12 Easy Lessons


faulkner_icon.gif robyn6_icon.gif

Scene Title 12 Easy Lessons
Synopsis A chance meeting turns into forging bonds through training.
Date January 3, 2021

The Nite Owl Diner

There's something timeless about the Nite Owl.

It's a relic of a world buried beneath the stains of time, and yet, somehow, it's still here. Isaac Faulkner knows all too well that the illusion of permanence is just that — an illusion — but it's comforting, even so. Especially now, when everything else seems to have been turned on its head; it's going to take more than a one-off outbreak of seizures to keep him away.

A good breakfast place is worth its weight in gold anyway. Especially when you're cursed with Isaac's cooking skills.

So, here he sits, in his usual booth, wearing his usual bland hoodie, a plate full of scrambled eggs and hash browns, enjoying his day off. That's part of why he's taking his time with breakfast… though there's another reason, too.

There's someone else who comes here that he's hoping to catch.

Robyn Roux may or not be that person, but either way she's here. Unlike the last time she encountered Isaac at the diner, she sits on a stool near the entrance to the kitchen. Leaning against the counter, she looks down at a half finished plate of flapjacks covered in the thinnest layer of syrup. It's her usual meal before she goes exercising - something somewhat light but loaded with carbs.

A thermos sits on the counter next to her as she chats with the cook, a wide smile on her face as she sets aside her fork. "One of these days I'm going to just die from eating your crepes. I'm so glad you started making them." It hadn't been her idea, but when she'd heard Tom talking about it one day she had pushed heavily for it.

Reaching down, she adjusts the position of her cane against the stool, before returning to her food.

Isaac works on his own food. Robyn doesn't look to be in a hurry, which is good. It gives him a chance to finish off his own food and consider his approach.

It doesn't take him that long to finish; he slips a five under his plate, then stands, picking up his ticket and heading to the register… which, coincidentally, takes him up near Robyn's seating. "Hey, Robyn," Faulkner says with a grin. "I was hoping I'd run into you. You have a minute? I was… kinda hoping to talk to you about something."

Robyn is caught off guard by hearing her name from someone that isn't the waiter, pausing in the middle of the last bite of her flapjack and looking over to see the source. Fork still in her mouth, she blinks as she lays eyes on Isaac, brow furrowing as she points at herself as if to say "Wait, me?".

Swallowing down the last bite, she picks up her napkin and wipes her mouth before she turns back to Isaac. "Isaac. If you wanted to stalk me, there's much easier ways to do it." The jesting tone of her voice makes it clear she knows that's not what's going on, though her mirthful smile might bely that thought.

"What can I do for you?"

Isaac snorts at Robyn's joke, a small smirk on his lips. "Maybe, but I figured I might as well get in a good breakfast while I'm at it," he says dryly, giving Robyn a sidelong look of amusement.

His expression gets more serious at her question. He mulls it over for a bit, decides to just ask. "I'm trying to learn how to fight. You seem like you'd be a good person to ask for tips on that, or at least someone who could point me in the right direction."

The look that Robyn gives Isaac is one of uncertainty and doubt. "How to fight? Like… how do you mean?" Setting her fork back down with a clink, she pulls her wallet out of her purse and hands a card to the waiter. "And, if you don't mind me asking… why?"

Turning to face him completely, she regards Isaac with curiosity. "Not mixed up in a fight club or anything, are you?" It would seem that's not a joke, either. She knows about the former Crucible and some other illegal activities, though she's never attended.

Isaac, for his part, stares at Robyn uncertainty, caught offguard by that question; he's trying to decide if she knows about the time when he had been involved in just that. After a moment, he lets out a low chuckle. "As it happens, I was, once. Your agency should have files on it; I was abducted, subsequently… 'meth-roofied', I believe one of the agents called it? And then thrown into a death match. I remember parts of it, sometimes, in my dreams. That was the first time I was kidnapped, though not the last," he says quietly, a small, bitter smile crossing his lips.

"The second time, I woke up in the middle of a plane crash in Canada; pretty sure your agency has files on that one, too." He pauses for a moment. "Maybe knowing how to throw a punch wouldn't have helped either time. But… I'm sick of feeling helpless. I want to do something. If that makes any sense," he says, looking back to Robyn.


There's not really much Robyn can say in response to that. It's clear she doesn't know Isaac particularly well, despite the few shared friends and acquaintances the two of them have. "Woke up in the middle of a plane crash?" Robyn wrinkles her nose, looking back to the counter as her card is slid back to her. She knows she's heard the same thing from someone else before, her eyes narrowing.

"It wasn't the same one Nicole Miller was in, was it?" With that, she rises up from her stool, picking up her purse in one hand and her cane in the other, leaning her weight against it as she looks back to Isaac. "I guess that doesn't matter. I get not wanting to feel helpless. Once upon a time, I was the same way. Though I had a madman showing me how to shoot rather than fight."

A beat, and she raises a finger. "That's- not accurate. My girlfriend at the time was showing me how to fight. It was just- for different reasons. Anyway." Glancing past him to the outside, Robyn smiles. "How'd you get here, Isaac?" This question comes as she turns around and picks something up off the stool next to her, previously hidden past her.

It's a motorcycle helmet.

Isaac hesitates briefly, then nods when Robyn asks about Nicole. Her question about how he arrived draws a raised eyebrow. "I ran." Losing his ability had necessitated some changes in his training regimen — wall-walking isn't possible anymore, nor are ceiling situps — but he's tried to keep exercising at the same level of intensity, at least.

His eyebrows rise at the motorcycle helmet, then he looks back to Robyn.

Robyn grins, tossing the helmet to Isaac - she has another one in the storage compartment on her bike.

"I hope you're not shy about getting comfy."

A Short Time Later

Kaleidoscope Studios
Robyn's Apartment

As Robyn pushes open the door to her apartment, she looks back at Isaac with a hint of amusement. It had been a quick enough ride, even if her Ventus wasn't really meant to accommodate two people. She'd explained to him already where they were going, and why - though she hadn't let on the implicit level of trust bringing him into her home carried.

"My son's here, but he tends to keep to himself when new people are here." Quickly she leads him down the hallway, slowing as she reaches a door near the far end. Her "exercise room" is why she's brought him here; for her two cents there isn't a better place for them to do something like this.

"Make yourself at home, if you need anything before we get to it."

The Ventus had been rad. Probably out of his price range, but rad. Maybe someday.

He blinks once when she mentions her son, though; that had been something he hadn't been expecting. Not that it matters. "I'm good," he says seriously, trailing behind her as she leads.

"Well then." Robyn doesn't miss a step in turning and making her way down the hall from the living room, stopping a few doors down. Pushing it open, she motions for Isaac to follow her as she steps in.

Robyn's exercise room looks normal enough at first. An exercise bike, some weights, a soft mat, even a couch and a TV for decompressing after she finishes her routine. It's as one's eyes wander across the room that more unusual sights begin to reveal themselves.

Against the far wall, a dart board is pinned to the wall and laden with throwing knives rather than darts. An archery target on a pedestal underneath the board sits riddled with small holes, what looks like a pistol resting on top of it. But perhaps the most out of place thing in the room is the set of three swords hung on the wall - one that looks more like a cane, a thin rapier, and a curved Eastern sword.

"What is it you're exactly looking to learn, Isaac? Just… basic hand to hand? Self defence? Shooting and weapons use?" Tossing the helmet on to the soda, she turns back to Isaac and leans heavily against her cane as if propping herself up with it. "I've only done so much teaching, but I'm a bit of a jack of all trades, so I can at least get you started."

"Hand to hand and self-defense, I'd say. I wouldn't say no to shooting or weapons use, though." His mouth tightens into a grimace. "I'm… missing things. I need to be able to make up the difference." That shifts the grimace into a bitter smirk — make up the difference? No. That's not going to happen.

But he can at least try to patch some of the holes the loss of his ability left. He can do something to try to hold onto his dignity. How did that go? Improvise, adapt, overcome.

"Missing something?" Robyn studies Isaac for a long moment, eyes moving from Isaac to glance around the room as she considers something, slowly adding pieces together. "…You said you were in the same plane crash as Nicole. So, you've lost your ability, then."

She does what she does for a reason, after all.

Tapping her cane against the floor, she smiles at him - earnestly, even. "I still don't understand that whole situation, but Evolved abilities don't just- go away. Not unless ripped from you." Which may be a possibility from what little she knows. Nicole's always been dodgy on elaborating.

"One upon a time, I pushed myself to the brink of collapse using my ability. It was for a good cause - helping obliterate a swath of what literally may as well have been zombies." Wait, what? "My eyes were- well, it felt like they were on fire. Might as well have been, from all the blood. Couldn't do anything like I used to after that."

She trails off for a moment, her smile fading a small bit. "Long story short, I thought I'd lost my ability, and couldn't see colour anymore as a result. Turned out it just went… dormant, sort of. And when it came back, it had changed, but it was there. So, as I was told, you don't just lose something like that. It'll be back eventually, it just may take… time. And it may be different."

She seems pretty sure of this, at least.

"But, I did what you're doing. I learned how to operate as if I never had my ability. It's smart, and I'm glad you're thinking on the same lines. Grab some of those padded gloves," she says, motioning over to a small table, "and we'll get started."

There's a beat of a moment, and she tilts her head. "What could- can you do, if you don't mind me asking."

Isaac nods, but it's a moment before he says anything. "I hope you're right," he says softly, and it's true; he does. He also knows that she isn't, but it's a nice sentiment.

"I could make shadows real," is his answer, delivered in that same soft tone. "I could bend them, shape them, feel through them like they were a part of my own body. No matter where I walked, I was never alone… I had friends who could catch me if I fell, could hold me steady and keep me safe, as close as my own shadow on the ground. And when night fell!" Isaac smiles now despite himself. "When night fell, I was king of the world, with the very shadow of the earth itself to guard my back…"

He glances to Robyn, giving a coolly amused smirk and a shrug. "It was pretty rad," he says, with only the slight hollowness of his gaze telling how keenly he still feels the loss, even now.

Eyes widening in genuine surprise, Robyn's head tilts slightly as she regards Isaac. "You could- wow. I've never encountered something like that at SESA. I always wondered if it'd be possible, hard shadows or hard light." A small smirk begins to form on her face and she extends a hand.

"So, this is a familiar feeling, then?" With that, she twists her fingers as through wrapping thread around them and pulls her hand back - as she does the entire room around her and Isaac is engulfed in darkness. Her smirk widens as her hands fall to her hips in the dark, beginning to circle around Isaac. "You and I would be quite a team, once you're fully equipped again."

There's a distinct tone of appraisal to her voice, giving way to approval. "I'm a photokinetic. I hold sway over light and dark around me, and… then some other added perks." Even if he can't see her, he can hear the footfalls around him with absolutely no sense of uncertainty of step - probably not hard to surmise she can see in the dark. "We will absolutely have to find some fun ways to tailor your training when that comes around."

Isaac's eyes widen as darkness falls… then narrow. "If that happens," he says evenly. His eyes do him no good in this darkness, but it's hard not to try to look.

He exhales and listens. "Added perks… like your party clone? That was a neat trick. Never did figure out the voice, though." Wait. Listen. Could she be misdirecting him? Her party clone hadn't had substance, so it probably couldn't make footfalls; she can't do 'hard' light, then. Okay. He turns, trying to orient himself towards the sound of the footsteps.

As Isaac stops and turns to face her, a smile creeps back on to her face. "Oooh, you're smart. Not that I doubted that, you did ask me for help." Something seems to have decidedly changed about her tone and demeanor. When did that happen? Is she enjoying this? "Tell me how you figured out which direction to look for me in, and I'll tell you how I did the voice."

"I can't see. Or feel, like I used to be able to. But I can still hear your footsteps." That much remains to him, at least. Think. Think. What is she going to do next?

A bit of sadness wells up in Robyn at that, lips quirking side to side as she stops in place. "Okay so I wasn't meaning to quiz you on, uh, being in the dark. I just- you told me what you could do and I ended up thinking on my feet. We can go back to something else if you're uncomfortable."

And besides, he at least understands the basics of being in the dark. By her estimation, he better damn well. "Maybe some basic defence. I can teach you what…" In her mind's eye she can see, just for a moment, Ygraine and the motions she would go through when teaching Robyn. "An old friend of mine taught me."

Isaac lets out a quiet breath. "Only way to find out is to ask, and you've got to know what I can do if you're going to teach me, right?" he asks, giving a faint grin.

"But yeah. Basic defense would be… good to know," he agrees somberly. "Definitely."

"Yeah." Robyn sounds a bit more distant, propping her cane up against the couch and turning back to Isaac. The darkness recedes, and she makes her way over to the mat quickly. "Well, at least that's something that'll be easy enough for me to show you. Hopefully I can do it half as good as it was for me."

The darkness recedes, and Isaac can see again. His eyes follow Robyn as she moves; he frowns slightly at the hint of distance in her voice. He nods. "Hopefully," he agrees diplomatically. "So… what's the first step?"

"Depends. Do you want to do this like proper lessons with an instructor at some rubbish small building, or do you want to learn like I learned?" There's a big smirk on her face as she asked this, and while it makes it unclear which she'd prefer, it makes it plain that she's got something up her sleeve.

Leaning against her cane with each step, she chuckles."No preference on my end. All up to you, Isaac. Pick your poison."

To Isaac, it seems the choice she's offering breaks down to do we do this the easy way, or the hard way. The easy way would probably get him to the same place, in time… but time is a luxury he's none too sure he has a great deal of. "Let's try the way you learned and see how that goes," he says.

"Okay." The way Robyn's lips curl up in a smirk tells quite a story, at the very least she was hoping Isaac would pick this route. "In that case, we won't start with throwing a punch or how to face down an attacker." Something about her gait changes as she moves around him. Her thumb slides down the side of her can, and she shakes her head.

In a quick movement, she presses up just under the head of her cane. One leg slides back as she hunches slightly,, left hand coming around to grip the top of her cane and pulling it up. A flash of steel blurs as she swings it forward, revealing to Isaac a sword was hidden inside.

And now it's pointing at him.

"Let's work on reaction speed."

"Oh fuck me," Isaac murmurs, his eyes focused very intently on that blade. He'd been expecting her to pull something, but he hadn't been expecting an actual sword. Maybe it's not actually sharpened… though that's not an assumption he's keen to test. "Live steel on day one? Do I get a stick at least?"

He suspects the answer is going to be haha no, but no harm in asking. Still… if nothing else, he can move. Freerunning gives him that much. Maybe he can't move as well as he'd been able to move before — no double jumps or shadow swings or slingshotting without his shadow — but he can move.

Hopefully she doesn't forget that this is training.

What Robyn doesn't tell Isaac is that the blade is dulled - she doesn't always carry live steel out in public, that's a recipe to get arrested until she has a proper permit. Or looks into if that's even a thing. She should do that.

Though she's been studying iaidō as of late, she learned stage combat years upon years ago. The pose she takes is more akin to a fencing stance, her smirk widening. "Not yet. I want to see how quick you move. We'll go from there." Her head tilts slightly. "You're a freerunner, right?"

A throaty laugh escapes her lips.

"So run."

And then she thrusts. Close, but naturally not actually truly threatening. It's a quick but weak stab, more to see how Isaac moves more than anything.

Those words take Isaac back.

So you think you can run? another woman asks him; there's a hint of a curve to her lips, but he can't tell whether she's mocking or just teasing. Then run.

He hadn't been able to keep up that time — or the time after that, or the time after that. He hadn't even been a runner back then — not really — let alone a freerunner. But he hadn't given up… and he had learned. Isaac isn't giving up now, either.

As Robyn thrusts, he sways to the side and slips a half step back, leaving him just out of reach.The movement is smooth, without a lot of wasted motion; freerunning, after all, is all about maneuvering past obstacles while maintaining momentum.

There's little actual threat to the way Robyn moves and strikes, but the threat isn't the point - it's Isaac's reaction to it. She draws the sword back, grinning. "You are fast." She sounds genuinely impressed, sliding the sword back into the cane. "And agile. So let's work on turning that defence into offence."

Tossing the cane to the side of the mat, she turns her attention back to Isaac, squaring up with him. "If someone's coming at you without abilities or weapons - or even with some weapons - the best thing you can do is use your fluid movement and momentum to turn theirs against them. Are you familiar with judo at all? Or if you like something flashier, jeet kune do?"

Isaac nods at Robyn's assessment. He is fast, and he is agile, and he knows both of these things are accurate without being haughty about it — he's taken enough falls of late to break him of any hubris he might have been developing. Robyn's proposed course of action sees his gaze sharpen. Yes. Yes, this is exactly what he'd been hoping to learn. "I've heard of them. I don't know much about either of them… but I am most definitely interested in learning."

"Judo is a competitive form of jujitsu, much like kendo and iaido are for kenjutsu or iaijutsu sword fighting styles. Iaido is what I practice," Robyn begins, setting the cane on the small chair at the other end of the room. "It's all about using your opponent's momentum and weight against them rather than striking directly. It's very reactive compared to other martial arts."

Robyn smiles as she reaches into her bag and removes a pair of red, thick framed glasses. She stares at Isaac silently for a moment, before another Robyn - her duplicate - walks out from behind her as if she had been there the entire time. Settling the frames onto her face, she smirks. "Jeet kune do is more philosophy. Be like water, flowing and adaptable - but willing to crash when appropriate."

The Robyn that isn't wearing glasses steps forward while the other crosses her arms. "She can't actually touch you. So, let's start with that whole flow like the water part - on defense." While she has a base familiarity with both of the subjects at hand, she's never had formal training in either. She has been in a lot of physical fights and had informal training many times over the years. Maybe they can make this work.

Okay. So no tricks here, then; it's just up to him to meet the challenge she's setting up for him. "Alright," he says. His brow furrows for a moment as he considers, then sets his feet, letting his arms hang loose — it's not quite a martial arts stance, but it's the stance of someone ready to move. Flowing like water — this he can do.

"Ready," he says.

"I'm not sure how many people would actually agree with me about that commonality, but…" Robyn offers a small shrug. "I'm not exactly a martial arts expert. Everything I learned was… kind of on the fly. Informal. In case I didn't make that clear before." Adjusting the glasses, she leans against the back of the couch behind her.

She opens her mouth like she's going to say more, but instead, the dupe throws a punch in Isaac's direction, before assuming a more appropriate stance.

"That's fair. I just want to know enough to " Isaac cuts off, stepping back to avoid the punch and giving ground, coming to rest just outside of striking distance. " not lose a fight," he finishes studying the duplicate's stance. "Winning would be better, but I'd rather take a draw than a loss."

A thin smile forms on Robyn face as she watches, her eyes taking on a faint sheen as she seems to stare vacantly off past the two of them. "That was movement. But that's just the start, Isaac. Now…"

A Few Hours Later

"So, I never answered your question," Robyn replies as she steps back into the exercise room with a pair of sports drinks in hand. One is offered casually to Isaac, who seems much more tired than she does - the perks of being able to use a dupe to do things so she doesn't have to. "About how I do the voice with my replicant," she notes as a point of clarification.

Despite the fact that she wasn't as active as Isaac, she does seem a bit more drained than might be normal, a hand reaching to pull off her glasses while the other rubs at her eyes. "Light produces heat. With enough heat, you supercharge the air and cause the molecules to vibrate. Vibration produces sound," she remarks in a rather academic tone.

"So as far as I can figure, when she speaks it's creating small, intense bursts of light that resonate and produce harmonics that sound like my voice, if.. slightly imperfect. Someone who's familiar with me would probably know the difference pretty easily." Turning the cap on her drink, she holds it up like she's doing a cheers motion. "That's why you see light coming from her mouth too. There's science for doing the opposite, turning sound into light, but I figure that might be beyond me. Would be cool though, to be like Dazzler."

Sometimes, Robyn knows something from comics.

Isaac takes the drink gratefully — he's in good shape, but this dance isn't quite the same as what he usually does, and the difference is telling. Also, his dance partner doesn't actually have muscles to get tired, so that might have something to do with things, too.

"Huh," he says at her explanation. "Good to know." Faulkner raises his drink when she raises hers, then takes a drink. "I don't think that's something I'd ever be able to do, honestly; my ability doesn't do a lot with air," he offers by way of explanation.

"Who knows, technically neither does mine. It's all about how you apply the knowledge you have" Robyn remarks as she leans against the back of the couch in the room. "Light and dark inexorably linked. To be honest, most abilities that manipulate darkness are just… expressions of photokinesis." It seems she's taken a lesson away from Colette, taking a sip of her own drink. "I imagine someone who does what you say you can with dark could theoretically do the same with light."

She waves a hand back and forth, smirking. "I could go on and on about it. I've studied a lot about physics relating to light and dark, and how abilities like ours utterly destroy the perceived barriers of it. It's probably the only scientific topic I really know anything about."

Isaac fixes Robyn with an intent expression as she speaks; for a long moment afterward, he remains silent, considering what she's said. Is his ability some sort of… inverted photokinesis?

He thinks on that for a bit… then he gives a single quiet chuckle. "Looks like I picked the right person to learn from," he says, one corner of his mouth curving up into a faint grin. "Because that's something I'd be interested in hearing about. Maybe someday I'll be able to put some of it to practical use… but until that happens, hearing about the theory sounds good, too," he says, his grin broadening before he takes a drink.

"There's better than me," Robyn states simply as she looks down at her own hand. "The point is, you can't have one without the other, and you can't manipulate one without the other." She raises it up, fingers flexing in and out. After a moment, she turns around to her purse on the couch and pulls out a pair of sunglasses, tossing them to Isaac.

"Your ability, as you describe it, is an interesting wrinkle in what I know, admittedly," she remarks, hands still aloft. "But dark-" A snap of her fingers, and the two are plunged into darkness. "And light?" Another snap of her fingers, and the room is flooded with fairly light bright. "The same. It's just a matter of control and expression."

Oh, so that's why she gave him the sunglasses.

Isaac catches the sunglasses with his free hand, frowning. He studies them for a moment, then, with a shrug, puts them on; he's not sure why she's giving him sunglasses, but oh well.

The reason becomes apparent pretty quickly. "That makes sense," he says slowly. "When I get my ability back," Isaac begins, very deliberately choosing when instead of if for that eventuality, "… maybe I'll be able to work on that. To see what I end up being able to do with it. For now, though, the best I can do is theory on that front," he admits with a grimace.

The idea of Isaac just losing his ability still clearly doesn't sit well with Robyn, judging from the concerned grimace that forms across her lips as the light recedes away, leaving them back in normal lighting. "Yeah, I guess so."

With a heavy sigh, she turns and walks back around the couch and plops down on to it. "Well, either way, I'm happy to keep doing this with you, semi regularly, if you want. I don't think I'm a great teacher, but I guess we'll see won't we?"

"I would," is Faulkner's reply. "For the immediate future, at least, or for as long as my health allows. I need to learn to make the most of what I've got, and right now, anything I can learn is going to help," he says seriously. Casually, he takes off the sunglasses, snaps them closed, and tosses them back to Robyn with a slow, under-handed pitch.

He takes another drink, finishing it off, then nods. "And… thank you for taking the time to help me out with this. I appreciate it." He pauses for a moment. "Next week?" he asks. "Same bat-time, same bat-channel?"

"Sure," Robyn remarks with a small shake of her head an amused grin. "Next week." She's not saying the rest. "And you don't need to thank me. I think it's basically my life's work at this point to help people, to keep them safe. To help them keep themselves safe."

A small shrug as she takes her cane back into hand and shrugs. "What's one more friend for the road?"

You'd almost think she enjoys this, in the end.

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