Muscle Memory

November 30, 2015:

Howard asks Natasha Romanoff to help train him.

A Futuristic Gym

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The gym is actually beautifully low-tech, simple and stark. There's not much to it, nor does there need to be: a room perhaps thirty feet square, its floors laid with pads. The only windows are high up and horizontal, letting in light and not much else. For this particular little session, apparently Romanoff wants to keep it simple.

She stands in the middle of the floor, absently fiddling with her hand-wraps. She's already asked Howard to dress out in whatever he particularly feels like training in, and LMDs probably don't need to stretch. "So tell me," she says. "Or show me. Just what do you already know?"

The gym itself makes Howard feel out of place. What's even worse is the fact that he can't wear a suit and tie. He's a man who wears his suit like his son wears the metal suit. That is, as armor and protection from the world. To be rather stripped down in sweat pants and a t-shirt is something a bit odd for him.
"Well, uh. I had basic training back in 1941. And then I went to the gym for most of my life. I jogged. Lifted weights. Swam. But fighting? That's why I hired bodyguards." So why now? That's the question.

"You're aware of your body, then. Of your strength, your reach, your flexibility. I'm going to let you know right now, I don't know what your limits are in your current form. I have a small idea, but…" Natasha shrugs and shakes her head. "I know that you're potentially faster and /much/ stronger this way. We'll be working on hand-to-hand tactics today, obviously; we can work on marksmanship another day, if you want to go armed."
Natasha stretches one arm, then the other behind her head. "If you don't mind my asking," she continues, "why? Why this? Why now? You can still hire bodyguards. If you're worried about vetting them, background checks do pick up most brands of potential asshole."

Howard chuckles softly at that. "Well, uh, frankly? Even if I was well enough to have gone to Sokovia, I wouldn't have been useful. That and, I'd really like to know my limit. I mean, I know them in a scientific sense. I know how much I can potentially lift, how fast I can run. But I don't know what that feels like. I'm worried if I do get in a fight with someone, I'm going to hurt them when I don't mean to."

"Howard…" Natasha puts her head on one side. "I can get you to where we can test your limits and show you how to pull your punches when you have to. It's going to be some time before you're a proper badass, though. It's more than just knowing: it's feeling, instinct. Trusting yourself. We'll work on it. But believe me, you of all people should know that being good at punching people isn't the only way to be handy in a fight."

Howard extends his arms. "Look, I'm not looking to moonlight as a hero. I just want to be able to defend myself so that if I get cornered or my bodyguard gets knocked out, I'm not a liability. I've never been a hands-on kind of guy when it comes to this sort of thing. I know where my strengths lie. And it's not in my left hook. Even now."

Natasha nods once: "Fair enough. Okay. What you're primarily looking to learn, then, is to get out of a fight? Disable your opponent quickly, not necessarily with deadly force? Aikido is what I tend to teach women; it's great for someone with low upper-body strength. That doesn't really describe you. Krav Maga is the usual go-to for people who think their bodyguards might get taken out. It's quick and brutal, all about stopping a conflict as quickly as possible. If you really wanted to go out and fight, Jeet Kune Do is nice for really utilizing the kind of strength I think you have going on. But we don't really know, so… let's start simple."
She turns, walking over to a shelf of equipment at one wall. She returns with a pair of large padded gloves and a larger padded shield that looks like a small mattress. The gloves are first, and they make for big decent targets. "Let's see how you throw a punch. Aim for the targets, please."

"It's all uh…Japanese to me," says Howard as she rattles off the fighting styles. "Most of these styles weren't exactly well-known the last time I tried to learn how to fight."
He steps back a bit and takes in Natasha with the gloves. He frowns. "I apologize in advance. Not for hurting you. I don't think I could do that if I tried. But for how pathetic this is probably going to look. There's no cameras in here, right?" He peers over his shoulder, then looks back to her. Then he puts up his fists. It's actually a pretty decent straight up boxing stance. He starts with a solid jab that has enough force to shake her back a bit. He follows it up with a combination. Pat-pat-pat. And then a hook. Bam. It's not bad technique. Nothing that would foul up an opponent with any real training, but for boxing, fairly solid.

"Howard, I have trained five year old girls before you. You're not going to be that bad." And indeed, her instincts were right: Howard's rusty, but he's not bad. He's going by what he remembers, and though it's pretty standard stuff… "See? What did I tell you. Not at all bad. It comes back to you. Muscle memory," she adds, quirking a slight smile. "Even though it's from your old muscles." Which are dust somewhere; that's a grim thought. "Okay. Keep going. Harder. If I want you to stop, I'll call hold."

Howard has to stop, rock back on his heels and just grin at Natasha for her choice of words there. He raises his eyebrows, but like the mature person that he is, he doesn't comment. There was a time when he would have. And his son would have certainly taken that opening.
He clears his throat, corrects his arms and then swings again. Pow-pow-uppercut. Pow-pow-right-left. The more he punches, the more it seems to come back, complete with footwork. He starts to smile more with every successful punch.

Her eyes twinkle when he grins at her, and she returns the grin. Particularly because he doesn't take it any further. This is the fun of it, though: half the task is teaching the student confidence. Well, and form, technique, instinct, reflexes, and… yes, all right, perhaps more than half of the task is everything else. Still. There's nothing that says it can't be fun.

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