Griff Simmons sat in his sponsor's office. His parents had forced him into this meeting, and he desperately didn't want to be there. He was happy just doing his own thing. He taught snowboarding for a while at the ski centre in his town, and that was good. People knew who he was, and they paid more to meet him than the actual lesson, but that was fine by him. He enjoyed people knowing his name, and he enjoyed the girls that seemed to follow around famous folk. He did not want to beg and plead with the leaders of the new Team SSX. What had they ever done for him? Nothing. They mocked him for being so talented at such a young age, and everything he achieved seemed to be meaningless to them. Mac and Zoe were the worst. They considered themselves to be so much above Griff, and so much better that him, so why should he be the one going grovelling to them to be a part of their pathetic little team?
'Ah, Griffin,' Mr Peters, the director of the firm that had previously sponsored Griff's career. Griff simply nodded in acknowledgement of him, and declined his offer of a handshake. 'well, let's get straight to business, shall we?' Griff shrugged, he genuinely cared about nothing less than this.
Mr Peters nervously tugged at the bottom of his suit jacket, then placed his hands on the desk in front of him. He cleared his throat. 'I've spoken to Zoe Payne this morning and-'
'I don't want to,' Griff interrupted him. 'I have no interest in going back to that.'
Mr Peters tried to give him an understanding smile. 'Right. However, the money will be substantially better than what you're earning at the ski centre…'
'I don't care.' Griff answered sulkily, folding his arms across his chest. 'Zoe can take the money and-'
He cleared his throat once more and Griff stopped talking, and simply rolled his eyes.
'Your parents are relying on you, Griffin,' Mr Peters told him seriously. 'do this one last thing and you can go back to doing whatever it is you want to do.' Griff stared at him, waiting for more to convince him. Mr Peters loosened his collar. 'And… I'm sure the team have matured a lot since you worked with them last, and you're older, too… It'll be a nice re-union for you.'
Griff snorted in disbelief. 'Nice reunion?' He repeated with a laugh. 'Yeah, okay, whatever you say.'
'It would be very beneficial for you to take this, Griffin. They're branching out, going all over the world. It would be a really life changing experience.'
Griff raised his eyebrows. 'Life changing? I don't want to change my life.'
'Fine! Alright, I'll do it. But I'm not promising I'll get on with them. If they apologise then maybe it'll be okay, but if they don't, then whatever I do to them is not my fault.'
Zoe hung up the phone after a short conversation with Griff Simmons' sponsor. She stared across the coffee table at Mac. He gave her an awkward shrug, he didn't actually expect Griff to agree! They'd gone to Mac's New York apartment because the next day Tane was getting off a plane from Fiji, after Zoe had convinced him to pack up surfing and join the SSX legion. He seemed like a decent guy.
'What do we do?' Zoe asked him, after all, it was his fault they were in this mess now.
'We just have to let him, yo,' Mac replied quietly. 'not sure there's anything else we can do.'
Zoe sighed and rolled her eyes. 'Great. So that's going to limit the people who actually will want to sign up in the first place! Now we've got Grommet with us, I can think of about a dozen people already who'd instantly be put off by that.'
'Kaori will do it.' Mac added with a small grin. Zoe raised one eyebrow at him.
'You're doing it, ergo, so is Kaori.'
Mac smiled awkwardly. 'No, we're just friends, Zo. You know it ended when she started seeing Sid.'
Zoe smirked. 'Whatever, Mac. She still loves you.'
'If you say so,' Mac sighed. 'either way, she's game.' He paused and observed Zoe's expression. 'For the team. Not for me.' Zoe grinned at him and simply nodded, though she believed none of it.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the mountains of Montana, Moby Jones took the last bag out of his apartment. His and Zoe's apartment. Well, it used to be. She moved out a few weeks previously, when she said she wanted to restart SSX. He'd disagreed, they had a fight, and she left. She emptied her wardrobe, took her favourite board and a photo album she'd kept since the original SSX tour. And that was it. The last time he'd seen her. He'd called, he'd texted, he'd emailed… and nothing. She'd gone completely off the grid. But who was he supposed to call to check on her? They lived above Rob and Bob's board shop on the old SSX course, who was she going to find for miles besides the Lodge owners? Precisely. He'd thought about calling some of the old competitors, the ones she'd be likely to contact about re-joining the team, but he didn't have any of their numbers. Not one single person. Well, that was a lie, he had Nate and Elise's home number, but of all the places Zoe would have gone, Elise's place was the last place she'd go. It was pointless even trying there.
He did wonder about Psymon, though. There'd always been something between them, before he started seeing Allegra Sauvagess. It bothered him, and it always had. That sole factor had been the route of so many fights between Moby and Zoe while they were seeing each other. She and Psymon were obviously in love, even if neither of them would admit it, but then this one time, Psymon had told her how he felt. And she'd completely freaked out, gone crazy, practically had a break down. She felt exactly the same way, but one mention of the word love and she went into melt down. And he'd moved on, just found someone else. Zoe insisted that she wanted to move on as well, that she didn't have any feelings for Psymon besides friendship, but Moby didn't believe her. You can't just erase those sort of emotions, though she insisted that she had. But, he wasn't going to stop her when she forced herself on him. He'd liked her since the first moment he met her, so many years ago, and he was finally getting everything he wanted when he got her. He just wished he had all of her, and that there wasn't a piece of her heart that would always belong to Psymon Stark.
Moby shut the apartment door and locked it. He locked everything that had happened there away. It would stay in there. The best kept secret. He dropped the key off on the desk at the board shop, and left, to go in search of something, anything, out there in the big, wide world.
Across the other side of the world, Psymon Stark stepped out of the rehabilitation clinic in Moscow. He didn't feel "fresh" or "renewed" like they said he would. But then again, people always lie. He knew that. Allegra lied. She said- No. He was not going to take himself back there again. It hurt, and he hated it. It felt all too real to relive it again, even if it was only in his mind. There were scary things in Psymon's mind, and adding a painful memory to them could only spell going back to that hell hole he'd spent years trying to escape from. He was not crazy. He did not belong in that asylum. It had been nearly ten years since he got out of there, but the scars it left in his brain had anything but been erased. There was some sights it was impossible to scrape off the back of your eyelids. He zipped his thick jacket up and started walking. Where? He had no idea. The airport, hopefully. Getting a last minute flight back to the US seemed like the only option, and then from there, he could get a transfer up to Toronto and go home. Wherever that was. He'd decide when he got there.
His phone buzzed in his jacket pocket. He checked the screen before he opened the message; 1 New Message from: Zoe Payne. He swallowed. Zoe… Now that was a memory and a half. What could she possibly want? He ignored it. She was probably inviting him to her and Moby's wedding or something, and if there was one thing he would rather kill himself than do – it was to attend that god awful ceremony. Zoe wasn't supposed to be conventional, they were meant to have things in common. Or at least he thought they were.
As he sat in a cab to the airport, he noticed a billboard advertisement for a dirt biking course. He loved dirt biking. But, a certain Miss Payne had an interest for that sport, and that had put his straight off it. He couldn't afford another drop over the edge of sanity, he'd only just managed to officially climb back over that edge. One little push from a vivid memory and he could just as easily loose his grip on it. There was street biking scene back home, and he instantly set his mind on that. A sport where you had to be totally crazy to take part. Perfect.
Elise opened the email on her laptop, hoping that her face didn't spark any interest from Nate as he sat on the sofa opposite her. He'd disagree. He wouldn't let her go. But she had to tell him – she couldn't just disappear.
'Anything interesting?' Nate asked her casually, briefly taking his eyes away from the TV screen. Elise shrugged and shook her head. Their kids had gone to bed now, and were probably asleep. He'd tell her to think of the kids.
'Sure? Because I got an email the other day from Zoe Payne…'
Elise smiled at him, but she could feel herself getting nervous about the topic. 'Oh?'
Nate nodded. 'Yeah. I said no though – obviously.' He chuckled slightly, as if it would be absurd to suggest that he could ever go back to SSX.
'You said yes, didn't you?' Nate shot back, suddenly his eyes turning dark. Elise nodded, almost ashamed of what she did. 'How could you?' Nate snapped.
'I love snowboarding, Nate, I have to go back.' She told him honestly.
'So do I! And that's why we started the school, or had you forgotten? We did it because we loved snowboarding, but we wanted a family, and we found a way to have both. And now what? You're going to go on this… this death trap with Zoe Payne? A woman you've hated since the very first time you met!'
'Nate, enough!' Elise stood up, trying not to raise her voice, so she didn't wake up the kids upstairs. 'If that's what I want to do, then I don't see a problem.'
'You don't see a problem?' Nate spat back. 'What about that our kids need their mother around? You can't just disappear for six months!'
'I'll tell them where I'm going! I'm not planning to just drop off the radar!'
'You might as well,' Nate said quietly, glaring at her through his nearly black eyes. 'and with these Deadly Descents that Zoe's suggesting – you might just do exactly that.' He threw down the paper he'd been holding, but not reading, and stormed upstairs. She heard the bedroom door slam shut. He'd forgive her. He didn't have a choice. She was going, and that was the end of the story. No ifs, ands, or buts. Elise would be a part of Team SSX.