Caught Off Balance

June 27, 2018:

Danny and Luke spar, talk zen, and then…

19 Gramercy Park South

Danny's sweet basement gym.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The spar has been going on about ten minutes now. Danny's been doing a lot of dodging and avoiding being hit. When he does hit Luke, it's about as effective as punching a concrete pillar. At least - when he hits with his non-glowy fist. He's fast, though, and the big man will find it hard to grapple or land any punches, pulled or no. There's hip hop playing over the stereo, because of course there is.
"You…" he dodges low - lower than one would expect someone of his height to be able to get, then rolls across the floor and bounds up, circling the other, "…telegraph your moves. If you stopped doing that, you'd be even more effective. You rely on your strength too much."

*

Luke is already tired of trying to chase Danny down, so now he stands in relatively one place on the mat and just pivots to face the Danny onslaught as it comes when he's able. Now his arms spread wide so that the billionaire ninja can get a good look at him. "Man, strength is what I /am/." He lowers his hands into a defensive position so he at least looks like a good sport, "And you're like a rabbit on crack." Cage can be fast when he wants to be - you ever see the man run? - but he there's no way he can actively keep up with Danny springing around like that. He leans in and makes a swipe of one paw at that curly haired head.

*

"Strength of the body is not an identity, it's a state. And strength can be used against you." Danny ducks the swinging paw deftly and spins through the air with an acrobatic kick. He lands and moves again, keeping out of arm's reach. There's a sort of fire in his eyes that he only gets when he's fighting. It's not enjoyment so much as it is focus and a sense of purpose.

All of his movement, all of his jackrabbiting about has had a purpose. He's been trying to catch Luke on his off foot, to make him overextend himself and throw himself off balance. He waits for it, and when it comes, he jabs a foot out, grapples his arm and uses leverage to make that off-balance situation much worse, and to direct the man's strength and weight towards the mat.

"You're making small mistakes that can be exploited. If you closed those up with just a little bit of training, you would be that much more formidable."

*

With a whoosh of air escaping from his lungs, Luke finds himself on his back looking up at the ceiling, arms flopping heavily to the mat and his legs crooked and askew. "Ow." He says dryly, though of course it didn't actually hurt anything other than potentially his pride but it's Danny and that's what spars are for, so he's already shaken off that feeling by the time he's rolling onto his side and pushing back to his feet. "Never had to even think about that before. Street thugs aren't really known for their cunning." He cranes his chin to the side, the sound of his neck popping audible beneath the thrum of hip-hop music. "Good thing is, they knock me down, I keep coming."

*

"You and I both know that we're fighting more than street thugs these days." Danny does not let his guard down. He's backed up a few paces, in a balanced and steady stance, hands up. "…and some of those thugs come with extra firepower. Wouldn't you rather be ready to take on more? Besides…if you were coming at me, that throw would've given me time to get away. They don't need to beat you for you to lose."

*

"I know." Luke says in that deep rumble, bringing his hands up again to a boxer's stance. "That's why I agreed to do this in the first place. We had a little bit of melee training for the force, but officers padded out to look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man aren't jackrabbiting ninjas, are they? So what's my tell?" He asks, throwing a punch in slow motion so Danny can examine his form.

*

Danny straightens and examines Luke's form. "You had good form, but you've gotten a bit sloppy. Before your skin, you could throw a hell of a punch but you were worried about getting hit back. Which meant you had incentive to keep your guard up and to keep yourself balanced. Your problem is…" he shrugs and grins that little grin of his, "…you're not afraid of being hit anymore. Because it doesn't hurt."

He inhales sharply through his nostrils and approaches in a way that is clearly meant to instruct rather than attack. He shifts Luke's arm up (with his help, of course - even HE can't make the mountain man move when he's got both feet firmly on the ground.) "Pain is instructive. People with leprosy injure themselves and get infections because their nerve endings have died. You have to remember what it means to take a punch and have it sting, have it wear you down. And then you have to dodge every strike like it would hurt you. Don't let them get a shot in, because you develop bad habits."

*

"Last week a thug emptied his entire magazine into me, I just stood there until he was done and when he was looking at me in disbelief," Luke talks as Rand moves his arm into a better position, "I just walked up to him and smacked him upside his dreadlocked head and dropped him before delivering his still unconscious body to the cops. But I ain't no leper, man." To prove the point, when Danny is in that close proximity, he just thunks out his elbow into the ninjameister.

*

Even though Danny seemed to have dropped his guard, he's ready for that movement. He's dodging almost before the nerves have sent a signal to Luke's arm to move. "Again, that works for the normal thugs who get surprised when their bullets don't work." He grins. "C'mon, man! Don't you want to be even more badass?" he swats Luke on the shoulder.

*

"You are so annoying." Luke says flatly again, but there is a glimmer of humor in his dark brown eyes that Rand should recognize by now, that there's a laugh hidden just beneath the bulletproof surface. "A'ight, fine. Make me badass, sensei." He moves back into the same stance Danny put him in moments before, "But I don't know if you've noticed, I'm a big guy. If you don't see me coming, you're blind." No offense, Murdock. Who actually /can/ 'see' Luke coming from a mile away. "If I'm going to put my full power into a blow, I gotta pull my arm back."

*

"I've seen you pull your punches. If you were out of control, you'd kill people without meaning to. That's a good start. You have body awareness and a sense of your own strength. Tell me…" Danny cocks his head. "Have you ever hit anything with…all your strength?" he looks Luke in the eye, eyebrows raising. "…I mean…really hard. So hard you worry you might hurt yourself, but you do it anyway?"

*

Luke drops out of the controlled position at the question, caught off guard by its content. His eyes roam away from Danny, like he's searching the inside of his skull for the words and deciding how to best assemble them. With his chin jutting slightly up, his lips go partially agape and his tongue toys against the edge of his teeth. "Once. I mean, maybe." His arms swing away from their default position of being crossed of his chest. "When I busted out of Seagate. But I don't know, Dee, so much was going on, who's to say."

*

"A man should know what he is capable of so that he may know how much of his power to apply," says Danny. Those words are spoken in a way that clearly shows he's quoting someone rather than the wisdom coming from him. "I don't…know what this can do…" he raises his fist and it glows subtly from the inside out. "Because I can't do it until I'm in a situation where I need it. But I've tried to push myself, so I know when I'm over my head. If you know where your limit is, then you'll know that, too."

*

Luke's only seen it a handful of times (no pun intended), but the glowy fist thing still is a pretty nifty feat as far as the big man is concerned. In this context, however, it makes him a little wary. "And maybe I need to be really pissed off or in actual mortal danger in order for me to muster up my own fancy chi shit."

*

"Possible. The human body is capable of extraordinary feats under duress. But I'm not talking the-world-is-ending shit. I'm talking about a fight when we're really getting into it and some…" he makes a few swift ninja-moves. "…guys just keep coming out of nowhere. And half of them have powers. And we get cornered." He sounds excited by the prospect, in the way that a young man who hasn't been in many TRULY high-stakes fights can. "Backs against the wall! You wanna know how much ammo is in your pocket. Anyway, what I'm saying is…you ever tried punching a car?"

*

"A car's never made me mad before." Luke says sardonically, with matching expression. "I've gotten thrown through a goo monster, fought a dragon looking thing from another dimension that was pissed off when we broke Jess out of some gem world thing. But even when we raided Fisk's drug prison…" There's a shrug. "But you know I always got your back, bro." There's a pause and sort of an amused expression cracks his serious face. "You wanna go punch a car, don't you?"

*

"Gem…?" Danny shakes his head. "And you guys give me grief about the dragon, and you're talking about gem dimensions?" Huff. But then, "Hell ya, I wanna see you punch a car! I mean…for solemn reasons of benchmarking your power, not because it'd be really cool or anything." Ahem.

*

"Uh huh." Luke says, finally releasing that laugh that was stuck deep in his belly. "And to be fair, I only gave you shit about dragons until I started hanging out with Jess. Now, I shouldn't be surprised by anything." He hitches his head towards the stairs, an obvious invitation. "She's got this friend, right? Straight up Wizard. He's flat out putting a Spirit into the furnace of the new place, so no one can catch the place on fire again. Let's go to the junk yard. If I punch one of your cars, Emery is going to shit Ireland."

*

"Wizards are trouble," says Danny in a suddenly-serious tone. He starts to climb the stairs. "And spirits shouldn't be made to serve. They tend to get kind of angry about that sort of thing. At least, that's what the masters in K'un L'un would say. We were told all sorts of stories about the revenge of spirits when they'd been enslaved by man."

*

"Nah, not enslaved. We're going to make him a nice comfy home and - man, I can't even believe I'm saying this - give him offerings and some sort of altar and keep him happy. Part of me keeps thinking I'm unconscious back at the prison, and this is all some sort of weird ass coma dream. I'd say pinch me and make sure I'm awake, but I wouldn't feel it anyways. Cool to take the bike, or should we grab a cab?" Luke asks as they spill out upstairs and he waits for Danny to lock up.

*

Danny chuckles and lets Luke pass, patting him on the shoulder as he does. "Trust me, man. I've seen weirder. There's a lot more through the looking-glass." He pulls the door shut and the new fancy-ass locks seal the door closed. There's a digital pad beside the door that only has a handful of authorized people on the list. Not his idea, and it won't keep out certain people with powers - but it calmed the Rand board somewhat.

"I think the…" suddenly, Danny's phone starts chirping angrily. There's a flurry of pings and then his phone starts to vibrate insistently. He frowns at it, then pulls out out. His notifications are an absolute mess. The name on the call display makes him frown harder. He answers it. "Hello?" There's a long, protracted silence in which his face gets more and more contorted. "Wh…— slow down. What? How is…— OK. I…" A van pulls up outside with a TV station logo on the sides. Out spills a reporter and then a cameraman. They make a beeline for Danny. He's still standing there dumbly with the phone held up to his ear as cameras flash. "Too late." He says into the receiver.

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