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Aoiroo

Percussion Therapy (IC)

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Thursday, May 24th, 4:23 PM

It took her a couple of times around the block, but Carrie finally found both the school she was looking for and a place to park her mini cooper. She but about two hours worth of change in the meter as she got out of the car. Her hair was held back with a thick cloth headband, and she was wearing a faded green tank top with navy blue sweats and trainers. Over her shoulder she had a duffle bag filled with a change of clothes for the eventual trip to Golden Corral to follow (they had both agreed that after the eating contest they had at the Maddens that buffets were the way to go for all future meals).

She leaned her back against the building and waited for Zeke to arrive. She wasn't gonna go in on her own, sure it was unlikely she'd be attacked by ninjas if she walked in unaccompanied, but why risk it?

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One second she was alone, the next Zeke stepped out of a nearby alleyway, patting down his rather wind-ruffled hair. He looked...good, actually. At least as good as he could look in a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt. No hat this time; just waving brown dreadlocks. He was cheery - even bouncy. He was shifting on the balls of his feet left and right, even tossing a few jabs in the air and shifting his shoulders left and right. Good, nice and limber. Couple of stretches at home before hitting the bricks was good exercise. He hadn't taken the car, of course - rules of training days; don't drive when you can run, don't rest when you can work.

He turned and stopped, blinking. Carrie was there. Why was Carrie there? He'd invited Carrie there. He'd invited Carrie for sparring and seeing the dojo. Why had he forgotten he'd invited her? Because he was an idiot.

Zeke recovered as quickly as his supercharged body would allow - plastered a grin on his face and walked up, hesitating for a moment...then he stepped forward and enveloped the girl in a warm hug.

"Hey...glad you could make it." He leaned back, eyes smiling. "Did you have any trouble finding the place?

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She let him have the hug, she did kiss him afterall. She wasn't unused to this sort of thing, it was mostly family who did it, her dad who was just about her size, and her brother who was much bigger. He was about in the middle of that spectrum and itw as fine. He looked a little surprised before the hug, though it was weird,

Like I should talk,

"Yep,"

She shrugged,

"But that's normal, and I've never been here before. Luckily I have GPS, so I had the area right so that it was a few minutes rather then a few hours of searching."

Taking a step back she looked at the private home, it didn't look really like a dojo, but honestly who was she to judge. She lived in what looked like an abandoned video store.

"Shall we?"

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Zeke was surprised just a bit that she let the hug go through, but didn't question it. Instead, he enjoyed the warm human contact before letting her go. Her mention of GPS made him mentally facepalm - naturally she'd have something like that in that nice Mini Cooper (a car he adored, and he'd mentioned as much before - The Italian Job was one of his preferred films. Original was grand, remake was solid as a standalone film, not so much in homage. Either way, flying Minis!). He nodded and offered an arm. Though he could tell one thing from her look - it was a look he'd gotten before from other new arrivals.

"Sure. Oh, don't be fooled by the exterior - the basement dojo is one of the finest places in the city to learn and train. They don't work with a lot of the newer and fancier technological gadgets, more with the old-school dummies and tools. Sort of a theme here, really - self-defense and training without the glitz and glamour and belts or anything like that."

He pondered for a sec, then winced.

"Uh...that came out wrong, sorry..."

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She smirked at the stumbling,

"Well I'm all for the practical over the flashy, and the belt system's outdated anyway."

She let Zeke lead the way into the school and down the stairs to the basement. There were a couple of people around, but any class they had for that day was likely out with the stragglers those who had the time or dedication to stay extra hours. She dropped her back in the corner and did a few stretches while she glanced around,

"Not bad, I could see some serious training going on here, and I can certainly smell it."

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The downstairs was a sturdy place; tatami mats on the floor, wooden pillars in the cement walls for decoration, and wall scrolls all over the place detailing different styles of martial arts - forms, strikes, grapples, the works. There was a distinct dearth of modern equipment, with wooden dummies - mu ren zhuang - basic punching bags, exercise bars, and lots of sparring rings made out of mats around the floor.

Zeke nodded at a few other students he knew, taking one aside for a moment. A quick inquiry revealed that Master Li was out with a group of students on a city run; they wouldn't be back for hours. Shame, he'd have liked to introduce her to his sensei. He walked over to her and dropped his bag beside hers, also limbering up with stretches.

"That's putting it mildly - you should see it here in a tournament month; can't hear yourself think over the sound of bodies hitting the floor or sandbags flying." Snerk. "Upstairs is usually for meditation and study of various old masters' works, here's where the action is." Another stretch, this time so far backwards Carrie actually heard a crack from his spine. "Aaaah, that's the stuff." He righted himself, winking. "Ladies like limber fighters. So, where do you want to start?"

Oh God why did I say that again...

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Carrie smirked,

"Well when I see any ladies, I'll be sure to ask them if that's true. I guess punching bags, I've never really used one before."

Because punching living things is much better practice.

She stretched a little bit as she walked over to the bag, mostly rolling her shoulders and turning a bit. It was easier to see when she did that the amount of lean gymnist muscle she had even if it wasn't as obvious with her petite form. Walking over the bag she took her fist and gave it a whack, but hitting it wrong hurt her hand instead.

"Ohh,"

Shaking her hand she looked at him,

"I always imagined they'd be softer."

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Zeke commisserated, and meanded up beside her with a sympathetic look. "It's a common misconception. When you're practicing on a bag, half of it is rote memorization - getting moves down pat, adjusting foot 'n body positioning; y'know, all that stuff. The other half is toughening your hands, feet, legs, and arms."

He neglected to mention the fact that his limbs came pre-toughened, though he supposed that was cheating in some ways. He smiled awkwardly.

"Yeah, it hurts like hell for a while before your body gets used to it. Once it does, though?"

The musician shifted over and stood in front of the bag; set his legs, adjusted his stance, then spun on one foot and slammed his heel in a roundhouse kick to the side of the bag. The thing swung from side to side, and he nodded with satisfaction. Before promptly grabbing his foot and hopping up and down - not enough adrenaline meant no extra-tough skin!

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Carrie burst out laughing at the display,

"That won't happen,"

She chuckled,

"You shouldn't try to show off, you'll break something."

In Carrie's case, if she showed off, she would of broken the bag. By broken of course she meant sliced clean in half. Walking over she grabbed his foot and pulled down the sock to the front of the sneaker, there was a little red showing,

"Doesn't look like a bruise, or at least not a bad one, which is good."

She released his foot.

"I guess we might want to try some different equipment, any suggestions?"

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Zeke snerked, although he'd nearly fallen over when she'd just walked over and grabbed his leg. Thank God he had a great sense of balance. Almost idly he crossed his arms, his leg up in a distinctly uncomfortable position, and grinned at her.

"It's a sad day when I can say that bag has hit me harder than several muggers." ...why did I say that?! He blanched slightly and backtracked, as if trying to assuage her worries (if she had any) - "ah...I mean...well, Freedom City's pretty dangerous, y'know; one reason I went for the martial arts and the workout and I'm rambling howaboutwetrytheexercisebarsthatsoundsgoodthisway!"

She'd let his foot go, and he started walking swiftly towards the chinup bars, acrobatics beams, and exercise rings they had put in. Trying to keep his red face from facing her. Open mouth, insert foot - nice job, Z.

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"I live in the Fens Zeke, I know a good bit about muggers. Given, the ones who try to mug me are usually addicts, not the best shape to try and be doing so."

She smiled as he rambled (he tended to do that, she didn't know how he did so while continuing to breath), and followed him to the familiar bars. Looking at them she glanced at him,

"You first music man, you know I'm a gymnist, but lets see what you can do?"

She was probably better then him, then again she was better then some olympic level athletes, it would be nice to see what he could do.

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Zeke took a moment to test his foot - pain was pretty much gone, didn't hurt to put all his weight on his ankle...righteous. He nodded at her and rubbed his hands together, starting to bounce on the balls of his feet, then almost lazily fell forward onto the bars. Vault over one, grip another, spin up, left, right, kick left, kick right, upside-down, excellent. He went through a fairly boilerplate routine, nothing fancy or elaborate; but despite that, he marked it by the crispness of his movements. He didn't waste a thing up there, and every motion he made was sure and practiced. He hit the ground on the other side of the bars and stretched, looking rather satisfied. Turned back to look at her, blushing a bit; he rubbed the back of his head.

"I mostly prefer running for exercise, but the bars are fun. You going to blow us all away with style and grace, Car?" Mischevious wink.

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Carrie smiled, he wasn't bad, not bad at all. He also wasn't professionally trained, not with somethign that simple. She had been, and plus simple nessicity, when one can't beat physics to a bloody pulp one found other ways to fly out of nessicity. She rolled her neck and loosened her shoulders as she took a few steps back and ran forward and jumped onto the first bar.

She spun quickly before stopping completely horizontal and switching sides before spinning and catching onto the next bar only stopping to spread her legs into a full split as she she went towards the top. She then spun again before flipping off and catching onto the hanging rings and spinning while she lowered her legs and hooked in her feet hanging upside down like she was on a jungle gym. Her hair fell in behind her, as she looked at Zeke,

"Both style and grace are relative,"

She swung on the rings before dropping out into a flip and sticking into a solid landing,

"Fun's universal though, and it's been a while since I've had some real monkey bars to play on."

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Zeke, you're staring.

Still staring.

Dude, you're staring.

STOP STARING.

Zeke closed his somewhat slack jaw with a light 'click', and just looked between her and the bars. Back at her. His rather clubbed expression was replaced by one easily described as 'withheld mirth', and he wiggled a finger at her mischeviously.

"Caaaaaarrrriiiieeee...youuuu aren't telling me everythiiiing." Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot. He laughed, and leaned on a handy bar. "Okay, I gotta ask - that right there would have made Master Li's jaw drop. How'd you learn to move like that? And more importantly, who do I have to bribe to learn too?"

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She replied by bending over over and touching her toes, backwards,

"What do you mean everything, I did gymnastic Zeke, professional gymnastics."

Placing her hands on the mat she pushed herself up as she talked walking on her hands,

"I didn't just stretch or play on the jungle gym, I was a competition gymnist all through middle school. What did you think that meant, that I could do a few flips, maybe know my way around the high bars. Nope, it means that I have been trained and maintained training just in general enough to be olympic level if I wanted too. Course, I wouldn't do that, being an olympic gymnist sucks. Your time and your body isn't yours anymore when you make it big, it's the countries, it's an example of the countries, and you lose most of the choice in your life. I just couldn't do it."

Letting her legs fall forward she got upright she looked up at him,

"Plus believe it or not, I'm probably too tall to compete with those porlein dolls they pass as athletes."

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The bulk of what she was saying bounced off a decidedly distracted Zeke's mind, mostly consisting of two words; ...bendy girl.. His jaw had gone slightly slack, and he'd watched her display of masterful contortionism with a highly interested eye, despite himself. To be blunt, his brain was quite short-circuited. The girl was talented. Period end.

Also incredibly attra-DAMNIT ZEKE.

He caught himself staring again, and shook his head. Nodded in a somewhat commisserating manner with her. "Yeah, similar reason I didn't go for martial arts tourneys or MMA. I prefer my music, honestly. Less bruises and less intrigue." He tapped his chin. "Though doing commercials might have been fun. Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart; Ezekiel Irons approves of this message."

Zeke gave an overenthusiastic thumbs-up and a grin that would have looked great on camera, before breaking out in chuckles. "You do what you wanna do, and live the way you wanna live - that's a righteous way to live, Car. I respect that. Seriously respect that." The grin changed from faux to warm, and he actually hugged her. The Fastest Fighter Alive backed up a few steps, and stretched slightly. He felt somewhat sweaty. And a positively evil idea popped into his head.

"Hey, you want to hit a ring? Punch a few gloves for a bit?"

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She chuckled at the mock commericial, her eyes closed momentarily as she laughed, and then there was the hug. It was, nice, he was nice, he smelled nice, even if a bit sweaty. He then backed away and spoke and the smile she held, the soft smile so rarely seen dropped,

"Nnno, no."

She stuttered slightly, before catching herself. She scratched her forehead a little bit,

"I mean, you're a bit out of my weight class aren't you?"

Not that it mattered, she kick boxed, hit where it hurt, she had some classes ages ago. She wasn't normal enough for this to be, blah. She wasn't really trained, she didn't teach, she wouldn't hold back. Not properly hold back, she learned to fight in the fray, it was habit now, and it was weird.

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Zeke's heart nearly stopped when he saw the soft smile, but the man recovered quickly - that look was dangerous indeed.

Focusing back on the conversation, he snerked, rummaged through his bag, and held up a couple of flat punching mitts. "Hah, I didn't mean sparring - frankly, after seeing you fold up Madame Marvelous, I'm redoubling my training just to catch up." A wry smile. "I get the subtle feeling you've probably forgotten more about martial arts than I've learned so far. Nah, just some punching practice, maybe shadowbox side-by-side for a bit; see your form and vice versa. See if either of us can teach the other anything."

He dropped the gloves back in the bag, turned around to pick it up, but straightened with a somewhat discomforted look on his face. "Hoy, warm summer days...one sec." The Fastest Fighter Alive reached down and pulled his sweatshirt over his head, revealing that despite his rather sedate choice of employment and very sizeable eating habits, that Ezekiel Irons was seriously built. Not body-builder muscle, but the kind brought by hard work and lots of training; he wasn't huge, after all. He dropped the sweatshirt back into his bag, slinging the strap over. Fortunately, he had his back to her, otherwise she would have seen the discomforted look change to a far more mischevious one. Who was it who said turnabout was fair play?

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Carrie waited a few seconds before saying,

"When I ever fold up Madame Marvelous?"

And how would you know about it,

That day a lot of things happened, yes she had beaten Madam Marvelous but she hadn't had a crowd, everyone had left, and in the official police report the little witch said she'd fallen not wanting to admit Carrie had kicked her skinny butt again. At least this time the psycho didn't shoot her.

Rolling her shoulders she looked at the mitts,

"I have used those before, not in a long time. Given, not that long, two, three years, college seems a lot longer ago then it was."

She looked at him for a few seconds as he took off his shirt, he was cut for a casual martial artist, or really anyway. She took a few seconds to admire before picking a stance a bit different from her regular, this one was more signaled like she was attacking,

"So um, you hold first then?"

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Zeke's shoulders flinched as he realized just how badly he bollixed up. The words had just slipped out; and she was right, he'd cleared the entire crowd out right off the bat...hoo boy. Think fast, Z-man...

The incognito hero slotted his hands into the gloves, forgetting to pay attention to her reaction post-shirt-discard. He adopted a proper stance for the exercise; legs braced, hands up at a good level, head down. He made up a story as she got into her stance, speaking slowly. It became readily apparent that Ezekiel Irons wasn't the best fibber in the world. Or in the Solar System. Or in the Milky Way. Or in the universe.

"I...ah...well...couldn't just...y'know...leave you all alone...so I kinda...hid? N'watched...ehe." A somewhat weak smile. And awkward chuckle. "You really knocked her block off, Car."

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It was a bad excuse, but she stopped herself from pointing out the holes, the many many holes. No point in playing the finger pointing game.

"I owed her, last time I saw that psycho witch she freaking shot me. I'm really glad she didn't have the rocket launcher this time, that would of been messy."

Going forward she hit the pad, she wasn't hitting that hard. It was a tester, not really a full on swing, though she made it look like one.

"Without her gun she's just really a borderline anerexic psychopath in a pair of high heels, my niece and nephew could put up more of a fight."

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Zeke shot her a Look, which shortly broke down under distinct amusement; he nodded with approval at the strike on the pad, and returned his hands to the ready position.

"Hon, I'm shocked, shocked and appalled that you would dub her such. That's an insult to borderline-anorexic psychopaths everywhere; at least some of them have fashion sense."

Well, not that he could comment on that much - most of his own fashion sense was from the completely wrong era, only made good by the timelessness of the waistcoat and slacks combination. And he'd deck anyone who said otherwise. Well, except her.

Wait...

"Hold up, rocket launcher?"

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She looked at him for a second,

"You're surprised?"

She gave another slight jab that was a bit off,

"Didn't you hear, she held up the Kirby with it. Given, she didn't actually aim it at anybody,"

No, that's what the assault rifle was for,

"It likely came from the same supplier she got the sniper rifle from,"

Still need to follow up on that, freaking gunrunners.

"Her accounts are frozen, this is like the third time she's been imprisoned, and yet she still somehow finds a way to get around and make a mess."

Which has involved me twice now, do the karma gods want that skinny little witch to kill me or something.

"But it makes me wonder if something else was going on when she was holding up the pier, last time I saw her the whole thing was a distraction while somebody else stole a piece from the muesem."

I guess she knows someone, wait, shoot, I said what I was thinking he must.

Carrie kept hitting her face going blank,

Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, now he's gonna think, ugh.

If she was struggling, it didn't show, it was the face she kept under her mask, nuetral as she silently hit the bag feeling awkward.

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If he noted her interest, he didn't say anything about it - instead following her own train of thought as well. "Aye, aye - that was too damn neat; she's built herself on bein' big and loud - anyone who knows that can prolly take...advantage...real...easy."

He kept the gloves up, noting with increasing approval her focus on the punches, and a light dawned in his mind. Completely blocked out her distraction as she hit the last few punches. Inspiration was written on his face, and he looked Carrie dead in the eye.

"..like maybe someone bankrolling her to run big distractions."

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She averted his gaze as she let the last punch slide off the handbag,

"That's what I'm guessing, it's a common story. I wouldn't be surprised if at least a couple of the big displays made by super villains are just distractions for less flashy but more profitable crimes. You look at the depressed areas like Southside or the Fens, you can see the crimes that are outright ignored because they don't catch the medias eye. I know capes patrol the bad areas, and the police do too, but so much slips through their fingers because money talks and it can silence as well, especially if those who get hurt are people society has already given up on."

She had stopped talking by now, she'd stop punching now too. She tried to cheer up, this world wasn't perfect, but it was better, better then so many others, but it still hurt just how much people got away with even with her chasing them down and breathing down their necks every night.

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