494/Grey Areas

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Grey Areas
Date of Scene: 13 March 2020
Location: Master Oyama's Training Hall, Gotham
Synopsis: Two souls spar and don't tell secrets.
Cast of Characters: Vic Sage, Alanna Lyons

Vic Sage has posed:
    Away from the city proper, Gotham is still an oppressive sight. That grim skyline hangs dominant to the East, shrouded at times by the gloom provided by the heavy industry so near with Bludhaven in that near environs. During the day it can look almost like some sort of mechanical architectural virus that has exploded across the world and engulfed that section of coast. But at night time, one can almost appreciate the beauty.
    For most it's the lights, the twinkling cascade of brilliant illumination so far off, the slow moving pace of the cars on the multiple interstates that sweep around it provide the illusion of a pulse to the great thing that is the city. But even that brilliance can become oppressive over time.
    Which is why people leave. Which is why Oyama's training hall provides a place of refuge for some of the more talented artists near.
    On the far outskirts of Gotham, along the river and leading inland, old buildings sprawl. Buildings that were once beautiful in the 50s, now lie empty and with no attention. Closer to Gotham they are overrun with indigents. But this far out it is quiet and some still manage to live a life of reasonable quiet. Even if it is off the grid.
    It is there that Master Oyama had made his home, though he had passed several years back. The old corner storage building was deceptive from the outside with its high ten foot tall fence surrounding the parking lot. And the building itself with the windows boarded up or soaped over. But for those that the old master had trusted, they were given a glimpse of something better. Peace in a way.
    For behind that gate leading into the parking area behind the fence, there was no cement, no hint of the modern world. It was a Japanese garden that was subdued and green, a small path wending its way from the gate toward the small double doors leading into the building proper. A water feature quietly filled a bamboo spout as the rivulet that fed it trickled over low stones and gentle reeds. When the feature filled the spout, it tipped over slooowly until there was a soft 'thok' of the bamboo touching one of the stones, emptying, then returning upright. Several cherry blossom trees provided shade as one moved within.
    But inside that building was a training hall that some few knew of. Hard wood floors were graced with murals depicting tigers and dragons upon the walls. Racks of weapons were on display, and a small Shinto shrine rested at one end of that hall, a shrine with master Oyama's image in the place of honor.
    It was mostly empty, this evening. Within the hall all was quiet save for that faint 'thok' from the garden. And it was here, that Victor Sage could finally find some hint of peace as he relaxed. Letting the weight of his obligations fall. Letting the heaviness of his efforts. Letting the concerns drop away. Here was quiet reflection, and in some ways... sanctuary.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Everyone needs an escape. Regardless if a person wears a cape, crunches numbers, or raises children, there's something someone has to do to get rid of the world for a while and to really get to something /other/. In Alanna's case, this has been Master Oyama's. Things felt simple there. Complications were only an afterthought. Out there she might have a lot to think about, a lot to carry with her. In here, she didn't have to be anything.

Alanna liked it when it was empty, quiet. There were even less distractions then but another soul wasn't something she minded. She's quiet when she enters, quiet even if she's not sure if anyone's there. It's a reverence to the place. She enters, gym bag carried rather than thrown over a shoulder, the gear she's wearing making it clear she's there to practice.

Vic Sage has posed:
    A slender bit of incense was still wisping a tendril of smoke up towards the ceiling, having been placed in a glass holder near to that shrine and image. It's there that the other practitioner was when she entered. A glance was all she likely needed to consider him. Tall, an inch or so over six feet. Strong shoulders and a broad chest though partially hidden by the loose jacket of a gi that was cinched by a black belt so well-worn that it was almost grey and frayed at the ends. Loose pants completed the outfit. Traditional, and having clearly seen many years of training. For most places Victor would go as he liked. But Master Oyama deserved such respect.
    He turned and for a brief instant there might be a moment of consideration, suspicion. But it's a look that shifts away quickly as the man gives her a nod. "My apologies."
    He speaks in a level tone, "I hadn't expected anyone else to be here. If I'm intruding..." The word trails off.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna waves it off with a hand as she takes another quick peek around to see if there was anyone else about. Satisfied that she knows the area's occupants, she turns back. "There is no need for apologies," she offers, her tone peaceful, soft. There's still a reverence for the place. It means something. "If you're intruding, then I must be as well. Two people can dwell in the same place and not disturb people, however."

She sets her bag down. "I'll do my best to stay silent and out of your way."

Vic Sage has posed:
    There is something about her, something that triggers that brown-haired man's consideration. Small tendrils of thought begin to wend together, swirling and connecting. But then he shakes his head and looks away with a smile. Much easier to be Victor than Question in some ways, but harder as well. "No need for that."
    Yet ever the reporter, ever the detective, he lifts his chin and asks, "Did you know Master Oyama well?" A small smile is there, a glance given to the image of the shrine, then back to her. "The more people I speak to of him, it seems like the more sides of his story I can see."
    He steps back and to the side, giving her the room she would need if she wished to begin exercising. For now he is content to speak and perhaps consider his own path.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"There are always more sides to a story," Alanna agrees. She doesn't start her exercise right away, simply seeming to be adjusting to him being in the same space for a moment. "I studied under him, yes, but I didn't know him half as well as I would have liked." There's a fondness in her voice--she's always had great respect for the man.

Seeming satisfied that she's comfortable continuing on, she moves to the empty space, starting a few stretches to get ready. "I take it you were as well?"

Vic Sage has posed:
    "I was introduced to him by a friend." Or an enemy, depending on what Lady Shiva tends to be from week to week when she deigns to speak with him. Vic eases back against the wall, arms folded over his chest as he ponders something. "Two years ago, when he was having some problems with the state considering making all of this zoned for imminent domain." He gestures with one hand to the room in general, but likely means the neighborhood itself.
    "Tried to get him to consider moving." His lip curls a little, smile turning a little wistful, "But he was stubborn. And turned out he was right to fight it."
    Looking back to her as she stretches he answers, "And that sums up Master Oyama in a nutshell I imagine."
    He straightens up and then says, "Sorry, I'm being rude, my name's Victor Sage. Or Vic."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Pleased to meet you, Vic. I'm Alanna," Alanna's words are smooth, moving straight from the introduction back to the prior topic. "It sounds as if you knew him very well. I'm always pleased to hear that he had people looking out for him. He was a good man... stubborn certainly sums him up. I don't consider it a flaw."

Some of the best people are the stubborn ones, in her eyes. "And you come back here, even after he's gone. Seems you stubbornly refuse to leave as well."

Vic Sage has posed:
    "The thirteenth of each month," Vic replies even as he steps out onto the tatami mats, though still a distance away. Slowly he lunges to he side, stretching out his thighs and bending his left knee until he rests his hands on the mats and bounces there a few times, loosening up the limb as his fingers rest there splayed to give more support. Then he shifts legs, leaning the other way, wincing a little at the full extension.
    "I made a promise, I try to keep them." Though his eyes lift upwards and he bites his lower lip as the joint makes a faint cartilaginous /crackle/, before he pushes himself to his feet, stretching his arms out. For a moment he gives a nod, "Would you like to train together?" He looks around the solemn peaceful place, eyes distancing thoughtfully. "Sometimes makes it easier."
    And then his lip twists up a little, "Slightly less spooky." Since there /is/ an element of the skeery to the place if one looks at it from a 'The Ring' point of view. Maybe.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Her stretches are long and slow, Alanna taking her time as she does. She's stretching, but she's studying him at the same time, the way she'd do an opponent--even before he asks about training. "I could use a partner for this, yes," she agrees. "I imagine you aren't here to just sit and enjoy the Master's lingering spirit."

She nods towards the shrine a little bit. "Not that he's not good company."

Vic Sage has posed:
    A few steps carry him over and he settles into a cross-legged seat opposite her. Closer she can get a better handle for him. Handsome in a sort of haggard older man sense, with maybe day's worth of stubble for a beard. His hair is brown and ragged, looking like he could use with a trip to the barber, but it actually passes decently in the style of 'just hopped out of bed chic'. But his eyes... look curiously soulful as he meets her gaze and extends his hands. "Not particularly,"
    He stretches his legs out, and she'll likely recognize the partner stretching exercise when each martial artist stretch their legs out into a V, feet touching feet and then link hands, pulling back and forth as if rowing a boat to get a good stretch on the inner thighs. "I don't get a chance to train as often as I used to. Maybe it's sentimentality. Maybe it's something else, but it's nice to get out of Gotham now and again."
    Then his lip twists, "And meet new people, despite the strangeness of the circumstance."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Getting out is good," Alanna agrees, moving to seat herself so as to move into the stretch. "I find things have more perspective when you get out and clear your head. And sometimes, you don't even want a new perspective, you just want everything to be still for once."

As she begins the stretch, she smiles wryly. "New people are alright. Perhaps it's the strageness of the circumstance that makes it all the more interesting. Different is refreshing."

Vic Sage has posed:
    His hands are firm, strong as he holds hers, not pressing however, even when they begin that slow exercise. Just firm enough to provide enough leverage as their feet hold their position. First he'll draw back, leaning away and pulling her forward, then they swap as she leans back. It's a good way to loosen up for the required movements of their chosen artforms, even as he meets her gaze while they move.
    "You have a nice way of looking at things, Alanna." When she pulls him back he winces for a moment but continues the stretch. Four rotations of that and then they'll likely feel its effects.
    Rising up he rolls his shoulder and frowns as he moves to one of the columns that support the rafters and the roof, padded though it is just in case someone runs into it while exercising.
    "How long have you been training? And, if I may, what is your chosen style?" As he asks this he turns his back to her and draws one leg up, chambering as if he were throwing a kick then extends his foot upwards onto that column, uncoiling in a standing split that causes him some measure of discomfort but his flexibility is impressive considering.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Since I was twelve, really, maybe a bit younger. It's hard to remember," Alanna's just aware it's been a long time at this point. "As for your question about what my chosen style is, I find it varies. I've been studying for long enough and in enough styles that I find it changes based on time, mood, need... plenty of variables. And I like to keep people guessing."

She slowly rises to her feet. "You seem as if you're very... familiar with things. I take it you've been studying a long time?"

Vic Sage has posed:
    Lowering his leg and then swapping side, he extends the other up and then reeeeaches up with both hands to grab the bottom of his foot, straining that side that had been giving him a hard time. Some old bruise or injury that likely preys on him for the moment. But once that stretch is done he smiles and rolls his shoulders through their range of motion, his neck. Then his eyes meet hers and he murmurs, "Based on your mood?" That last word murmured with a hint of emphasis as if a touch incredulous.
    "What sort of mood are you in now?" But then he goes on to answer her latter question, "A little less than yourself, actually. I picked it up when I was young, then put it down. Then I met someone who gave me a really hard time about wasting the efforts of my teachers and now..."
    He uncurls a hand toward the room, and his smile widens a little, so nice in some ways to relax and just be Vic, and not be everything else. "And now, I train perhaps mainly out of guilt?" He grins her way as if expecting her to give him grief for that, then again perhaps not.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"I'm not sure how I'm feeling yet," Alanna says, still studying him. "Relaxed, perhaps. Neutral. I don't think I've been here long enough tonight to snap from the calm I get from being here. Easier to start fresh when you walk through those doors."

Her arms are stretched out, one before the other, an amused grin reaching across her features as she listens to him. "We all have our reasons. Guilt is not the worst that I've heard. I do it because everyone deserves something reliable in their life, something to invest in that gives big returns. What better than this?"

Vic Sage has posed:
    For a time he looks across the way at the photo and the shrine, smiling a little as if having expected Oyama-Sensei to have heard what they were saying, and likely... he would have laughed. A nice thing to imagine. But it's what Alanna says that draws his attention.
    "That..." For a moment Vic's eyebrow quirks and he seems to look past her, "Seems like a very good way to look at it." As if her answer surprised him as well. Then his features fall a little for some reason, some brief shadowy glimmer of his normal expression behind that mask. Though it is there and gone in a fraction of a second. He seems to heave a small 'heh' with a nod and then says, "Would you care to spar some? Or do you have a routine you tend to follow?"
    As he asks her he's stepping out upon those mats, footsteps quiet as he walks, hands upon his hips. "I usually..." He looks across the way at the other room where there's some exercise equipment, an open area for kata, a heavy bag. But the main room here for sparring gets his last glance as he adds, "Wing it."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Then wing it," Alanna offers, loosening herself up for a long moment. "I'll be your opponent, if you'd like." She does seem to have noticed the impact of some words, a brief moment of /something/, and surge of compassion seems to have washed over her. "Although if you're distracted, I can use the bag," she says. It's not a mockery of him, it sounds... kind. She gestures in the bag's direction before looking back at him.

Vic Sage has posed:
    His breath escapes him with a small 'heh', it's a rough thing, as if he's not used to doing it so often, and might have surprised himself with that expression. Victor lifts a hand to push it through that rough mane of his as if trying to straighten it, failing.
    "No," Vic tilts his head back and says, "It would be nice to have someone new that I have no presumptions about nor expectations."
    His footsteps are quiet upon the mats as he moves across them, feet kicking up small tufts of that fabric with each step, not enough to be seen, but enough to give that old scent to the room, mixed with the melange of the incense it creates a unique atmosphere all its own.
    Turning to face her, "Any rules before hand? I'll trust you to set the pace. I'll try and keep up." And as he says that he shifts his feet slightly, rubbing the ball of his foot on the mat as if getting a feel for the place.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
/That/ gets a bit of a smile from Alanna. "No expections or presumptions. That, I can certainly appreciate." It's all she wants, sometimes, just that freedom. Her stance changes a little bit, just a preparation of movement, a gathering of nerves together to focus on a single thing--a spar.

"Rules are simple. Anything goes, with the exception of anything particularly dirty... no low blows or hair pulling, that sort of thing. But feel free to get creative, if you like. I appreciate it as an art, but what is art if you don't let yourself create new things that break boundaries."

She gives him a slow nod. "It stops the second one of us wants it to stop."

Vic Sage has posed:
    Even as he bows in recognition, there is still that distance to him, that subtle feeling of his being there, but also his thoughts being elsewhere somehow. Not lacking attention, but more as if he was pondering several things at once. For the evidence of his paying such close attention to her is the way his eyebrows raise when she mentions breaking boundaries, and the last of her conditions.
    For a moment it's like he looks on her anew. For the people he has met here before have been warriors, assassins, artists. Perhaps there is more to her than she offers. Then again... can't that be said for him as well?
    "Very well," There's a formality now to him. And she may well sense that subtle change. To old masters so well trained in the art, and those who embrace the mystic side of the martial arts, she might feel she can sense his 'chi'. That roiling sense of power that swirls between them. An awareness of the other that transcends the common as they both focus on what is before them.
    He turns, and brings his hands up slowly, settling into a side stance with one hand forward and open, the other held low and against his hip, closed into a fist. There's a whisper of movement as the toe of his foot sliiiides along the tatami mat, then presses down into the fabric as he strikes that defensive stance.
    Quietly he tells her the single word which signals the beginning, "Hajime." And then he awaits her.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Perhaps the rules were made so that she could test him? It's hard to tell what her intentions are with it, just that she set them the way she did for a particular reason. Alanna's bow is simple, humble, and reverent. She respects her opponent, even without really knowing him yet. She has no reason not to, after all.

"Hajime," she echoes the word. And then it begins. It doesn't begin with anything surprising, not at first. It's a check--she's briefly checking to see how aggressive he is immediately after starting, but when she's not immediately attacks, she doesn't wait to suss him out. She starts with an aggressive move, a sweeping kick intended to try to get him to the floor quickly.

Vic Sage has posed:
    The rhythm begins as she moves in and his eyes hold hers. Though one can sometimes read aggression there with their calm facade of features it would be hard. But one can ever see aggression coming when the shoulders tense, and the head leans forwards ever so slightly. So he is ready as she closes that distance, a low quick striking at his balancing leg that makes him retreat the needed step. And instantly move back in to counter with a straight punch aimed at her cheek...
    Only for her to recover and make the needed block. They each seem, to be gauging, testing, taking their time. His punch was thrown at perhaps half-speed, and when she brushes it to the side he continues with another that leads with him turning and chambering a leg for a turning back kick, the fabric of his gi snapping as he brings it in, then unleashes toward he waist with that steady extension. Still half-speed, still at ease.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
It's a game of tests. A way, beyond other things, to see how the other person thinks, what they think is important, their strategy. It's a mind game as much as it is a physical one. At first, Alanna is more interested in the physical--she came for physical exertion, the ability to release some energy through application of force. So she is certainly very into the spar. A punch is aimed for his head, a fast one but not fast enough that he can't block.

She's also enjoying the mind game, though. It's not one she gets all the time, not with someone who can keep up, not with someone who is thinking two steps ahead the way she is. Things are tested and measured to try new things out and see just how things change and adapt based off it.

Vic Sage has posed:
    And from what she can tell, he can keep up. His arm comes up as she snaps out that fist for his head and she'll feel the impact against his wrist as he makes the block needed, accepting that jolt and then pushing her arm to the side and away. He steps in, foot lifting then coming down as he tries to perhaps catch hers, yet she's able to step back and then mirrors his movement of before when his punch is accepted.
    For a brief instant they stand there with his open hand against her wrist. His eyes narrow slightly in recognition, perhaps a hint of understanding as hey share that moment together, the scent of the dojo, the incense, the first moments of exertion.
    And that realization that the person opposite can likely handle them at their best.
    He turns, a knee coming up only for her to block with her shin against his. They both push off and then when he snaps back into line, fists up, he brings his knee up chambering a front thrust kick and lashes out at her with a sharp, "SEI!"
    Perhaps it's that moment that they may realize that the room had been utterly silent, save for the soft sounds of their footsteps and their controlled breathing.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna's enjoying it. It's rare she doesn't have to worry about holding back to look like someone's equal. In this case, she can fight and just let the movements become natural... so she's enjoying this a lot more than a usual spar. Perhaps it's even visible in the way a smile tugs at her lips as they go, though her calm demeanor doesn't waver.

The kick, she clearly could have blocked. He's seen enough to have a feeling she could have. But, for some reason, she takes the blow, stumbling back a few feet reflexively from the impact. Just as smoothly, she returns to where she was, fighting stance back at the ready. Huh.

Vic Sage has posed:
    That does cause a momentary hint of confusion, as he had struck with that kick harder than he would have expected in anticipation of her making the block. It's enough to cause him a brief instant of pause, hands lowering slightly. But then he sees... she is entirely unphased. And where he struck, her abdomen didn't seem to give at all. His eyebrows barely register, barely lift. Again he redoubles that calm blank facade, gaze finding hers again as he nods once sharply. His hands return to ready position then he nods as he tells her simply, "Osu."
    And once again they are moving together.
    The tatami mats whisper with the slight shifts of pressure, moving from one point to another. He steps in turning his hips, bringing one leg up to try and catch her front leg's calf with the toe of his foot in a short sharp side kick, testing now, striking a little faster as he then steps in and rechambers after that move trying to fire a second kick at the side of her head.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
While the first time he had hit her with a strong blow, it appeared as if she took it just fine and was not shaken. Alanna continues the spar, managing to dodge the short kick, but not the one aimed for her head. But again, with the speed with which she had dodged in the first place, she should have easily have gotten out of it. Was she /trying/ to get hit?

She does stumble back a few paces--a head blow isn't always the best thing and she takes a moment to shake it off before stalking forward to resume. That certainly didn't unphase her, but she's /letting/ him hit those heavy blows whenever he tries. The question is: why?

Vic Sage has posed:
    For once the man known at times as The Question does not voice his curiousity. As if to do so might offer some hint of disrespect. But she can see the trepidation, the small hint of hesitation as he squares up with her again and takes his stance, readying himself. When she advances again he'll meet her head on and accepts what strikes she aims. Holding himself back behind his guard.
    For a time his eyes find hers, the silent question is there, she can read it there as easily as she can sense him turning and drawing his arm back against his body. For an instant the lapels of his gi flare as he moves. A glimpse at the skin beneath the fabric, the powerful muscular line of hard pectorals and... scars?
    But then she can read him as he turns and tries to bring an elbow around though at three quarters speed, though firmly executed. It is a strong blow, but briefly gives her his back as he makes that turn.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
He asked the question with his eyes, but hers don't entirely betray what the answer is, it feels more of a question of words in this case. It seems, for a brief moment, that Alanna will take the hit again, but when his back is turned just slightly, the opportunity is taken. Her foot strikes out, going for the back of the knee with a swift kick, her voice breaking the silence with an "AYAH!". The quick follow up is her punching at his ribs, mirroring the sound of "AYAH!" with a short follow up, moving to try and pull him down into a sleeper hold.

It's the first time she's really done much to break the silence since they started.

Vic Sage has posed:
    It is a perfect movement, taught by Master Oyama himself. To punish and make your opponent suffer when they try to go for a powerful strike at the sacrifice of their defense. And she does make Victor pay.
    When she steps in he'll feel that short sharp /smack/ of the knife's edge of her foot pressing in hard against his knee, breaking his balance and staggering him slightly to the side only for her to follow up with that short sharp kiyai and the feeling of her fist striking /hard/ right there in his side. It does as she has trained, the first robbing him of balance and momentum, the second lowering his guard and then she is able to slip in and snake her arm around his throat.
    For moment she has him, his back against her chest as one hand lifts to try and stop her from exerting too much pressure too quickly as he tucks his chin down making it harder for her to lock down that choke. His other hand reaches back to try and grab the back of her head as if making ready to hurl her over his shoulder, already dropping his weight to the other knee.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
He's still trying to get out, so Alanna puts the pressure on more, dropping the two of them to the mat. She struggles to keep him there, wrapping her legs around him so tha she can continue the hold in an attempt to choke him out. She focuses her strength into the hold, taking in a deep breath and letting it out in a "tsssssaaaaah" sound.

Vic Sage has posed:
    For her it's likely the struggle, the attempt to gain the hold, to lock it in and execute the technique. This close it's all heat and intensity, the rasp of rough fabric against skin, the strain of two athletic forms attempting to gain an edge. For him, there's the roar of pressure and the sound of blood pounding in his ears as he tries to snap forwards and take her down to the mats... only for her to surrender balance with a snap of motion, her legs scissoring up to catch upon his hips and sacrifice so they both hit the ground on their sides.
    There's an impact, an elbow striking her side sharply, strong... but still not as strong as she likely struck him. Not enough to break the feeling of her bicep clenching against his neck. And for once, Sage exhales a breath that's close to a laugh as he shakes his head, even when she uses it to tighten up that choke.
    She's better than he expected. And for once, he's pleased about being wrong.
    For a few bare seconds there it is all straining, pressure, intensity. The sound of her breath against his ear as she struggles to hold him, and then the flares of fireworks flashing before his eyes as consciousness starts to steal away...
    And then he taps, three quick times on her arm to signal she has that point.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
It's not that Alanna's not affected by the blows, she's just got one hell of a poker face. When she releases him, she takes a moment to wince at the spot where his elbow connected with her. She takes a good moment to breathe deeply, before she gets to her feet and turns towards him to help get him to his, should he need it.

But the concern is there. They're sparring, but she's being overly cautious. "You good?"

Vic Sage has posed:
    One hand is lifted to his neck as he rubs there a little bit, but then he pushes himself to his feet in time to get her offered hand and accepts it just for the last moment of standing up. There's a smile on his rugged features as he says calmly, "Yeah." He scrunches up one eye as he rubs at his side and tells her, "You've got a mean right hook on you." Though he does step back and slap his sides with his hands before bowing to her and says, "Osu."
    "I shouldn't have underestimated you." Which, to be fair, he shouldn't have.
    A few steps away and he turns at the starting point from before. He brings his hands up, shifting balance between left foot and right, then nods once. "Ready." He meets her gaze, cultivates that control, the calm eyes return as she can likely feel the slight touch of their chi entwining again. He is set.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Osu." The bow is returned as Alanna looks back over at him at the mention of estimations. "I get that more than you know," she says, smiling genuinely at that. She does get underestimated, though it's usually for different reasons. She takes in a breath, maybe a second extra taken before she begins to prepare herself again. She settles into their starting position, then gives him a slow nod. "Ready," she agrees.

This time, though, she doesn't jump in to bridge the gap. This one's more of the mind game. She's watching him, waiting to see if he'll make the first move or if she can sneak one in at a vulnerable opportunity. She does stalk half a step closer, light on her feet.

Vic Sage has posed:
    Slow careful movements now, they have the gauge of each other, a better understanding. Eyes hold eyes as their hands remain forward as if floating and ready to strike or grasp or turn. He starts to circle, falling into an easy rhythm of step to counter step as they begin closing that distance. Outside there's barely a sound, no hint of the world beyond, though slender slivers of light from the moon sneak through the high windows and paint a faint hue of illumination along the white legs of their gi pants.
    Another step.
    Another. Then close enough that he moves in leaping with a quick trio of strikes, punching straight toward her side, her shoulder, a backfist snapping out to her jaw as he murmurs a quick 'sei!' Those attacks more to keep her on her back foot, to force her to either value her position or her defense.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
It's a tough call. While she wants to favor her position, he's hitting hard. Reluctantly, Alanna switches to the defensive. She stays that way, intending to try and tire him a bit, to allow his aggression to make it easier for him to slip up and giving her an opening. It does, however, mean the same for her. He can wear down her defenses and after having blatently taken a few hits in the first round, she may be a little more tired than she's been letting on.

For a moment, she looks like she wants to say something, but she doesn't, leaving the room in relative silence again.

Vic Sage has posed:
    He doesn't seem tired, though there is a faint sheen of sweat to his brow and the hollow of is throat, just a hint of exertion from their exercise together. They aren't too too serious in the moment, so when she looks like she wants to say something he does draw up short a little, not quite stopping their match but lightly throwing a few punches in that way when boxers what to keep up and have a small chat during a bout.
    "Something wrong?" He asks as he moves to the side, hands held up and lightly pushing a counter of hers out of the way, just a small brush of forearm to forearm in a smooth circular motion.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Overthinking," Alanna replies, giving things a moment or two of a calm pace before she tries to refocus, gathering in what calm she can to center herself and get back to what she's doing. While her stance is strong and she seems fairly together, there's still something. So she holds a hand up.

"Just... give me a second."

Vic Sage has posed:
    The man's brown eyes meet her gaze and then he lowers his stance while she asks calmly for that moment. He gives a single nod and smiles at her, "Sure, take two." And without further ado he settles down upon the mats, folding his legs up underneath him to sit cross-legged. It lets him twist to the side slooowly, hands splay-fingered on the mats to help him turn and stretch his spine, then let him twist back the other way.
    He lifts his chin and watches her, then murmurs, "Is something the matter?"

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"It's nothing," Alanna shakes her head a bit. She doesn't sit, she stands there, breathing deeply as she tries to pull her focus back in, release her tension, calm herself. "My head's not in the room. Thinking too hard about out there, not in here. This is supposed to be my escape. I just need to refocus."

Vic Sage has posed:
    Straightening up and resting his feet in front of him, he settles his forearms on his knees and tilts his head to the side to consider her, gaze level with her, eyes attentive. There's a moment where he lets his eyes distance, thoughtful and measuring as he turns his head to the side and murmurs. "If that was you distracted, then I'd hate to match up against you when you were fully focused." Since, to be fair, there aren't a huge number of people that can keep up with Vic when he's on his game.
    There's a nod and he gestures for her to take a seat opposite him, "Come on. Sometimes talking to a person whom you don't really know, and whom doesn't really know you, can be a blessing. The freedom of anonymity it's called. Maybe we talk a little, continue another time."

Alanna Lyons has posed:

Alanna laughs for a short second before she takes a seat. "You're right, we don't know each other. But maybe that makes it easier." It usually does, she's found. Things get messy quick when her family gets involved in the picture... which is usually.

"Perhaps I am just distracted because I have to work a lot and I feel like no matter what I do, I'm going to disappoint someone. Impossible choices. Sometimes thoughts about those linger, even here. Usually I hit the bag," she gestures with a hand, "because it doesn't fight back and I'm not sizing it up the whole time. Different dynamic with a person here."

Vic Sage has posed:
    His gaze drifts to the side as she speaks and he nods slowly, perhaps knowing exactly how she feels. He uncurls a hand toward her as he says, "If my presence is disturbing to you, I could leave." His lip turns up a little as he looks toward that sliding door in the back of the room that leads back out to the garden, his head tilting to the side. "Sometimes I meet someone here on this day during the month, but usually she doesn't show. And I doubt she will come here by this time of night. So my business is done here."
    That said he looks back and says, "Unless you'd rather have someone to talk to." His lip lifts, "Someone who has nothing to gain and offers no judgment."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"Oh no, I didn't mean to imply you should leave," Alanna shakes her head quickly. "I just meant to explain that you're a punching bag, not a person, and are thus infinitely more complicated." She gives him a small nod. "I appreciate the lack of judgment. Life is full enough of that." There's a long pause before she continues.

"When you're punching a bag, your thoughts are interior, you think about whatever it is you want to and are in control of things the whole time. A person shows up, you're thinking and reacting to them. You aren't in control of the situation... so sometimes stray thoughts simply decide to make their way in. Hence the needing a minute."

There's a pause. "I could have kept going, but I think if I took too many more of those hits on purpose you'd find it an unappearling fight and call an end to it." She just did admit she was throwing things a bit in some way.

Vic Sage has posed:
    She can see him listening to her, watching her, no movement as he does so. It's almost as if part of him had shifted off to give her his full attention. He's unmoving save to follow her with his eyes, and when he tilts his head and straightens. "So you were wanting to get hit?" A pause then he tilts his head back the other way. "Penance?" He then asks as he watches the young woman in her gi.
    He settles his legs under him, drawing one up into his lap as he bounces that knee a little. The one she struck if she might recall, but he's loosening it up a little more.
    "What was the thought that distracted you?" He asks purely out of curiousity. For now, Alanna is no longer just a casual sparring partner. She is a conundrum. A question.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna turns her head to look at him. She nods, slowly, in agreement. "Penance," she says. "Not very fun if your sparring partner doesn't fight though. Hope you won't hold it against me." She stretches a little, mostly to occupy herself with something. It's hard to sit and look at someone when you're trying to think about things you're trying not to think about.

"We were sparring, and I thought for a brief second I might have hurt you. It became a rabbit hole."

Vic Sage has posed:
    "Alanna," Vic says her name for the first time, watching her, holding her gaze as he tilts his head. "That's admirable, maybe. If we weren't here trying to train how to protect ourselves." His smile is there but barely, his humor leaning more toward the calm aspects of the man. He lifts his chin, "I've trained with many people, and some who would actively try to make sure I was paying attention or else they'd let me know they were displeased. I even have a scar from one."
    He motions inside his gi jacket as if to indicate which scar, but then he says. "I'm a big boy. And what we were doing was playing. I'll tell you if something hurts or if I need to stop."
    There's a slight gleam in his eye as he says, "Should we decide on a safe word together?"

Alanna Lyons has posed:
There's a bit of a laugh as Alanna listens to him talk. "That's... not quite what I meant. You didn't start learning yesterday. You're tough, that much is obvious, so I'm not worried about you. You're just fine. It was more that I was worrying about /me/." She pauses to think about what she's saying, then moves her legs to stretch them a little.

"Nevermind, it's a dumb thought. Just forget about it." She does, however, get a bit of a laugh at his quip in the end. "Never hurts to be safe," she gives a bit of a smile, almost a grin.

Vic Sage has posed:
    "Please, tell me." He asks before she can shift and change the topic, "It's not a dumb thought." Then he draws one knee up, resting an arm on it as he looks so casual there on the floor with the tatami mats underneath him. His head shifts to the other side as he says, "Think about it, we'll never have this chance again. A first meeting, possibly the only one we'll ever have together. A chance to speak openly about things as we can. Next time we'll know each other. We'll be Vic and Alanna, with a shared past. Really you shouldn't pass this chance up."
    His smile is a little playful, still a touch deadpan, but then just as she might be smiling he adds. "Also my favorite safe word is banana pudding."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
She's clearly a bit conflicted. On one hand, they don't know each other. That's a safe bet. Everything has no context. On the other hand, it leads bread crumbs that can be followed and eventually create a whole mess. It's a gamble.

"I sparred, understanding you were experienced enough to take whatever I threw at you, regardless of what it was. So when there was a brief second that I thought you might have been hurt, while I did care what happened to you the distracting thought was /me/. Me causing damage. Pain. Hurt. Not the kind that wears off after a couple of days," Alanna shakes her head a bit. "Just funny what things set people off, right?"

She moves right on though. "You know, the fact that you have a favorite means you need more than one." Alanna rubs her chin as if to figure him out. "You probably have a whole collection."

Vic Sage has posed:
    "Or a long list of dangerous exes." Which is, unfortunately, somewhat true. But Victor says calmly, "Forgive me for saying as much, Alanna. But you seem to carry a lot of weight with you. And you need to talk about it." He then looks to the side, back to the door through whence they came, eyes drifting as he considers matters, and what has passed for him, then he looked back to her.
    "If not to me, then to someone else. All I can do is tell you that it takes a lot more than that to make me cry uncle. And you had piqued my curiousity."
    He then pushes himself to his feet slowly, rolling one shoulder as he says, "I was wondering what else you could show me. Teach me."
    There's a smile, "If you still want to try. That is."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna gives a bit of a laugh, though a bitter one. "There's... not really anyone I can talk to. Anyone I can talk to isn't going to help so much." She mirrors his movement and slowly gets up to her feet. "I carry a lot of weight for a reason. If I could get rid of it, I would, but life rarely gives us absolutes or easy exits out."

She nods in his direction. "I don't think I'd be much of a teacher for you. One round of sparring and I can tell you have to be at least as good as I am, if not better." She reaches her leg out to bump his leg with her foot, the equivalent of a playful nudge without getting too far into his personal bubble. "So why're you asking?"

Vic Sage has posed:
    A breath is taken, just a long pull and held as he ponders her words, then he nods. "I've felt like that before. And still do at times. We both know..." He touches a hand to his chest and then opens that hand toward her, indicating the two of them. "That there are things we wouldn't be comfortable talking about. But at least we have some semblance of distance."
    But then he smiles as he waves off her later words, "Just because we can fight each other to a stand still doesn't mean there's nothing for us to learn of each other." That said he smiles a little and he straightens up. And when she nudges him with her foot he lets his smile ease into being a little more playful. He casually lifts a hand to her shoulder and nudges her, "Besides. It was nice to match against someone and have to focus. And also there's..." He looks to the side, "A surrender to when someone makes you tap. For a brief second it's peaceful, as you have no cares. Your everything is in the other person's hands."

Alanna Lyons has posed:
There's a conflicted look on Alanna's face at the talk. It's not the nudge that seems to do it but the suggestion of surrender. And boy does it /ever/ seem to set something off. It's hard to tell what it is, but there's something going on behind her eyes. "Don't," she says, slowly after a moment. "Don't ever surrender to me. You can tell me to stop, but... don't ever put anyone's everything in my hands, even for a second."

She does her best to straighten up and try to return to that playful mood, but it's a little hard to ignore what just happened.

Vic Sage has posed:
    At first he blinks, then he tries to explain with one hand coming up as he says, "I was..." But something in her checks him, checks those words as he just then decides to nod and rests his hands on his hips as he murmurs. "Alright. I won't." Though assuredly there is more there that she's not telling.
    "Maybe..." The tall haggard looking man sort of smiles a little then says gently, "You'd like to talk some time. Maybe there'll be a time down the line when you think you can't tell anyone anything. But... you can give me a call. Even though I'm just some weird guy you met in a friend of a friend's dojo. And you can tell me what's bothering you. And I'll tell you that maybe you're not as bad of a person as you think you are."
    "Objectively. Since I have nothing to lose nor gain." His lip curves up a little. "Alright?"

Alanna Lyons has posed:
Alanna's now treading into dangerous waters, mostly because she's unsure where solid ground is. "Right, sorry, I... just had a long day, that's all." She straightens her gi, trying to use it as a focusing tool to straighten herself. She'll be alright. She tries to shake it off, but it's not working so well. And he's talking.

"This conversation we're having right here is okay, because I don't know you and you don't know me. We could be /anyone/. I could tell you things right now and walk away and that'd be it. You said you'd tell me I'm not as bad of a person as I think I am. You don't know that." She lets out a deep breath. "I already feel like I've cracked too far around the edges."

Vic Sage has posed:
    "You ever think the fact that your conscience weighing on you so is perhaps the strongest argument that you might be better than you think?" As he says this he steps towards her and rests his hands on her shoulders, gently, but taking grip on her gi and holding for the moment. She likely can read what he's doing, starting that slow casual exercise used in jiu-jitsu where you just hold onto your partner and try and get an edge with your footwork, and once you do then you can gently pull them over into a throw, but not end it and just help them back up. It builds that routine, that muscle memory, but what is more it allows nearness to be shared.
    He takes a deep breath and starts that gentle dance with her, just moving in time, not forcing anything, letting her fall into step as well and then when she perhaps decides to join in fully, he lets her take the lead. Including letting her decide when to flip him over her hip and hold him, or when she wants to take him down to the mats.
    But for now it's like they're dancing, close to each other, feeling the warmth of their nearness, the faint brush of his breath against her cheek. "For now, Alanna. Just think of the here and now." And as he says that he rests his brow against hers, the small beadlet of sweat on his cheek slipping down his features, disappearing into the valley of his chest.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
The dialogue was building to a breaking point, so when it becomes less dialogue and more of an exercise again, the tension in Alanna eases. It's less of a weight when she doesn't have to explain herself or teeter so close to the truths she doesn't want to bear. She didn't even realize she /needed/ to talk to anyone.

The exercise is familiar, she's practiced it over and over in the past. So she moves her hands where they need to be to hold him securely, then, when she's sure he's prepared, flips him over the side of her hip and holds him so he doesn't fall to the mat.

Vic Sage has posed:
    All becomes quiet, becomes calm as with her help he slowly regains his feet. Then they lock up again, his hands upon her shoulders, hers upon his. Sometimes the grips change subtly, seeking the lapels, the sleeves, even as their feet move between each other. Sometimes he'll feel her ankle trying to catch his, at times she'll feel the brush of his foot against her calf. It is all nearness and focus.
    But it allows the two to focus just on the task at hand, the other. She can see him now easily, so close, the handsome curve of his jaw, the furrow to his brow as he concentrates. There's that faint sheen of sweat upon his bare chest under that jacket, and she can taste that faint scent of effort and exertion from him.
    A few more steps as they turn, then she'll feel him catch both her lapels and turns, drawing her up over onto his back as he bends over smoothly with one knee lowered. For an instant she is upon his back, feeling the way his firm musculature shifts beneath her...
    And then he is easing her back to her feet to begin the process again.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
He made the right call, returning to the physical aspects. Not a spar, but a practice, an extercise in trust as well. Alanna responds better to it, the continued movement, swapping roles as the person being flipped back and forth until she's lost count how many times they'd gone.

She follows through with the exercise one last time, ending not with bringing him securely back up, but by bringing him to the mat, probably a surprising move as she gives no real warning when she's decided they had done enough.

"Alright. You win. I'll talk to you."

Vic Sage has posed:
    There's a whumpf as he hits he mats, not too hard, but enough to cause him to jounce a little and look up into Alanna's eyes. A small laugh escapes him, perhaps tinged with an 'oof' that he breathes out with when he hits. It leaves him there upon the mats with her above him, his hands still on her lapels, and their noses almost touching.
    There's another laugh as he murmurs, "I usually do," He tells her in that light tone of voice, smiling in a mildly infuriating way. But then he says, "My phone is over near the shrine, in the gymbag. We can share numbers, soon as you let me back up."
    Since, in truth, if she wanted she could just keep him pinned there indefinitely, until one or the other of them gets too tired.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
"You mean /if/ I let you back up," Alanna says, simply, lips tugged up in a half-smile. The distance, or lack thereof doesn't bother her at this point. With the amount of time they had done the exercise, they had been in each others' personal bubble for long enough that it didn't feel intrusive.

"We've got some similarities, so I don't think this is a stretch. If I give you a number to contact me and you give me one for you... don't try and look it up. Don't try and hunt me down. You get that number and that's all you get and I'm a ghost otherwise. That is the /only/ way I can talk."

Vic Sage has posed:
    "Do I have a choice?" He says as he makes a light attempt to sit up, and all she has to do is push back down and spread her legs to make herself a rather difficult lesson in leverage. But then he answers her more clearly, directly. "Alright." He takes a deep breath, eyes closing as he looks downward, perhaps at that small shrine even as the tip of his nose bumps hers lightly.
    His eyes open and he lifts his chin a little and murmurs, "Maybe we both need a voice on a line now and again to give us another point of view."
    And as he says that his hands loosen a little on the lapels of her gi, letting her make the decision to let him up or not for now.

Alanna Lyons has posed:
While she doesn't immediately allow him to move, Alanna keeps her face right there for a moment, as if making sure she's got his full attention. "Don't. Burn. Me." It's a weird mix of tones, somehow sounding both like a threat and if she were begging. With her mind spoken, she releases him to have the freedom to do what he likes. She straightens herself up tall again, looking back at him.

Vic Sage has posed:
    Straigtening up, Vic sits there opposite her, one leg lifted as he reclines supine to meet her gaze. Something about this woman, it screams to him to get away, that there's enough damage and danger here and agreeing to conditions and control beyond the pale is not a wise thing. But one that is tempting in and of itself.
    "Alright," He nods slowly, "I'll try not to burn you."