2019-09-19 - Centre Yourself


Unsettled by Euryale's words, Babs seeks out some training.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Sep 19 05:34:28 2019
Location: Clocktower

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Kenuoichi is at his dojo as he often is, though he isn't dressed for it. Rather, he just got back from a board meeting which was to put it mildly, difficult to stay awake in. Still, he isn't BAD at helping his family manage their holdings out here and the meeting was a success, it just wasn't any place he wanted to be.

This is, and he's just gotten here. His suit jacket has just come off and been placed on a small peg and the Japanese man is working on his tie. Perhaps he can get some tea before he cleans up. It seems silly but simple things like sweeping this place help clear his mind.

He isn't expecting visitors, but that isn't to say some might not be about.

For Babs, visiting Ken is act of deception and possibly a guilty pleasure, not that she'll admit that to anyone.

It's as he's loosening his tie the redhead wanders in, leaning heavily on her cane and wearing a skirt that covers her ankles, along with a matching jersey top that sets off her flame red hair.

"Harada-san, forgive my intrusion." She says quietly when she see's him. "Is this a bad time to visit?" She knows it might be, knows that he entered the door not long ago and where he'd been before that. Not that he knows that of course.

Ken turns as he gets his tie off to look and quirks a brow. He had not expected to see her. She wasn't scheduled for lessons until later in the week. "It is not. What brings you to the dojo, Gordon-San?"

He gestures for her to follow as he loosens his collar and rolls back his sleeves. Again he leads her into the side room with the low table and goes to fill the teapot up with water. "Would you like some tea?"

What had bought Babs here? The encounter at the fight club the other night has left her unsettled. Concerned for Cass and what might befall her protegee. But it's not that she can talk to Ken about that - he doesn't know who she is.

"I … felt the need to exercise, train, and did not wish to do it alone." It's an honest answer but a risky manoeuvre. The farce of her walking is something she has to manage. Her lower body is too well toned and muscular for the facade she portrays and the more she trains with this man, the more likely it will be he'll find her out.

"I … yes. I would like tea, if I'm not intruding. You look like you just returned from a meeting."

"You are not. Let us take tea and perhaps we can get started on lessons early. Your diligence speaks well of you."

It doesn't take long for the tea to boil and for Ken to mix the matcha.

"Ah yes, I had just returned from a board meeting. While it is not my passion, I am assisting my family by managing their financial holdings." So not a board meeting so much as a meeting with the board. The companies have them though the Yashida clan retains ownership. It's a delicate balance and not one Ken is especially well suited to though he manages well enough.

"You seem troubled." That… might be a problem. He seems fairly perceptive.

Oracle has been digging into the Silver Samurais background and is slowly making the connections for Babs to get the picture. "You are too kind, Sensei-san." The redhead answers, slipping her shoes off and leaving them neatly by the door before following him.

"You said as much when we spoke the last time. Was the Board Meeting a trial for you, Harada-san?" Barbara is good at managing people, really and with her mind, finances aren't really a challenge.

Taking a seat on the cushions, Babs watches as the tea is made, green eyes rising as Ken asks the question.

Yes, that's going to be a problem, she knows that.

"Perhaps. I have a number of cases that I'm working on and a ward that I'm little concerned for. Nothing out of the ordinary really, just you know how it gets, I think. Working out, training, helps focus the mind."

There's a lot there. She's got a file with the highlights. Bastard child. Got into the Yakuza. Associated with a Hydra operative (might have had a fling, who knows?), was captured by the Japanese and offered a chance to become something better. Served on their premier hero team. He's got a lot in there for someone who is two years younger than she is. But then, Babs has led an eventful life too.

"It was an endurance test." Hardara responds as he gives Babs her cup of tea. Literally.

"A ward. You did not mention that when last we spoke. Of course, I had not asked either. Is this your only ward?"

The Yakuzi and HYDRA connections are a concern but Babs knows a few reformed rogues and so far the Samurai - whilst being a little obnoxious - has proven to be more of an ally. And the man, Ken? He's intriguing.

"Board Meetings usually are and I imagine if your Board is largely from Japan, it's very … traditional." She takes the tea and sips it, savouring the flavour and the aroma as she considers his question.

"Was it a requirement I do? You didn't, after all, ask if I was married or engaged either. Or whether I lived with my parents or alone." There's a light teasing note to her words, her eyes showing the intent of the words as well. Whether he can read them, that's a good question. "Just the one ward, yes. Though she's rather independant now. Which, I suppose is part of my worry."

"Most of the Board is American." Ken says as he kneels on a cushion and takes a sip of his own. "But it does not matter. There is not making such things interesting, I am afraid."

He looks different to when he has that leather jacket on, and that demon mask. Different to when he has a sword in his hand. She might well remember that black blade and how… wrong it felt.

"It was not, no. There were many things that I did not ask. But you seem young to have a ward." She's old enough to have kids of her own but he's not wrong. Cass is much more… little sister than child, at least in terms of age.

"Do you fear that she will make choices that bring her to grief? Or that she will bring dishonor upon your name?"

"I would beg to differ, sensei-san. The cut and thrust that occurs at the Board table can be exhilarating indeed. Perhaps that is in my nature though." Babs smiles, watching the man, reconciling him with the Samurai. The blade - muramusa? That's what Eurayle had called it, she thinks. It had felt wrong. She could also sense a reluctance in the Samurai to draw it.

Until he did. And the reluctance was gone.

"I suppose I do. It's a term that most understand though. A young woman in need of … a home and love. I have tried to give her that." Dropping her eyes to her tea cup, the redhead considers, a slight flush touching her cheeks. "She could never bring dishonour on me, Harada-san, but I fear she does not believe that. I … I worry what the world will bring to her, if I'm honest and that … she is not ready to face it."

"But as a wise man once said, you cannot hit them." Kenuichio smiles slightly at his own joke and takes another sip of his tea. It's hot. It's earthy. It's GOOD tea.

What is the secret of that blade? She does not see it displayed here. And what are the stains the gorgon spoke of when she spoke to Ken. She hadn't seemed to like him much.

"And what makes you say that? The young are inexperienced but you and I are both yet young and we can remember being that… confident not long ago." Confident may in this case be a nice word for 'dumb'. It's a common affliction of the young and not one that Cass suffers from, really. Her trouble is her unique upbringing. That which gives her strength is also her greatest weakness.

"There are more ways to hit people than physically, Harada-san." Babs does smile at Kens joke. "Words can be a weapon when wielded well." And yes it is good tea, the redhead would agree.

It's not like she can ask Ken about the blade. He guards the identity of The Samurai almost as closely as the Bats guard their own identities. He's at the disadvantage that she's Oracle. There's a little information she's been able to gather on the blade and Babs had seen what it had done to the shadows when Ken had wielded it.

Maybe Batgirl will find the Samurai on the rooftops one night and ask him.

"You mistake my concern, Harada-san. It is not her over confidence that I fear. I fear *for* her and what others may do to take advantage of her. She lacks … experience in some respects but I will not hold her back."

It's the fear of a mother for a child, really.

"I perhaps worry too much." There's a reticence to her words to say too much. Surely Ken can't fault her for that?

"Words are immensely less satisfying though. And they do not typically send people to the hospital." Kenuichio responds as he sips his tea. Then he pours a little more water in his cup and offers her a refill as well. Given that the tea is powdered he may have to mix it again for her, though it's right there. She could do it herself.

"She will make mistakes. That is natural. She will hurt. That is also natural. But you will be there for her." Ken doesn't have kids himself. But being a bastard he has an… interest in family. He's watched his own closely for some time now.

"So did you come to clear your mind?"

"On that matter you are correct however, words can drive people to wield weapons if they aren't given good direction. Someone … " Babs shakes her head and sighs. "Someone was playing with my head about her and I let it get to me. I trust her and I trust myself." she says resolutely, nodding at the offer of a refill and holding her cup out. "Please."

"I will be there for her, not to catch her but to help her find her own to recovery, if it's needed." It's hard to tell if Babs has kids of her own. Certainly she talks of Cass as her own and she's clearly protective and yet … she's walking that line so carefully.

"Yes, sensei. I came to clear my mind and work some of my anxiety out. I hope you don't mind?"

The hot water steams in her cup. And though they're in the middle of New York there's something almost Zen about this place. Maybe it's the decor or maybe it's the way that Ken seems to take such care with each movement. Each pour. Like his entire life is a recital that he's practiced ages for.

"Someone was playing with your head? This does not sound like idle gossip, Barbara." Ken frowns slightly as he settles back onto his cushion. Sure, friends or associates can be cruel sometimes but who plays mind games with someone about their ward. Someone that Barbara clearly cares a great deal for.

"I do not mind no. I could use the workout myself. We will start with forms. Master them moving slowly and you can master them moving quickly. It should help with your endurance as well."

Clearly he's in no rush though. When she's finished he will take them to the next room and begin.

Maybe it's why Babs sought this place out. Well, partly. Kens caught her attention in a couple of ways - and that's one. She rather likes the zen feel, the deliberation of his actions - it helps her mind centre and focus herself.

It's then she realises she's said too much and those green eyes hold Kens for a moment. "It's just gossip, Sensei, playing on the cares of a woman. I should know better than to let them get to me. And if you're to use my name, use Babs. Please?"

As to training the redhead inclines her head, happy to let the conversation move on. "I am in your hands, sensei. I am but a mere student in this matter."

It takes her a few moments to finish the tea and then she's ready.

"Babs." Ken says trying the name out. "Very well Babs-san." That sounds weird even to his ears but hey. It's her name. Apparently.

Once she is done Ken rises and takes them back into the other room. He hands Barbara a waster - well a bokken - and takes up one of his own. Unlike the polycarbonate ones often seen these are wood. Traditional, much like everything else in here.

"First thing. Center yourself. Clear your mind and focus on the movement. I will demonstrate and you follow me."

Which he then starts to do. Slow, smooth movements that she knows are exercises in muscle control. But when he does them they're also almost poetry.

"Maybe stick to Gordon-san, Sensei. Or just … Babs." Barbara smiles and rises stiffly, grasping her cane for assistance. She's good at this, the misdirection - then again, without her suit, her back isn't that strong either.

The skirt she's wearing turns out to be divided pants, a little easier for her to move and not trip herself. With the bokken in hand, the redhead takes up position, calling on her training to centre and focus herself. An old routine that she's very, very, familiar with.

Her movements when they come are practiced but far from smooth and when compared to Kens … entirely clumsy but she follows and lets the exercise take her.

Ken moves for four or five minutes, going through a kata and letting Babs watch. After, he stops moving to watch her. He's silent for several more minutes as she goes through the routine, only occasionally correcting her stance or angle with a light tap of his own bokken.

"Something is still on your mind." He says after a time. How can he tell that? Perhaps it's the way she moves. Or maybe he really is just that good. "Something that occupies you, prevents you from entirely clearing your thoughts."

He doesn't ask what it is though the question is implied. He's interested if she'll try to recenter or… take another approach.

Babs movements aren't bad, they aren't practiced and she accepts Kens corrections as they come. It's clear to him that she's used to working with instruction - but clearer still that she wants to improve.

"Is it that obvious?" Babs murmurs, shaking her head at the implied question. She's already said to much and it would be too easy to let vital information slip that would give herself away to him. "There is much on my mind, sensei. I beg your forgiveness for my failure." Another approach.

It's so tempting. If this was Grayson or Tim, Babs would absolutely do that - use the Bokken to release some pent up frustration.

Actually. "May we … spar, sensei? I am not at your level but I feel it might … help."

The request has Ken blinking. He watches Babs form for a moment and then nods as if to himself. "Very well. But if you begin to hurt let me know immediately and we will stop and do some back stretching exercises."

It's nice that he's concerned with her health but then he would be. She'd come to him to learn partly to help herself recover and he'd accepted on that basis.

Nonetheless he takes up a stance and eyes Babs. "Begin."

There's a pause for half a heartbeat, and then Kenuoichi lunges, blade coming out in a standard mid level vertical strike meant to test her defenses and reaction time.

Babs hadn't meant to surprise Ken and mentally she kicks herself. She's usually not so reckless - Eurayle had certainly put her off her game. Then again she had told Ken she'd trained from the chair, so maybe he won't be too surprised.

"I will, Sensei." The redhead answers, taking up an answering stance when he does.

Her own bokken answers in a nearly flawless block, letting her position to move the blade aside and follow through with a lunge of her own.

Ken's block is almost poetry. There's a way he moves that may put her in mind of Dick when he's doing acrobatics. Not that Ken is as agile as Dick is, but when they're doing their thing, they seem so in their element. Like they are the masters of this one narrow domain.

Ken's attacks are clearly measured. He's more interested in sparring with Babs than he is in beating her, and adjusts himself to give her as much of a challenge as he thinks she can handle. He MIGHT be underestimating her, but only because she's sold him on the notion that she's physically less able than she is.

"Good!" He smiles almost fiercely. "Yes. Good. Now. Try to land a hit on me." He… seems confident that she won't. Though perhaps with good reason.

Of all the Bats, Babs is the least accomplished physical fighter. Her strength is her mind and her ingenuity. She relies on being agile, as agile as she can be given everything, and her gadgets. That doesn't make her slouch though.

Still, Ken does remind her of Dick - and that might not be good thing in the scheme of things. He's focussed, a master at what he does - and Babs hasn't had the time to study his fighting style extensively.

The sparring has the redhead concentrating, Ken can see the glow though as she revels in it. She's careful not to extend herself too far, keeping her skill hidden. How much longer she can do that for is a good question.

A lunge has her wincing and yet she seems to compensate for that. A block has her turning, matching Ken strike for strike. His challenge, when it comes, along with that fierce smile gets a sharp, green eyed, look.

Then she moves, quickly in a series of short jabs and strikes, that might take him by surprise. She's not likely to land the hit, but it might be closer than expected.

The way Kenuichio slides into defense is so fluid that it's difficult to tell where the shift in his tactics are. He swats away her blows though he does look impressed once or twice. There are a number of options open to him, some of which he has elected not to use - options that might involve taking her feet out from under her for example.

On her last stroke he bats her bokken one way and spins in the opposite direction, reorienting himself on her right side and swatting her on the shoulder with the flat of his wooden blade. Not enough to hurt but definitely enough to sting.

"Focus, Barbara-san."

It is difficult to tell, but Barbara presses the attack too far. She knows that the instant his bokken touches hers, before it even sends hers wide. There's nothing for it though but to let the action complete, the woman winceing as the hit stings causing the muscles in her back to tense.

"You are going easy on me, Sensei. My foot work is a mess and you aren't exploiting it." The woman murmurs, taking up a stance again, refocussing her attentions.

She's breathing hard - this isn't work, the type of fighting they are doing. And even though she is fit, she's still injured. "Again, sensei?"

If he assents, she lunges at him, repeating the moves that she saw him use. Perfect, mental, recall.

"You cannot be taught if I simply break you." Ken says, nodding. When she lunges he backs several paces, letting the the impetus and momentum of her attack run out before he begins his own. He forces her guard high, making her defend her head and shoulders from repeated overhead strikes. Every time she tries to force the fight back down he pivots to her left. There's a pattern to this and probably a deliberate one. He may have noticed his own moves being mirrored back at him. Imperfectly, as she doesn't have the muscle memory, but still. He wants to see if she can find the gap in the attack pattern and exploit it.

"I can not be taught if I continue the same mistakes either." Barbara points out but she falls to silence as she continues her moves. Attacking and defending, noting his pattern and studying it.

The moves absolutely are imperfect, being recalled from memory with no practice at all. When Ken pivots to the left this next time, Babs moves to the right, trying to get past his shoulder and bring her bokken down on his shoulder, just as he did to her.

"Oh believe me. You won't." Ken chuckles almost wryly. When Babs gets the pattern and goes for her strike his defense is there. He knew what the most reasonable attack from that angle was and blocks it, but he also stops the fight in so doing.

"Good. Yes. You have a sharp eye and good memory. Those will both serve you well. Perhaps we will not have to wait long after all to get to advanced techniques. However I can see you are also slowing down and favoring your right side. Sit. Allow your body to get used to what you have done to it. There will be time to condition yourself."

In truth Babs is better conditioned than he knows but this will still benefit her. She'll just have to wait until he gets to the advanced techniques.

The bokkens crack against each other when Ken blocks Babs strike. Standing there for a fraction of a moment, the redhead recovers her breath before stepping back. Her hip pulls and she swallows as the familiar ache begins.

"Thank you Sensei, I know that is not the lesson you intended when I asked for guidance but I appreciate it." She says respectfully as she bows. It takes an effort to sit, but she does and audibly sighs. He's not wrong, she was slowing and she was favouring her right side.

"I … needed that." she answers. Babs is not upset that the lessons will take longer than they should. The more time she spends with The Silver Samurai, the more she'll learn about him.

At least, that's the story she's telling herself.

Ken holds his blocking pose for a moment before Babs lets her bokken drop. When she goes to sit he takes the practice blade from her and returns it to the rack along with his own.

"All lessons come when they do. Each student is different. I will teach you but the way you learn is not up to me."

Kenuichio disappears in back to get some water and returns with two bottles. He sits down not far from Babs and offers her one.

"Yes it seems that you did." Whatever is bothering her, it seems to have let up for now. "Sometimes that is the way of things. I'd say something more profound but I am not old enough to be talking like a fortune cookie yet."

"I should do that Sensei…" Babs frowns as Ken takes the weapon to put it away. He's … coddling her, she knows that and yet she's slightly grateful for it.

"Domo Arigato, Harada-san." the redhead murmurs as she takes the bottle "Wisdom knows no age, though, so perhaps you should say something profound." Cracking the lid on the bottle, Babs takes a swig and looks at Ken.

"It helped and each student does indeed learn what they need as they need it." The woman sighs "If I'm not mistaken when I got here, you were about to clean. Might I help you do that?"

"You may, yes." Ken says. "After the water. Everything in it's proper time." There are two straw brooms. It takes a while to get all the dust out with them, but the effort is part of the cleaning. Nothing that is too easy has value after all.

Babs knows that all too well.

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