A/N: Oh my gosh, finals kept me away longer than I thought. sorry for not updating these last couple days, I'd give numerous excuses, but I know you just want to read the chapter so I'll shorten this bit.
The following chapter is my poor attempt at fluff. Please don't throw tomatoes...
Thanks to every single reviewer out there! I'd talk to you all and thank you individually but most of you are guests that don't even have accounts :( Oh well, THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT!
Also, I've put up a poll on my user page. What song would you like the pair to sing next? Lend me your thoughts and opinions, and send me a PM if you have a song in mind that I've not mentioned.
Disclaimer: Crystal mountain is a real place, and I don't own RotG, Frozen, or Dancing with the Stars.
Chapter 5: Slippery Slopes
"Where are we going?"
"I told you, it's a surprise!"
"One that has to take us miles away from the studio? We're wasting time we can sped on polishing the act for the elimination ceremony tomorrow." Elsa refuted in her confusion.
"The one that we've already done fifteen times? I think I'm good." Jack pointed out as he laid back on the leather seats, resting his arms behind his head.
The car sped off down the highway, the road and fellow cars around it lit in harmonizing colors of light blue, fairy pink and bright white from the sky. It was late evening, passed six, and Jack had asked Aster for a favor.
"Oi, you two show ponies quiet down back there or I'm turning this thing around!" Aster called back from his place at the wheel. He wasn't happy to be humoring another one of Jack's whims, but this time Jack had promised him ten days of no complaints or pranks. It had took Aster by surprise, and he'd wondered greatly what would make the boy go to such great lengths to go snowboarding as usual. Then he had heard that he was bringing a guest along for the ride...his eyebrows had rose high and his mouth had opened in a small gape when he found Jack had done it for a girl. Not wanting to miss it for the world, Aster had agreed to take them.
"Here, you'll need this." Jack gave Elsa a hair band and a hat. The warm winter hat was light brown and slightly unremarkable in its bleakness.
"Thank...you... I guess."
"In case someone recognizes us. They'll see the regular old hat or scarf and think otherwise." Jack explained as he put his own over his head. Elsa had to admit, she would have never thought of Jack in a green wool hat with odd purple stripes.
That was what she thought before he put on the glasses.
Wow, that was a difference...she could hardly recognize the shape of the blue eyes around the sun-tinted fake prescription glasses. It reminded her of those movie star clips when famous people wore sunglasses to hide their identity. Except these regular glasses Jack wore made him look more like a bookworm than a Hollywood star or athlete.
"Why not wear sunglasses?" Elsa asked, curious.
Jack let loose a chuckle, a laugh formed briefly before he turned to smile and lower his 'fake regular glasses' at Elsa like they were cool shades. "Really? Sunglasses in Seattle? It makes sense in California, but up here it rains nine months out of the year. It would just scream 'irregular'."
"Oh, all of a sudden you're the weather expert?" Elsa inquired smugly. "Since when?"
"Since four hours ago, had to check if there was rain or not this evening." Jack muttered kindly as he looked through his glasses out the window on his side to admire the colorful sky.
"Which brings me back to the question. Where the bloody hell are we going?" Elsa asked again, her curiosity near killing her. She pulled her hair back and tied it up in a ponytail, since her hairdresser wasn't there to do the normal French braid. She looped the hair into the wool hat before fitting it on her head, a few small puffs of blond poking out the front. She knew she must've looked ridiculous.
"Bloody hell? So you do have some British-isms in you after all!" Jack smiled. "Was wondering why you sounded so American."
"My mother was from Pennsylvania, now are you going to tell me or not?"
Aster pulled the car into park and reached back. "No need to, chaps. We're already here."
Elsa looked out and gasped as she took in the sight. There was so much snow! It covered the expanse of land with a blanket of pure white and clear cold bliss. They were high up, on a mountain...and there were people with sleds, skis, snowboards and ice skates. Families with kids, groups of adults and packs of teenagers all huddled about talking excitedly, some holding cups of hot cocoa. The slopes of the resort could be seen further up, with little dots that were people sliding down the slippery, slick snow.
Jack didn't waste any time getting out to feel the familiar crunch of snow beneath his feet and the bite of a frosty air against his face. Smiling, he turned to address the singer slowly opening her door on the other side of the vehicle. Her eyes wide with amazement, and a sliver of hesitation in her movements.
"They call it Crystal Mountain." Jack said, his bright smile effortlessly contagious. "This is the surprise! I've decided to teach you how to ski."
"Wah-wha-but..." Elsa rubbed her hands inside her coat, already feeling the cold as she saw her breath fog in front of her face. "What about the competition? We've been given one day to use as we want until tomorrow. I'd thought we'd spend it wisely."
"My thoughts exactly." Jack narrowed his eyes with his smile, turning on a devilish smirk that looked rather hot behind clever glasses. Elsa felt her cheeks grow hot, but from the weather or the boy's antics she did not know.
"You...fine. Just one round. Just one! Then we go back." Elsa relented. The boy jumped up and fisted the sky in his victory, making the young woman shake her head. With eyes like those, how could anybody say no to him?
Riding in the gondola up to the mountain was a new experience for Elsa, feeling the pull of her heavy skis hanging low as she swung them back and forth. Below her feet she could see people on the hill, and from this angle looking down it didn't look steep at all.
Children fooled around near the poles holding up the gondola, while parents watched with caring attention from a small distance, laughing at the trouble the kids got into. Over to the right a bit a little girl not four years old was being guided by both hands down the slope, her face turned up in uncertainty with a pout aimed at her clueless parents. Elsa smiled; she imagined what the little one would say if she could: 'Now why on Earth would you guys put me up here?'
"At the top you have to be ready to get off while the gondola's still moving." Jack said from his spot on her left, his rented snowboard strapped to his boots. He had left his signature snowboard back at his place, in case it was seen by sports enthusiasts. The customized board, as Jack had explained to her, was very famous and a big give away.
"I have a question for you Jack..." Elsa began.
"Go ahead, shoot."
Looking at the boy next to her, his glasses replaced with a helmet and snow goggles, or 'visors', as Jack had corrected vehemently, Elsa formulated her thoughts, "Why are you in the competition?"
"Why?" Jack repeated, his head rolling back against the open gondola seat.
That was a good question. Well, he had nothing else to do. There were no winter sports national tournaments this time of year. When his manager and friend, Aster, was contacted by the Singing with the Stars committee he had agreed because it was a tactical advantage to have more publicity and support in the world of winter sports.
Looking at the searching gaze that Elsa had trained on him, Jack knew that was most likely not a good thing to mention. However, he couldn't tell her he was in it to help people with the winnings given to charity. He really was in it for himself, thinking it would be fun. He wasn't even interested in singing at first; before that performance he really didn't care much about the whole thing. Thinking about it now, he realized how selfish that was.
However, Elsa was waiting for an answer. Jack couldn't lie to her. "Er, well...it really was spontaneous on my part. It's not that...that I did it for important reasons. - I guess, I did it for me."
Apparently satisfied at the response, Elsa nodded. "I supposed as much. You care more about your sports than a singing competition, I shouldn't be surprised."
Before Jack could say anything in response, the end of the ride came up in the form of a smooth white ramp going down at a short angle away from the gondola. Elsa got off the seats before the gondola could take her back down in its revolution.
Jack moved a split second behind her, ready to catch her if she fell. On her skis, Elsa had surprisingly good balance for a beginner.
"So tell me, how do I use these?" Elsa pointed to her skis at her feet, clutching tight to the poles in each hand.
"Aim them parallel and angle them sharply when you want to turn." Jack said, glad for the break in topic. Ask him about saying the right things around girls? Oh god shoot him. However, ask him about winter sports if any kind, and he knew what to do.
Elsa's left ski blade slipped when she bent her foot at the wrong angle. Jack reached for her arm but missed, her speed carrying her away from him as she flew down the slope.
"Jack! Jack! How do I control this?!" She screamed, the speed scaring her legs stiff at a straight parallel.
Jack shoved his snowboard down the slope, going after her. The wind caught his jacket, billowing in the cold bite of evening air; the snowy slope a colliding mixture of vibrant color reflected from the sunset, but his eyes were solely on Elsa. The colors danced in golden spirals, crimson glows and purple splashes on her new snow jacket and pants she had changed to at the rental shop down below, her skin the consistency of pearls that shown brighter that the clearest snow.
In his expertise he rode right up along side her on her left, a good three feet distance away so she couldn't run him over on accident.
"Just feel it, turn your skis to slow down."
Elsa tried to loosen up, and she twisted her skis to the left.
Jack didn't place enough of a distance between them. In a jumble of poking pole sticks and jutting ski blades Elsa knocked them both over and they tumbled down the slope in one tangled mess of limbs. The girl's skis slapped underneath Jack's helmet, sliding it off in the flurry of snow...the helmet left behind as they continued to roll down the hill.
Jack tucked her head into his chest to protect her, remembering safety protocols from his days of being taught. Always protect the head, angle out against the downward slope and smooth yourself to a stop. He angled his board against the decline and watched the snow fan out as his breaks worked to pull them to the side.
Breathless, with puffs of fast breathing steaming from their lips, the two slid to a stop on the side of the hill. Elsa on top of him, face in his chest; Jack below her form, back fried from the freezing friction of the mountain snow.
All was quiet for a moment, until their eyes met.
Then the laughter started.
Not being able to hold it in, Jack laughed, his mirth bursting like starlight on the sunset splashed hills. Elsa joined in, her laughter a sweet break away from the small chuckle or smile Jack had seen from her before. No, this was pure, unfiltered, imperfect laughter let loose from expectations and wild with immense joy.
That, that was fun.
They laughed for several minutes, tears coming to their eyes as each tried to get up and failed, falling back on each other once again.
Their laughter abated when Elsa slipped in another attempt to get up and it brought her face down, inches away from Jack's. Their smiles fled in a moment of shock, a moment of closeness, breath mingling in a heated steam of breaths.
Their eyes met and the feeling intensified, heating the skin around Elsa's cheek bones and painting Jack's face with red that could have been a reflection from the setting sun. Elsa saw his eyes grow deeper in their color, a darker blue shaded by the lengthening shadows of the late evening. Yet, it was a warmer shade. A warm and heated expression in the icy terrain of the surrounding mountain.
"What are we..." Elsa whispered, her question unfinished and lingering. Yet instead of pulling back, her face inched down closer. The warmth a mystery to her, and alluring in many ways.
"I don't know..." Jack muttered, his breath warm on the singer's face. He moved forward slowly, their noses touching... Elsa's small button nose to Jack's straight shaped and firm one...before sliding across one another side-by-side as they turned their heads, eyes hooded in this haze of intimacy. Their lips ghosted over one another, the touch of skin feather soft and sweet as silk.
"I don't date co-workers."
Elsa's eyes widened at the realization of where she was, and what was happening. Stumbling back, she fell ungracefully on her butt and shuffled aways a bit.
"I don't date co-workers, you know that."
'Who came up with that rule?'
The cold flood of reality poured into her mind and she fought down the shock of the almost-kiss. She couldn't do this with Jack, he was her student! They were partners! She had to see him on a regular basis, what would this do to that friendship they had going? She'd never kissed anyone before, let alone allow anyone this close to her.
It frightened her.
"I'm sorry um-"
"No it's my fault-"
"I really shouldn't have-"
"No, I was the one who-"
They fell into an awkward silence after their jumbled stuttering. That was until Jack cracked from the pressure and laughed, taking away the pressure, awkwardness, and stiffness off of Elsa's shoulders.
"Can barely form a sentence!" Jack laughed.
The young woman smiled in return, inwardly breathing a sigh of relief. This didn't break their friendship.
When they finally got up, Jack helped her the rest of the way down as the sun fell behind the horizon. After working with the younger kids playing around the resort to make a snowman, Jack started a snowball fight and used his snowboard as a shield against Elsa's frontal assault.
Elsa was out of breath by the time they flopped into the car behind Aster, Jack a sight of happy exhaustion from playing with kids for forty-straight minutes. Aster raised a brow at the pair before driving them back to the hotel they were staying at, the road dark and lit by solitary street lamps.
The day had ended, and Jack was thrilled. He had gotten the Ice Queen to laugh.