Tom Wilkins looked across the aisle to check his first impressions. She was as good looking from the side as she had been from behind. As they had queued for the security check he couldn't help but notice her in front of his sister and Andrea, she had a bottom you could bounce coins off, it was so tight and taut and rounded. Now he was sitting opposite her, luckily Mum and Dad were in the row in front and then Mary and Andrea were in front again. He was sitting beside some old git. But opposite! Opposite was the most beautiful woman, definitely a woman, not a girl, the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, in reality, in mags, on tv or even in his dreams. If his boys mag (which he didn't get anymore) had a scale from 1 to 100 ("Our historical sexiest girls – does Madonna beat Marilyn?") then she was 120 at least. Had he been the analytical, thoughtful adult he would turn into, he would have tried to work out what it was, which parts of her made her so perfect; but he was a hormonal teenager, thinking with his eyes and his groin so that was out. In fact she was perfect because of the combination of traits that just worked, none of her features carried some magic that made them the ultimate in female perfection. Starting below the bottom, her legs were clearly delineated in her leggings, they weren't pencil sticks, they were thin but with flesh and shape and clear (but not overly sculpted) muscle.
As she walked, the leg muscles contracted and expanded slightly. The rippling effect would have drawn your eyes if those peachy rounded buttocks hadn't been rising and falling and swaying all at the same time and pulled your view up to themselves. She had none of the overly emphasised hip rotation or leg swinging that some girls put on to emulate models, her walk was unaffected, unintentionally sexy; which was what made it so sexy. Hips were obvious. His sister's hips (of course he'd noticed) were quite narrow, quite boyish. This woman's were wider, as if saying 'I am a healthy, fecund woman'; not quite what used to be called 'child-bearing hips' (which often meant fat), but heading healthily that way. The waist, where her short shirt pinched in above the leggings, was narrow and yet again not overly, waiflike, narrow. It went in a few inches, enough to emphasise the hips. She had, though he could not see from this viewpoint, a flat stomach, the result of exercise and reasonably good living. All things in moderation her father used to say, and that had rubbed off on her somehow. Her skin was clear from no bad food (well, not much), no drugs (none, ever) or cigarettes (anymore) and little alcohol. But we've avoided the most obvious point that his current view showed him. He could see the undercurve of her breasts, a gentle rounded rising curve which (he imagined) came to a point where her nipples resided and then sloped back to her body in a more direct diagonal. If her hips were not overly emphasised, her bust was definitely more attention grabbing. Not that they had been artificially augmented, they hadn't. They were all natural 39 inch D cups. Big but not big enough for backache. She knew they drew looks (admiring or jealous) and opted to make the most of what she thought of as her best assets (here she was wrong), so her bra lifted and supported them into a most impressive cleavage, which wasn't on view in this instance since she was wearing a tight rollneck jumper.
Her neck was not quite as long as to be called swanlike, just graceful and slightly longer than average. Then we get back to her face; her skin as has already been said, was smooth and clear. She actually wore little makeup (which might also have helped keep the skin in good condition), and her light complexion with a reddened high cheek was entirely natural, green eyes looked out from under long lashes; enabling her to flash looks that quelled many a drunken suitor or fluttered in need of help when she wanted something. A mouth that fell naturally into a near smile that left people unsure what she was thinking and that was how she liked it generally. Her nose was not obvious, it wasn't too big nor too small, it suited her face, with a slight concave to the bridge.
Her forehead was broader than many women, it seemed to indicate (rightly) that here was a woman with brains as well as beauty; and the whole was topped off with long, undyed, very light brown hair. It might have seemed that perfection would demand blonde or raven black or startling red, but no, this very light brown shade complemented her skin colour; both blonde or black would have contrived to make her skin seem too pale. As it was she had the look of the ideal English lady from a past era.
She was not the kind of woman Tom had jacked off too when he was fourteen, until that fateful day when his Mum had needed to use his computer whilst he was at school and had seen his browsing history. If she had screamed at him it would have been better than the look of sad disappointment on her face when he got home. He blamed himself for not clearing his history. He was embarrassed that his mother had seen his preferences (actually they weren't, 'Pink Slits' catered for many types of user, he'd been mildly disgusted by the images of blokes ejaculating over a girls face, and disbelieving when the girl made noises like this was the best thing that could happen to her), and relieved that she hadn't seen his brief exploration of anal – which culminated in the most horrendous website he'd ever seen of a man being fucked and shitting at the same time. It was so awful he hadn't even told his mates about it (and they had often shared the sites they'd found). His friend Jes was gay, but he couldn't imagine any normal person, gay or straight, would want that!
The next most embarrassing event occurred that evening when his Dad was sent to 'have a word with your son'. Embarrassing for him and his Dad. The fact that made it more embarrassing for Michael Thomas Wilkins, though he didn't let on, was that 'Pink Slits' was the website he regularly used. That 'chat' had been awful for both of them; very hard to discuss porn sites access without discussing porn; what was acceptable for a curious 14 year old, what was acceptable sexual behaviour? It had been excruciating for both of them.
Rev. Armitage Shanks had, surprisingly, been far more use. Fate sometimes gets its gears in action to ensure things happen in useful circumstantial order. So it was that a week later at the after-church youth group, Rev. Shanks had got the boys separate from the girls. The girls got to discuss what was acceptable, how far should they go, whilst the boys were given a talk and discussion on web porn. He talked unembarrassed and factually. He explained how what was seen was often not normal or expected behaviour between loving couples, and how expecting it from a girl could mess up relationships. He explained how peoples brains actually altered as they became addicted (and he stressed it was an addiction) to what they saw; and how that addiction – just like any other addiction – required stronger and stronger doses. He was willing to go into unexpectedly graphic discussions (some parents were a shocked when they heard, but then those same parents would have been shocked by what little Mike or Dave or John were actually viewing onscreen). Nothing was off the table. The result was that Tom opted not to view porn anymore, rather touchingly it had been the comment about 'how would feel if you discovered your sister on a website?' that finally convinced him, not the statistics on sex trafficking. He got to realising that these pretend schoolgirls or models or lesbians or whatever were peoples' sisters and daughters and really they were somehow worse than prostitutes (in his mind) because they were pedalling an idea which was totally unreal. At least a whore actually did let you fuck her, these internet stories were just stupid, badly acted and (he hoped, remembering the violent ones he'd viewed) unreal.
Since then he had grown into an attractive young man, or nearly a young man. At fifteen he could easily pass for several years older, his body had reached its full height around thirteen, now it had filled out from scrawny to well-made. Not beefy like the rugby forwards, but no longer the skinny young teenager. He didn't actively exercise, but playing rugby at school, football at breaks and walking the dog for miles at weekends had all helped mould him with muscles and shape. His face had matured as well; if he didn't need to shave too often, there was at least the hint of growth than could disguise his age. His skin still had the smooth, clear sheen of a child, but was overlaid with more solidity, less puppy fat; and he had avoided (so far) the bane of pubescent teenagers, the spray of spots across his face.
He looked over again and found her looking directly at him, reddened and uncomfortable he went back to reading the in-flight magazine. But by the time they landed he had determined on a course of action. The wheels of fate turned just a little. As everybody stood and jostled for position without actually touching each other, he engineered to be several people behind his family. Then as 'she' stood up, so did he, as they stepped into the aisle, he allowed her so slip in front, leant forward and whispered "Excuse me for staring at you, I know it was rude. It's just that you are the most beautiful woman I've ever seen". And that was it. She turned and smiled at him and left. He hadn't expected anything and wasn't disappointed, he just wanted to make amends.
With his sister Mary's friend Andrea coming it had been decided that 'the young people' should have their own apartment instead of sharing a big one. In consequence, Tom found himself sleeping on the couch bed in the living room, whilst his parents had a similar apartment (bedroom with two singles, small bathroom, living room/kitchen). He had been quietly but firmly told not to mess around; apparently his mother still thought he had lustful thoughts about girls. Well he did of course, but what did she think he was going to do? No, he didn't really want to know. In fact it was the two seventeen year old girls who messed around a bit. Andrea came out of the shower that first morning with a towel demurely wrapped around her, comprehensively swaddling her well-shaped bosom, but as she moved back down the corridor to the bedroom it was obvious the towel was pulled up high, revealing plenty of thigh and in fact revealing the swelling at the top of the legs indicating where her buttocks began. Tom had no doubt this was deliberately revelation since it showed plenty and yet nothing. The two girls came back in when he returned with croissants; they were dressed in the thick tights and thermal vest of a recreational skier, the tight fabric allowed the lines (and in Mary's case the colour) of their more normal underwear beneath to show through. Tom found he was very clear about the type and shape of bra and panties his sister and her friend wore. Nothing visible, everything deniable, but everything was clear. A whole week of his sister and her friend in their underwear or less! That night they giggled in the bedroom about whether he fancied Andrea and whether he would fantasize about her. Neither suggested he might wank off to those fantasies, but both thought it (and both found that rather arousing). What they would have been less enthusiastic or amused about would have been what his actual fantasies were as he rubbed his cock alone in his bed. That these dreams involved threesomes with both girls and replicated some of the more unlikely scenarios of the porn he used to watch meant that the storylines were grossly and gratuitously messy. He fell asleep with his hand still on his cock and woke at 7am to see Mary in a pyjama top and panties filling the kettle. "Morning sleepy head, not going for croissants then?"
"Mary, put some clothes on for goodness sake. I shouldn't see your knickers"
"Go on, when we were younger you asked to see my -"
"I was eight!"
"Still, you wanted to see" she laughed and they laughed together. At eight his mother had attempted to answer his 'where did I come from?' questions in an extremely roundabout way which left him confused. His father was no help. Mary the ten year old had taken it upon herself to explain the lot: sex, babies, periods, even sperm and eggs. He wanted to see to understand better, though he knew girls 'bits' were not meant to be seen by boys, even seeing a girls knickers was somehow naughty – a year later he had innocently asked why this was wrong when girls regularly wore brief bikinis on the beach (his mother had gone red then, realising that she had done precisely that on their summer holiday), he hadn't got a sensible answer. The deal came down to her showing him and him showing her (because she'd never seen a boy's bits either). He never told anybody what she'd shown him, but he was briefly the goto for information before the others at school caught up.
Mary went off to get dressed and Tom quickly threw some clothes on before either girl re-appeared. The gear wheels of fate were about to turn to his advantage again. He rushed off for the croissants, and put up with his sister's friend in her underwear again over breakfast. He had to admit, she was pretty. She saw him staring and, though skiing underclothes definitely cover everything, still found it arousing to know she was in vest and tights opposite this really rather attractive boy (who was thankfully in his salopettes rolled down to the waist; his erection was well hidden in the padded folds of his clothing). Her nipples went hard, and briefly, just briefly, she imagined him riding her on that table. That fantasy was hard to shake and grew more solid as the week went on. Even her thick thermal vest couldn't hide the bumps that appeared on her bust. Two clear raised pimples on the top of her breasts with enough strength to raise small mounds on fabric covering her bust. Mary didn't help by saying "Andrea! You'll embarrass Tom!" and laughing. The three all laughed, they were cool, laid back teenagers who accepted this kind of physical statement as entirely natural. At least that's what they all pretended, whilst actually all three, even Mary, found themselves drifting off to a slight reverie on sex before they got ready for skiing.
Last year was the last year Tom had had to stay with the family group. Mum, Dad, Mary and Tom; all skiing the blue runs, waiting for Mum at the bottom as she came down slower than any of them. Every now and then Tom and his Dad would rush ahead and Michael would reflect that Tom was becoming a good, smooth skier. Then one day they were 'let off the leash' as Mary and Maria opted to go back early and relax over hot chocolates at Max's (a chic coffee place near the lower lift). Michael and his son headed for a red run and as they set off down it, they discovered something. Tom was the better skier. As they schussed and turned and traversed, Michael saw how smooth and confident Tom was; he also realised that the steeper slope was taking its toll on his legs, which began to need a rest. Tom was ahead and didn't see Michael stop for a break, he was young, fit, confident and competent, gliding down with linked turns to the bottom non-stop. At that moment Michael realised he wasn't the best skier in the family anymore and felt both pride in his son and jealousy. Tom would continue to improve whilst he knew he was as good as he would ever be, and probably would get steadily worse as age and sedentary lifestyle took its toll.
So this year Tom had been told he could go off on his own, as long as he told them where he was going. Of course that was a vain hope, a choice of a particular run can easily be modified by the sight of an off-piste pathway or a connection with an attractive alternative. But it made everybody feel more comfortable so the pretence was maintained that Maria and Michael were still in charge. Mary and Andrea would go off on their own, that was understood; and Maria and Michael would explore the blue runs together with Michael being given the choice to try harder runs occasionally.
The first day Tom had stayed with them for the morning and then opted for a couple of longer blues that connected across to the neighbouring resort of Bourse-au-Jain and a blue and red back. It had been fun to be alone and ski at precisely the speed and style that he wanted.
This second day he choose to attack Le Pen and the Joie de Vivre, a red run that dropped off a blue on the shoulder of the mountain down a gully that got narrow in places. He swept round a bend, crossed the traversing blue on a flatter part and stopped 200 metres further down on a shoulder overlooking the narrowing ravine. There she was! The girl on the plane! She was standing looking down and then back up. "Hello"
"You were on the plane. Lovely run isn't it?"
"No, it's horrific. I took a wrong turn and only realised when I got here"
"Oh, well, I'm sure your boyfriend will be along in a minute"
"Boyfriend? Oh you mean Jack. No he's my brother, he's not with me, he's with Guy, his boyfriend. That's why we came here, so he could meet up with Guy, who's French and lives in Grenoble. They're off skiing somewhere, or they're..." She didn't finish the sentence, realising that saying 'fucking like rabbits' wasn't the kind of observation you made about a brother to a stranger.
"You look a little worried, can I help?"
"I think I'll have to either walk back up or walk down. I can't do this." She was near to tears. His response was nothing to do with her beauty, he didn't even have an erection. He was just wanting to help someone in need at that point.
"Can you sideslip? We need to get off the shoulder" Slowly he persuaded her to sideslip down to the main piste. He would have happily launched himself down this short, very steep, slope; but clearly that was beyond her. So, carefully, slowly they slide sideways to the main part, then in wide traverses they went down the broader and steeper part until they reached the narrow valley.
"I can't do that. I can't!" She was petrified now, again near to tears, her voice was shaking. He was surprising himself with this calm approach. They were stopped, looking down the slope, it seemed to him that it narrowed and became less steep at the same time (else it would have been more of a black). 'Yes' he thought, 'I can do this'
"I can take you down. Stand still" He edged back, then came behind her, a ski on the outside of hers. Then he took up a wide snow plough and brought his ski poles and hers up in front of her, horizontal, like a bar. "Hold on to the ski poles and push your skis out into a snow plough within mine." She was at that stage of panic where she would either freeze solid or simply obey what she was told. Thankfully it was the latter. Then they set off down the gully, swinging back and forth across the narrow track (and annoying the skiers who wanted to schuss straight down). His thighs began to ache, then to scream, but he held on until he got out the other end and within sight of the café where this run and two blues converged. "Shall we stop for a drink?"
He didn't release her, so Andrea, sitting facing the window saw him in his distinct yellow and purple striped jacket (the proud purchase from an Oxfam shop two seasons ago; it was the only one of its kind and everybody could see why, a fashion nightmare or an ironic statement. It was also a very good, practical jacket as it happened) tightly holding a young woman and steering her to the café. She said nothing and watched as they disengaged from each other. Perhaps this quiet, shy, brother of her friend had some really good chat up lines? He must have hidden abilities if he could persuade a girl to let him that close, he had been practically wedged between her arse cheeks!
Andrea didn't point him out to Mary, and Tom didn't see them. He bought two hot chocolates and refused payment from his new found friend. "I'm sorry, I didn't introduce myself – I'm Tom"
"Tom, thanks. I would never have got down alone. Oh, I'm Chris."
He could see she was older than him, and she could see he was younger, but how much younger? 18 perhaps? In ski clothes it was difficult to tell. They talked and, when she was recovered, agreed to continue skiing together. "Are you sure? I'm sure you want to do something more exciting than blues"
"No, this is fine" And it was, skiing with the most beautiful girl in the world. Hell, he'd have done anything to stay with her. So they arranged to meet the following day.
His parents were pleased he had met a friend. "Don't be daring each other now, we don't want Chris's parents blaming you for any accidents." Tom may have forgotten to mention that Chris was a female, several years older than himself. If there had been a time to mention she'd seen them, Andrea realised it had passed; and she was happy to see how this panned out.
So they met at the ski school meeting place and they skied the day away; mostly on easy runs, sometimes on green (towards the out of the way logcabin restaurant) and once on a relatively easy red. Maria was hoping to catch a sight of Tom's new friend, but she was on the other side of the valley (could it be that Tom had enquired, subtly, where they were going and had suggested the opposite side of the valley). "We're going out for a pizza tonight, do you want to come? I'd like it if you did, I want to say thank you for rescuing me yesterday"
Of course he said yes, what else? Later that afternoon he announced that he was going to have a pizza with Chris. He worded it so he didn't actually say 'his family' but it definitely implied it. No objections raised and a lot of extra euros in his pocket (Mum and Dad, separately saying "here, in case you need them; you should at least offer to pay your share"), he headed out after taking extra care with his appearance (something that Mary and Andrea helped with). Of course the last thing he was told was "We'll have to reciprocate, invite Chris over tomorrow, we were going to go out anyway"
Chris, Jack, Guy and Tom trudged through the snow to 'La Bamba' and as soon as they were in the apologies started. "Oh, look, mes amis. Je suis desolees. I was recommended dis place. I thort it was normal comprend?" Guy looked genuinely mortified that he had booked a table at the only gay bar in the resort. It hadn't occurred to him that his friends would naturally think he would prefer this.
"Oh, it's fine" responded Tom, quite genuinely curious at how skiers, famous for their somewhat outlandish and loud clothing, could become even more loud and outlandish if they were gay; but they managed it!
"No, we should move on somewhere else. Sorry Guy. Tom will get propositioned every five minutes here." Which was also true apparently, a handsome, ear-ringed man wandered over, said something in German and then realised that Tom was with Chris. He tutted and walked off.
"I don't mind, honestly" said Tom again, embarrassed and flattered all in one go.
"I think" said Chris "I think that Tom and I should find somewhere quieter and you two should stay here and dance the night away. It's fine, honestly. Don't worry Guy, I believe you."
So it was settled, Tom and Chris walked down the main street and randomly turned off, finding a small quiet pizzeria away from the centre. They had a pleasant dinner with wine (Tom was too young, but no-one seemed to mind). Ordering Gorgonzola and Walnut pizza Tom was told "wow! I'd better have something with garlic then, so we both smell." 'Would they be close enough to smell each other's breath?' he wondered. Over conversation their respective ages became clearer and both agreed that the age gap was too big for this to be anything but a friendship "I'm too old for your really aren't I?"
"No, you could never be described as 'too old'. I'm too young"
"That's sweet..." she kissed him on the cheek, which perhaps isn't the best thing to do to emphasise a platonic friendship with a 15 year old boy, but they did seem to understand each other. He'd had girlfriends, on and off, since he was 10. He'd had proper girlfriends, ones where there is an element of sex involved, not real sex, just kissing and fumbling and stuff, since he was 13. But this was the first real, proper date. Not going to the cinema with a box of popcorn or having a walk in the park. No this was the quiet table for two in a corner, the whispered conversations and easy laughter. Yes, he knew it was an impossible relationship. She lived in Manchester, he lived in London, she was 10 years older than him. But just for this one night, it was like he had moved on a step, to a romantic evening for two. He was glad Guy had picked a gay bar for their meeting. The wheels of fate had turned an unpromising situation into a winner.
Tom walked her back to her apartment like a real gentleman, or (as Chris put it, laughing) like a possessive chauvinist pig. "I'm such an empty headed female I've probably forgotten where I'm staying" she joked, but happily put her arm in his nonetheless. The stars were clear, the crescent moon shone out and the ice crystals glittered in the air. Okay, so the alcohol helped, the evening was one of those perfect memories to be savoured for many years.
"Oh, Mum and Dad said I should invite you over tomorrow; we are going out – probably for a pizza"
"S'alright, I like pizza. I'll lose some weight when I get home"
At her apartment she turned and he kissed her on the cheek, she drew him towards her and into a long kiss, his hands strayed to her bottom and her eyes opened a little as he squeezed that 5 star rear. But she didn't stop him, she was too interested in what he was doing with his tongue; damn, he was a really, really good kisser, he had the best control of his tongue of anybody she knew. It was caressing the inside of her mouth, stroking her teeth in a way which was, she found distinctly erotic. This was a surprise; she'd expected to offer him some tips, instead she was starting to get turned on by him.
"Where did you learn to kiss like that?"
"Dunno, was it okay? I've kissed other girls at the youth club, but they never said anything, they just wandered off without saying anything. I thought I was rubbish. I was hoping you'd offer advice"
"My advice is that they were probably in a daze. Tom, you could win a gold medal at the Olympics if this was a competition"
He still hadn't mentioned that Chris was a girl, he knew he should. But somehow never got round to it. That evening it had been too late, the next morning everything was a rush and so the evening came round with only Andrea knowing. He walked into the apartment with Chris and there was just a slight hesitation.
"This is Chris, Chris, this is Mum and Dad, Andrea and my sister Mary"
"Call us Michael and Maria, welcome. Tom forgot to mention you were a girl." His Dad gave him a look which Tom couldn't interpret; it was actually a combination of 'you could have warned us and she's gorgeous'
"Sorry Dad, it never came up"
They walked through the snow, down alleyways "I think you'll like this place, it's quiet and out of the way, not full of school parties I think" and they turned in at the same restaurant.
"Ah, messiure and mademoiselle, you have come back to us, excellente"
Explanations followed and the two felt like regulars as the maitre'd asked if they wanted the same as last night. Tom opted for the gorgonzola and walnut again, with anchovies.
"Urrgh, Tom, how can you be so gross" Mary said
"Don't knock it till you've tried it"
The rest of the party picked more conventional choices and the carafes of red wine helped everything flow smoothly. The two girls opted to go to the 'ladies' together and Chris followed; she could see Andrea was intrigued by Tom, attracted perhaps? Andrea took the opportunity "What do you see in him Chris?"
"Hmm? We really are just friends, he helped me off the mountain. Okay I know he likes being with me, I'm fairly good looking" 'Understatement of the year' thought Mary "but I like being with him too, he's fun. And," she lowered her voice "he's a really good kisser."
"Yes, sorry, you aren't offended are you?"
"No, that's fine ... I think"
Andrea said nothing, she was even more intrigued.
As they left though, Maria engineered to walk with Chris. She'd been polite and chatty all evening, but Chris was another woman and she knew Maria didn't approve, she could sense it.
Maria came straight to the point "You know Tom is only fifteen?"
"Yes. Maria, it's alright, I understand. We really are just good friends. Two people who found they like skiing together rather than alone. That's all. You don't need to worry."
"But does Tom think the same? I'd hate him to get hurt"
"We agreed last night, platonic, that's it. He's a great lad though, I like him"
Maria moved away, not entirely convinced but at least a little happier. After all this was just a skiing holiday. Michael on the other hand was finding that walking behind Chris was not a good place to be, her sexy walk and tight jeans gave him thoughts that were not appropriate for his son's girlfriend (or girl friend, whichever). Later that night the thoughts became the father to the action as he invaded his wife's single bed and with stiff skier's limbs proceeded to roger her senseless. He hadn't come three times in one night for many, many years. Maria suspected the reason for the sudden interest but decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth, particularly when he went down on her; the first time in 15 years. He found the thought of licking out the hole where he'd seen his two children emerge, bloody and messy, was just too disgusting and he stopped. Now he was between her legs and bringing her to a most satisfactory conclusion; his new found enthusiasm more than a balance for his loss of skill over the intervening years.
Meanwhile, Michael had suggested Tom should walk Chris back to her apartment, she'd said there was no need, but Tom was of course more than willing to take the opportunity to meet her tonsils again.
Breakfast was a more leisurely affair, Mary and Andrea were quite willing to lie abed and discuss their and Tom's love lives, Maria and Michael had had a lively night and were happy to take it easy. Only Tom was up and ready to roll. It had snowed, the skies were clearing, it was set to be a perfect day.
"Today's the day!"
"Today's the day, the conditions will be perfect by about 11am. I'm going to do Rue Noir" Rue Noir was a black run that ran from the top of the mountain, down the neighbouring precipitous valley rather than the more gentle, forgiving slopes of the main resort. It ran from the top almost all the way as a black to the main lift station. The ridge separating this valley from the main resort had a restaurant with a magnificent view of the slope and the skiers tumbling down it, and the helicopter collecting the remains. The helicopter visited at least once a week, whilst the skier ambulances regularly collected people with lesser injuries, such as broken legs, concussion, and the like. Michael took a deep breath to forbid this foolhardiness, and then realised that actually Tom was quite capable of doing it. "Dad, do you want to come along?" That was nice of Tom, he was implying that his father had the skill to tackle this monster, which Michael luckily knew and accepted he did not.
"No, Tom, that's okay. One of us needs to be walking at the end of the holiday" he laughed and hugged a worried mother "Relax Maria, he'll be fine. We can watch from the Roche Café."
As they left, Michael had a quiet word. "Son, if it looks too steep –"
"Relax Dad, I'm in no hurry to hurt myself. If it looks outside my competence, I'll come back down" And Michael believed him, he was beginning to reassess his son as a young man rather than a boy. Maria, he knew, would take a little longer.
A couple of easy runs with Chris and then he headed for the climb up. Chair lift to the plateau, then Chris went up the 4 person lift to ski down to Roche, while he continued up the 2 person lift to the high red and black runs, and then the old tow to the very top.
His jacket stood out at the top, where a group were standing around building up the courage to drop over the edge. In the café Maria commented to Mary "He's only doing this to show off to her ... oh, hello Chris!"
"Actually Mum, I think he's doing this to prove something to himself. If he succeeds he'll feel great..."
" ... and if he fails I'll be one those telling him he was a bloody fool" Added Chris "I even tried to dissuade him this morning. I can't bear to look, it's vertical!" And it did look vertical from their perspective, and from Tom's.
"Are you sure that's him?" Asked his mother, hoping that he would appear in the café with a jaunty smile and a comment explaining that he decided against it.
"Mum, nobody, not even a homeless man, would wear that fashion disaster" it was probably true, this jacket, which marked him out in any crowd, with its purple and yellow and being too long and all, was not the kind that the well-dressed middle-class skier (or even the first timer) would deign to wear. It got him noticed. Like now. A mile away and his family could see him on the edge. They couldn't tell what he was thinking of course, so they each filled in that part themselves, and here there would have been a meeting of minds if Maria and Chris just knew it. Because they were both thinking 'he's hesitating, he's going to turn round in a minute; good.'
Tom was looking down the cliff that was the start of the run. He'd gone past the 'shit I'm not doing that' stage; now he was planning his route, carefully. A couple of gung ho snowboarders leapt into the unknown and crashed out on the first mogul. From the chair lift it had seemed that the moguls had gone, and they had a bit, the gullies had extra hard packed snow (or ice where the sun hadn't reached them), in the accessible parts the piste bashers had taken the tops off. But a piste basher can't fly and this slope was way too steep. A trio of individuals set off at an angle to the slope and followed each horizontal gully; even so they increased speed alarmingly and shouts of "woooo" and "oh shiiiittt!" could be heard. A gap in the small queue of people signalled it was time.
As they watched, a small purple figure launched himself straight down the slope, gathered pace rapidly and, rising to the top of a hummock, turned seemingly expertly and smoothly on the top. On the hill there was a constant commentary running through his head.
"Weeeee, now concentrate, here it comes, ummph and turn! YES! Now down and round and up and turn and round and DAMN missed it, keep going, look for the next, too fast! TURN! Yes, let the slope lessen a bit, now down again and AARRGGHHHH!"
A skier who clearly fancied himself more than the slope did had come flying down, ignoring his responsibility to avoid skiers below him, he had clipped Tom's skis. One ski rose in the air as he fought to stay up. He slithered over another hummock and, out of control, inevitably gravity pulled him to point straight down the hill. Speeding up in milliseconds, he was on the brink. "Pull your ski down, yes, now don't panic, now look for a turn, there, yes, damn, okay, try again" The forces on even young fit 15-year-old legs began to tell as he forced his body into a turn. In the distance he heard a voice screaming "Merde!!!!" but he was concentrating too much to pay attention.
In the café, on the terrace the audience gasped as one ski came up in the air. All but Andrea followed him, only she saw, with satisfaction, the explosion of skis and poles and body that was the result of the idiot's near collision. Their interpretation of what they saw varied however, as eye witnesses frequently do. When he had recovered and they were breathing again Michael said "Impressive"
"What do you mean? He nearly killed himself, he clearly can't cope" his mother responded.
"No" said Chris and Andrea together, the Andrea continued "that git clipped his skis. I'm delighted to say he lost it after that, you can see him clambering up to get his ski pole"
"Yes" added Michael "that's what I mean, he was all over the place. I'd have had a job staying upright from that on a red or even a steep blue. He's on a black but he kept his nerve and got it all back again. That's impressive" He swelled with pride for his son. No doubt about it, he'd never get the crown for most daring skier again.
Tom meanwhile, oblivious to all this, was carving his way to the end of the moguls, to a flatter (so just very steep rather than suicidal) part and slowed at the edge and then stopped. He'd wanted to ski the lot non-stop, but sense took the place of stupid pride as his legs begged and screamed for a rest. A couple of squares of frozen chocolate were the excuse. 'For the energy' he told himself.
The run went round in a curve, disappearing from view for a while and when Tom restarted he was lost from view. Speeding up on the broad, though steep, slope, he put in some dainty turns with the tips staying straight down the hill. "Yeeha!" was what he shouted, and came round to stop suddenly when confronted by a school. He was sure they were all better than him, but the instructor was being long winded so Tom set off again. He saw the group later, lower down, and was pleased he was better than most. 'I wonder how they got onto the slope' he mused as he was sure some of them couldn't have started from the top.