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TheAbsurdist

Tiger and Lion, Oh my!

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Syke's Gym.

3:00 PM, Jan. 23rd.

 

It was an empty boxing gym, well more or less.  Except for two people, Amir al-Misri, and Anastasia van Cleef.  In other aspects, though it was clean, well lit and maintained.  The mats pristine.  It as a good neutral ground to learn from the daughter of someone he sort of kind of knew in business.

 

"You're a colossal ass," came the snark statement from Ms. van Cleef, assistant, indispensable 'Dragon of the Summit.'  She tapped away furiously on her phone, not deigning to lift her head and look at Amir making a colossal... well what she really wanted to say she wasn't going to.  Not that she was going to be prudent and keep her mouth shut, but she really didn't want to pick that fight.  Though, insulting him from the sidelines was fitting in with the ice cold blonde, in her smart grey suit.

 

For his part Amir stood off to the side, well in the ring ring, leaning on the ropes. He was more or less dressed for learning how to fight better.  Though it was more dressed in a sort of, he didn't know what else to wear type get up of t-shirt and boxing shorts, with his normal burgundy and gold coloring.  "Jealous?  I understand, completely."  Smirking back at her, "As my ass is gosh-darned adorable, I will have you know."

 

"Whatever it takes for you to feel better about yourself, Amir," was the tart reply, and staccato annoyed rat-tat-tat of her fingers on the screen..

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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It was a strange request, she had to admit. A really rich guy wanted personal self defense lessons. She was a bit taken aback, but then she did some research and realized that he was a famous, publicly admitted superhero. Still didn't mean it wouldn't get weird, just less of a chance of weird. She packed up a bunch of high end practice equipment just in case, but she also had a feeling the guy could take a hit. Still, better to be prepared.

 

So, she opened the door, wearing a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and a light jacket, with a heavy looking gym bag swinging all but effortlessly from her right hand. She was young, early 20s, with stylishly disheveled black hair. "Hello, Mr. Misri, my name is Mali." She said with a friendly smile.

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Amir was a little taller than average, and unlike the nominal suits she'd have seen in her checking on him, in the practice outfit it was clear he wasn't a soft executive type.  He lifted his head from the barbed conversation he was having with Ms. van Cleef, and he looked at Mali, before flashing the winning, and famed, Amir al-Misri Smile. Thousand watts.  No less.  Not even flinching or showing a sign of her making a mistake with his name.

 

"Hello Miss  Benjawa, I am glad you could make it."  He ducked to move between the ropes, only for his foot to catch a bit, ruining any plans of an entirely dignified move.  He grabbed the top rope and carefully extricated himself from the situation, before hopping down off the ring.

For her part Ms. van Cleef snorted, and put the back of her hand against her mouth to hide the indelicate sounds of amusement at the great Amir al-Misri messing up that motion.

 

Amir stopped, and looked at the blonde, "Oh, that's why you came.  I should have guessed."  Shaking his head and looked at Mali, shrugging and spreading his hands helplessly.

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Mali let it go in stride. She'd seen far, far worse movement before. "So..." She stepped into the ring, having clearly done this before. "Muay Thai is a bit of an atypical style.  It uses knees and elbows as well as punches and kicks. Martial arts is applied physics. The shorter the distance a strike has to travel, the more power is put into the end result. Plus it's great for the core."

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He stopped a bit, and there was a small roll of his shoulders, and a bit of a suppressed laugh as he looked at her.  "Well, as it stands now I am not entirely clueless."  He laughed a little bit as he moved back into the ring, this time a bit smoother as he was mindful of the ropes, and how they'd catch up on someone.  "Largely clueless, just not entirely.  I need to get better, running on luck is not entirely the best plan."  Flashing a smile back to her, and pointedly ignoring the indelicate noises made by Ana.  "She is here for moral support, clearly."

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Mali nodded, feeling a bit embarrassed. "Sorry, sorry. I've done this sort of thing before. It can be hard to determine how much help someone needs. I'm thinking we could start off with a few punches or kicks, see what your technique is like. Just a little shadowboxing. You can bench press my car, I don't think power is a problem."

 

She stood back and observed. She figured that there wasn't much point in trying to test his power. Nor, she mused, did he have any real reason to work on his technique. If you can hit something hard enough, it didn't matter much how pretty the punch looked. Still, she was asked to help, so she was helping.

 

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"Yes... a car...  though I have to turn it...  Well let's say I can be more at human level."  He laughed a bit at that, and rubbed the back of his head, raking fingers through his magnificent mane of hair.  He glanced Ana, who was holding up her phone to take footage of his shadowboxing, while Amir responded with a 'can you believe this ****'-expression.

 

Spreading his feet into a more stance and he threw a quick couple one-twos.  He was a puncher, his stance resembling boxing by someone who had taken classes, maybe sparred, but that was years ago.  He didn't set himself up for kicks or anything of the sort.  Of course all of the time he fought were not necessarily a stand up slug fest.

 

Then came the haymaker.  It was a big, strong punch, thrown by a guy who wasn't concerned if he got hit, but he swung fast enough that it didn't matter.

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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"Well, you're not bad." She said. "You're a bit too stiff. I get that you can take a lot of punishment, but you don't move much." She threw a few punches herself. "You should be a little more loose. You definitely punch well. No massive excess of movement or wasted momentum, but you hit like a baseball player. You stand there and swing. I've definitely seen worse though." 

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Ana is just grinning and crackling with glee as she watches and records Amir being criticized by Mali.  Not that it was unfair, it was just anything to see her 'boss' being told he was wrong, or doing something wrong.

 

For his part Amir stopped, a little self-consciously, resting his hands on his waist, arms akimbo.  A frown for a moment, "Faintly damning praise there.  Hmph."  His lips pressed flat, as he moved to pick up a water bottle and take a swig.  "So, clearly I am running on instinct for swinging my arms...  So for improving the form, where do I start?  I mean, we have dummies and punching bags... and I asked your dad for advice, he recommend Muay Thai, so... and he said you were better than him.  Admittedly, if I tried to be taught by him, then the FTC will breathe down my neck."  

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Mali guided him through some basic footwork. His problem, she mused, was that he just stood there and swung for the fences. Not that it was a problem, his powers meant he seldom needed to dodge. He had no problem with generating striking power. He wasted a little bit of movement here and there, committed a bit too much to his hits. She had to admit, there wasn't a lot of room for improvement. Still, he was a fairly experienced hero. She figured he had to get some kind of practice in if nothing else.

 

"Alright, you're doing good." She said. "not perfect, but doing good."

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Amir was strong, even without his powers, which she could imagine magnified such, but he was not athletic.  Sure he worked out, sure he could do a marathon, and had done numerous charity runs.

 

But he wasn't going to do a backflip successfully.  Well without cheating.

 

So that was the whole thing leading to his chuckle, and the subsequent head shake.  "Yes, well, that's why I need the help, I can't just be 'good,' that means I'll fail.  But it's okay, I'll have time to practice before the Nikkei and Hang-Sang open, just... YouTube videos don't cut it."  Another flash of the winning smile.

 

"So... I have a gross understanding... let's spar, if your comfortable with that.  And we can talk about payment, and what you plan on doing.  Which your father didn't ask, I am genuinely curious about people who teach me how to jab properly."

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They sparred. She kept out of his reach as much as she could, pouncing on openings but refusing to commit to standing directly in front of him. She figured that it was his biggest issue in combat. While she trusted him to hold back, she also imagined that anyone who knew how strong he was would do their best to keep out of his reach. She wasn't untouched, though, he surprised her a couple of times, Amir was slow, hard hitting and lacked agility, but he wasn't stupid. 

 

After a bit, she bounced back. "Straight on you can handle." She said. "But you didn't want help handling that sort of fight."

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"Well, I get to cheat normally.  But, sometimes I can't, and I need to account for that."  To his credit, he wasn't even winded, how much of that was his powers and how much was his training and conditioning was hard to say.  Then came a sloppy punch, he'd thrown it before, a big haymaker.  Mali'd realize before committed to blocking it that it was a feint, and so the follow up knee was without a target and Amir was left off balance, and her counter sent him on the mat.

"Gah... right in the pride.  Can we take a break and have branded sports drink beverage..."  Came snark from him sprawled on the mat, then he shoved himself up, "Besides we need to talk compensation and hammer out a schedule."

 

Edited by TheAbsurdist

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May 10th 5:30 AM

 

And Amir was still practicing what she had started.  It was something to fill the space for him, despite being just practical.  Given his wake-sleep cycle was really, really screwed up.  And with the revelation of his children, and then them being here in Freedom, or set to be... well it made sense he needed more to distract him, to clear his mind.  And he got better.  Noticeably.

 

Despite the rep that Amir had in all the tabloids, as a hero and a normal person, he hadn't been anything less than a gentleman, well apart from having a snarky and self-deprecating sense of humor, but then given the nature of these things that was unsurprising.

 

Now this time, it wasn't a training meeting meetup, not ostensibly as the intent was more get to the park and talk a bit.  He didn't tell her he was going to pay her, because he was getting annoyed at her being coy and/or mum, and while he could accept an IOU to her, she did not state that was on the table either.

 

So he was dressed in appropriate running attire, black track pants and a dark red shirt as he was stretching.

 

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Mali walked up, wearing blue jeans and a black t-shirt. "OH, hey, did you want to run, or....because I always keep training gear in my car." It was the truth, too. The generous trunk space of her car meant that she always, always had a few weights, something to change into, a towel, even a little bag of miscellaneous things she might need. "What's up?" She said. His form was fine, for stretching.

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He shrugged, "If you want, I just didn't want to invite you over to my house because there has been a bump crop of tabloid reporters and you don't need those stories."  Then came the flash of a smile, "Fortunately, they aren't up this early.  As if iniquity waits for any man!"  Amir barked out a laugh as he shook his head.

 

"Probably will pick back up after we're done, if you don't have any schedule conflicts more than welcome to tag along.  I've already got a couple hours in.  No, actually, what I need to discuss is payment.  You've been coy, so I thought something up, because... well you gave me the time do so, and that is just unwise.  Ask several media outlets."

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Mali shrugged. "I wasn't worried about payment, but I can respect that you'd want to. Honestly, whatever you think is fair is fine." She was clearly not used to accepting money for much of anything. She was relatively modest given her means. She had new clothes every year, good quality cosmetics, and a nice car. Her motorcycle was her one big, non-hero indulgence. She understood that her version of 'modest' was probably very different than most, but she also didn't want to live under the shadow of her family's money her whole life.

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"The sense of owing something without knowing what you owe them is problematic.  Especially for someone like me, Mali.  As money is pretty gauche and you don't need it, I figure I'd buy you something,  Now the central problem to you avoiding telling me what you'd take means I have to come up with something.  And that is never good."  He moved over to a bench and picked up a box on it, and then handed it to her.

 

"I mean, we have other options, at this point I almost want to offer you a job as bodyguard for Ana or other execs, if just because of all the PR stuff we have to do.  I am safe, but... Anyway, neither here nor there, please go ahead and enjoy your present."

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Mali took the box and gave Amir a look, but, it wasn't an angry one. She was curious, confused, but, she accepted it graciously. "Okay, well, cool." She smiled. "Thanks." She held it for a moment. Amir was, well, even richer than she was, even richer than her dad. The temptation to tear into the box was easily overrode by her self control. She would handle it graciously, and politely. So, she opened it.

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He grinned, broadly, in a way that indicated that he had wrapped around to amusing himself on this.  When she opened, it was an open faced motocycle helmet.  Pink, with a 1960's mod floral design on it.  Amir was grinning still, he arms folded across his chest as he looked at her.

 

"If you don't tell me, or try to be modest, then you will still get gifts.  I do have that whole cultural hospitality thing down.  It's kind of my bag Mali.  You almost got a bepto-pink Vespa."  He grinned at her, and then looked around surveying for the nefarious paparazzi.  

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Mali chuckled. It was not her style. Yet, it was cute, she couldn't deny it. She might even wear it from time to time. But, she did recognize the branding. It was high quality, and one of her usual brand. "Thank you." She said, sincerely. It was a nice helmet. Cute, she'd probably wear it occasionally. It was an odd contrast to her normal wear, but, that wasn't too bad of a thing. "I'll wear it....with one of my other riding jackets." Because, of course, she owned more than one.

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"There were worse ones.  Next time we'll work out a thing that is a bit more.  Even if it isn't money, I have friends and contacts.  Or just 'You owe Amir.'  That works too.  I didn't get here by having vague ill defined debts on the ledger."  He smiled a bit, and then he sighed, and rested his hands on his hips.

 

"That said... you are going to owe me a doozy.  So, you may or may not have heard that I have Kids?  Well one of them has powers it seems.  And she is having some issue and we don't have a rapport, yet... so I was wondering if you would be willing to help?  And this is just helping her, she'll talk to me if she wants to, but she has powers, they're dangerous, they seem to respond to her emotional state.  I am not precisely the most meditative, and she isn't really interested in talking to the Imam at the mosque I go to, which is fine."  He lifted a hand to his face, to cover the cough that came. 

 

"This would, of course, be another favor.  Which can include borrowing one of my jets if you want to bounce on short notice."

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Mali considered that. She liked Claremont, and she found herself using meditation to quell her more dangerous urges. It was self therapy, but it helped, a lot. She didn't like to admit that she enjoyed violence. She sometimes felt like she was holding her own leash. Yet, the awareness of that feeling was how she kept it at bay. She knew she could get bad, so, she didn't.

 

Reaching out to someone with powers and helping them might help. She was feeling a bit restless, she needed a bit more.

 

"Okay." She said. "I mean, sure. Probably do some phone conversations, get some things down, but I see what you're saying. I'm not that much older than her, she might talk to me."

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"I don't blame her not wanting to talk to me, after all, I am some weird guy she just met.  I mean, she already has a license, so I don't get to teach her to drive... Plus she loves Thai food, and is more athletic than I am, so there is that."  He frowned a little bit, as he looked to the side. "That is the hope...  She manipulates matter.  You should know before going it.  She hasn't really talk to me about it, and they have't really ran her through tests, yet but..."  Pursing his lips as he looked off somewhere else.

 

"Let's go for a run then.  Here."  He fished his keys out and offered it to her, "We're literally across the street from my townhouse.  You can change there."

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Mali jogged back to her car and fetched her clothes, and after a few minutes returned to Amir wearing a pair of black jogging shorts and a plain black t-shirt. She had a bottle of water with her. "You may be super tough, but I'm human." She said with a chuckle. "What's your daughter's name?" She asked. She wondered what sort of girl would come from him. He was a bit of bluster, a bit of swagger, but he had heart. She could tell that for all his foibles, he was sharper than he let on, and a good deal more compassionate than he appeared. She did her research, he was doing good work.

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