There's nothing like a fresh coat of snow blanketing the hilltops in the morning, just waiting for you to make ski tracks in it.
But first, the top of the hill must be reached. Because, as we all know, to ski down something there must be somewhere to go down to.
Unfortunately, I've never been very good at getting on those stupid ski lifts.
I shift nervously from foot to foot while I wait in line, occasionally shuffling along behind various families and disgustingly cutesy couples who are also in line in front of me. After about five minutes, the line dwindles, and suddenly I'm in the clear to hop onto the bench and get transported easily and efficiently up to the top.
But nooo. Things that good can't happen to me.
The lift bumps against my legs, buckling my knees, and I barely fall back onto the seat in time. Then, as it moves up, up, up, I start slipping. I mean, I wasn't really seated completely on it to begin with, but now I'm sliding off the edge. My heart pounds in my chest as I grab the side of the lift, holding on for dear life as my butt slips toward the side of the black seat.
My legs, almost all the way off of the seat, pull me down with the weight of the skis that are inconveniently attached to my feet, and I plummet to my death.
Oh, wait. Those handy things called hands? Yeah. They're still gripping the lift.
But my hands are incased in soft, slippery gloves.
Not to mention I'm dangling in midair, God knows how far off the ground. So I do the only thing I can do.
At first it's an incoherent, garbled, panicky shriek, which subsides into, "HELP! STOP THE LIFT!"
"Look, Mommy! There's some boy falling off of the lift!" I hear a little girl shout from below me. I glance down quickly, and nearly lose my already failing grip as I see that I'm, like, a hundred feet off the ground...
I knew I shouldn't have gone off on my own today. My parents told me to come with them, my little sister, and my grandparents to see the quaint little ski town we're staying in on winter vacation.
And my words were, "It's my senior year, Mom. I'm not going to spend my whole winter break with you guys while we wander around the town like tourists and go to boring old plays."
And you know what Mom said?
"First of all, Luke, there are more tourists here than actual residents. And honestly, you are just bound to get into some sort of trouble." She sighs, and then continues with, "If you want to go, I don't know, get yourself killed on a ski slope, then go ahead. But please don't get mad when I say 'I told you so'."
Can my mom see the friggin' future?
Luckily, before I know it the lift is moving backward, and in a matter of seconds two of the lift's operators are helping me down.
My legs tremble as I slide carefully to the icy ground. Once I'm safely off of the lift, they start asking me questions in amused tones.
"Yes, yes, I'm fine," I say with gritted teeth. "Okay, can I try this again?"
One of them smirks and helps me onto the lift, making sure that I've got a firm grip on the railing so I won't go flying again.
The lift starts up again, and at the annoyed looks I'm being giving I'd say that my little accident gained me several new enemies. Scowling and muttering about sarcastic employees, I wait for the lift to take me up to the top.
I'm faced with a new problem.
I have issues getting on these lifts. I also, unfortunately, have difficulties with the dismount, too.
I take a deep breath and hold it, leaning forward so that I probably look like I'm about to launch myself into a pile of snow that's behind the runway.
Of course, even though I look over-prepared, I manage to stand up too soon, which just results in the tip of my ski getting stuck in the hard-packed snow when I try to step out of the way. With the ski now firmly stuck, I try to dodge the bench that's coming up behind me, and I trip. So instead of getting off of the lift gracefully, I'm sent sprawling flat onto my face, one ski still stuck in the ice.
I hear a bunch of laughter, and some annoyed groans, before the lift's noise stops. The operator must have stopped it. And sure enough, someone comes over to help me up. I roll onto my back once my ski is unstuck, and then glare up into the amused face of the lift operator.
Oh my God. The lift operator is hot.
Yeah, it's not a girl. Being straight is just so passé.
And damn, I chose the right time to fall off of the ski lift.
"Are you okay?" cute lift operator asks in between muffled laughs, pulling me up by the arm and getting me out of the way of the line of fire for the lift. He presses a button in his little operator station, and the lift resumes its normal course. He saved me from the vicious skiers on the lift behind me, who surely would have just slid right over me, and I instantly love him.
"Yeah." I brush myself off, trying to see if I'm sore anywhere.
"Is this your first time skiing?"
I take in the guy's appearance. He's wearing black sort of skinny corduroy pants and a plaid jacket with the stripes all in different shades of blue, and it looks really warm. His dark brown hair is shaggy, but his bangs fall sleekly across his forehead. His hair looks so soft...He glances up at me with strikingly blue eyes from beneath his bangs.
Ohhh man...he's, like, the hottest thing I've ever seen. And he doesn't look like he even tried.
"Hello? You okay?" cute lift operator asks, waving his hand in front of my face.
I blink and nod. "Sorry. Um, no, I've skied before. I'm just...not very compatible with the lifts."
A grin spreads across his face, and he flips his hair out of his eyes. "I noticed."
I scowl at him, glad that I'm not paralyzed. Then, I sneak a peek at his jacket to see if he has a nametag. Nope.
"Are you the kid they had to stop the lift for about ten minutes ago because you started to fall off?" nameless, cute lift operator continues.
I sigh dramatically. "Sure. Just rub it in."
He snorts. "You're lucky the lifts can go backwards, or else you would've had to hold on until it go to my end of the line."
"Oh, yeah. Lucky me. I knew it was a good thing I met that magical genie while I was at the ski rental shop," I say sarcastically.
He furrows his brow, staring at me in confusion. "What? A genie?"
I shake my head, and my dirty blond hair falls into my eyes. I shove it back impatiently and roll my eyes. "Never mind."
"Okay...," he says slowly, still looking puzzled. "So, what's your name?"
"Luke. How about you?"
"Seth." Hmm. It fits him. "You from around here?"
"Nah, my family lives a little bit south of here. My grandparents are just outside of the state, we met them halfway for vacation."
Seth leans on the counter that holds a wallet, a clock, and a few buttons that must control the lift. He sighs, staring at the clock.
I take in the ski boots and skis leaning against the side of the operator booth, realizing that I'm still wearing my own skis. I probably look ridiculous.
"Where's your family?" Seth questions after a few moments of silence.
"I dunno. Wandering around town, seeing a play." I shrug. "Didn't really want to go with them."
Without tearing his eyes from the clock that's close to saying noon, Seth says, "You really should check out the town. Even though I live here most of the time, I still think it's pretty cool."
I feel guilty suddenly, like I've insulted one of the townspeople by saying that I didn't want to go explore the ski town.
Then I absorb the rest of his sentence. "What d'you mean, you live here most of the time?"
"I come up here for winter. I asked my parents to homeschool me so that I don't have to worry about switching schools when I stay with my mom here. I just love winter, and Blueridge is a lot of fun," Seth explains.
"Oh. Are your parents divorced?" I ask hesitantly, not wanting to get into a touchy subject but still feeling curious.
"Yeah. Dad lives in East Oaks, south of here."
I perk up suddenly. "East Oaks? I live just outside of there."
Seth laughs a little. "Small world, huh?" His eyes dart to the clock again. "Hey, I get off shift in five minutes. If you want, I can show you around town. We can get something to drink at the café at the bottom of the slope and then go down Main Street."
Hot guy actually wants to hang out with me, the awkward, clumsy, ski lift-challenged weirdo he just met?
"Cool. You wanna wait here, or ski down and I'll meet you at the café?" he asks.
Not wanting to embarrass myself further in front of him with my less than amazing ski skills, I say, "I'll meet you down there."
"Okay. Keep an eye out for me." He gives me a little wave, drumming the fingers of his other hand on the countertop. The clock ticks on, and I wave back though he's not looking anymore.
Sighing, and trying to keep the huge grin off of my face, I shuffle out to the top of the slope. After a few starting shuffles, I start to slide easily down the slope. The wind whips past my face, reminding me why I should have actually listened to my mom when she told me to wear a scarf or something to cover any exposed, sensitive skin.
Within minutes, I'm at the bottom of the slope, sliding to the side and skidding to a stop. I take my ski pole and try to jab it down into the hole so I can get my boot out of the confinement of the ski.
I press down on the hole, trying to release my foot.
It doesn't work.
I try again.
Groaning and deciding that this isn't my day, despite meeting the hot lift operator, I stab the hole with the pole again. Haha, hole, pole...I viciously poke the hole once more.
"Arrgh!" I cry in frustration.
The swooshing sound of skis on snow meets my ears, and Seth slides gracefully toward me, coming to a stop next to me.
"Need help?" he asks, looking like an Olympic skier or something.
I stab the hole again, jerking my foot up like that'll help. But the boot is still attached to the ski, and all I succeed in doing is nearly gouging one of Seth's eyes out with the tip of the ski.
"God, you're hopeless," he says, rolling his eyes and taking his own skis off. He presses down on the button on my skis, and I yank my leg up again. Only this time I get thrown off balance, because somehow Seth has the magic touch and my ski decided to release my foot.
I fall backward, one foot flailing up in the air and the other still attached to a ski. This other ski catches in the soft white snow, and I land painfully on my back at an awkward angle.
"Oof!" I grunt.
Seth starts laughing, holding his stomach like he's getting cramps from laughing at my pathetic-ness.
"Shut up!" I whine.
"Sorry, sorry," he chokes out. He presses down on the button on my remaining ski, and kicks it out of the way. He holds out his gloved hands to help me up, and I jump up with a little too much force. He's really strong, and those two things combined cause me to go falling against his chest, throwing us both to the snowy ground. This time, we both land with an, "Oof!"
"Sorry!" I exclaim, though I really don't want to move, since he's quite comfortable to lay on...
"You're quite clumsy," he observes.
I put my hands out on either side of his shoulders and push myself up off of him. "I'm aware of that, thank you."
He sits up, twisting to the side so that his back cracks. I cringe, and then hold out a hand to help him up.
"Let's not overdo this one," he says, and he actually winks at me before grabbing my hand. His feet scrabble over the snow, though, because the patch that he's trying to get traction on is pretty icy. As soon as he can get enough leverage to stand up, I slip, and he falls back again, pulling me down with him. I land sideways on his stomach this time. The positions that we keep winding up in must look slightly bizarre.
"Okay, okay, one more time," he wheezes. I must have knocked the breath out of him.
I roll off of him, pushing myself up off of the ground again. Seth follows my lead, and we're finally both on our feet.
"Well then." I brush myself off, glancing over at Seth, who's putting on a pair of sneakers. He shifts uncomfortably, brushing off the seat of his pants.
"Yuck. My pants are soaked through," he complains. "Thanks a lot."
"Sorry," I apologize. "You wanna grab hot chocolate and then go get a change of pants?"
"Sure. My house is just up the street. I can meet you back here."
"I could come with you," I offer. "I'm getting a feeling that if I promise to meet you anywhere else, I'll wind up getting murdered or something."
He smiles. "Okay. Hot chocolate, and then I'll change."
While he waits in line to order our hot chocolates in the warm café, I tug off my ski boots and change back into my worn-through Vans.
"Here," Seth says, handing me a piping hot cardboard cup with hot chocolate. I shove my stuff into the ski locker and follow him out to Main Street. We kick at the snow on the ground, acknowledging the friendly townspeople as they greet us left and right with, "Good afternoon"s.
"It's this blue one here," Seth tells me, pointing at a small but modern-looking house on the right side of the sidewalk. He pulls out a lanyard with some keys on it and unlocks the front door, letting me in and then shutting the door behind us.
"Nice place," I observe, taking in my surroundings.
We kick the snow off of our shoes, and then he leads me down a hall to what must be his room. He has a strobe light in the corner of the room, there are posters of some mainstream bands that I love up on the walls, and it's really messy. I love it. While he takes out a clean pair of pants, I look at the pictures on his walls and dresser. There are a lot of him and some girl with red hair, hugging and smiling. I feel my stomach sink. I had forgotten that just because I'm gay, it doesn't mean that this hot ski lift operator is. This is probably his girlfriend.
"That's my sister," Seth says from behind me. I glance in the mirror in front of me and see that he's already changed into dry pants. I turn around and let my eyes dart toward the rest of the pictures.
"Oh." I clear my throat and hesitantly ask, "Do you have a girlfriend?" Wow, could I sound any less nonchalant?
"Nope." He grabs a hanger out of his closet and then adds, somewhat quietly but still casually, "I'm gay."
My heart skips a beat.
Pinch me again, please.
"You are?" I manage to say, just barely avoiding a squeak.
Seth smiles wryly. "Yeah. Why? Does that freak you out?"
I shake my head quickly, nearly getting whiplash. "No. I-I'm gay, too."
We stare at each other, gorgeous blue eyes meeting dark brown ones.
"Really?" he asks dubiously.
"Mhmm." I pause, smiling a little. "Maybe I should rephrase my question. Do you have a boyfriend?"
"No, don't have one of those, either." He grins, rolling his eyes. "You?"
"Single power," I say, feebly raising the roof.
He laughs a little, and we just stare at each other. Hmm. Maybe this will work.
Seth coughs, taking a sip of probably cold hot chocolate. "D'you want to go?"
"Hmm? Oh yeah. Yeah, sure."
When we're back out on the street, our shoes get soaked through quickly by the fresh white snow. I sip my hot chocolate and will the warm liquid to spread all the way to my freezing toes, but that's not likely to work.
The town of Blueridge is like one of those porcelain, miniature Christmas villages that you can buy at the Hallmark store. Every store is old-fashioned, cozy, wooden, and adorable. There's even a PacSun and a Starbucks nestled in the mix, but I hardly recognize the stores due to the exterior. It's like walking through a bunch of log cabins, all decorated for the holiday season. Trees line the sidewalk, frosted perfectly in glistening snow and adorned with sparkling ornaments.
"Okay, I feel kinda guilty for not coming out here with my parents. But at least this way I'm with someone who knows his way around," I say, breaking a comfortable silence.
Seth tosses his empty hot chocolate cup into a trash can and smiles. "I have gotten lost around here at night, actually."
"I get lost so easily. I seriously have no sense of direction or anything, and I'm paranoid about getting lost...scared of kidnapping and shit," I mumble.
Seth nods. "Me too."
"We have a lot in common," I observe.
"Well, sorta. We both ski, we live sort of in the same area, we're both afraid of getting lost, and we're both gay," he lists off, holding up fingers to accentuate each similarity. "What year are you in school?"
"Same. Okay, five things in common, basically." He eyes me warily. "And where are you going with this?"
I shrug. "Nowhere particular."
"I think you are," he says, his voice lightly teasing. "Don't lie."
We walk further down the street until we come to a stop at an ice rink. A huge tree, frosted with snow, is growing- or just temporarily set up- behind the rink, and there are lights strung through the dark green limbs.
I sit down on a bench and sigh. "Okay. Maybe I think you're cute."
Seth sits down next to me, close enough that our thighs are touching. "Just maybe? Because I was going to say that I do think you're cute."
I let my eyes meet his dubiously. "Really?"
"Yep. You couldn't tell?"
"Well then. Now what?" I ask. "Are we...is this gonna work?"
Seth pulls my gloved hand into his own. "I think this is part where we forget about how this is gonna work out and we make out in front of the pretty tree instead."
He makes the first move, leaning toward me and gently pressing his lips against mine. I smile against his mouth, bringing a hand up to touch his cheek and applying a little more pressure. Our lips move together, and I can't believe that suddenly I'm kissing a guy that I met because I fell off of a ski lift.
We break apart, and I glance around for the source of the voice. My grandparents, parents and little sister are standing there by the ice rink, gaping at me.
"Uhh, hey, guys," I say weakly. Seth tenses next to me.
"I thought you were going skiing," Dad says suspiciously. Grandpa gives me this odd look, raising his eyebrows.
"Do they know you're gay?" Seth asks quietly. I nod, and he relaxes a little.
"Did you lie to us?" Mom asks, her voice rising a little. "If you wanted to spend time with someone, you could have told us. I wasn't aware that you had met someone..."
"No!" I say defensively. "I went skiing, really...I just had a little...mishap."
"A mishap?" Mom questions, still disbelieving. Grandma shakes her head, mumbling about "teenagers".
"He almost fell off of the ski lift, and then when he got to the top of the hill he really did fall off of the lift," Seth pipes up.
Mom shakes her head. "I told you so." Her eyes stray to Seth, who brushes his dark hair out of his eyes and stands up, pulling me with him.
"I'm Seth Watson," he introduces himself, shaking the hands of all four adults. "It's very nice to meet you."
Huh. I realize with a shock that I didn't even know his last name until now.
My parents smile at him, and then they seem to have an epiphany. "Watson?" Dad asks.
Seth nods hesitantly.
My parents laugh. "Are you Laura and Andrew's son?" Dad continues.
Seth's dark eyebrows pull together. "Yeah. Do you know them?"
"Andrew and I work together," Dad supplies. "I didn't know that he has a son."
"Well, he does."
I breathe a sigh of relief. We're sort of familiar with Seth's family. Maybe there's hope that we can last outside of vacation...
"So what are you doing here?" Dad asks.
"My mom lives here. I stay with her during the winter. I work at the ski slopes, that's how I met Luke," Seth says, giving me a smile and squeezing my hand. It feels like I'm confessing to my parents that I went off and got married in secret and now we're telling stories about how we met. But I don't really care.
"He rescued me from the wrath of vicious ski lifts," I add.
Mom rolls her eyes, and my grandparents laugh. "You never were the more coordinated boy," Grandma says.
"So you're...okay with this?" I ask, gesturing between Seth and myself.
"As long as your little fall off of the lift didn't hurt you," Mom says, always worried. I shake my head, and my family nods.
"It's perfectly fine," Dad says supportively.
"We'll let you two go back to...whatever. Be back before dark, sweetie," Mom says, and she herds my family away from the bench that we sit back down on.
"That went well," Seth observes. I kiss him a little harder than before.
"Very well. I'm still alive."
Seth kisses me again, quickly and softly. He grins, and I tilt my head to the side.
"What?" I ask, puzzled at his amused expression. He rests his forehead against mine, and I realize exactly how physical we're being, considering the fact that we just met today and we're in public. But once again, being with Seth makes me not care, and I just want to be with him. He squeezes my hand again, and then answers my question.
"You picked the right time to fall off of that ski lift."
A/N: What did you think? I honestly had a dream about a boy who falls off a ski lift, and then when I woke up my mind finished the story completely. I was like, "Oneshot!" and I flew to the computer and typed this. I love Seth and Luke, I think they're adorable...And I'm so in love with their characters that I almost want to continue this, if people like it. Please leave a review!