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Interceptors; A 'Chance' Meeting [Jack/Blink] IC


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Nadia had spent most of the day getting her few belongings from her apartment. A large envelope of cash had been left with the landlord to cover the remainder of the lease as she planned to never return to the place. It was simple paranoia, if one person could track her there, then certainly others could and would if given enough time. No forwarding address nor reason for leaving was given. She assumed the landlord would be happy enough keeping the deposit and the extra month of rent that she had left to cover any additional incidentals that might be charged.

Her first order of business was to set up her quarters in the bases secret underground facility. Much like her apartment, the room was spartan and functional with everything in a well defined place. Her keepsakes were odd; an unexploded RPG shell, a bayonet, several insignia patches from varying units, and other small military trophies. What was missing was any sort of identifying personal touch. There were no pictures, letters or anything that might be used to trace her real identity. It was a long learned habit that she wasn't ready to give up on.

Her last item was a case which contained an old AK-47. She pulled it out of the tube, smiling at the polished wooden stock. The weapon was well oiled and maintained and the sights still dialed in for her. Holding the weapon for a while she sat back and remembered people, places and countries that were no more. With a sigh, she stripped and cleaned the weapon in a manner of moments. Years of practice made the movements automatic. As she finished, she placed it almost reverently on the wall mounted rack, locking the weapon in place.

Since she was satisfied with the state of her room Nadia decided that it was time to consider her upstairs quarters. She wasn't thrilled with having a semi public place, but bowed to the team and their employer. The simple though of having a mailing address terrified her in ways she could not even describe. It was something that needed to be done, and Nadia was not someone who procrastinated. So stepping out of her room she walked down the quiet halls of the Interceptors base to the entrance of the upper floors.

As she did, she passed Jack, headed the other way. Nodding politely she took about five more paces before coming to a decision. He had strong opinions on the possession of firearms, and she didn't want to argue the point with him in front of the whole group. However, their lives might very well depend on how they could work together. The decision made, she followed him a short way, to make sure he wasn't heading somewhere crowded or needed to be somewhere quickly.

Satisfied that they were alone and had at least some time, she ported in front of him, "excuse me... is sorry for interrupting, but wanting to have conversation if you are not minding."

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Jack hadn't bothered to move into his new living space much; with his family's home relatively close by, he could pick up various items as he needed them over time. As Nadia came upon him, however, he was carrying a box of his training equipment to stow below ground, including his practice foils, padded clothing and masks. The swordsman expected he'd be doing more training in-costume and with powers at the Underground, but it made sense to have everything he usually used on hand, if only until he had settled on a new regimen.

He nodded back as the pensive looking woman walked past. Jack was still getting used to appearing to his new teammates out of costume, but it simply wasn't practical for him to wear his mask all of the time. Fortunately, none of them had any reason to know who Eric Espadas was and they seemed content for the most part with simply referring to him as Jack, providing the cautious young man with a thin layer of anonymity.

He felt the energy released by teleportation a split second before Nadia appeared suddenly before him and reacted on startled reflex. The box of equipment clattered to the floor and the swashbuckler back-flipped away, landing on his feet several paces away holding a foil he had somehow managed to draw from the box as it fell. Almost immediately he stood from his crouch, rubbing the back of his head and coughing to cover his embarrassment. "Give a guy some warning, huh?" he grinned good-naturedly. He replaced the training weapon in the box and leaned against the corridor wall. "What's on your mind?"

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Nadia winced as the things he was carrying fell to the floor with an echoing crash. All of her life she had been about discretion, and here she was flying around with no care in the world. Stupid, Nadia. Very stupid.

She leaned over to help him gather his things sputtering an apology as she did, "very sorry... was not meaning to startle, just remembered that I was wanting to talk... while not in front of everyone."

Handing him some kind of guard, she was still looking like a kid caught in a candy jar as she continued, "let me help you carry that... is the least I can do now."

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Jack quirked an eyebrow when Nadia mentioned wanting to get him alone, but didn't say anything. There's banter, and then there's kicking someone while they're down. He got the distinct impression that the social development hadn't been a big priority at Spetsnaz Elementary or wherever the taciturn woman had grown up. He accepted the guard and tossed it back in the box before picking the whole thing up again. "Hey, no worries! I'm not making you carrying anything because I'm a little jumpy. Mama Of All Blades' favourtie son is nothing if not a gentleman. And extraordinarily good looking," he added after a brief pause. Alright, so maybe a little banter. He resumed walking towards his storage room in the base, gesturing for Nadia talk as they walked.

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Nadia shrugged as if to say that helping carry the gear wasn't any problem to her. However, she also didn't push the issue. Long ago she had learned to let her comrades tell her what they could and could not do. If he needed help, she assumed that he would tell her. Which of course was half of the reason she had sought him out. There was something that had been unsaid, and she was bound and determined to get to the bottom of it.

"Yes, is good looking..." she said as if it was a simple fact as they reached the storage room.

Subtlety was not one of Nadia's strong points and she wasn't very adept at small talk, "Jack... you are having issues with weapons? No? This is not going to be issue on team with cowboy is it?"

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"Weapons...?" Jack gave Nadia a perplexed look before realization dawned. "Oh! Ha, not exactly." He slid the box inside the storage room next to the door, resolving to unpack it at a later time. With his hands free, the young man withdrew his lighter from his pocket, flicking it open with a flourish. With a slight application of will, tendrils of flame rose from the spark, curling lazily through the air to his opposite hand, where they entwined themselves into a flickering rapier. As the sword solidified in his hand, Jack snapped the lighter closed and put it away. "'Jack of all Blades' isn't what you'd call a metaphorical title, y'know?" Placing his palm upward, he allowed the fiery implement to disappear. "Guns. I 'am having issues' with guns."

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Nadia was fascinated with the play of the flames in Jack's hands. It was an extraordinary talent although she made a note that he required a lighter to start the flames. It was another entry into the mental files she was keeping on all of her team mates. One never knew when she would have to either provide for or try to stop Jack's abilities; though she was starting to think more in terms of providing as of late.

As the flames whisked away, Nadia hopped up onto a small counter behind her, dangling her legs over the edge of it, "yes... am seeing that. So not just flames then. Is good, never knowing what foes to be facing."

She paused for a moment before prodding forward, "however, was meaning guns. I am having several and Colt is walking arsenal too. You are giving in on issue, but am thinking that there is more to story than letting on... is important knowing of teams motivations."

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Jack bristled a bit at the suggestion that he'd 'given in', but he wasn't going to argue semantics. As he saw it, allowing Colt and Blink to bring their firearms into his neighbourhood was a risky but calculated gamble, trusting for the time being that they could use them for the greater good. The gunslingers didn't know it yet, but if anything went wrong because of their choice of weapon, they'd be accountable to him. "Not much to be letting on to," he said airily, but Nadia's training allowed her to recognize the slight defensiveness of his posture, a tautness which suggested readying for an attack. "Guns are messy, I'm not what you'd call a fan. Nothing against you or the cowboy; everybody's got their hot buttons, right?"

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A rare smile briefly passed across Nadia's face as she noticed the tension in the man in front of her, "da. Are having hot buttons, too. Not to be telling them though."

She was certain there was something more. If it wasn't in what he wasn't saying, it was in his posture, "am thinking if you were having flaming sword out still... I would be smoking at this point. Still, if you are looking for fight..."

Nadia shrugged indicating that if he wanted to have a go, it was all right with her. While most people wouldn't understand, it was actually tolerated among the ranks of the Spetsnaz when off duty. It was a way of keeping sharp, blowing off steam, and resolving problems all at once. She wasn't insulted, although she did want to know where his deep seated issue came from.

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Jack gave Nadia a long look as he slowly realized her meaning. After a moment he laughed aloud. "You are one legitimately hardcore lady, you know that? Alright, I tell you what, let's make this interesting." Ducking inside his room he snatched a pair of blunted practice foils from his box of equipment. Tossing one to the teleporter, he gestured down the hallway towards the base's hub and, beyond that, the training room. "Each hit you get on me, I answer one question, guaranteed honesty, no evasions. I hit you, you have to answer one of my questions. First to three hits wins."

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"...and what am I doing when you are hitting me? Is not fair for only one to have... um... 'skin in game'."

As they walked to the training room she checked the balance of the foil. Frankly she would have preferred a good knife, which she had trained with extensively. While she had the basic idea of what to do with a sword, she had no illusion that she would match Jack's skill with the blade. Although he had said first to three hits... there had been no mention of hitting with the foil itself... was it an implied rule?

She rolled her neck and stretched her arms behind her back, pulling her lithe body taught so it would be ready to respond. A few more stretches and she was feeling ready. Her ubiquitous tank top and cargo pants were sufficient for the upcoming bout, although she did consider loosing the pants in favor of the spandex shorts she wore underneath. Her only real hope in this contest was to either rely on her speed and athleticism, or to break him out of the specialty he knew so well.

Now all that remained to be seen was what kind of bout this would be. A few moments ago, she hadn't been kidding when she intimated that if his body language could kill, she would have been long dead. He seemed friendly enough now, but then again, looks were always deceiving. As always, she would be ready for anything.

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She saw Jack's guard go up and decided to press her speed to the limit. Over the years, Nadia had known that she was naturally gifted... or perhaps mutated. Either way, her reactions were top notch and there had been few people whom she could not get the drop on. While her form was poor, she decided to try a straight lunge hoping to catch the swordsman off balance and perhaps not ready for her attack.

Strike swift, strike first, and strike to finish, was a lesson learned from years of training. Her foil streaked out towards his heart even if her footwork was sloppy and her technique flawed.

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When they reached the training room, Jack stripped to the waist and rolled his shoulders. Though less heavily muscled than many athletes, there was not an ounce of excess fat on his frame, giving his lithe form sharp definition. The swashbuckler had long suspected that his metabolism was somehow tied into his energy sustaining powers, but whatever the cause, he mused as her turned to face Nadia, it had sculpted a body perpetually ready for evasion.

Which was when the Russian's foil suddenly streaked toward is chest. Jack twisted immediately, and failed to avoid the training sword by the narrowest of margins. Which would be great if we were playing horseshoes, he chided himself. He took a half step back and gave his sparing partner a rueful grin. "Alright, got a little quickness in you, fair enough. So, what's the question?"

Before she could answer, Jack sprung forward, sliding along the floor and between her open stance. Launching to his feet behind her, the swordsman swiped with his foil like a crop, catching the teleporter across the backside. As Nadia turned to face him, he briefly offered her an apologetic shrug and a boyish grin. One embarrassment deserved another, he reasoned.

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Nadia winced, caught by both her own ploy and Jack's far superior technique. She had to remind herself that in this game, there was no 'dead'. It was three touches for the victor. However, at least she'd have one of her questions answered.

"Questions are coming after games, is not stopping for chitting and chatting," she said getting back into what was an excellent knife fighters guard. Unfortunately, she was holding a foil.

"I am forgetting that you are not already dead," she said with a hint of a smile on her face at what passed for humor to her. "So we are beginning in earnest now? Yes?"

With that she came in far more cautious this time, continually shifting the foil from left to right as their blades snapped and cracked together. As they circled, she could tell his years of training with a blade. His form was impeccable as well as his abs; she noticed with a detached curiosity. The only thing keeping her in this fight at all was her speed. Far to many times in this exchange, his blade had whipped within a hair's breath from striking her. Still, she refrained from blinking or resorting to her training and determinedly tried to stay with the far superior swordsman.

As the battle raged, she noticed that there seemed to be an opening in his guard. Was it a ploy or not? Not one to shy off an attack, she made her move.

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Jack knocked Nadia's strike away with ease. She wasn't a sword fighter, by any means, but he was forced to admit that she was keeping pace with him far more readily than he expected. The swashbuckler was fast, but Nadia moved as though she had an extra second of reaction time. As he probed her defenses, she continuously responded at the last possible instant, correcting her blocks before he had a chance to exploit her mistakes, learning rapidly. Jack suspected that the teleporter was the superior all-around combatant, and only his greater experience with the weapons at hand gave him any advantage. Adopting a more cautious approach, he sent out a lazy thrust, further testing her reflexes. "Aw, see, it's always time for chit chat! I like to talk; I'm a talker." Any attention he could take away from the fight could make a world of difference, he knew.

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Nadia said nothing, concentrating on keeping the awkward weapon in a position where it would do her good. Yet his banter was as disarming as his attacks, or perhaps his lack of a shirt. It was frustrating to want to attack, but have to make this thin piece of steel get to where it was supposed to go. She'd take a solid blade any day of the week!

Taking a wild chance, she dove under his guard, rolling behind him and using her hands to vault back to her feet. However, she hadn't counted on him reacting as quick as he did and she was forced to land awkwardly. As she spun, she saw the tip of his foil hovering dead in front of her.

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"Some people think that's a weakness, but I like to see it as a sign of clarity of mind,"Jack continued breezily, tapping Nadia lightly on the top of the head with his foil as she attempted to recover from her aggressive attack. "Like, the ability to do more than one thing at a time, y'know?" The swashbuckler began to take a step back, as through regrouping in preparation for her next attack, but instead pushed off with the moving foot, lunging forward with a burst of energy and striking once more on the teleporter's shoulder. "And that," he said with a bow and flourish, "would by three." Though slightly flushed from the exertion, Jack was grinning broadly, and Nadia noticed that his body language was in fact more relaxed now than it had been earlier in the hallway.

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She had never reset from her disastrous move as Jack touched her twice before she could even regain her balance. Nadia was fairly certain that there was some kind of rule about touches and resetting... which only made her more mad for letting him do it. It was the sort of trick that she would pull, if she hadn't been mooning about like some kind of crazy American teen. If she had followed her training, she would have tossed the useless foil and come at him with weapons she was more familiar with. His relaxed posture stoked the anger that had built from her own stupidity. She was better than this, had to be better, it was demanded and expected.

The quiet sane voice that she rarely listened too was shouting something about fair play, and friendly match; as if there was such a thing.

She never even bothered to gather herself from the floor. One moment she was down on one knee with Jack's sword bowing in front of her the next she was behind him with her legs locked around his chest and her arms gaining a bar against his sword arm. Her training was on auto pilot as she prepared to try and break his elbow with a twist and a tug.

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So, giving Miss Special Forces a hard time was a bad idea, Jack thought dimly. I am totally surprised. This is my surprised face. Actually, he was pretty sure it was his 'that doesn't bend that way' face as the teleporter promptly immobilized him and began placing painful pressure on his elbow. "I know some cultures are more physically affectionate," he managed to grunt through clenched teeth, "but we usually just shake hands after a match.'

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That same little voice that had been trying to say something about fair play suddenly gained traction as she realized just what she had been about to do. Her legs strained from applying pressure around his chest even as her arms wend limp, realizing that she had been about to attempt something really bad. She did not loose her cool, it wasn't allowed. Yet, here she was, pressing a hold that had no place in this silly game. What was she thinking?

This was not honorable, not fair, not something that teammates did to one another.

"Vy tupoumnaja devushka, chego vy delali?" she whispered to herself, letting his arms free, but still clinging to his back with her legs.

There was no excuse. There was no apology possible. It would likely be the end of her tenure with this budding team, and she realized how bitterly disappointed she was. It had been so nice to feel part of something again, if only she could have reigned in her competitive drive and temper.

As she let up the pressure on her legs, she slid down his back and turned away before he could see her crestfallen face, "am sorry... is both temper and training, they are cruel masters at times. Will be going after giving of prize... have been earning it honorably."

((Translation: You stupid girl, what have you done?)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jack sat down on the floor heavily, letting himself fall backward to lay staring up at the ceiling. "Nobody likes a drama queen, Blinky," he scoffed with a grin despite his heavy breathing. He gestured to the floor beside him. "Sit." Placing the hand on his chest, he closed his eyes for a moment. "Whoof, teleporting grapple, huh? Good move." The swordsman moved his hands in the air above him, reenacting the match. "I was all like, 'Ha ha!' and you were all, 'Nuh uh,' then I was all, 'Oh snap!' "

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Blink couldn't help but let a faint smile cross over her face, a rare occurrence for the sober hero, as she sat down next to Jack. He was quick witted and easy going, something she appreciated even if she didn't emulate it. More importantly, it seemed he was forgiving, which was something that she was most aware of at this awkward moment.

She sat down gracefully beside him, looking over and not avoiding his eyes. She knew what she had done was both wrong and childish, but regret wasn't something that she wallowed in.

"Is not being of drama queen, but very sorry for... outburst. Not used to loosing much and mad for not being ready for, tap tap," she said with a small hand flourish that indicated the double tap that Jack had performed. "Was very clever move. Should be ashamed for the falling for it."

While she hadn't been out of breath, she had worked hard to try and use the unfamiliar weapon and to keep Jack's superior sword skills out of play. Already her heartbeat was receding as she pulled a stray lock of hair back into her pony tail.

"So..." she said hesitantly, "if not being mad, then am owing answers."

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Jack made a dismissive sound. "Mad? Please. I hadn't been knocked around by an attractive and dangerously competent woman all week; I was beginning to worry." He placed his hand behind his head, but made no move to actually get up from the floor. "And it wasn't really clever, it was bull." Jack sighed and gave Nadia a serious look. "Blinkie, you're an insanely capable fighter, but I'm guessing Spetsnaz didn't include fencing in basic training, because that would be stupid. There are way easier ways to put the hurt on somebody. Which is kinda my point."

The swashbuckler looked back up at the ceiling, his expression reflective. "Even with my training and my powers, it takes a lot of effort and concentration to fight somebody with a sword. Anything I do with one of these," he said, gesturing the the foil lying beside him, "I absolutely mean to do. Guns..." He shook his head. "Anybody can pick one up and be deadly. All it takes is one moment of anger, one stupid decision. It's too easy. Hurting someone else should always be hard." There was a pause before Jack continued in a lighter tone. "That said, you and Colt have the training, the control to wield that kind of power responsibly. I can't say I like it very much, but I trust you guys."

Rubbing his chin with exaggerated contemplation, the swordsman grinned broadly. "So, three questions. Alright, number one: what is your favourite colour? Um, number two: what do you actually do for fun, and number three: would you give me a hand up?" Jack winced. "Seriously, I bruised a rib in a fight a little over a month ago and never really gave it a chance to heal. Stupid laser whip."

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Nadia nodded at Jack, he was quite gracious both in accepting her apology and in his victory. In fact he had answered her question, at least on the surface without her even asking. The implication behind his comment on guns was that someone close to him had been shot; either by mistake or some kind of freak accident. She wasn't certain that she wanted to dredge up those memories quite yet. Perhaps a search through the news archives would reveal something further.

"Is good not being mad, are having my thanks," she said holding his eyes trying to convey her total appreciation. She hoped he understood, but she also was used to simply offering thanks and letting the matter go.

"So is time to pay, no? Well favorite color is being red. Is both color of homeland, and is quite good for dresses. Can being strong, bold, and sensuous. Very good thing for one color," she replied. The second question she had to think about. What did she do for fun? It wasn't as easy of a question as Jack might have intended. Often times what she did for 'work' was what she did for fun.

Still, there were certainly parts she liked better than others, so she honestly answered, "is not having much time for fun. Training is of most importance. Fun, until recently, was taunting and battling of heroes." She paused, looking over at him to see what his reaction was before continuing, "recent background is not quite so good. Is not doing crime for crime, but to keep skills sharp and... well enjoyment. How is it said, 'thrill of the chase' I am thinking. Am not proud of this, but not wanting to lie to team. Looking for turning of all new leaves by joining team. If no fights to be having... um... is liking fast cars, skydiving, soccer, and having of dangerous friends."

As for his last question, she put an arm under his and stood up slowly, hoisting him as she did. It was a gentle motion, learned from having to haul wounded out of hot zones with as little disturbance as possible. "Believing question having for Jack," she said while waiting for him to get his feet under him and not objecting to the contact. "having of how many dangerous women knocking around each week?"

She knew that he had already ventured an answer to what she had wanted to ask, but she couldn't resist the teasing question.

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Nadia's admission of a history of crime didn't overly surprise Jack. It wasn't that the Russian's earnest demeanor suggested a desire for redemption to him; she was unapologetic enough about her past transgressions. Rather, she gave the impression of someone determined to balance scales and earn respect amongst her new peerage. Nor did the confirmation do much to alter his perception of her; Jack had never had the same vehement distaste for thieves that he did for legitimately violent criminals. He supposed it was simply a matter of the placement of his personal moral event horizon.

As she hefted the swordsman to his feet, however, a different statement caused him to raise an eyebrow. " 'Good for dresses,' huh? Blinkie, you did not strike me as the junior prom type. Guess that's just another part of the whole 'thrill of the chase' thing." He made a mental note to suggest some sort of semi-formal party to Lynn, who had easily settled into a sort of den mother role on the team. 'Cause I look good in a suit, Jack smirked internally. I mean, I look good in anything, but still.

Once he was off of the ground, Jack quickly steadied himself. Nadia's pin had aggravated the injuries he'd received in his one-sided beating at the hands of Captain Knievel, but it wasn't enough to slow him down perceptibly. He turned his attentions to the teleporter's question. "Ha, well, it's not like I've got a set schedule or anything, but I'm sort of a magnet for femme fatale-types. Y'know, one minute they're all sexy wiles and the next it's all poison-tipped hairpins and defenestration and puns about me not being so 'sharp'." He rubbed the back of his neck ruefully and gave Nadia a broad grin. "It's honestly given me what probably constitutes an unhealthy comfort zone with regards to the fairer sex. Still, better that than wrinkly old mad scientists or something. Remind me to tell you about Jaci o' Cups sometime." The grin fell into a frown as Jack considered the point. "Actually, I should probably tell the whole team about all of the other 'Jacks'; it's only a matter of time before one of them pulls something to draw me out into a fight."

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