2019-12-07 - Dead-proofing Betty Part 1


Betty and Sif go to a gym in the Bronx to start teaching the former basic combat defense and find Hod and Steve already there. There are lessons, introductions, and surprises.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Sat Dec 7 03:51:39 2019
Location: Payne's Place Gym, Bronx, NYC

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Theme Song



Payne's Place is an acceptably Dad-jokey sort of name for what it is. Stuck deep in the Bronx, in the 200's, it's a hot minute from Manhatten, in the one burough of the City that's more forgotten then not despite being the size of any of the other two combined. It's got everything one could want from a gym, it's not trendy, it's not dive-bar shitty, it's not an old school boxing gym with stuck up old fat men complaning about the way things used to be, and it's not some new fangled CrossFit douche factory either. It's /exactly/ what it's supposed to be. A proper fight gym.

A massive space full of padded floors, it has weapons racks on one wall, mirrors on another, free weights of every imaginable sort on still another, no wasted space and no room for excuses either. The support beams that dot the otherwise cleared room are made use of as well, pads with targets wrapped around them, anchor points for heavy ropes, wing-chun dummy arms jutting from another. Nothing here doesn't serve a purpose. The entire facility is honest, efficient, and very clearly hasn't the time to care what you might thing about it. There are advertisements hanging on the walls, no company logos across teh floors. The bags are tapped up and all show signs of wear, no matter how heavy they are. If you can use it to hone a body into a weapon, you can find it somewhere in Payne's, you just gotta look hard enough or ask someone who knows.

Hod loves it here. The smell of stale sweat and chemical disinfectant fighting for dominance while his keen nose picks up the tell tale lingering smell of old coppery blood that tells him this place isn't for the weak. Warriors train here. Being later in the day most of the classes have cleared out, and the few lingering folk that remain have grouped up into small cadre's of their own. There's a group of four in a chainlink octogon, going through pacing drills and calling out combination to a young kid clearly training for an upcoming fight, all four of them are lean and seem to know their work. A single man in the corner works a large kettle bell like it did him a personal afront, his breath hissing through his teeth, his eyes staring straight ahead at something no one else can see as he moves with precision. A woman at a reflex bag works her way through furious combinations, her fists and elbows landing strikes and her torso bobbing and weaving to avoid the bag's return bounces, her feet light as she glides over the mats, dancing as much as practicing.

And then there's the blind man with the wrap over his head in the corner. Hod circles with another man, both similar in size if in no other way. The dark skinned man is muscle made round and youthful with weights and tons of work. He's maybe in his early 30's, shaved head, and he moves with a cat like grace that says more then the slow way his hands reach through the air, lazily grabbing at his opponant. Hod, for counter point, is all pale pale white skin, scars, tattoos, and hard angles. His musculature is all sinew and whip cord instead of bulk, the kind that comes more from hard living and malnourishment then weight training and careful deiting. He too paws the air gently, the pair looking like they're slap fighting as they circle… Then the come together. There's a push/pull series of motions, hissing breaths, grunts, then Hod is rolled through the air to land on the mats with a THUD, the darker man following right behind. The pair don't stop however, rolling about, jockeying for possition, hands griping, twisting, turning, attacks started, defended, abandoned. To the untrained they appear to be children wrestling, to the trained, they are skilled and game being played out on the ground is 1/2 chess to 1/2 combat.

One of the pleasant aspects of the sparring gym itself is the relative anonymity — that, and the durability of the bags. Given they need to take a lot of guff, they're as sturdy as the ones Steve keeps around the mansion's own basement, half-allocated to working out as is.

With knuckles wrapped and a light sheen of sweat at his temples, the Captain's busily working over one of the sand bags right now. He's in a grey t-shirt darkened in places from exertion and black sweatpants; his shoes are Colgate-white, already broken in from use. He bobs and weaves before throwing another nearly-monstrous punch. The bag thumps and the chain rattles up into the ceiling, but it all holds together.

He pauses for a moment to stop the bag from swinging and consider the other presences in the gym. His eyes wander to the front even as he swipes his forearm across his forehead.

Sif follows Betty into the gym, looking around curiously. She's not been in a Midgardian training area before, unless Darcy's derby skating arena counts. She's wearing her usual training attire which the Midgardians might consider strange, consisting of a sleeveless linen shirt (currently with a jacket overtop in deference to the weather outside), soft but sturdy leather trousers, and the sturdy boots she usually wears with her armor.

Speaking of armor, she's wearing her greaves and vambraces already, and is carrying her breastplate alongside her buckler, a similar but clearly simpler shield, and a large duffel bag weighted down with several weapon-shaped objects inside. Oh, and a pair of staves a bit longer than Sif is tall.

"How did you learn of this training ground again, Ms. Brant?" She hasn't noticed Steve or Hod yet, but their presences will be pleasant surprises for her.

"Steve told me about it. I asked him if he knew any good places that weren't offering yoga and stuff and the said this should do it." Betty explains, her own attire a bit more fitting for said other places. Once stepping inside, she rolls her shoulders and glances to everything Sif had brought with her. It wasn't the first time she gave it all the glance over, but now that they've stopped she's allowed a better look. "I'm going to have a number of things to explain to Henry…"

Removing her jacket, she thumbs off and toward a small area for such things. Not so much lockers as empty bench space. Pausing there, she pulls at a tie around her wrist. Bundling up her partially braided hair, she sets it in place and looks back to Sif. "I want to be better and learn how to deal with everything happening. Especially before we go into that realm together. I don't want you feeling as if you're babysitting me or anything. I want to be a companion more so than an escort mission."

Hod worms his heel beneath his opponants hip even as he loops one arm up and over a shoulder, hooking in an under grip. The darker man's eyes go wide as he feels it happen, and he twists violently to the side just as Hod shoves with his foot, sending his opponant into the air in a spiraling twist. Had the man faught the push, or Hod managed the move without prewarning him, the man would have been flipped onto his back atop Hod and perfectly placed for a choke. Instead the man's sudden twist causes him to flip up with a shocking grace onto his feet, stumbling back a couple steps to reaquiant himself with his still down enemy.

Hod swears under his breath and uses his heels to rotate on the mat, turning like a turtle so that his feet face his enemy, who begins to circle, cursing in portugese and rubbing at his shoulder in consternation.

A glance over at the scuffling on the mat has Steve frowning — how interesting, the blindfolded state of one of the fighters — but then he hears a familiar voice lifting over the ambience of the gym as a whole. Looking to the front again, he smirks to himself. A quick stooping swipe for his waterbottle and then here comes the Captain, padding along the paths between mats with a sense of leonine strength in check. Lifting his hand in greeting to the two women, he then calls out,

"Figured I'd see you here, Miss Brant, just not sure when. Lady Sif." The Asgardian gets a polite nod of his head as he stops to swig back from water. He eyes the weaponry in particular and his brows lift. "Special kind of training tonight, I assume? You 'nd everyone else here." Another glance over his shoulder is back towards Hod and his sparring partner.

Following Betty over to the bench space and starts setting everything down, though she turns when Steve approaches and greets them. "Captain." She offers him a warrior's bow with her hello, then takes a moment to shed her jacket and pull her hair up into a high ponytail that she ties off with a bit of leather.

"Will you be joining us in sparring practice?" She definitely brought enough weapons, though only two bucklers. Hm.

When Steve nods toward where Hod is, her eyebrows going up. She'd not expected to see him here, but she's not by any means displeased about it. He would likely have a LOT of knowledge and experience to share with Betty.

"Really? You can just call me Betty, y'know." She muses toward Steve, giving the man a soft hug in greeting before stepping back. "Hey yeah, you wanna join in? I promise I won't be using a gun." Hands up, palms out, she swears. Following after his gaze, she finds herself staring at Hod and her brows dip low. Her expression sinks and falls flat before she shakes her head.

"Anyway, how would you like to start, Lady?"

Hod misjudges the other man's foot slide, as he intentionally drags his feet one way then another before literally dropping atop Hod with a sort of diving tackle. The pair tie up again, limbs twining and twisting, and then everything goes still, the blind man rapidly tapping his hand against his opponants leg as his own limb ends up twisted up behind him in a manner that is distinctly uncomfortable looking. The darker man releases him and flops back, panting heavily while Hod rolls over and works the kinks from his leg. They chat quickly in Portugese before Hod hops lightly to his feet and looks unhappy with himself. The man still on the ground continues to pant and just shake his head. Hod heads for a bag near the edge fo the wall and plucks a bottle of water out of it when he arrives, pausing to tilt his head as he hears familiar voices now that he's no longer distracted. Oh. Oh yay. People that know him.

Steve grins. "Old habits die hard," he replies to Betty, taking a moment for another deep slug of water. "I've got my own sparring planned, but happy to lend a commentary if you need it. Mind, I haven't been at fighting as long as you have, Lady Sif; you're the veteran here."

However, he catches the microtells on Sif and Betty's faces both and his next look towards Hod is lingering. He's quick to scan the man's poise and build both with the long-practice of SHIELD agent habits. "You know him?" The question is for either woman as he returns his attention, this sliding between them. Wheat-gold brows lift questioningly.

Taking a moment to open the duffel, she pulls a pair of simple-looking wooden swords. Turning to Betty, she hands her one of the swords then offers her the simpler of the two bucklers. "Whichever you prefer, Captain. Though perhaps she can practice against you so that I can observe her forms and correct as needed?" It's not the way that Sif would prefer to do it, but she also knows that Betty will be learning battle from just about zero.

"Ms. Brant, do you want to try with or without the breastplate first?"

"They are rather tender…" Betty admits without hesitation. Nodding, she feels the texture of wood in hand. She studies the buckler and then moves to set them both down to gather up the armor. Armor - she never would have guessed she'd be here. Never. To Cap's question, she glances back toward Hod and nods. "Yes, we do." And leaves it at that. With aid, should she need it, Betty now stands in armor over Underarmor (ha), and reclaims her buckler and blade.

"I'll learn from whomever wishes to teach me. Let's make some marks to tell some stories, Lady."

Hod can hear every word they say clearly enough and he sighs, his head lolling back a bit as if he were turning his nonexsistent eyes to the sky to plead for patience or wisdom or corndogs, and he takes a few heavy swallows from the water before tilting his head so that he can hear them better. There's something else over there that's tickling the back of his mind, but he can't place it. Not really. He makes a motion to the downed man and then heads for the group who know him, the downed man offering up a tired wave of goodbye despite his targets clear inability to see it. "Sif." Hod says as he comes within acceptable social range. He is also shrugging into a t-shirt, a motion that hides all the ink and scars from those who can see such things. "Brant." he adds once his head (completely with wrap in tact) pops back out the top fo the garment.

Broad shoulders shrug now as Steve places his hand at his hip, the other left to dangle the waterbottle idly off a hooked finger by his thigh. "'m happy to let her spar against me after you've shown her a thing or two, sure. Won't pass up the opportunity to test out my mettle." Betty gets a small smile promising no injuries whatsoever.

Hod arrives and it brings the Captain to look fully on him now. "Nice moves in your practice. Where'd you learn 'em?" he asks of Hod. It seems a polite tact of conversation to take; Steve's not unaware of the subtle discomfort he can read between the lines of both women's original replies about knowing the man.

"We do, yes, Captain," Sif replies to Steve about Hod, but doesn't really elaborate. She knows the Exile can hear them perfectly well, as this building is NOT that big. She helps Betty into the breastplate — it's HERS, so it really doesn't fit the Midgardian woman all that well, but it's better than nothing. She hands the second wooden sword to Steve, then looks at Hod as he approaches.

"Seer Hod, welcome. Perhaps you can assist with Ms. Brant's lessons as well?" She rummages two more wooden swords out of the duffel, then offers Steve her own buckler. "I think we should start with basic shield blocks," she comments, as she really thinks the blonde learning to defend herself will go faster and be more important than how to swing a blade.

"Thank you." She murmurs to Sif once the plate is on place. Stepping out and into a much wider space since she knows she'll be swinging things around. There's a part in her mind that asks if her wrist strap is on tightly. Shaking her head once more, she rolls her shoulders and feels the weapon in her hand and guard on her forearm. A stretch of her legs, she eyes between Sif, Steve, and then Hod once he joins them. "Hod." She greets simply.

"Alright, shield blocks." She agrees, repeating what's going to happen as if that will set it up in her mind. "I suppose he can, though he doesn't have to."

Hod does that thing where you wriggle a bit and tug at a shirt to make it comfy before snorting once, "Lessons in combat? Are you sure that's a good idea?" he asks Sif. Sif will well remember the hours and hours and hours in the practice halls of Asgard. One did not train there with the intent to not be hurt so much as to simply survive. Hod may not be the one to teach combat to most. "Eh." he considers for a long moment before at least offering, "Come to me when you wanna know the things Sif won't teach you." He then tilts his head a bit to Steve, the wrap over his face oddly indented where eyes should be, which is very uncomfortable for most to look at as it implies a fairly alien deformity, "Those? Barrio in Rio." he says to Steve, his expression slightly confused as if trying to remember something, but he gives up after a moment and shrugs, "And here, there, it's picking up popularity these days, I thought it a good dicipline considering…" he points at his face.

"Can't say I've seen the style before, not alone. Might have seen it mixed in with other disciplines. You'd hold your own anywherer with it," the Captain adds as polite compliment to Hod. He's taken up the shield and the wooden sword from Sif and looks them over as if just now considering them.

"Figured you'd show her the steps first, but suppose there's nothing like learning live." His thoughtful murmur about Betty's lesson is more for himself than anyone else. He moves over to the sector of the training mats dedicated to this portion of benches and takes up an easy, readied stance. Someone's schooled him at least once about holding a sword; the buckler, however, is an extension of his body he knows right off the bat, even with the weight discrepancy. "Ready when you are," he says with a roll of his shoulders.

Sif nods to Steve, then hopefully explains to Hod. "If I can teach her to defend against attacks from warriors like the Aesir, I trust that you will be able to help her learn what I would not know to teach." Yes, she's openly admitting to his have knowledge or experience superior to hers. Why wouldn't she? It's true.

"All right. Ms. Brant, if someone were to attack you in this manner," she slowly swings her wooden sword at Betty and looks to Steve to make sure he's seeing it and can replicate it, push your buckler toward the strike to stop it before it reaches the apex of the swing. In this manner." She turns to face Steve and holds up her left arm as if wearing a bucker and gestures for him to repeat the swing she just demonstrated to Betty. She steps into the swing and pushes her arm toward it but not so much it leaves her open, and is able to follow it with a forward jab of her own sword.

"Now, your turn, Ms. Brant."

Betty Brant nods. "With the follow up? Like self-defense…ok." She nods once more and eyes Steve. There's a flare there, a glimmer in those warm eyes before she swallows and nods. "Ready." They had the baby steps, now it was time to begin. Moving forward, she tries out the swing and then block a few times with the Freedom Dorito, listening to that steady 'thunk' of wood against wood. Then again, and again. In time, she starts getting faster in her swings and deflections. She even gets to moving around and not staying in one place.

Hod shrugs, "It's just a local derivation of Jiu-Jitsu… sorta." he says as he moves out of the way of those beginning their lessons, and he sighs slightly. Sif is just hell bent on outing him to every single person he meets. Sure. He's not big on secret ID's, but that's cause he can't tell when someone's wearing spandex and then they aren't, not because he doesn't respect the damned principle. Well. Can't win them all… and the Norns won't let you move out of New York cause they some caty bitches. So. He'll suffer. At this rate he's gonna have to seriously consider dropping his mortal IDs.

Hod now gets a lingering look from Steve after Sif's comment. No idle spoken thought follows from him, however, save for a little promise to himself to figure out just who this guy is — and why there's something so familiar about him.

Erskine's serum only boosted Steve's innate kinesthetic wisdom of his own body. He watches Sif's explanation and mentally maps how it might play out; the subtlest twitches of his muscles is a visualized run-through of his half of the dance on the mats.

Nodding to Betty when she readies herself, he goes through the motions of the exercise with exacting care. Caution keeps his strength in check while allowing Betty a chance to feel how a solid defensive blow might feel with its vibrational travel back up into her arms. While the blonde begins to shift about on the mats, the Captain rotates in place as to not overcomplicate the lesson.

Sif shows Betty and Steve both a small handful of basic shield blocks with accompanying counter attacks, alternating between demonstrating the attacks and the blocks to them and standing against them or having them face each other to practice. Perhaps surprisingly to the Exile, she turns to him again and again, asking him to help her make sure the forms she's showing the Midgardians aren't beyond their bodies' abilities to replicate and perform in real situations.

It's probably a good forty five minutes or longer before she comes to a realization. "I must apologize. Seer Hod, this is Captain Steve Rogers. Steve, this is my cousin, Hodr."

Each show is taken to heart by the reporter/priestess. She smiles and listens to that solid song of the weapons meeting each other and shields alike. There's even a smile on her face as she keeps going. Stray strands of hair start to stick upon her face and throat, her skin giving off a shimmer of building sweat. Her heart was thumping, drumming heavily, feet moving. Sometimes, her swings would be off, however. Her arm growing somewhat hot and tired from the off weight of the weapon.

Hod listens to the combat, the slide of foot on mat, the huff of breath, the soft noises of effort, and his mind maps out what his eyes cannot see in the unique way that he views the world. It seems very… normal. Which is so weird for him. Then Sif says the man's name and Hod grows still for a moment, "Ah." he says before reaching up and tugging on his face wrap, pulling it down just a wee bit more, between it and the beard and the whole… … …well. He doesn't look like he did when last they met. Not by leagues and leagues. For one, most of his blood is on the inside this time. "The uh…" he snaps his fingers as if trying to remember something, "science soldier, right?" Play that off a bit why doncha? At least he's really hard to read, what with the whole no eyes things.

Wooden swords collide and bucklers clash; Steve continues to be certain he does not over-exert his strength and precisely mimics what Betty needs to begin to learn her muscle memory with the weapons. There is a zen to be found in the motions and the Captain seems to be somewhere else at some points in the practice. His brows knit here and there at times counter to certain motions — he's trying his damnedest to figure out where he knows this other Asgardian from!

Sif introduces him and hearing his name momentarily snaps him from his musings. Hod gets a fast little salute with the buckler before the super-soldier turns his attention back to the motions of the sparring at hand. Motion in his peripheral vision makes Steve glance over again to see the face wrap being pulled down. His brows knit even as he straightens from the crouched readiness to deal Betty another checked blow with the wooden sword.

Recognition hits as a bolt. Those brows nearly disappear into his hairline. "Super-soldier, SSR. Jesus," he breathes, the tip of the wooden sword touching the mat. "Lucky Seven-Twenty-One?!"

And then Steve remembers. Hod grows deathly still and his jaw clenches, "Fuck." he says in a flat dead tone before taking four quick strides to his bag and reaching into it, "Fuck!" he says again, mostly to himself as the everything goes out. Everything. Every lightbulb, every cellphone screen, every watch, every little blinkie light on every little electronic device. If it emits even the smallest amount of illumination it simply chooses to stop. It's darkness of the bottom of the ocean, of caves a mile beneath the earth, of the deep blackness of space between arms of the galaxy.

And then it's all back. All told the sudden black out took maybe seven seconds. From top to bottom, shocking change to complete return to normal, /maybe/ seven seconds. As for the blind man who was here there's simply no sign he was there at all. As if possibly he never had been. The shocked sounds of startled surprise from the inhabitants of the gym quickly give way to nervous laughter and a few teasing jibes as they shake off that lizard brain fear of the dark that flickers to life any time lights fail.

Okay, Sif was just trying to be polite, introducing the two men. Never would she have guessed that they'd have met before … a long time before in a Midgardian's time frame. She frowns faintly in confusion at Steve's words and turns to ask Hod about it, but his cussing and moving away, then all of the lights going out startle her, but not to the level that it seems to do to the Midgardians all around.

When the lights come back, she looks for Hod and isn't entirely surprised that he's gone.

With Hod having fled, she looks at Steve questioningly.

That drop in weapon, skip of memory and blinking of lights is the best chance the woman would ever get against someone like Steve Rogers. Taking that chance, claiming it as her own, the woman even lets out a yell in the darkness before cracking her sword against the man's arm. The lights flicker back on and Betty is jumping, her expression flushed pink and practically beaming.

"I did it! Holy shit, I got a hit in!"

A negative reaction garnered has the Captain still standing in place, the wooden sword in no way threatening Betty, and the buckler hanging held at his hips.

Then it's dark. Very dark. And Steve holds still, knowing better than to succumb to that animal corner of his brain gibbering about lack of sight.

SMACK — and he hiss-splutters in Gaelic.

The lights come back on and Steve's in the middle of shaking out his sword arm. By his face, he can't decide whether or not he's annoyed or amused — the former because he knows better than to drop his guard (thanks, Barnes, for those shield lessons and thrown rocks all the decades back) and the latter because it is a thing of rarity to get the drop on the famous Captain America.

"You got a hit in, yes, good job. Good to take advantage of a situation," he comments. Sif's questioning look gets a simple sharp shake of his head. There won't be any answer forthcoming from the habitually-private super-soldier, not here and now.

Sif accepts Steve's reluctance to explain, figuring the two men have their reasons. Betty's hopping about earns the Midgardian woman an amused look. She did indeed take advantage of Steve's distraction.

"Do you both wish to continue, or rest and resume another day? You may borrow the wooden sword if you wish, but the buckler and the armor pieces have to be returned to the Embassy."

Betty Brant still smiles. She gives a dancing wiggle and hums some triumphant tune. The mood, however, has changed. She wasn't blind to it, but the joy of getting one over on Captain America was just something she had to celebrate. A few steps back, she lowers her sword and looks to Sif. "Oh, um…Steve?" She asks, turning to face him. "We can continue if you'd like, or stop. Just promise you'll practice with me again?"

Then to Sif. "I'd like to keep the sword, yes. Right! Help me take it off?"

"'m good for another round of practice at another time, Betty. Just realized what time it was. Dinner'll be on by the time I thread through the traffic right now. Rode my bike in," he explains, with a toss of his head towards the front of the gym indicating where he parked it. Steve walks his buckler back over to the women's collection of bags and respectfully leans it against the bench before setting the wooden sword parallel along an empty space of bench.

"'nd I've been threatened with the couch if 'm late for dinner again." How very solemnly he explains this state of threat; his eyes twinkle nonetheless and there's a hint of a smile on his lips. "You shoot me a text about when you want to practice next, we'll see about fitting into the weekly schedule."

Sif nods to Betty and steps over to start helping her remove the breastplate. "If you both wish, I can make sure you both are given access to the training area on the Embassy roof. You can practice there, and spare having to carry too many items around." Clearly, most of the things Sif lugged along ended up not being used. But, she wasn't about to show up underprepared.

One thing she's forgetting to take into account with the rooftop training space: New York weather in December.

"I can't thank you both enough. Really. I can already feel myself becoming stronger." Chestplate off, she sets the buckler down and keeps the sword in hand for a moment longer. "Get home, Steve. Give Buck my love." She winks. Turning to Sif, she sighs and grins. "I'll help you carry all this back."

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