I'm sure some of you will remember this story. I had canceled it a while ago because I wasn't sure what to do with it anymore but then this evening I was watching a Payson/Sasha video on YouTube and the inspiration to continue this story suddenly came to me.
Chapter 1 is already written so you won't have to wait too much for an update, at least for now.
This is kind of an AU story, in the sense that some things are still the same as Canon and some aren't. Payson broke her back the year before time-canon, at her first senior Nationals. Kaylie became the number 2 and Kelly Parker is still the National Champion.
What happened to Payson in the second part of season1, first when they said to her that there was no hope for her to return to do gymnastics again and then the surgery and then all the struggle to regain her strength and power again, already happened. But since she had more time to return to be the gymnast she was and since there was no Sasha to tell her that she could become an artistic gymnast, she's still a power gymnast (for the moment at least).
This chapter is set immediately after Payson, Emily and Kaylie went to Denver to talk to Marty in the episode 1x02 'Where's Marty'. All is still the same as in Canon, except for the fact that Kaylie placed first at the Nationals Trials and Payson second.
Lauren won't be part of the Rock Team for a while - she will stay in Denver for now - but she will be mentioned from time to time. She will have a more important role after Nationals.
Disclaimer: I'll say this only once. I don't own Make it or Break it, If I did I would have found a way to have Sasha and Payson end up together, maybe in a Post-Olympics future. I don't gain any money by writing this story.
COACH EMERGENCY CALL
"It's so easy to get lost inside
a problem that seems so big at the time
it's like a river that's so wide
it swallows you whole"
(So Small By Carrie Underwood)
Payson was lying on her bed, looking thoughtfully at the ceiling. She had just returned home after having spent the last three hours in an impromptu road trip to Denver. Of course the expedition had been a complete failure but they had to try. They needed to know why their coach had left all of a sudden and without warning, this close to Nationals. Not that they had received an answer. Because she didn't buy in the least that he had left because of his career. Denver Elite was not better than them, she knew it, Marty knew it. Even if they had Lauren now, they still weren't the strongest team. The Rock was. Kaylie was the second best gymnast in the Country and last year she had come very close to beat Kelly Parker, and she was the favorite to win Nationals, this year. And even if Emily had just got here, she had beaten Lauren fair and square. And Payson was sure that she could beat her again at Nationals. Emily just needed to have faith in herself and her abilities and she was going to be a great gymnast. And what about her? She had come back to train against all odds, after a fall that should have been the end of her career. In spite of it, she was here, almost a year later, her back completely healed, her power and strength back, and she was better than ever. It was why Marty's sudden defection just didn't add up. It was fairly obvious that something must have forced Marty to leave, or someone. One thing was for sure, it was pretty strange that one day Lauren lost her spot in the top three and it just happens that the next, both Lauren and Marty suddenly joined Denver? That wasn't a coincidence. It couldn't be. Was it possible that somehow Lauren's dad and Lauren were behind it all? Was it possible that Steve Tanner blackmailed Marty somehow? But most importantly, if that was true, what was it that Steve had used to forced Marty to leave? What was it that Steve had against him?
Still, whatever the reason, they couldn't do anything about it now and anyway, that was not the biggest problem they had right now. They absolutely needed a new coach, and not just anyone, they needed a good coach, one as good as Marty. Problem was though that coaches as good as him weren't that easy to find.
And then, suddenly, Payson remembered a picture, a picture in a magazine, a magazine Kaylie was reading just that evening. There was Marty in this picture, Marty with a medal around his neck, during the Sydney Olympics. But he wasn't alone. There was another athlete that was sharing the podium with him. There he was, standing on its highest step, in all of his glory, Sasha Belov.
Sasha Belov, four times Olympic Gold Medalist, the only one who ever beat Marty, and one of the best coaches in the last decade, if not the best. So yes, coaches as good as Marty weren't easy to find, but if there was one coach even better than him, that was Sasha Belov.
Problem was he had disappeared altogether from the gymnastics world five years ago, and no one knew why. If only there was a way to find out where he was and to talk to him.
She looked at her laptop, resting on her desk. Maybe…
She sat up suddenly and moved from her bed to sit on the chair in front of her desk. If there was even one chance to find him, she had to try. Of course there also to take into consideration the fact that he might not be all that interested in getting back into gymnastics or coaching them. But she preferred not to think about that and instead concentrate all of her energies in tracking him down.
She tried searching on the net for recent news about Sasha Belov but she couldn't find anything. Huffing, she began searching for newspapers' archives from five years previous but the only news she could find was about an accident in 2005: a Romanian gymnast had died after hitting her head in a fall from the Uneven Bars. Unfortunately, even if that explained in some way the reason why he had abandoned the team he used to train, it still didn't help her in any way to find out where he was.
It was of course possible that he was still in Romania or in England, but something told her that there was a good possibility of him being in the States.
Now, how to find him? She tried entering his name in the search engine and wrote "residence" beside it.
After three pages of absolute rubbish she was ready to give up when she saw an article of an old newspaper. It said that Sasha Belov had been seen in the vicinity of Cambria, in California, and that there were rumors about a house he possessed there. Nothing specific, nobody knew exactly if that was true or not because nobody has ever seen it. Still, it was something.
She decided next to try on the phonebook of Cambria. She obtained no results with the name Sasha Belov. But there was an Alexandru Belov.
She decided to try the number. This was the only possibility she had. If that was not the right number, she was going to stop her research. She took a deep breath, before typing in the numbers.
The phone was ringing but nobody was answering. After six rings someone finally picked up.
"Hello?" the voice was definitely that of a male, his accent a British one.
'Oh, my god. It's him.' For a few seconds she said nothing but after the second time the voice on the other end of the line said "Hello", she finally answered.
"Are you Sasha Belov?" she asked just to be sure. "The four times Olympic Gold Medalist?"
"Listen, if you're a reporter, let me tell you something: I don't know how you got my number but I don't have any intention to…"
"No, no… I'm not a reporter. I just had to be sure. And anyway you're listed in the phonebook."
"May I know who you are?" From the tone of his voice it was obvious he was irritated.
"Yes, of course. My name's Payson Keeler and I'm calling from Boulder, Colorado… I'm sure you don't know who I am but…"
"I know who you are Payson Keeler."
"You do?" asked Payson, a little bewildered.
"You're the athlete who broke her back at Nationals last year and then came back to train after just a few months, overcoming an injury everyone thought would be career ending. So, why are you calling me?"
She shook her head, still surprised that a gymnastic legend like him knew who she was, then finally started talking again. "Uhm… I don't really know how to say this… You see, our coach left us without a warning and went to train the Denver Elite Club, and took Lauren Tanner with him too and all the athletes from 4th to 6th.
"So, you see… Nationals are eight weeks away and the Rock has no coach and… well, I think you know why I'm calling you now…"
"I'm sorry Miss Keeler but I left the Gymnastics World many years ago and I have no intention of going back to coaching… I'm sorry if you wasted your time and energy in trying to find me."
"No, no, wait. I don't know exactly what happened in Romania that convinced you to stop coaching but I know one thing. You were a great gymnast, but you're an even better coach, and you can't just stop doing what you do best just because of an accident that happened years ago. I'm sure you feel responsible and guilty for whatever happened to that girl, but I'm sure it wasn't you fault. Accidents happen all the time in gymnastics, and I know it's really tragic but it's the risk of doing what we do. And I know that it's probably none of my business, but hiding away from the world isn't the solution and it won't fix anything.
"Listen I wouldn't have called you if it wasn't important. We really need you. We're not going to be able to do it without you. Please just… call me if you change your mind, ok? Goodbye, Mr. Belov."
"Goodbye, Miss Keeler."
She hung up, a little defeated. It wasn't exactly what she had hoped but on the other hand, she always knew it had been a long shot. She didn't exactly expect him to accept just like that. Well, she had tried at least.
Still, what was going to happen now? Their situation seemed really hopeless.