The Iron Fist, Ladies and Gentlemen

October 31, 2018:

Colleen calls on the Merit Center for a job, and she meets the Iron Fist, enemy of the hand… dressed as a Power Ranger.

Merit Center


NPCs: Various Merit Center folks.

Mentions: Luke Cage, Bakuto

Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

It’s Halloween, and Colleen Wing has nothing keeping her tied to Chikara Dojo. Young people are off embracing the mischief-making tradition of the season and her adult learners are enjoying a weekday night of drinking and then the regret the next day. She had inclinations for neither, and has confirmed that Danny Rand will be at the Merit Center. At least for a little while.

She enters quietly, hands in the pockets of her tiger-embroidered windbreaker. She glances over the front room of the community center and then steps in that long, quiet gait to find the first person who looks like they are part of the center.

“Excuse me,” she says in her soft, reserved voice. “I’m looking for Mr. Rand.”

The halls of the Merit Center (that the board is trying to get Danny to rebrand as The Rand Center) are decked out for Halloween. The former four-floor office building has been converted as a space for the Center while construction continues just a block away. They're hoping to have administration moved over there before the snow flies, but the programming will likely stay in this temporary location until at least after Christmas.

A hurried woman with a clipboard overhears what Colleen says. She stops and checks her watch. "He should be upstairs in the studio. His class is just about to let out. But you better not be a reporter." Something about the grin in her voice suggests she doesn't actually take her for a reporter.

There's an elevator, but it has an 'out of order' sign on it. It's two flights of stairs up to where the paper signs on the wall direct people to the studio. It isn in fact, a former open plan office converted with mirrors on the wall and mats on the ground. Tiny 'hi yas!' can be heard before she gets closer. A sign outside the door indicates that 'Little Ghouls Karate' is in session. There's a cluster of parents outside peering in, holding small coats, a few pointing phones towards the room.

Inside, Danny, dressed like a Power Ranger (a red one, minus the helmet) is leading about a dozen kids in costumes through a very simple series of moves. There's a tiny ghost, a tiny Iron Man, several princesses, and a little girl ninja who seems really into it.

“Huh. No. Not a reporter.”

It is all Colleen says as she steps off after the directions she’s given to finding Danny. She is heading up the flights of stairs like a woman used to elevators that are out of order. She steps lightly, almost bouncing as she moves.

Then she enters the studio, or at least gets into the frame. She is stopped at the sight in the room, and she blinks in surprise at the sight of the kids and the… Power Ranger. She glances back at the parents and then back inside, and then she steps back. She decides to wait, out of the way, despite almost entering without thinking twice. She smiles almost awkwardly at some of the parents, up-nods in greeting, and then she waits with her hands back in her pockets.

"Good good, now Eileen…I mean…Hermione," Danny corrects himself and indicates a little girl's costume. "Higher, like this!" He snaps his leg up. The little girl tries and fails in the cutest possible way. "All right! OK, good job guys!" He runs down the line and high-fives each of them. "OK, go get lots of candy!" And then he kneels down by the small Iron Man. "I heard a rumour Ms. Leona at the front desk has bags of chips. You just need to say the secret words. Ready?" He leans in and whispers something. The little boy giggles. "All right. Go on now. Go ask Andy the password!" He points and the kids giggle and chase after the little Iron Man who turns around and makes repulsor noises.

When the Iron Man goes flying past, Colleen watches him with a tilt of her head. Then she glances up toward the door, waiting until the last kid filters out and is collected. She breathes out a slow exhale, pushing off the wall, and stepping back into the doorframe. She knocks gently, glancing around the studio again, and then back to the Red Ranger. She hesitates at the sight of him, and then breathes out an exhale that ends in a curious smile. “Mr. Rand?” She steps forward then. “I’m Colleen Wing. Luke Cage told me to come by, that you’re looking for an instructor?” Beat pause. “Martial arts?”

Usually when people call him 'Mr Rand,' it's time for something official. And he's not too fond of official things. He blinks over at Colleen. She's not in a suit. That's a good sign. He listens, brow furrowed a bit. It takes a second for it to click into place. He snap-points. "Oh, yes, right. Luke mentioned that. Come in. Sorry." He looks down at himself and then grins goofily. "I'm underdressed."

The goofy smile is oddly disarming. The vision of the billionaire philanthropist is not a goofy dude dressed like a Power Ranger. She brushes a smooth, inky lock of hair behind her ear in a casual gesture. “Luke mentioned you were looking for a teacher when I was dropping off some flyers. I run a dojo in north Chinatown—Chikara—so I could only do a couple nights. Or days.” Then she stops herself, and her expression changes to one of mild social uncertainty. “I don’t want to keep you, I was… going to just leave you my resume.” And from her pocket, she takes out a folded sheaf of paper. It outlines her life in martial arts and instruction, starting in Japan. There’s four references. It’s modest it’s its boasting, but boasting experience all the same.

"You run a dojo?" Danny takes the resume and scans it, nodding in approval at her accomplishments and her list of styles. "Wow, well um, you might be overqualified. I mean, we're just teaching little kids right now. Keeping them active and focused in an after school program. We're getting a proper gym built into the new place, but for now the programming is pretty limited. For the older kids, we hope to set up a scholarship program to help them attend a real school, like yours."

“Well… I’m looking to make some connections in the community. The dojo is new, as am I.” Then she smiles a bit more warmly — a rare feature on her usual Sensei Stern face. “Look, I know that I’m not a great fit, but… I could offer a middle level class, and even some of my advanced students need volunteer opportunities.” Colleen shrugs her shoulders, hands in her pockets once more. “Luke said you were looking for someone for the community, and I’m looking to help the community.” Her elevator pitch is practiced and earnest.

"I am. And well, the little guys are sort of like…focused babysitting. But the next level up…" Danny indicates a rough height, around the average height of a 7 or 8 year old, "…are starting to actually learn stuff for real." He looks at her for a moment, as if he's trying to evaluate her, to get a read off her, but not in a way that is in any way intimidating. "We don't pay a lot. I know that sounds like a horrible thing for someone like me to say, but we really are just getting started."

“I’m not here for the money.” There’s truth there, no bullshitting. She’s here for more than money. She glances over the studio now, actually taking actual stock of the room. She steps forward, looking at the the practice weapons. She selects a shinnai, popping it up and catching it in her hand in a smooth, practiced gesture. Then she looks back to him. “How does a 7-9 year old group? I could also do a 9-12 if you wanted to give those middle schoolers something to do.” Because all middle schoolers need something to do.

"Middle-schoolers are in the long-term plan, but they need more structure than we can give them right now. We only have the one activity room and we're trying to do a little bit for everyone." Danny motions around the space. It's been adapted well, but it's still been adapted. It does feel a bit like doing martial arts in an office. He watches her handle the weapon, suddenly conscious of the fact that she'll be able to read his skill level pretty quickly if he does too much.

Secret identities are hard, man.

She takes care with the weapon, and with a satisfied nod of its craftsmanship, she slides it back into place. Then she glances back to Danny, and she nods a bit. “It isn’t the worst place I’ve taught in.” Her smile is sharp, light, and brief. Then she crosses her arms. “Alright. I can do a 7-9 group. I can use this space. Maybe we can do some work outside when the weather turns back, if you don’t have a place yet.” She hesitates, obviously trying to decide on something. Does she offer up her own dojo space? Is the Hand’s mission around Danny that vital. Her hesitation is obvious, but then she nods. “If you’ll have me, I’ll do whatever the Merit Center needs. I think that there’s a good reason why I’m here.” She glances back around the space. “Can I ask you a more, hm, prodding question?” Barely waiting for his invitation, she shrugs her shoulders a bit. “Why? Why are you the guy behind this?” And when did he learn martial arts enough to teach it. She looked him up. He went missing, and this is how he came back? She knows who he is, according to her Sensei. But what’s the story he’s using.

Danny smiles in that slightly goofy way of his that tends to get people to tolerate or even find his cluelessness endearing. He rubs the back of his neck. "Well, let's just say martial arts helped me a lot when I was a kid." And an adult. And…now. But anyway. "The community needs a place like this, especially now. Kids with powers, kids from at-risk groups. They're the ones who are hurting the most. They're the ones who have been hurt the most by what happened with Fisk. I mean…" he motions around, "…this place was in-progress before the explosions, but we weren't supposed to open until next year. But I realized we couldn't really wait." Deep thoughts from a man dressed like a Power Ranger. And he sort of answered her question.

Endearing, that's a nice word that fits Danny Rand. Colleen is having a hard time connecting the fierce warrior that is the Immortal Iron Fist to this doofy guy in the Power Ranger costume. Some of that disconnect is conveyed through the slightly odd look she is giving Danny Rand. Maybe Bakuto was wrong, maybe there was some misinformation, or maybe this is just another test. Either way, she's here, and she can already see the need for her. She clenches her fingers together inside her pockets a few times while she sets that stern, speculative look on the Rand heir. Then she nods slightly, perhaps more or less to herself. "So you saw a need and you did what you could to meet it." There's no real question there, just a small recap of Danny's story behind the center. She looks around the office space that is meant to be a studio. She glances down, testing the floors lightly beneath her feet. Then she looks back up at Rand. "What else does the center do besides… 'Little Ghouls Karate'?"

"Heh," Danny rubs his neck again. He doesn't quite toe the ground, but the motion is sort of implied. "Well, a big part of it is a teen drop-in center. There's counselling and addiction services, some social workers on staff to help with job placement and family issues. There's a small shelter. Eventually there will be a thrift store and a larger shelter. But there's also some community services, especially to help the people displaced by the bombings. There's uh, there's a lot going on." He looks around. "And it's all new to me. Fortunately I have some good people helping me out."

“You’re telling me.” It’s the first little break in the stoic, half-hidden demeanor that Colleen has worn. She hesitates, glancing back around the studio again. Then she walks her fingers casually against the back of her neck. “It’s good. People need something to always be there for them, looking out for them. It’s how community thrives. And centers like this can get kids out of the cycles they are stuck in. I see a lot of kids who need that.” She gestures both hands out now, head half-cocked and her smile lifted just slightly at the corner. “So. If you’ll have me contribute, I’m happy to. And I’m sure that there’s a lot I can bring besides just martial arts.” Then she crosses her arms lightly at her chest.

"Oh, don't say that," says Danny as he walks over and picks up a dropped hot pink feather boa from one of the costumes. "Because we'll put you to work. I wasn't supposed to be this hands-on, but they've even roped me into teaching a few classes. Hey, um…do you see my helmet?" He looks around. It's like he's just now realized he's not wearing it.

Colleen suppresses a small smile at his absent-mindedness, and then she clears her throat as she steps to pick up the helmet haphazardly discarded near the foam nunchucks. She holds it out to him with a half-tilt of her head. "Can't be a Power Ranger without your helmet." Then she crosses her arms lightly at her chest. "I can come by next week if you want to put a schedule together." She is half-assuming that philanthropist billionaires have better things to do than iron out the details of a martial arts program on Halloween. There's parties with other philanthropist billionaires.

Or with a haphazard crew of vigilantes. Or both. Danny winds the feather boa around his neck, then takes the helmet from her and tucks it under his arm. "Sounds good. Although I'm not very good with schedules. There's a lady, Clementine, who handles all the schedule stuff. But if you could work up a bit of a lesson plan, that'd be great. Clem can also get you straightened out with the payroll stuff. Just ask for her at the front desk."

That does not surprise Colleen, and incites another small, almost ghostlike smile. "Alright, I'll talk with Clem. I'll arrange for something next week… with a lesson plan." Then she starts to backward step, almost bowing slightly as she prepares to leave the makeshift dojo of the community center. That alone shows her respect for the space, regardless of its previous purpose or current state. A dojo is a dojo, no matter its skeleton and skin.

And doesn't she feel a little bit silly, bowing to a grown man dressed as a Power Ranger wearing a pink feather boa. He just sort of stands there and grins a bit. "OK. Uh, nice to meet you Colleen." He lifts the hand not holding the helmet and twiddles his fingers a little.
The Immortal Iron Fist, enemy of the Hand, ladies and gentlemen.

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