-Psymon Stark-

"Aw, look at the cute little piggy tails!" I leered, beating at the brown pigtails and laughing.

"Yammete, Psymon!" Kaori yelled back, trying to push my hands away.

I laughed. Loudly.

"Lay off Kaori, geez!" newcomer Allegra Sauvagess interjected.

"Or you'll what?" I challenged.

Allegra's eyes narrowed. "Or I'll beat your ass so badly come race time ya won't even know what hit ya."

"A newcomer to the SSX circuit and you think you can beat me?" I asked.

"You're damn right I do." She retorted.

"Hey bro, she already beat your time once on Snow Jam." Mac "Smack" Fraser reminded.

I snorted. "That doesn't count; she didn't rank in the top three."

"Just getting warmed up." Allegra said, smiling dangerously.

"Watashi-" Kaori began, her eyes lighting up.

"In English, Kaori." Mac interrupted.

Kaori looked pensively for a while, fumbling for the right words. "Ano...I won first-u place...is that correct-u?"

Mac laughed.

Kaori looked a little sad. "Does my English-u...etto...suck?

"Naw, naw! It's cute." Mac replied. "Kinda." He added quickly, looking away from Kaori.

Kaori blushed briefly then quickly smiled. "Arigatou!"

"No prob."

"Aww, how cute." I said, giving Mac a playful punch on the arm. Mac was a decent guy...Kaori was annoying.

"Baka!" Kaori taunted, making a face. Her cell phone rang and she picked up. "Oka-san!" She exclaimed into the phone, while walking away from us.

"I don't see why you pick on her." Allegra said. She rolled her eyes and walked away.

I turned to Mac. "Allegra's pretty hot."

"Whatever, bro." Mac replied, lacing up his boots. "She's ten years younger than you anyway."

I grinned. "Right, I forgot. You're into short little Asian twerps like Miss Nishidake."

I saw a quick flush of pink on his cheeks followed by a bright flash of red from having Mac's hat on my face. "Shut up, bro!" He exclaimed, reclaiming the hat he had thrown at me.

"So...Metro City tonight, huh? You gonna challenge Kaori when she beats ya again?"

"IF she beats me, bro...IF! Then yeah, gotta show her who's the dominating force on this peak, know what I'm sayin' homie?"

"You've got a funny way of showing a girl you like her."

Another flash of red on my face as I was thwapped with Mac's hat again.

-Kaori Nishidake-

"Haaa...Sugoi!" I exclaimed as I smiled into the wind, twisting my body midair. I landed firmly on the ground and felt the familiar shake in my knees upon doing so. Allegra called out to me, "Hey Koari! You and me, one and two at the bottom!" I carved right and onto a rail, grinding and shifting to a backside BS 50/50.

"What the hell is she doin', mate?" Moby asked Elise. The blonde Canadian shrugged in reply.

I smiled. This was the shortcut I devised after many runs down Metro City. I flew onto another rail, which led me to another shortcut. Breaking the "OUT OF BOUNDS" sign, I trailed through some thick powder and bypassed another twist of the main path's curve. I veered slightly to the left and positioned myself for a jump that was fast approaching. I hopped up and did a quick mute grab then landed on a bridge. I jumped over a gap and landed on more of the bridge. Sliding down a tunnel, I gained some more speed and once I had taken off on a jump, I was midair, twisting and turning into several combinations involving inverted flips and a 360 rodeo.

"Yoshi!!" I exclaimed upon landing my jump. I was way ahead of the competition at this point and flew over pagodas with ease with performing a Karolicker and flipping off-axis. I continued through the run, entering more tunnels and smiling. Suddenly the distinct sound of carving penetrated my ears. I scowled a little and hopped up onto a downed log that twisted downward.

"Wickeeeed." I heard Mac say from behind. He was gaining on me; he had obviously taken shortcuts of his own. Determined not to lose in sight of the finish line, I used up all the adrenaline I had accumulated. I could not lose when I was so close. I crossed the finish line victorious with Mac following behind me within a second. Psymon followed several seconds afterward, narrowly beating Allegra.

"Good race." Mac said to me, holding out his hand. I took it firmly and we shook.

"Good job-u!" I replied smiling.

He nodded slightly.

"In third place: Psymon Stark!" came the feminine voice of the announcer.

"Hell yeah!" Psymon exclaimed.

"Coming in at second: Mac Fraser!"

"That's what I'm talkin' about!" Mac said outloud to his cheering fans.

"And in first place: Kaori Nishidake!"

"I'm you're numbah one rider!" I exclaimed cheerfully.

"Congratulations to all competitors!"

After the crowds had begun leaving, I knelt down to wax my board.

Mac walked up to me. "You and me, backcountry."

I smiled up at him and nodded. "Hai."

-Allegra Sauvagess-

"So what do you think of Mac?" I asked Kaori eagerly. We were both at the lodge drinking hot apple cider and enjoying some food. I had a good serving of caffeinated burritos and she had a plate of chili cheese fries in front of her.

She looked at me and arched an eyebrow. After some pause, "Eh?"

"C'mon, you can tell me." I urged.

She looked thoughtfully then replied, "Sometimes Mac is very childish, but he can be nice. I would say," she paused to eat a fry, "he is my friend." She nodded as if to solidify the answer.

"But do you like him?" I asked.

She looked confused. "If I said he is my friend then doesn't that mean he is liked?"

I sighed. "I mean...do you LIKE him?"

She flushed a little and remained silent. "I don't know what you--"

"Oh my gosh, you do!" I exclaimed.

"No!" She interrupted. "Mac is umm...ahh...ano...friend only!"

"Awww, come on Kaori." I nudged her a little.

"Ano...maybe a LITTLE..." She said slowly, adding quickly, "but you can't tell him!"

"That's so cute!" I said, laughing. "Reminds me of high school."

Kaori looked slightly embarrassed.

"Don't worry, I won't tell him. You can count on Big Al." I winked.

"Arigatou, Allegra-san."

"It's so obvious he likes you." I said.

Kaori looked up at me. "How so?"

"He's always nice to you. He's a jerk to everyone." She laughed. "But that aside, he's always staring at you. When you enter the starting line, when you're boarding down the slopes, when you're eating your food...like right now." I nodded quickly in his direction where he was looking at Kaori.

Kaori looked up and followed my line of sight. Mac quickly looked elsewhere, but not before my point had been proven.

"He'd probably be even nicer around you if he wasn't hanging around with that lunatic, Psymon."

"Perhaps..." Kaori said. She munched on another fry.

I looked toward Mac again whose eyes were once again transfixed on Kaori Nishidake.

"Girl...he totally likes you."

-Mac Fraser-

"Hey Kaori, glad you showed up." I said as coolly as I could.

She only smiled warmly as she jumped off the plane.

"First one to the bottom wins." I said. With that I leaned forward and let my board pick up speed.

Kaori sped up to catch up to me and I could see her brown, braided hair coming toward my left. Suddenly she carved sharply to the right, right in front of my board. I slowed to a stop and heard her girly laugh as she ripped the snow downward, ahead of me.

I grinned. "Oh no way am I losing."

I sped up and pushed her hard. She spun a little but continued on down, muttering something in Japanese. She took off on one of the snow lips and performed a crazy Extended Play while hovering midair. "Sugoi!!" She landed several feet in front of me. The sun gleamed off her blue and white shirt (which was pretty damn tight on her...tight as in close to the skin) and her baggy khaki pants and her face was bright and smiling. Damn, I gotta tell ya, the chick was cute.

I picked up some speed and caught some air off an edge for a sweet Mahogany followed by a Can Opener. "WOOHOOOOO!!"

An ice tunnel rattled my board and the sounds of hard carving bounced of the walls, but I maintained speed. Coming out of the tunnel, I back flipped once and ended with a Springer before landing solidly on the ground. I was slightly ahead of Kaori now.

"Matte!!" She exclaimed. I had no idea what it meant, but it sounded kinda cute. She continued onward and pressed forward. The finish was coming into view and I continued, leaning forward. Kaori came in from the right and pushed me backward. I spun a little, but the spin gave Kaori enough time to beat me.

"Good job." Kaori said, extending a hand out to me.

"Sure...whatever." I said, shaking her hand quickly.

She looked a little disappointed...I guess I had been kinda rude. What do you expect, bro? I had been beaten by her again just seconds before the finishing line.

"Ano...you raced very well, Mac."

"Thanks." I replied. I quickly added "You too."

"Umm...are you mad that I won the race?" She asked.

I looked at her. She looked worried and her eyes were racking me for an answer.

"Naw." I answered. "I'm upset fo sho...but not mad at you. I mean, we both wanna win, right?"

She nodded. "But you seem a little angered."

"Look, don't worry about me, aight? It'll boil over in a few. Just make sure you race your hardest the next time we race that way when I beat you, I don't feel like it's out of pity, got it?"

She nodded slowly.

-Viggo Rolig-

I quickly pushed backward to avoid colliding with someone.

"Sorry!" I said quickly.

"It is OK." She responded brightly. She eyed me for a moment. "You are new here, are you not?"

"Viggo Rolig...AKA Scanner. And you are?"

"Kaori Nishidake."

She extended her hand. I took it, knelt forward, and kissed the gloved hand. "Pleased to meet you Miss Nishidake."

She blushed a little, but smiled in acknowledgement.

She looked behind my shoulder and waved happily. A Caucasian man with a red beanie and baggy clothing gave her a quick wave back. He eyed me cautiously (almost glaring) and continued down the mountain. We were practicing on the Snow Jam race course.

"Is he your boyfriend or something?" I asked Kaori.

"No, he is my riding partner and my rival. Why do you ask such a strange question?"

I shrugged. "He just seemed a little jealous or something."

She shrugged and got up from her sitting position, motioning to leave.

"Maybe you can show me the ropes around here...being new and all." I said. "I don't really know anyone here except Allegra."

She smiled (rather cutely, I must admit). "No problem-u!"

"Maybe you can show me tonight? At around seven?"

"Ano..." She flushed a little.

"Please?" I asked, dropping my voice a little.

She flushed an ever deeper shade of red. "Sure!" she squeaked.

I watched her ride down and then took my own course down Snow Jam. Suddenly, a shower of snow and a flash of bright orange came crashing to my right.

"Totally wicked!" A female voice exclaimed.

I stopped my board and peered at the downed figure. "You okay, Allegra?"

"Yeah!" She replied quickly getting up.

"You want me to carry you back to the lodge?" I asked jokingly, but with an air of seduction.

She laughed. "Save it for later, the snow's too awesome to miss right now. Allegra flipped up and continued tearing down the track. I grinned for a while and continued on, using a jump to pull of a Frontside Misty and downed trees to gain momentum.

-Zoe Payne-

"Look Griff. I don't care how mature you think you are, the answer is no." I said angrily. "I don't like younger guys...especially ones that can get me arrested for statutory rape."

He persisted. "Come on, babe! I can take you places you've never-"

"Oh hell no. Don't give me mental picture to go along with it. Just leave...NOW!" I snapped. The little blonde-haired pre-teen walked away dejected. I looked for my room number with luggage in both hands and a backpack slung on my back. I walked down the hall distractedly and accidentally bumped into Elise.

"Sorry." I muttered.

She gave me a look of vile contempt.

"What, ya wanna make something of it, bitch?" I asked. "Step up!"

She narrowed her eyes and walked away, tossing her silky ponytail behing her.

A blonde newcomer was coming down my way and gave me the once-over.

"What is this, asshole day?" I asked outloud, glaring menacingly and he turned away, grinning to himself.

"Zoe!"

I turned around. "Oh hey Psymon. Finally somebody I can actually stand."

"Haven't seen you around."

"Yeah, I just got here today." I grinned. "I take it you've gotten an early head start on ticking off Kaori?"

Psymon laughed. "You know me too well, Zoe."

"Don't cause her any SERIOUS damage...got that?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know...sorry mom."

I socked him on the arm.

"Damn! It was only a joke, geez!"

"What have I missed?"

"Just a few races...nothing big. You've got your chance to score some big ones in the freestyle events."

"Sweet." I replied. "So how've you been?"

"Oh the same ol' same ol'. Scaring the shit out of people and whatnot."

"Ya know a gentlemen would ask me if I needed help with my bags." I said.

"Who said I was a gentlemen?" Psymon asked.

I glared. "Bite me."

"Gladly." He laughed as he picked up one of my bags.

"Thanks."

"No prob."

I continued looking for my room. "Room 217...hmm...oh here it is! You can just leave my stuff on the ground."

"Alirghty then."

I peered in my room. "Looks cozy enough."

Psymon laughed a little.

"Don't even think about pulling off stunts like last year...knocking on my door at 3:00 AM just to say, 'hi'..."

He held up a hand as if he were swearing an oath. "I won't."

"That means you will."

He smirked. "Maybe."

"Definately."

"Okay, you win, I will."

I narrowed my eyes. "I'm serious"

"I'm insane."

I threw up my hands in frustration. "You're impossible to get through to!"

"I know!"

-Elise Riggs-

I could feel everyone's eyes on me while I entered the cafe. Within seconds I was signing autographs and being mobbed by my fans. The consequences of being a model. I hurridly ordered a latte and exited out into the snowy outdoors. The ambience of the mountain was disturbed by the sound of cracking wood in the distance. I followed the sounds to a man with a shaved head holding an axe. In front of him was a hunk of wood and next to him was an ordered stack of chopped wood blocks.

"Do you need something?" He asked, stopping his chopping.

I paused and arched my eyebrows. My pair of white rim Channel glasses drifted down on my nose a bit and I was sure my icy blue eyes could be seen.

He interpreted that as a 'no' and said, "Then move along, there's nothing to see here."

"I don't recall you being made the dictator of my actions." I replied curtly.

"Suit yourself." He replied as he continued chopping wood.

He continued to chop wood and silence fell between us. I expected him to ask me if I was who I was...or to say that he had seen my centerfold spread on the last issue of Maxim...or to say that he was a big fan. All men did. But he continued to chop wood in silence. "Don't you even know who I am?" I asked somewhat angrily.

He stopped chopping wood again. "I take it you're the model of the SSX circuit, Elise Riggs?"

"Yes, I am." I repled smugly.

"Good for you." He continued chopping. After sometime, silence had passed and he said, "Look lady, I'm trying to do some work here, so if you could just get moving..."

"Work?" I asked.

"Yes. Speaking of which, I have one of my part-time job to head over to after I drop all this off at my truck."

"Why do you have to work two part-time jobs?" I asked.

"Two? Oh for Pete's sake...lady, I'm working plenty more jobs than that. And I do it because unlike you, I don't have an unlimited supply of Benjamins."

"What's with the firewood?" I asked.

"To keep warm."

"Aren't you--?"

"No I'm not staying at the Ivy Inn like all of the other competitors."

"Oh...you're a compet--"

"What do you think?" He asked while binding the wood blocks together.

"Where do you stay?" I asked. "If you don't stay at the Ivy Inn like everyone--"

"My truck down at one of the trailer parks nearby."

I grimaced.

"Yeah, it ain't a pretty place. Better than freezing out here, though."

I paused before I took out some money from my pocket. "Here." I said, offering it to him.

"Look lady--"

"Elise." I cut in.

"Fine. Look Elise, I've worked this hard all on my own. I don't need your help."

"Please." I said softly.

"No." he replied, getting ready to leave.

"Wait!" I exclaimed. He turned around. What's your name?"

"Nate. Nate Logan."

-Nate Logan-

Vapid types always annoyed me. What was that model's deal anyway? I loaded the mass bundle of firewood into my truck, locked the doors and headed back to the Ivy Inn. The Ivy Inn was about two blocks away from the Pinecrust Trailer Park. I was supposed to meet Griff back at the Ivy Inn and practice a run down Snow Jam for tomorrow's event (a qualifying heat).

"Hey Nate!" Griff's voice exclaimed.

"Hey Simmons." I replied. "Take it you've been sugar happy as always."

"Got that right." He grinned.

"Let's head on up and get this show on the road."

As we rode to the top, I could see a familiar blonde figure in the distance.

Griff tugged on my shirt and pointed at her. "That's Elise Riggs."

I nodded. "I know. We've met. Unfortunately."

"Did she turn you down too?" he asked.

I looked at him weirdly. "I didn't ask her out."

"Why not?!" He demanded, practically jumping in his seat.

"I'm not into the 'I'm-too-hot-for-you' types."

"Don't you get 'excited' when you see her though? Her soft hair...her sexy eyes...her delicate lips...her smooth neck...her supple--"

"Ugh...stop RIGHT where you are."

Griff lauged.

"What the hell do they teach you in school?" I asked.

"One word, my man: Sex Ed."

I probably face-faulted because Griff was laughing like a hyena.

"Time to get off." I said as we neared the end of the lift.

"Huh?" He asked while I pushed off the small mound. "Hey wait for me!" He exclaimed while jumping off the lift. Luckily the snow was close enough to the ground and nothing was sprained.

I shook my head. "When are you ever going to learn...?"

Griff laughed. Suddenly his face froze. "Hey man, how do I look?"

"Short and stupid like always." I teased. "Why?"

He ignored my sarcasm. "Elise is coming this way!"

"Nate, right?" She asked, looking directly at me.

"Yeah." I replied.

She looked at me like she expected me to say something.

"Okay, well...bye." I said.

Griff jumped in front of me. "What he means to say is, 'would you like to have dinner with us?'."

"Griff I don't--"

Elise quickly interrupted. "Sure." She said, giving me a half smirk, half smile.

I sighed and pushed off the starting hill of Snow Jam, Elise and Griff following behind me.