It Was A Rouse

May 14, 2016:

May helps Zee with some training - which entails tennis balls and ice water

New York

Characters

NPCs: _none

Mentions: Aspect

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Zee's back in the gym that Jericho showed her. Call her dedicated or call her a fool, the young mage is well aware that she needs to improve her combat magic - that's what she's started calling it - combining her spell work with the more physical side of things.

Running along one of the beams that span the room in booted feet, the raven haired woman hooks her hands over a beam just up and to the right of her, hoisting herself up and over.


Melinda May stands at ground level watching Zee's progress. She's got a basketful of tennis balls standing by her side, and one tennis ball in hand. The name of this game: Don't get beaned by a tennis ball. Oh, and may put a full quart of hand-churned ice cream in the gym break room's freezer for K'nert. You know, next time he's here.


That's the name of the game, yes. But where as May might be considering that Zee will physically avoid the ball, Zee has other thoughts in mind.

Eyes glowing, black flecks swirling across the irises, the mage keeps moving, trying to make it hard for the Agent to hit her. Her objective, to reach the end of the top beam in the room, without being knocked off.


Melinda May throws two initial tennis balls at Zee, and because she'd planned for this, a third one is aimed above the magician to knock half-full bucket of water balanced on a beam there. And then two more are launched up at Zee.


With a murmur, Zee's magic lashes out, knocking the first tennis ball out of the way decisively, the second is deflected but much closer to her for comfort, as she keeps moving. Right into the cascade of water!

Sputtering, caught slightly off guard, the second third and fourth tennis balls impact, upsetting her balance for a moment as her foot slips on the wet bar and she winces in pain. Thank goodness for her stage training, recovering from the stumble, she lurches to the end of the beam and starts to hoist herself to the next beam - nearly there.


Melinda May launches three more tennis balls at Zee in short order — two of them soaked in ice water — then hefts a messenger bag onto one shoulder and runs to start climbing up onto the various balance beams herself. Oh, and while doing that, she hits a button on a small remote in her pocket, setting a small speaker system to start blaring Marilyn Manson at Tony Stark volume levels.


This time, Zee lets the balls hit wincing with each one, putting her feet under her in a crouch on the beam. She's already wet, the extra water won't hurt … the leather she's wearing might be uncomfortable though.

The blast of music though - that has her grimacing and she takes a moment to recover from the shock. Two more beams and she'll make it…

Glancing down at May as the Agent starts climbing, Zee flashes her a grin and starts moving again, her eyes still glowing and blue energy starting to dance around her hands. The message is clear … Bring It…


Melinda May makes it up onto one of the lower beams, and pulls an odd rope and tennis ball contraption from the messenger bag. Swinging it over her head like a lasso, she launches it at Zee, where the rope and tennis balls spin out into a bolo configuration. She's promptly sending more regular tennis balls after it.


As the bolo whizzes at her, Zee murmurs and magic forms a quick defensive wall of air, catching the contraption and sweeping it away. Now, the young mage is getting serious.

Whereas before, the spell Zee used to deflect weapons was multiple words, she's refined it down to a short one word phrase … as each ball spins at her, the Mistress of Magic gestures with a hand, speaks, and knocks them flying - right back at May, just not overly accurately.

She's about half along that second last beam … not too long and she'll have made her goal, even though she's shaking her head at the music…


Melinda May runs along her own beam closer to the ground and tries one last tactic. Tennis balls are again launched at Zee with others thrown past her. A rope left coiled up on that top most beam starts to slither off of the side.


Magic and physically activity, combined with being wet… and initially cold, just not so much now, is starting to take its toll on Zee. Her momentum is slowing.

Which is one reason she's doing these exercises - to build resilience as much as developing her skill.

She doesn't notice the rope starting to drop, she's so intent on the end of the beam…


She's planned it down to the second. She has to have. May follows Zee, and the moment the mage steps into the remaining coils of the rope she grabs the end snaking past her and YANKS with the intention of causing those coils to snare the younger woman's ankle and very likely knock her off balance. The other end of the rope coil is already secured to the beam's supports, so if Zee falls, she'll be caught from falling by that same snared ankle. Likely VERY uncomfortable, but far less injurious than hitting the floor.


The rope catches Zee ankle, sure enough, and the yank sends the young mage toppling over the edge… there's a 'yelp' of suprise and May can feel the rope go taut until there's a hurried stream of words from the raven haired womans mouth.

May might be excused for thinking that Zee was cursing.

Then the rope slackens as Zee flashes away, to appear on the beam at the top, crouching.


Melinda May starts climbing the rope the moment Zee flashes away, but Zee just might catch a hint of a smile on her face. She's climbing fast, wrapping the rope around her legs and using their strength to climb instead of relying as heavily on her arms.


Zee's still crouching, watching May climb, canting her head at the hint of a smile. That might mean trouble. Slowly uncurling, the water still dripping from her body and blue energy still curling around her fingers.

She's got to get to the end of the beam and given May is about to climb up in front of her, she'd better move! Stepping out lightly, hopping over the rope on the beam, the raven haired woman moves as quickly as she can - she's seen the SHIELD agent move.


Melinda May lunges to grab Zee by an ankle before she can get too far away, still pretty much dangling from the rope instead of on the beam. If she misses, she goes for one last trick, letting go of the beam so she slides down the rope a bit, and letting out just enough of a startled yell that she'll be heard over the Marilyn Manson.


Mays lunge taps Zee's ankle causing her to stumble forward and nearly fall. Balancing, one foot hanging off the bar, she takes a moment to collect herself glancing behind her to see where May is.

Someone can kick her for that later.

Eyes widening as she see's May slip, barely hearing the yelp over the loud music … Zee turns and keeps moving, murming the words of a spell … teleporting May to the end of the beam - infront of her.


Melinda May gets teleported up on to the beam where she wobbles for just a moment as she regains her bearings from the abrupt teleport. And then she steps into a battle ready stance. There's no point in making quips and comments while Marilyn Manson is still assaulting their ears, but the tiniest uptick of one side of her mouth is likely explanation enough.


Zee … sighs and takes up a more defensive stance to begin with and then shrugs, giving May a cheeky grin, the young mage lunges. She's likely to get her ass whupped, so why not go down on the offensive?

She's no master, but it's clear she's had at least some training in hand to hand - nowhere near what Mays had though. Zee does have some, ahem, tricks up her sleeve - so to speak.


Despite their VERY narrow footing, May meets Zee's lunge and neatly turns it into a Judo throw which would have put the younger woman on her back if they'd been on a normal floor. Instead, it ends up with May holding Zee over the open gym floor by her upper arm and the waistband of her trousers.


Zee 'glerps' as she's tossed, eyes still glowing and blue energy dancing round her hands. Strangely, she goes limp in Mays hands and looks up at her - that cheeky grin peaking back through.

With a murmur, the music is quieted … "You know, I could just teleport, right?" and then she speaks again, disappearing from Mays grip and ending up behind the Agent … "Jericho says I need to work out how to cast my spells faster …"


Melinda May says, "And I could have let you fall." May turns to look at Zee. "You're already faster than you were two months ago, but he's right. As close to instantaneous as you can get." She turns and steps back over to the rope. "You also need to be more careful about falling for a ruse like I played on you with this rope." She looks at Zee. "Did you really think I was slipping?""


"Yes, you could have and I'm glad you didn't." Zee watches as May moves and stretches a little. She could use her magic to dry herself off, that she doesn't is likely telling.

"I need to be careful with a number of things…" she points out as she moves "… I didn't attack while you were climbing and I let you get close. Ideally, I would have neutralised you when you started." It's fairly clinical, and not altogether wrong. "No, I didn't. But the strain of teleporting someone and moving myself … it's all practice and something like could well happen when in the field. Maybe not with you."

There's a small smile "I know I'm quicker and I'm getting quicker. It requires work though." which is quickly chased away by a thought "I'm thankful to you and Jericho for helping out… things have changed a lot recently."


Melinda May nods her agreement to Zee's words. "I'd say this training session was a success." She certainly hasn't stopped the younger woman from getting to the end of the beam. She crouches down, gets a good grip on the rope, and starts to head back down to the floor the way she climbed up.


"I'd say so… in more ways than one…" Zee watches as May starts to climb down. Instead of teleporting or taking the rope as the other woman does, Zee skips - more like walks lightly along the beams. At least for her, the training is still continuing - getting up is one thing, now she has to get down.

Once she makes floor level, she reaches for bottles of water and tosses one to May, before taking up a towel and starting to dry herself.

"Thanks May, that was really helpful."


Melinda May catches the bottle out of the air and takes a sip. "So. When do you plan on telling me?" She picks up the basket of tennis balls and carries it over to where Zee is before dumping the messenger bag on top.


Zee turns her darker than before blue eyes on the woman and stops in mopping herself up. "Tell you what, exactly?" she shakes her head and sighs "How I got my magic back, or why I'm in need of new tutors?"

She's not mentioned the changes in her - the darker eyes, the black flecks, the change in wardrobe.

"I'm not sure I know where to start and no one else has asked. A fact … for which I am grateful. There are few that I would speak to about this."


Melinda May looks at Zee squarely. "All of it. Especially why your eyes look like the freckles on an orange cat's nose." And then she starts walking around the gym to pick up all of the scattered tennis balls, figuring it might be easier for Zee to talk if she's not getting stared at.


Zee blows out a breath and starts to gather tennis balls with May, keeping herself busy as she thinks. "I'm not sure I can explain it sufficiently. I'm still working out a lot myself."

The freckles on an orange cats nose? Amusing.

"To get my power back, I had to do something that would show … my willingness to do things. Ultimately, I had to change myself, fundamentally to release the block. I tried to create a dark locus … uh…" She struggles for a moment "something that consumes power for own its own use. Black magic … that's not what happened though and the spell I cast took its own payment."


Melinda May stops with a double handful of tennis balls and gives Zee a long look. She can guess what payment that magic chose to extract. But she's going to let Zee tell the story. You know, in case she guesses wrong. That would be awkward.


Sensing May stopping, Zee looks up and smiles faintly. "It took a piece of my soul and created something." the words are quiet and her blue eyes burn into Mays "I don't share that, May. It's dangerous." Which speaks volume to how much she trusts the other woman.

"It also tore asunder many of my relationships. The Fox … can't be near me now." she speaks quietly as she continues to pick up tennis balls and put them into the bag.

Does that explain her eyes? Maybe … or maybe not.


It explains enough. May drops the tennis balls she's picked up so far into the basket — well, except for the soggy ones — then turns back to Zee. "What else?"


"I used Black Magic, May. There's probably a dozen or more things that I haven't realised yet." Zee considers for a moment and looks at the SHIELD agent "It changed me, as it was supposed to, but my heart… it remains unchanged."

There's a trace of something in her voice. Speaking to loneliness and isolation, maybe not exactly, but close. "My trials aren't finished, either, May. There's at least one test … the unwinnable challenge is next."


Melinda May gets the last of the tennis balls and again pauses to consider Zee. She drops the last of the tennis balls into the basket. "Then we'd better make sure you're as ready as you can get."


"Do you think that's possible?" Zee deposits the last of the balls she's recovered into the bag as she looks to May. "What's hanging on the end of all this is pretty big. I think I can step up to it though." Whether May knows what's ahead for the young woman in front of her or not, she'll get a feeling of how important it is.

"Thank you, May…." the raven haired woman turns to the other and … hugs her.


Melinda May blinks once in surprise, but recovers quickly enough to return the hug. Even Coulson would likely be shocked by this, but that's just too bad. Because Zee very clearly needs it.

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