi laughed to themselves, when suddenly the chair stopped and began to swing.

"SOMEONE MADE IT STOP?! HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN?!"

Heaven forbid.

The trio stopped and stared at the winding path below them, descending seemingly forever into the trees and it gave Kaori a familiar thrill like just before a race. She eyed the path with adrenaline beginning to pump through her veins and felt her heartbeat speeding up. There was a little bit of fear, too, so she tried to laugh it off. She'd think she'd be over it by now. "This is going to be fun, yes?" She looked to each of her sides as Brodi and Eddie nodded.

"Hell yeah baby! I am ready for some big air-time!" Eddie leaned forward, signaling the beginning as he began to glide down on his board. "C'mon, let's get to it!"

Brodi also leaned forward, shortly coming after Eddie and all that was left for Kaori to do was follow.

The wind swept through Kaori's hair excitedly, causing her ears to whistle and fill with the cold air like a sweet kiss that made Kaori fill with delight as she flew through the air gracefully; spinning and flipping off of every jump she possibly could. She was laughing happily even as the rush of air made her eyes tear up with moisture, but she kept her mind clear and focused. The environment flew past her and it made her feel like a bullet zooming through the trees that would not stop until her target was hit; the finish line.

Eddie, Brodi and Kaori glided down the mountain with ease as they all beamed under the clear blue sky up above. Ahead was a large jump approaching, so they all prepared themselves and leaned forward. Upon being launched into the ice-cold air, Kaori saw Brodi do a back flip on his board and Eddie do his signature Worm trick. Glory shone on their faces as they sped through the remainder of the air and cheered as they landed.

"DUDE! Did you see that? DID YOU SEE THAT?! Off the charts!" Eddie threw his arms into the air in triumph and he high-fived Brodi with a loud smack. They grinned at each other and Kaori couldn't help but smile at their energy. It was so silly to watch and this kind of positivity was just what she needed. She giggled at the site as they continued to zoom down the slope. They went around a few bends when suddenly Eddie's eyes lit up. "Hey, I have an idea!"

Brodi looked somewhat surprised but then laughed as he said, "Uh oh, I don't like the sound of that."

Eddie ignored him, "Have you guys ever tried to do a trick with more than one person?"

Kaori and Brodi were a little taken aback. Kaori looked at Eddie curiously, "More than one per-sun?"

Eddie seemed pleased with himself at his idea and smirked, "Yeah, like in the Olympics, when the guy lifts the girl and twirls her around and stuff. You dig?"

Brodi looked at the ground uncertainly and shrugged, maneuvering out of the way of a stray log on the track, "Snowboarding isn't really a sport you can combine tricks and multiple people with. It's probably been done before but that sounds a little dangerous if you ask me. And Buddha."

Eddie waved his arms furiously, "Oh don't be like that man! You gotta go with the flow, try new things. Be one with the earth as you would put it."

Brodi had a confused smile as he scratched the back of his head, "I don't know what being one with the earth has to do with combining a trick…"

Eddie seemed disappointed as his idea was quickly shot down, when his eyes suddenly filled with a small glimmer of hope as he looked over at Kaori. "You'll try it with me, won't you Kaori?"

Kaori suddenly got dragged into Eddie's reckless idea and wasn't sure how to respond. She thought it sounded a little risky but Eddie looked so down she couldn't bring herself to say no. So she simply smiled and nervously agreed. "O-of course."

Immediately Eddie's face lit up, "Hell yeah! We're gonna be getting' some big air-time baby!" Kaori blushed and laughed under her breath, feeling a little embarrassed by Eddie's choice of words. Brodi only shook his head and stayed silent. Eddie continued, "Alright, how are we goin' to do this mad show?"

Kaori gave it some thought but everything that came to mind only ended in tragedy. "W-well… we could start slow and… you could lift me up?"

"Okay, that's a start. There's a big jump up ahead, we could stop there and get in position."

They all flew down a little more down the track until the jump Eddie mentioned came into view. Tilting the board in front of them to slow down, the trio stopped in their tracks and moved off a bit to the side.

"Alright, let's do this Kaori." Eddie seemed like he was having a blast as he anticipated what was ahead, but looked determined as Kaori forced herself to go over to Eddie. She could feel herself getting more and more nervous as she eyed the long drop that awaited them if they were to fall… which was more than likely to happen. Not to mention it was pure ice. Eddie turned his back on Kaori and instructed, "Okay, maybe get on my back? Then you could stand on my shoulders or something?"

Kaori muttered nervously under her breath in Japanese and faced Eddie. She bent down to jump, launched herself and put her arms around Eddie's neck as she roughly landed against him; causing him to let out a loud, "OOF!" as he struggled to stand properly. He grunted and managed to say, "K-Kaori, y-you're holding… too… tight!"

Kaori gasped and loosened her grip which was previously choking Eddie, "Gomenesai Eddie-kun!" She tried her best to climb onto Eddie's back better but her board, still on her feet, hit the back of Eddie's knees and they toppled over into the snow.

"Aren't you forgetting she has a board on?" Brodi began to laugh hysterically as he watched the awkward yet tremendously amusing scene play out in front of him. "This isn't going to work Eddie."

Eddie frowned as he laid on the ground, rubbing his back-side, "Uuhhhgg… that hurt yo…." He forced himself up after helping Kaori back on her feet. "I'm not done yet!" He tried lifting Kaori with his arms this time, managing to lift her a few inches off of the ground after a lot of grunting and effort, but quickly lost strength and dropped her back down. "Why isn't this working? I know we can figure this out man..."

Kaori couldn't help but laugh and flooded secretly with relief as it became clearer and clearer it wasn't going to work. "I am sorry Eddie-kun… perhaps another time?"

"Let go of her, wimp."

There was suddenly another deep voice that yelled out to them, which made Kaori jump. They all glanced over only to see the last person they were expecting, wearing a maniac grin and folded arms.

Psymon Stark.

Thank you for reading. Until next time… Chapter 3: The Note!