The Dragon Talk

June 24, 2018:

Claire Temple becomes the latest to hear Danny's "Immortal Iron Fist" speech.

19 Gramercy Park South - Rand Residence

It's hella big - especially for Manhattan.

Characters

NPCs: Ana the Housekeeper

Mentions: Luke Cage, Daredevil, Emery, Six, Jessica Jones

Plot:

Mood Music: Missy Elliott - Work It


Fade In…

Post-river incident, Danny was whisked away behind a PR firewall after a stop in a private hospital room. The Rand insiders gave Claire less trouble when they realized she was on the steering committee for the community centre. That already necessitated signing some non-disclosure agreements. So, she at least doesn't get drilled by them. She does however, get an email a few hours later with a list of talking points should the media contact her.

An invite comes to Claire a few days later asking if she'd like to meet. A set of GPS coordinates are attached that leads her to the prestige address of 19 Gramercy Park South.

A cleaning lady greets Claire at the door and shows her into the mostly-empty manse. "Mister Rand is in the basement. He said you could join him."

It's through the expansive gourmet kitchen and past a few closed doors before she finds the staircase down into the basement. Hip-hop is playing at ear-bleedingly high levels - but not quite loud enough to disguise the sound of solid strikes. Despite his recent brush with death, the young man is in good form, it seems. He's wearing loose drawstring pants and a gray t-shirt. He's barefoot, and currently kicking the shit out of a punching bag. The strikes seem timed with the bass notes of old school Missy Elliott.

*

NDA. Talking points. Lackeys. These are things that make CLaire's skin crawl, so between that and the river clinging to her skin? There were a good half dozen or so showers after the misadventure at the pier. And down one pair of running shoes. Working at Rand Enterprises may lead to saving money on food if Emery keeps feeding her, but it's doing a number on her clothing budget.

It's not exceedingly intimidating to approach Danny's house, if only because it doesn't register that the WHOLE house is his - at least not until there's a cleaning lady saying something like 'basement.' Right. This large, 'mostly-empty' manse. The whole thing is his. She sucks in a breath before smiling at the cleaning lady. "Thank you. I'm Claire." Because if there's etiquette about not chatting to staff? She doesn't know it. When they get to the stairs, she asks, "Is there a number to call if I get lost trying to find my way out of here?" Casual, friendly, more at ease with the staff than the bosses.

It may be the Missy Elliott that really puts her more at ease, though. It's hard to be too on edge knowing that eventually she's going to be telling you to hit em wit da hee, or get your freak on. For her part? Claire's in jeans and a comfortably slouchy top dressed up with a couple of hanging necklaces. And new sneakers in the process of being worn in. "Well, at least that answers the question of how you're feeling after the fiasco in the river…"

*

The cleaning lady identifies herself as Ana and she smiles kindly at Claire's quip. Then she returns to her work of tidying up.

The 'basement' is not exactly a rough concrete affair. It's a fully-finished space that's been turned into a gym that looks nicer than your average dues-paying dojo. Danny is in the middle of a punch punch, kick combo when Claire enters. He pauses a kick mid-stride, then (seemingly) effortlessly swivels and neatly places the foot on the ground. "Claire! HEY!" he's shouting over the music. "Oh, sorry, sorry. Volume to one-third!" he calls out. A smart speaker chirrups and the music dips to coffee shop level.

*

Claire Temple sets down her super (not) trendy accessory du jour - a medical bag. While Danny's healthy glow is currently more metaphorical than literal, it's still in full display. But full fledged gym means exercise benches, and that means a place to sit! Claire wanders over to one that's out of range of leg sweeps and the like, the better to let him keep up his activity level if he wants. "Does it double as a dance club on weekends?" She braces her hands behind her, the better to lean back slightly and assess him for a moment. "You're feeling alright then? No rashes, no cough? No other strange symptoms?" She tries not to look down at his hand when she asks that last question.

*

Danny grabs a water bottle and takes a swig, then mops his forehead with a towel. He smiles a little, "I had about six showers and…I don't know how many shots." He looks at a spot on his arm. One of the injection sites is still a little red. "My lungs are a little raw, but I find it feels better if I work out." Which doesn't make a lot of sense, but then, there are a few things about him that don't add up. "You? Did the PR department give you a hard time? I told them not to."

*

"And just think, you can go back for more shots in a couple of week! Though we can probably do those at the office and I can submit the paperwork for you," Claire suggests. The laid back smile tightens as she spies the red spot. "If that doesn't go down in a day or two, have me stop by and check it. You didn't end up with any open wounds did you? If not, hot baths with a couple of drops of eualyptis oil." There's also something muttered under her breath -

*

"Or a steam room. There are probably only three of four in here somewhere." But after that mild daily bemusement at the wealth of it all, she's got that warm, easy to talk to expression on again. "The PR folks were just doing their job. I don't love it, but I understand it. I'm fine with avoiding my fifteen minutes of fame as long as possible." There's another sly little look towards his hand, just a quick thing, and back up again. "So nothing else out of the ordinary? They didn't have concerns about exposure to anything unusual?"

*

"No, no open wounds," says Danny. His smile is good-natured and a little dopey. "Oh yeah, there's a steam room…" he points vaguely to the back of the basement. "One in one of the ensuites too, I think." He thinks.

"Claire, you saved my life. Thank you. Are you okay? I'm uh…I'm thinking I should take some swimming lessons."

*

She can't stop her hand from coming up and smacking her forehead whe nhe confirms the potential multitude of steam rooms. At least she's grinning at him when she pulls her hand down. Shaking her head, but grinning. "You know if you ever sell this place I'm going to be trying to talk you into using some of the profits to do even more with your philanthropic efforts, right? If they ever set up Occupy Gramercy Park…"

When he brings up saving his life, though? Claire shrugs a shoulder. "I'm doing alright. You pick up a lot of lessons from listening to the EMTs talking about their job. I'm just sorry I didn't get in there sooner to get to the driver. Awful or not." She looks down when she says that, residual guilt creeping in before she edges the topic towards what she wanted to ask about. "The only sort of symptom I really seem to have had actually happened before I got in the water, though."

*

"I can't sell this place. This is where I grew up. It's where my father grew up." It's Danny's family home - it just happens to be the largest private residence in Manhattan. "Joy was pressured to sell, too. But I think she knew it wouldn't be right." Or she knew something about the real estate business and that it might be smarter to hang onto it for now. Joy Meachum is equal parts shrewd and sentimental.

He looks around, then back to Claire. "If you know of any worthy causes, just let me know. I want to do good. I just…it seems like most of the people who come to me have some other motive. Some way to make themselves rich and helping other people is a side effect." He shakes his head.

He nods at the mention of the driver. "I think…I think he might have died shortly after he hit the water. I'm not sure there's anything either of us could have done." He worries his lower lip and exhales through his nostrils. But she loses him on the talk of 'symptoms.' He gives her a quizzical look.

*

The family history gives her enough pause to look around the room again. It's thoughtful, and maybe a bit grudgingly respectful. "It's easy to forget that not everyone's family only came here in the last few decades," she concedes. "At least in the circles I'm used to." She pulls her feet up onto the bench as the conversation continues, settling into a tailor fashion for comfort.

There's a skeptical eyebrow raise when he mentions worthy causes, and people wanting wealth. "I'm getting ideas. I'm not sure how much your staff or board would appreciate it, though. Maybe an hour a day on Donors Choose funding a few schools' wish lists…" She shakes it off before she can go too far down the rabbit hole of 'ways to spend Danny's fortune to do good for others.'
She sucks in a breath and then dives in, so to speak. "Before I jumped in, it seemed like I was seeing something. It wasn't headlights, it wasn't the sun glinting off the water."

*

"Oh." says Danny, when she gets to the crux of it. He steps forward and tosses the towel towards a laundry bin. He ruffles his own hair. He looks at the floor, then up at her. Then, he flexes his fingers, and a strange yellow glow seems to pulse from deep inside. His veins light up first, then his whole fist starts to glow. He holds it up and then says, "…you mean this?"

*

Claire Temple watches the glow for half a second before she throws up her hands with a complete FML expression on her face. She'd just gotten comfortable too! She opens her mouth to say something, snaps it shut. Repeats several times before reaching into a pocket to retrieve her phone. When she can think of the right thing? Jess is going to have to get a text about this. For now, though, after a few of those gaping jawed gestures? She ends up waving the phone about and finally exclaiming, "Yes, I mean that."

*

Danny blushes almost as brightly as his glowing fist. It slowly fades away and then dissipates entirely. He flexes his hand. Sure, he could have lied about it, but he's a terrible liar. And that would've seemed insulting to the woman who saved his life. He shrugs helplessly. "I'm um. I'm the Immortal Iron Fist."

*

Claire is still for a beat before shrugging her shoulders and putting her hands up. She's drawing a complete blank there and gets to the blunt part of the question. "The hell does that mean?" Not gracefully asked, but to the point at least!

*

Danny rubs the back of his neck. He doesn't quite toe the ground, but that's the general gist of his body language. "There's…a whole story. But people tend to look at me like I grew a second head when I tell it. But the short version is, I can channel my chi into my fist." Which makes everything crystal clear, right?

*

Claire Temple lets out a long, sighing exhalation as she unfolds the legs she'd just tucked up under her. She takes a second in that interim pose, feet on the ground, still seated on the bench. Once she's on her feet it all has to be real again. But up she goes, big girl pants always on. "Oh, I'll probably look at you like you grew a second head. But it doesn't make it not true. You know that the short version doesn't make much sense, right?"

*

Hands find their way to the pockets of his loose pants. Danny shrugs. "Do you um, maybe want a drink? Ana should be done upstairs by now." He looks up the stairs, then back to Claire. "I can tell you, but you have to decide whether you really want to know. Secrets aren't a lot of fun, especially when they're someone else's."

*

"Does Ana know? Or your other staff?" Claire slides the phone back into her pocket and then steps behind Danny, nodding to the stairs. "After you, though. That sounds like a good idea. It will give me a few minutes to decide how much I want to know." There's a set to her shoulders and jaw, though, a determination that's being geared up. "If it helps? You're not my first."

*

"Emery knows, but no one else," says Danny as he climbs up the stairs. "Oh, um. Owen knows. I don't know if you've met him. Luke, Jessica, M—…Daredevil, Six." Ahem. "No one at Rand. I uh, I'm not really good with secrets, but I understand why it would be good to keep it quiet." He looks around, then at the door. When he finds it locked but not latched inside, that's the cue that Ana has left.

He leads Claire into the gourmet kitchen and opens up the big stainless steel fridge. "What would you like? I have um. Pretty much…everything?" Then, "First…person who has a glowing fist?"

*

Claire Temple is behind him when he lists off the people that are aware of his secret. It makes it easier to hide the expression on her face when he mentions Jessica and M-Daredevil. She focuses on the first name. "I wondered about him. This generation, he says. So if Jessica knows, does that mean you're, well, making use of your abilities? And does trouble follow you as much as it does the others I know?"
Once they're in the kitchen, she leans against the island and tilts her head to try and see what's in the fridge. "Beer. Beer and Joe's pizza. As for the fist, give me a minute. I'm thinking." And she really is, just a quick catalogue of the various people that have ended up on her couch. "No glowing fist. Various other skin variations. Speaking of, have you had that looked at medically?"

*

Danny pulls some kind of microbrew pilsner out of the fridge and holds it up to her questioningly. Whether she wants one or not, that's what he's having, it seems. He twists off the cap and snaps it towards the garbage. Ping! Got it in one.

"Nothing shows up medically. Doctors have been all over me." Or if something did show up medically, he hasn't been told. "It's not a physical transformation. It's a transformation of the spirit and the control over my chi." He leans on the counter and looks her in the eye. "This is where you decide how much you want to actually know."

*

There's a nod to the pilsner, even if it is a bit upscale. It's something to keep her hands busy with. It takes a bit more work for her to get the cap off and once she does, it's something to fiddle with.

Those eyes he's looking in? They're slightly squinched up, rather as if she was in the middle of an ice cream headache. It's the chi that sets off the look. "Well. I already work with you, I already fished you out of the water, and I've visited your house. If knowing your secret or being connected to you is going to be dangerous, I think I 'm already in the fire. So I guess we're back to - what the hell does the Iron Fist mean?"

*

The ninja billionaire rolls the bottle between his hands. Danny purses his lips. "I don't know if it's dangerous, but…" he headwobbles. "…probably more dangerous than if I was just a normal guy?" Helpful.

Then he takes a deep breath. "The Immortal Iron Fist is the protector of K'un L'un. It's another realm. It's where I've been since I disappeared." And his disappearing act is pretty common knowledge. Where he actually was all that time has filled tabloids full of speculation. "It's why I couldn't come back. The way to K'un L'un was closed." He lets those rather solemn words rest for a minute before he adds, "…I punched a dragon to get my powers and shoved my fist into an urn that contained his heart."

*

Claire Temple is just standing there. And leaning. She doesn't really have any excuse to slip, but she still manages to sort of slide down a bit when he brings up 'another realm.' One of her feet just seems to skid out from under her. But she pulls herself up straight again, the better to look very sober as she listens. All the way to punch a dragon. That's when she holds a finger up to pause the story for, well, for as long as it takes her to down the bottle of beer entirely. And walk over to the fridge to get another. Once she's back where she started, she nods to him. "Okay. One note for next time you tell this story. Work up to the dragon and urn heart. You may want to start with 'so in this realm, there are dragons. But go on."

*

No one has ever accused Danny Rand of being a good communicator. He looks a little dismayed at her reaction. He watches her chug the beer like a champ and then go for another. He says nothing until she starts again. "Um. Well, there's…not much more to say? I was raised by the monks of K'un L'un. I trained daily to fight and to protect the city. The title of highest honour was that of the Iron Fist, and I was determined to take that title." If he had grown up in New York, that competitiveness might have manifested in some kind of academic or early business success. But seeing as how he was in a mystical realm…

"Then one day I was guarding the pass, and realized the way was open. I had a chance to come home."

*

"Think of it like this. I moved to and worked in another realm myself. Twice. But to me, that's going from Harlem to Hell's Kitchen and now Manhattan, at least for work." Claire opens the second glass, but she doesn't start drinking yet. Just lets the condensation start beading up. "But none of that came with dragons." Pause. "Until today."

Fingers drum against the surface of the island before she goes on. "So then is Iron Fist like being a wrestling champion? And what were you guarding the pass from?"

*

"Those who would seek to take K'un L'un and use its power for evil." It's all very vague and spiritual, and Danny says it with deadly seriousness. "I felt compelled to come home. I think there may be something here in New York I'm supposed to fight against to prevent K'un L'un from coming to harm." Usually when he speaks, it's sort of halting and aw-shucksing. But there's conviction in his voice when he speaks of his sacred duty.

*

Claire Temple's whole expression is rather furrowed as he speaks. It's a lot to take in. A lot. "Is there a… a wardrobe or something you go through to get there?" She taps the cap of the beer absently against the bottle as they talk. "So you came back because there was something to fight here in New York. But the, the monks didn't tell you what it was?"

*

Danny inhales, slowly shakes his head. "The monks didn't tell me to go. They wanted me to stay in K'un L'un." He sips the beer. "The entrance is in the Himalayas. The way was open when the plane crashed. The monks saved me." Again, matter-of-factly. "I'm sorry, Claire. I know this is…a lot. And it's hard for me to explain to people. It's something that I grew up with as fact, as present. I grew up knowing that mysticism is real and present, and knowing the power of chi. Coming home…it's hard for me to remember that the idea of anything mystic, let alone other realms and dragons, is alien to most people."

*

"It sounds like a movie, or a book." Claire huhs then, lifting the beer for a much more contained sip. "I suppose for you, though, when we talk about strange realms through a wardrobe or books or movies we've all read and seen, it must sound strange too." She straightens up then and smiles after a long exhalation. "Tell you what. I'm glad I wasn't seeing things, though. I'll go sit with this and come up with some more questions, like what you can do with that, and then maybe you can have me over again some time as long as you get Emery to cook."

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