2019-07-20 - Skating Lessons With Sif


An Asgardian receives some unexpected help when learning the martial art of skating.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Jul 20 06:56:39 2019
Location: Central Park skate park

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A blazingly sunny afternoon in Manhattan is never pleasant, and today is no exception. The trees in Central Park manage to mitigate it somewhat, but only somewhat, and most people opt to hurry along from place to place to try to avoid being out in the heat any longer than necessary. Only visiting southerners or die hard exercise junkies seem to actually enjoy being out in the sweltering heat, and that makes a sidewalk-heavy portion of the park seem like a good idea for Sif to try working on her currently very rudimentary skating skills.

Having been summarily scolded and handed a set of 'proper' protective gear — apparently her greaves and vambraces weren't acceptable? — she walked over from the embassy and is ready to give this another try.

Well, once she figures out these oddly constructed pieces of armor. They do not seem in any protective, in her mind.

He couldn't remember the last time he did this. Maybe a few years ago, when Carl had staked out the usual hangouts? God, he'd face-planted five times in one hour.
That was then, and this was now. Now, with the unexpected but beneficial splicing of human DNA, his physical coordination had improved dramatically. So much so that getting up on the skates was a mix of old knowledge coupled with his current abilities. He didn't think he was going to be face-planting much today.

Enough introspection. The skate park was wide open, the sun was shining, and he felt like having a little fun. He snapped on the helmet, then looked over at the lady futzing with the elbow and knee pads. She had a knee pad on her left elbow. Hmm. Maybe it was time to step in. Or skate in.
He stood up, then gave a little push off and glided with the smooth sounds of wheels on pavement towards Sif. "Hey, there." He smiled as he put one foot behind him, the knob at the toe dragging on the pavement to bring him to a stop. "Could ya use some assistance?"

Sif looks up at the young man when he approaches to offer assistance. "Perhaps. I was told these are the correct armor pieces for skating, but…" Her accent is … unusual. It would initially seem quasi-generic British, but there are occasional lilts to her voice that are hints of somethign else.

She struggles with the fastenings on one elbow pad. "Why do these not simple lacings?"

Peter smiles. "There are two clips on those. Would you like me to demonstrate the process?" He doesn't approach her just yet. He is a stranger, after all. And although she is no soccer mom, there's something about her that messes slightly with his Spider-Sense.
"My name's Peter Parker."

She considers for a moment, but doesn't feel that this Midgardian child is any sort of threat, as thin as he is. "I would be greatly appreciative." She offers the elbow pad in her hand to Peter. "I am Sif."

Up close, her plain-seeming clothes are perhaps a bit more unusual. Her sleeveless shirt is a plain and simple thing, made from what one might identify as handwoven linen. The trousers she's wearing are either fake or real leather, and her hair is held up in a high ponytail with a piece of leather. Perhaps a bit odd, but really, in a city as metropolitan as Manhattan, what is odd anymore?

He has met dead hippies, alien redheads, a stage magician who does more tricks than most magicians can, and loquacious lavender lions. His Weirdness Sense has been re-calibrated quite often.

He steps forward, analyzing the rigging. He reaches out to re-adjust the pad. "Hold your arm out straight, please?" He adjusts the web straps lightly, then click, click, and the pad is on, fitting much more comfortably. "If that feels good, I can do the other one."

Sif holds out her arm and … "How did you work those fastenings so quickly?" She looks at the inside of the elbow pad as if trying to figure it out, but then at Peter's offer to help with the other, she immediately sticks out her other arm — the one with the kneepad still there, and it looks like she might have just slid it onto her arm like a bangle bracelet.

"Thank you for your assistance, Peter Parker. Miss Lewis was otherwise engaged and did not have time to properly instruct me."

Peter smiled, a disarming aw-shucks smile. "Lemme take that off. That goes over your knee." He unbuckles it, then picks up the other elbow pad. "The little L right here? Made for the left elbow. The one I set up just now has R in the same place. These clips rely on pressure and design to snap closed and stay closed. These plastic slides adjust the fit…"
Five seconds later, the other elbow pad fits snug as the first one. "Okay, on to the knees." He picks up the knee pad, shows the letter (R) on the inside, then settles it around a very firm knee.

Sif looks at everything as Peter demonstrates, but quickly enough hits on a stumbling block. "What is 'L'? This sigil here? The L indicates left?" She says that as if it doesn't entirely parse to her why one would use an L for left.

And when the R is shown on the kneepad, she considers it. "Not L. R, you said?" Again with the apparent not entirely parsing. "Is it common to use sigils to indicate meanings rather than complete words?"

Peter nods as he works. "Yes. In this case, L is for Left, R is for Right." Click, click. "Okay…does that feel comfortable?"

"Yes, thank you." Committing those bits of information to memory, Sif contemplates the kneepad, pushes it around a little bit as if settling it over her knee better, smacks her hand against it rather forcefully. She was careful, though, to not use enough force to actually crack the kneepad. She… did that once already and was summarily scolded for it.

"I believe this is everything?" She still has wrist pads on the bench next to her, but those were discarded as particularly useless. They would never protect against any blows to the arms or wrists.

Peter looks to the wrist pads. "Those protect your hands if you fall. If you feel you don't need them and will accept the risk…but you ARE going to need a helmet. Do you have one?" He looks around, curious.

Sif ohs. Falling is something she HAS been doing. So maybe the wrist guards are necessary. But…

"I… no. I do not have a helmet. Should I?" Now that she thinks on it, every last woman she saw at the 'derby' had been wearing a helmet. She's never had the habit of wearing a helmet, even through centuries of battles. Why start now? "

Peter smiles wryly. "Hang on." He heads over to his backpack on the bench next to hers, then coasts back, moving easily along the pavement with the skates. Push off from each foot, ride forward on the other foot. Clean and easy. As he does, he pulls out a basic white helmet from the backpack. "Here. You can use mine for today." He puts the backpack down on the bench, slowing to a stop.
There is a deceptive ease to his movements. Maybe he is so willing to lend his to Sif is because he doesn't think he needs it.

Sif was about to say she doesn't need a helmet when the young Midgardian offers her his. And really, she feels a bit bad for refusing at this point. So, she accepts the helmet and tries to put it on, but. Ponytail. Easily remedied. she deftly pulls the bit of leather from her hair and reties it into a low ponytail, then puts the helmet on.

Oh yeah. Stylin' something fierce now.

She then puts on the wrist guards, using the examples from the knee and elbow pads and even getting the left and right correct. "I believe this is now actually everything?" She's gone into battles with less armor than this.

Peter smiles. "You look good, Sif."
He was a science major, but he had gotten a copy of BULLFINCH'S MYTHOLOGY, and although his memory isn't eidetic, it is pretty good. And he knows that the Asgardians are in town. Being a photographer also meant he saw the stories about them, and this lady was a little…TOO impressive.
Odds were good she was not *a* Sif, but might be THE Sif.
She was also someone who could use a hand, and that was important.
"Looks like you have everything. Let's try seeing about getting the basics down."

"I have been practicing with the assistance of others," Sif offers, and she stands carefully. She seems to have at least figured out how to not promptly fall on her backside. "I hope I have not forgotten anything crucial." She starts forward cautiously, pushing one foot outward to generate forward momentum and keeping her hands out as if ready to brace for a fall at any moment.

"I do not know if it is an important distinction, but the friend instructing me had different skates, the wheels in a straight line rather then at corners like a wagon."

Peter nods, turning to skate backwards along the sidewalk. "You should relax a little more. Arms out to the side, to help you balance. 45-degree angle, if necessary." He demonstrates. "See? Helps keep your center of balance…"

Sif moves her hands to more precisely mimic Peter, and it does indeed help. Though more of her attention is on the fact that he — like Steve did — is skating backwards.

"How are you doing that? I have enough difficulty with moving forward and you are, well, doing that." With her distraction, her own skating actually becomes slightly smoother and more natural.

Peter raised an eyebrow, then swung left to dodge a low-hanging branch. "Doing what?"
Then he realized what he was doing, and instant blush. "Oh! Sorry. I've just been skating since I was a kid. Practice, you know."
And spider DNA. PotAYto, potAHto, souvenir, evidence…

Peter turn to skate forward, but slowed down so he could skate alongside Sif. "It's a little like swimming, or rowing a boat. Left, right, left right…"

Rowing a boat. That's something she's done in the past, and she can somewhat feel the similarities in the motions. "Ah. Practice. That I understand." She, after all, has spent literal centuries on improving her sword wielding skills.

Speaking of, now that she's standing and skating along, it might be more apparent that she's got her buckler and sword slung on her back like a hipster's too-tiny-to-be-useful backpack.

Peter looks at the small shield and sword. Well, that confirms it. THE Sif. But in the grand scheme of things, that and five bucks'll get you coffee at Starbucks. So, keeping going with the lesson. "Okay…now that we've got moving down, let's try stopping. Using whichever leg you feel most comfortable, bring back the skate so that the rubber knob on the front is dragging against the street. Press a little harder if you find you are not stopping fast enough." Peter skated ahead, then demonstrates, pressing the bumper into the pavement and slowing to a stop.

Sif watches Peter's demonstration very intently. Thus far, she'd been stopping herself by running into the koi fountain wall on the embassy rooftop. But, there's nothing like that here. She could, possibly, step off of the walkway and fall over into the grass… Peter's suggestion seems more efficient, and it would explain why these cursed brakes exist to begin with.

So, she tries as the young Midgardian suggests. However, there's that whole Aesir strength factor to consider, and her first attempt to intentionally press the brake on her right brake to the sidewalk results in a very abrupt stop and her pitching forward because of it.

And suddenly Peter is there. Like a magic trick. He catches her…and rather easily, his arms sliding under her, his hand planting rather securely along her upper back, and his cheek is next to hers for one lone moment.
Then he is lifting her upright to stand on the skates again. A college kid, steadying an Asgardian.

"A LITTLE too much pressure. Try doing it just to slow down. You okay?" He gives her a look of concern. "Need a few seconds before you try again?"

Having this thin slip of a boy CATCH her is even more disconcerting than having warrior Steve do so, especially considering she apparently weighs something over three times what Midgardians expect her to. In her surprise, she flails briefly before remembering she's on skates and adjusting her balance to compensate.

"Thank you again, Peter." She keeps one hand in an iron grip around the young man's forearm to make sure her balance is stable, then looks down at one skate and while standing still practices pressing the brake against the concrete of the sidewalk and trying to move her foot slightly as if to get a feel for how much pressure creates how much resistance.

After a moment of this she nods and lets go of his arm. And then starts to wonder about how he caught her so easily.

Peter skates backwards again, smiling pleasantly. No creepy smile over having got a feel on an Asgardian, and his grasp of her did not linger. He moves slowly, showing Sif how to drag the bumper along the pavement. and slowing himself down as a result, before doing it again. Closer examination suggests a subtle grace in his movements, and he seems unaware of it.

Once again, Sif follows Peter as he skates backwards in front of her, and she starts trying VERY gingerly to use the brake on the front of her skates. It takes her a few wobbly tries, but she does eventually seem to grasp how to apply it to stop herself. Then, she starts practicing to figure out the same with her other foot. At the very least, her own movements are at least partly automatic, so she's not thinking about it too much.

"Your movements are like those of a dancer, Peter Parker. Is there perhaps a reason for this?"

Peter chuckles. "You get a lot of exercise running away from…"
An errent voice from his mind, definitely from the HORROR HOUSE section of his childhood. *Wanna know why they won't stop me, Petey? THEY LIKE ME MORE THAN YOU!* He shakes his head. "Well…running from bigger guys. And there is the fact my Aunt May taught me how to dance. Mostly old dances from a few decades ago."

Sif ohs slightly, stopped for the moment. "Perhaps I can offer some instruction on defending yourself in return for the skating lessons?" The dancing… she really doubts she could offer anything like that. Even at feasts in the palace on Asgard she was never much of a dancer.

Peter smiles wryly. "I think I have the defending-myself part sorted out. A lot of it is out-thinking your opponent." Peter skates around Sif. Apparently he likes to remain in motion. He is skating in a normal fashion, but he switches from forward to reverse, staying in her view. "Besides…if you learn something you never forget and can use, then so much the better." He stops, pivoting to face her. "But someone is going to cross your path, someone you can help, or save, or guide. You take the opportunity to do that, and you can consider me paid in full."

"I see," Sif replies. "What did Miss Lewis call that? Ah, yes. 'Pay it forward'. I will admit that I do not entirely understand how that phrase means what it does, but from what I can gather, Midgardian languages are all very heavily dependent on context based clues."

With Peter essentially skating circles around her, she starts off again, this time taking advantage of the maze of walkways to try and skate a little faster. Thus far she's not gone at any pace greater than a leisurely walk.

Peter moves up alongside Sif. "It's based on the phrase, 'pay it back.' As in, I borrowed five dollars from you, but I'm going to pay it back. Paying it forward is like 'I borrowed five dollars to get a meal. So if someone I know is going hungry, I'll use that five dollars to help them instead of giving it back to the loaner.' Paying it back is a closed circle. Paying it forward, ideally, can create a chain of acts of kindness, from one person to the other. Besides…" He stops himself, looking at her with a warm smile. "Maybe knowing you will help someone else is worth more to me than simply compensating me."

"That makes much more sense. Thank you." Sif is skating along at a decent enough pace now, though anytime there's more than a gentle bend in the pathway she slows down considerably. "I will remember that and continue to strive to assist others when and as I can."

Whether or not the young man knows it, that's a fairly heavy promise she's just made, and it's not like she doesn't already have other promises and responsibilities weighing on her.

Peter chuckles. "Control is key when skating. Control of self is key. In skating and in life. Control how your body moves…"He skates up beside her again. "A wise man taught me something, something I'll never forget. With great power comes great responsibility. I used to think I understood when I heard it, but it took awhile to fully understand it. So if you can help…help." He skates backwards again. "Relax the legs more. Do that and you can handle the turns better."

"How does one maintain control when they have miniature wheeled carts under their feet?" That sounds more like a grumpy rhetorical question than anything. She does, though, try to follow Peter's instructions and also remembers a bit of how the derby skaters maintained their posture when moving at higher speeds.

She does manage most of a curve in the sidewalk, but an uneven spot in the concrete trips her up. She takes a frantic couple of steps to try and not go crashing to the ground yet again, but yeah. She's apparently about to put those wrist guards and knee pads to a serious test.

And once again, the Midgardian is right there. One hand at the small of her back, and somehow her body is…supported, long enough for her legs to get back under her. The hand felt…GLUED to her. The other hand has grasped her shoulder, keeping the upper half of her body uprigt instead of pitching over. To anyone else looking on, she is staying up long enough to recover with her friend as they pass the crack in the pavement and continue forward.

"Hey…! You almost faceplanted right there." He sounds concerned. No mocking tone, no facetious "Boy You Can't Do This" cant to his voice.

With Peter's help yet again to keep from hitting the pavement, Sif recovers enough to use her skate's brakes to come to a stop. "I did, yes. Perhaps it is time to stop." She knows that it took her literal centuries to get as skilled with a sword as she is now, and expecting to master these skates in just a handful of Midgardian days is unrealistic, but she's starting to feel just the slightest bit discouraged.

Peter spins around to face her, the hands with their curiously firm grip releasing her quite easily. He nods. "All right. But listen…maybe another time, if you'd like, we could get in another lesson. I ccould sset some time aside, with enough advance notice."

Sif nods and moves cautiously to the nearest bench. "I would certainly appreciate that. If you share contact information with me, I can ask Miss Lewis to schedule a time for us to meet again." And she's asking in that manner because she's learned quite well how the vast majority of Midgardians are enthralled by those tiny boxes in their hands covered in the sigils of their written language.

Peter fishes around in his wallet, then finds one of the beat-up cards. He hands it to Sif. The text is simple: PETER PARKER; PHOTOGRAPHER, DAILY BUGLE, and then the phone number.
Call me, day or night. If I don't get your call, I'll respond as soon as humanly possible."
He grins, then bows. "And now, I will take my leave of you. Take care of yourself." He waves, then skates away, as smooth as glass, and as playful as any carefree young man can be.

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