|Daniel Ciin | Ares (thouros) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-02-03 13:04:00
|Entry tags:||ares, loki|
causin' problems makes you famous
Who: Daniel & Nish
What: Nish finds one of Sin's many side projects.
Where: the basement of a local community center
When: evening, February 2nd
The air was close and thick, heady with the scent of sweat and the sounds of barely restrained battle cries. It was not the most action the little basement had seen, but it was close; only the first session Daniel had organized had been any larger. The room was filled with fifteen women and three young men. There appeared to be no dress code: Some wore skirts and ballet flats, some jeans and combat boots. Several among their number wore head coverings in various styles. They moved in concert atop the thin, aging mats under their feet, each of them staring straight ahead at their instructor, a woman whose expression matched the intensity of her gathered crowd.
"Okay," she said, wiping sweat from her brow with the back of her hand. "Pair off and run through it again. I want to see some fire, everyone. Put some backs on some mats."
She moved forward through the throng, and one man broke away to move with her. Together they maneuvered between partners, observing each sparring pair, offering suggestions when necessary. Mostly they only watched, their expressions a combination of pride and relief. They separated at the center of the room, the instructor returning to the head of the class, her co-organizer moving to the back. He looked up when the door opened and shut, peering out into the little foyer to see who had joined them.
This wasn’t something she’d even thought about before, but the flyer had caught her eye, taped to the wall next to the jail intake desk. Self-Defence. She’d flirted with the idea of it before, when her brother had urged her to look into it after putting Stephen in prison, but she’d never actually followed through with it. Instead of learning to deal with her fears, she’d moved away from them.
And then there it was staring her in the face, and she felt she could no longer ignore it. It was a sign, maybe. It was time. She took a photo of it on her phone and added it to her calendar like a responsible adult.
She wasn’t sure what to expect, but she had been to AA meetings so assumed it might be similar. It wasn’t. No chairs, no tables full of coffee and snacks, just mats and people and heat and sweat. She was definitely not dressed for it, having just driven here from work; she was only here for information. That was how she’d hooked herself into it - I’ll go check it out, no commitment.
She stood by the door for a moment, watching, picking out who the instructors were, and then raised her eyebrows when she recognized one of them, taking a few steps forward and catching his eye so she didn’t need to shout over the din. “Sin?” she asked incredulously. They’d become acquaintances at the courthouse, but she’d never thought about what he does when he’s not taking problems off her hands.
A broad grin broke across his face. He trotted over to her, his face flushed with an hour's worth of exertion. "Well look who it is," he said. He ducked around her, to a small card table in the back dotted with water bottles. He grabbed one for himself, replacing it with a chilled bottle from the cooler nestled beneath the table.
"You're not here for any of my folks, I hope," he said. "This is neutral territory, and they've got ten minutes left in class. Then you can drag 'em off for depositions or whatever the hell else."
She chuckled softly and watched him grab the water bottle. “Hey, I’m off the clock. Besides, I’m not the one they should be worried about,” she chided. She glanced over his shoulder at the group, but didn’t see any familiar faces anyway. “I’m not here for them,” she said, her smile softening, “I’m actually here for me.”
She felt something uncomfortable then; if she’d had to put a name on it, it might have been shame, maybe fear. She was a strong woman; she should already know how to take care of herself. She shouldn’t need a class like this. But the flicker of emotion was gone just as quickly, kicked aside by a different voice scolding her that every new skill needs to be learned. And that her reasons for being here were her own.
“I didn’t know you did this,” she said, “no wonder you’re always so chill at work, you take your frustration out on your students later.”
"Hell yeah," Daniel said, laughing. He raked a hand through his damp hair; it stayed standing on end when his hand fell away. "I'm not really the instructor, though." He pointed to the woman at the front of the class, who was currently barking orders at a pair of women in hijab. "She is. I just get the classes together, spar with her every now and then to show 'em how it's done. And sometimes I add a little speech about kicking fascists and Nazis in the balls, but you know." He shrugged. "That goes without saying, doesn't it? So I'm not sure I add much, to be honest."
He tipped the top of his water bottle toward her. "So you're here to sign up? We're almost done for the day, but there's always next week. And you can watch the rest of this session if you want, get a feel for it."
Nish looked behind him to the woman leading the class. Half of her wanted to just leave and forget about it because it just looked so complicated, and the other was excited at the idea of the challenge. And kicking fascist Nazis in the balls would be the icing on the cake.
“I think I want to, it’s just…” she paused, chewing her lip. Not nervous or coy, just hesitant. “I’m not the most...coordinated person,” she confessed with a small laugh. “I’d be afraid of punching my neighbour by accident or something. I tried ice skating as a kid, and ended up with a four inch gash in my leg when I fell on my ass.” So rather than a job or hobby that required any sort of timed movement, she went into the world of books and stationery speeches.
"Then this'd be great for you," he said. "Get coordinated and get tough… er." He tossed her a playful wink. "Look, it's all for donations, so do your first class free. Then whatever you think our instruction is worth. The money goes to shelters in the area, so you'd be doin' good and learning to kick ass. If either of those things appeals to you at all."
He looked back to the class, a proud grin on his face. One young man threw another to the ground in a single smooth motion: one grip, one flexing of his hip, and his sparring partner was down. Daniel whistled loud and sharp. "Nice," he called out, and the young man on the ground raised a thumb in the air. "We even teach you how to fall," he said. "You gotta learn to catch a beating if you plan to dish one out."
That caught her attention and her eyes snapped to his. Learn how to fall, how to take a beating. It was on the tip of her tongue to quip that she already knew that, she just didn’t know how to avoid the inevitable bruises and broken bones that came with it. She swallowed and looked back at the woman leading the class, locking those thoughts back up in their cage where they belonged.
That settled it then, in her mind. Get coordinated, get tough. If he ever found her again, she’d be ready this time. “I’ll do it,” she said, more to herself than to him. Somewhere inside her, something seemed to cheer. She turned back to Daniel and her usual easy smile was back. “So where do I sign up?”
"Lemme see." He bent down in front of the card table. After a moment spent rummaging behind the cooler, he stood up with a clipboard and pen in hand. He passed these over to her and she took it, reading it over. Emblazoned across the top was the center's name, and below it, the days and times the course was held. "We've got a couple different sessions," he explained, "so just sign up for whatever works for you. I'm here for almost every one, unless work or somethin' calls me away."
Nish pulled out her phone and checked her calendar, finding a few times that worked for her and writing in her name and phone number.
Daniel smiled brightly at her. "I'm really glad you stopped by. I don't think I've ever seen you out of your element, you know?"
She smiled up and him and handed the clipboard back. “I don’t live at the courthouse, you know,” she chided, “though some days it feels like I do. Work, home, work, home.” She paused and bit her lip, considering. So far, he was the only person she could apply even the loosest definition of friend to. “Do you know this city well? I have absolutely no life right now, and my closest relationship is with my cat.” She hoped he’d get the hint, otherwise he might get the impression that she and Bear had a very un-conventional home life.
He laughed. "I've been here a while, yeah," he said. "There's always something going on. And sometimes I think nobody actually grew up here, so you're definitely not the only transplant. You lookin' for anything in particular?" He stowed the clipboard back in its place, sipping from his water as he straightened up again. "What are you into? Nightlife, comedy clubs, concerts, theme parks…" He chuckled, unable to keep from teasing. "Yeah, you look like a Disneyland kinda girl, don't you."
“Yeah, when I was twelve,” she laughed. “I don’t know, what do you do for fun? You know, besides delivering beat-downs,” she added, nodding to the class behind him with a smirk. The truth was, her idea of fun was drinking at a club until two in the morning, but she needed something that wouldn’t have her constantly hungover in court. That, and she was lonely. The scant few friends she’d had were left up north, and there was only so many times she could call her brother before he convinced himself she needed him and followed her down here. She didn’t need another repeat of College.
Daniel grinned. "Hey now," he said, "don't shit on theme parks. I love roller coasters. And if you don't, you're just wrong." He tipped his chin toward the class. "Usually I'm either doin' this, or with clients, or at some protest somewhere. I go to the pistol range now and then, hang out with friends…" He shrugged. She raised an eyebrow. "Nothin' special, if you want the truth. Why?" His grin turned sharper, teasing. "You writin' a book about me, Nish?"
She laughed, “Yeah that’s right, be careful or I’ll use your real name.” She was intrigued though by his earlier comment. “I never did learn to shoot,” she mused aloud. She lived up north most of her life, far from the gun-toting second amendment loving south. There were lots of guns in Chicago, but she’d never held any of them. “Now that sounds like fun…”
"It really is. And believe me, I don't buy that 'good guy with a gun' shit, but I do think it's good to know how to safely use a firearm. That's just a life skill." He sidled closer. His voice lowered to a conspiratorial stage whisper. "And let's be honest. I think it wouldn't hurt for some folks to realize we've got all the same second amendment rights their racist asses have. The Black Panthers got that right."
She smiled softly, not giving away either way her thoughts on that. “Feel like bringing a rookie with you next time?” Her brother would be happy if she told him. And then he’d grill her about Daniel. Maybe she wouldn’t tell him.
"Sure thing," he said. "Just let me know when you can make it. There's a ladies' night every Tuesday, we could get you range time for free, so you'd just pay for the pistol rental and ammunition. I think a couple of these ladies will be there then, too. Look at you, networking like a champ."
“I’m free this week,” she said, having already confirmed as such when signing up for the classes here. “After work? I’ll even buy you dinner. It’ll be worth it to eat with someone who isn’t a cat.”
Daniel chuckled. "Sounds great," he said. "You've got my number, right? Text me Tuesday when you're headed to the range, and I'll meet you there."
“Will do,” she said with a wink, taking one last look at the class behind him that was finishing up. She was still nervous that she’ll make a fool out of herself at the first class she went too, but it was nice that she’d know at least one person there to laugh with. “Well, I’d better go; cat’s not gonna feed himself.” She raised her cell at him and waved, as if to say she’d call. “I’ll probably bump into you tomorrow; full docket scheduled. Later?”
He waved goodbye to her just as the class began to disband. Then he turned back to his students and their shared instructor, happy with the plans he'd made.