All About Balance


mack_icon.gif peyton_icon.gif

Scene Title All About Balance
Synopsis Mack gives Peyton pointers on fighting as well as a pep talk on being in the game.
Date December 8, 2009

New York Public Library

Once again, Mack has settled into his 'suite' with typical flair. More of the library's under tunnels have been cleaned out and prepared for Evil and possibly Nefarious uses upon the rest of End Game's return. And yet, there is something different. His clothes are neither 'comfort' clothes, nor 'going out' clothes, or even 'hobo' clothes. They are workout clothes, a pair of adidas running pants and an UnderArmour shirt that molds itself to his torso and looks easy to move in. Occasionally he checks his cell phone, accounting for the time, but otherwise seems patient.

Peyton comes through the lobby, calling ahead as she nears the rooms she knows he stays in. "It's me, Peyton," she warns, lest any gun-toting vigilantes come to see who's prowling through the library. She's bundled up against the chilly night, but on her feet are Reeboks and she wears a pair of soft black yoga pants beneath the wool coat. "Hey," she says. In her hands is a bag of take out for after the lesson. She sets it on a table. "Anything new?" she asks, unbuttoning her coat to reveal the t-shirt beneath.

"Nothing interesting, at least on this end. Starting to feel a little disconcerted over the silence. Gettin' that crazy itch that says it might be time to start thinkin' about a move." Mack says all this wi- hey! There wasn't a single swear word in there! In any case, he says all this without looking up. When the sentence is out, he reaches for his clicker and shuts off the tv. Then he does look up, regarding Peyton curiously for a moment before letting the expression slide away. He pulls himself up off the couch with a quiet grunt. "Ready to rumble?"

"Mm, sure. Sorry it's so quiet. You aren't doing anything but working on stuff here, huh? No other people to hang out with?" She asks it quietly, sympathetically, knowing he lost his girlfriend in the bomb, from what he didn't say the other day. She doesn't know how many friends or family he does or doesn't have. "Oh, cold water." She lifts the other bag in her hands, pulling out one bottle of Dasani and tossing it to him, and putting the other bottle on the table for herself. "What's first, teach?"

"Yeah, tryin' to get it in shape. I had some other projects I was working on, but… dead ends. Cold cases, now." Mack shrugs, doing his best to make a show of it not mattering- its a great display of bad acting. "Anyway, no. This place has been dead fuckin' quiet." He doesn't offer anything about friends or family; at least not now. He catches the tossed water bottle, twisting the top off and letting a bit drain down his throat. As he drinks he walks out the door, pointing across the hall. "This room over here is empty. I found a cushion thing; it ain't a proper mat, but it'll work." Once inside the other room, he drops the water bottle against one wall and makes his way onto their makeshift mat.

She sets her water down in another corner, so they won't mix them up. She heads to the mat. "Be gentle, okay?" she says, half kidding, but half not. He used to be a cop. She used to drink martinis and pose for the paparazzi. "I've taken some classes but all they do is like… kick in the groin, stomp on the foot, run away, call 9-1-1. Depending on who we're fighting, 9-1-1 might not help, so." She shrugs, stepping onto the mat.

"Stretch out a little." Mack instructs first. As if to properly demonstrate, he begins himself, going through some simple, routine processes. "Self defense classes are good for what they are, but you're gonna have to forget what you learned. The way we roll, its a different beast." After the stretching, he wiggles out his limbs. "Get into a defensive stance." For now, he doesn't assume one himself; instead waiting to see what her idea of one is.

She follows suit, stretching as he does. She seems made of legs; she's flexible and toned but not overly muscular. Brute force won't be on her side, that's for sure. When he tells her to get in a defensive stance, she wipes her hands on her pants, then bends slightly at the knees, one foot ahead of the other, hands in fist with one raised up, to protect her face.

Given Mack's terribly crude and inappropriate nature, it is almost a miracle how respectful he is of Peyton as she stretches. Sure, he might peek a time or two, but its done discrete, and ONLY a time or two. In any case, when thats done, he moves to stand in front of her. His feet are roughly shoulder width apart. "First thing you need to know. You're little. If you square off with somebody that has a hundred pounds on you, you're never going to be able to just beat the shit out of them. So, theres a nifty little trick you need to learn. Its called physics. You gotta use your opponent's kinetic energy against them. Like this- throw a punch with your right hand."

Little? She's five foot, eight inches, taller than most women when she walks down the crowded streets. Outweighing them is another matter. She carries no more than 125 pounds on the lean frame. She throws a punch, though not intending to make contact with him — just out and uncertainly, very little force put into the punch so that she doesn't end up giving him a black eye.

Yet four inches shorter than the ex-Cop, ex-Firefighter. Prepared and at half-speed, Mack uses his left hand to simply slap Peyton's wrist, pushing her arm off to his right. The slap is hard enough to sting, a bit. "Don't go all half-ass on me. If you're not serious, I'm not the guy you want showing you how to do this, kid. I'm not gentle."

"I just don't want to hurt you," Peyton says in an apologetic tone, then adds wryly, "and I don't want to get hurt. But I guess hurt a little now is better than dead a lot later." She shrugs and resumes her stance, then throws the punch, biting her lip as she does so.

She's got natural athletic ability; and Mack's whole lesson almost blows up in his face. This time its his right hand he uses, and he swings it around to slide along the outside edge of her first. He's a fraction of a second slow, so she catches his relaxed knuckle with her hardened one. This will sting later, for both of them, though mostly Mack. Still, they don't expect cops to arrest drug dealers and murderers- UNLESS they happen to jam a knuckle. He keeps his focus and gets a grip on her wrist, tightly locking his fingers around it. From there, its just a quick hard tug, his other hand taking hold of her elbow, and a twist- and viola! Her arm is behind her back in a typical police hold. At full speed, it somehow seems much more complicated. He holds her there with her arm up just high enough to demonstrate how painful it COULD be- without realling putting any tension on any of her muscles. "Now that was much better, chica. But what I just did, you could do to me just as easily." Then he lets her go.

"So… should I let them swing first, is that what you're saying?" Peyton asks, panting just a bit from the exertion and that threat of pain in her arm and wrist. Once he releases her, she rubs her arm, though she doesn't complain or give him any sort of pouty look for hurting her. In fact she glances down at his hand. "I didn't hurt you, did I?" she says, apologetically.

"Stings a bit, but it ain't no thing. Shit happens. The last thing I want you to worry about is me, Peyton." Indeed, Mack rubs absent-mindedly at his knuckle until she says something about it. Then he forcibly drops his hands to his side. "And its a good philosophy. As you get better, you'll start to see it. Its all mechanics. All they teach us in cop school; all the instructors have different ways of describing it, but its pretty much all joint manipulation, pressure points. We had a marine guest speaker at NYU for my Criminal Justice class, talking about self defense and the Marines combat technique- s'called like ADCAP or some shit -but basically cops use a watered down version. Maximum damage, minimum effort is the mantra. I read some shit about Akido, too, though I never had a chance to learn- use their energy against them, put them in a position where they don't wanna fight. All that long winded bullshit aside, once you get used to the physical movements; muscle memory, if you like- once you get that, you'll start to see ways you make the first move. Its all very mental."

"Mental isn't my strong point," Peyton says a bit nervously. "But okay. It makes sense, I guess." She isn't confident, but willing to try. "So show me again - slower, so I can see it?" she asks, slowly throwing the punch this time, so she can watch it in stead of simply react to it. "I don't know though - if someone's stronger, it's more likely to work, isn't it?"

Mack does indeed run through the movements, at half speed this time. "No. Its almost the reverse, really. A punch only hurts if it hits you." Woop woop woop, and again her arm is pinned against her back. A subtle shift, pressure upwards on her elbow- and ow. Easing off? It fades immediately. "When you redirect the movement in a direction they're not expecting, people just get thrown off balance. Then you get a second to move them, and BAM! When there arm is all pinned up like that, they have to pop their shoulder out of socket to get out." That isn't strictly true, there are ways to break the hold but, lets not overwhelm the girl!

Peyton watches as he does it this time, eyes narrowing as if recording the movements so she can do them herself in the near future. "Okay. So even though I'm smaller, I have enough strength to knock you off balance?" she asks skeptically, stepping back away to put some distance between them once more. "Then what do I do with the person, once I have them pinned?"

"Well, that depends. Knock 'em out, kill 'em, let 'em go- it all depends on the situation. To answer your other question, yes, you can. Actually, let me show you one." Mack again resumes his beginning stance, "Look step toward me like you're gettin' ready to dance; hook your foot between my legs- no kickin' me in the balls! -and lock your foot onto the back of my kneecap. Then just run into me as hard you can- fuckin' push with everything you've got."

She listens, frowning a little with concentration as she listens to his instructions. Kicking him in the balls would be easier! But she does as he says, coming at him, kicking up with right foot to lock in the back of the left knee, then rushing the last few inches to smack into him, her head ducked so she doesn't smack her head on his chin.

Mack's leg begins to buckle against her foot, and as soon as her body connects he topples over like a rag doll. He lands flat on his back, the wind immediately knocked out of him- that mat really isn't that great -but the ease with which the maneuver works likely leaves her at least a little overbalanced.

His toppling back has her tripping over him, landing on top of him with an "Oof." Once she realizes she's lying on top of him, her cheeks color and she rolls off to one side, landing on her own back to stare up at the ceiling for a moment. "Balance," she says, nodding, as if she said something profound. She sits up and reaches for her water bottle, uncapping it and taking a sip.

Mack can't help but laugh when she falls on top of him. Well, okay, he doesn't laugh then, but after she rolls off and blushes; then he laughs. "Its what its all about. Strength comes from the whole body; if you throw someone off balance, they lose the ability to hurt you."

"So how do I keep from falling on top of them after I make them fall down?" Peyton tosses back down to him, leaning an arm across the top of her knees while she takes another sip of water. "Because that doesn't seem like a good plan to me."

"Well, once you've done it a few times you'll get a feel for how fast they fall once they start. Knowing what it feels like, what to expect, is the first part of figuring out how to keep your balance. Its like… when you're walking down the stairs in the dark. Its no problem, but if theres one more or one less step than you expect, you get all fucked up. When you know what to expect, you're cool; when you don't you stumble around like an idiot. Same thing."

"I stumble around like an idiot quite a bit without having people try to mug me or without steps missing. It wouldn't be any big difference, to be honest," Peyton says with a laugh. "I'm not exactly graceful." She can dance, she can exercise, but she does have a tendency to be in the wrong places at the wrong time. It doesn't help that her power renders her blind to her own surroundings when it's in action.

"You've got plenty of grace, Peyote. I can see it when you walk. You just haven't learned how to use it, yet." This is funny, coming from Mack, because its not like he's going to run off and join Circue de Soleil anytime soon. He remains laying down, and he crosses his fingers on his stomach.

She arcs a brow at him at the new nickname. He actually used her real name once tonight, but apparently has forgotten it once more. "Walking is usually not that difficult. Running away from bad guys or trying to fight someone is different. I want to help, though. I just… I'm not like Claire and Liz and everyone else. I don't like guns or danger or any of it."

"I can't speak for anyone else, but I can tell you for damn sure that me and Liz- neither one of us enjoys this shit, Peyton. Liz is one real tough bitch," The way he uses the words make it obvious that the words are complimentary, despite the unflattering vernacular, "And I look like I belong at Rikers or some shit. But we hate it. I hate hurting people. I shot someone a year ago, when I was still on the force. The guy was low, man. Some people, they raided the Brooklyn library. Rounded up everyone with a reg card, let the rest go. I was off duty, managed to hide out at first. They were gonna execute 'em, Peyton. Mostly a buncha kids. I shot one of 'em, arrested another. I lied through my teeth to the shrinks so they wouldn't take my badge; Dude was gonna execute fucking kids, and I get to have nightmares about it a year later because I put one in his chin." Mack sits up at this point. "I'm rambling, I know, and I'm sorry; but the point is nobody likes it. The fact that you're here anyway, just means you're willing to go through the shitstorm to do whats right. Says a lot about who you are."

There is a nod. She listens. "I think … Gillian was there, wasn't she? Or she used to work there or something." She frowns at the thought of the missing Gillian. She's looked in on her a few times. Looks mostly like camping, though no one looks camping, when she peers through her sometimes-roommate's perspective — some injuries, but she isn't sure what caused them. "I didn't mean … I'm sorry," she murmurs, glancing down. "I didn't mean you or Liz like hurting people. But you were cops for a reason — because you felt like you could be good at it maybe, or because you wanted to stop criminals and all that. Me? I didn't care, about criminals, as long as they left me alone. I never once thought about trying to do anything dangerous with my life." There is irony in that statement — the woman has been drinking since age 14, doing drugs since 15, waking up in strangers' beds as long as they were a celebrity since 16. "But thanks. It took me a while. To … care." She glances away, thinking again of the nightmare, Gillian's words that she was selfish and shallow.

"I didn't give a shit, Peyton." To Mack, there seems to be significance in using her name. He's impersonal and distant, aloof- he's an asshole to almost everyone almost all of the time. There is something uncomfortable in it for him. But here, he does. "When I was younger. I wanted to live my life and be happy. Went to school to be a firefighter, and everyone thinks that makes you a hero. 'You run towards the fire instead of away from it,' 'you run towards the gunshots', all that shit? Yeah, right. I moved out here and took that job because I loved it. But the bomb changed all that shit." That's an oversimplification! "I didn't care until then. Until it got to the point that I just… couldn't ignore it anymore. Because it reached into my personal life and bitchslapped me off my pedal. Don't beat yourself up just because you didn't reach that point at the same time, or the same way, as anybody else."

Her eyes drop and she nods. "I guess … for most Evolved… it only matters when you know you're different. I mean, there's some people who aren't, and help anyway, because it's the right thing to do, but most of us do it because we don't like to be …" she pauses, thinking for a moment, "oppressed." She hugs her knees. "Okay. I just meant… I'm … they're better at it than I am. Liz by trade and Claire by the fact she doesn't have as much fear of getting dead, I guess." She has a very big fear of getting dead.

"Yeah, well, Claire's got that on pretty much everybody. Including me. But you got in the game late. You'll be fine." And now Mack slowly closes back up.

"True," she says, and caps her water bottle before standing up again. "All right. Show me something else," she says, taking a deep breath as she retakes the defensive stance.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License