Easy Knock Out


claire_icon.gif joshua_icon.gif

Scene Title Easy Knock Out
Synopsis A bouncer at a fight club gives a girl a hard time.
Date January 14, 2011

Outside Coco's Boxing Gym

When there is a business like the Center Stage, word always gets around. Brings about an idle curiosity in some, a morbid one that draws them into such a den of mayhem. Why else do many watch certain types of sports? To see people get hurt. They hold their breath waiting for that next collision, while the participants revel in it and the attention.

The primal belly of the human race.

Claire Bennet is the type of person that likes to punish her body. There are tapes somewhere of every attempt to kill or injure herself. A part of her thought she pushed that away, swept it under the carpet. The fight with her father, brought that all back to the forefront.

Sometimes, she finds the punishment a sort of stress relief. So she was there to check out what the Center Stage was about.

Darkness awaits her as she is leaving the bloodthirsty screams of the spectators behind. It wasn't even the night of the evolved fights, but it had been enough that she might find herself there on the night of the 'Main Event'. The black leather jacket she's wearing creaks softly as she glances over her shoulder. Her whole outfit, in general, seems to be of a black theme. Her hair is pulled back in that severe ponytail, maybe to give the impression that this young woman isn't the type to be trifled with.

That or she just feels rather emo tonight.

There are different lenses with which you can watch such events through. One is Claire Bennet's particulartly morbid slant.

Another is Joshua Springsteen's. Where adrenaline in the blood is more interesting than the colour it makes when it gets spilled and the real fuckin' draw that brings these people together has little to do with some animalistic— dare we say, primal— attraction to pain and punishment, more simplistic than that. These are betting men, by and large, dealing greasy flickers of paper and chalking up names and odds. Then there's the ones in the ring, men good enough to earn money but not enough to climb higher than illegal fighting dens. They'll go home and put ice on their swollen knuckles from beating up the people who like it.

It's all about perspective. No doubt people find metaphysical relief, but the world isn't always split neatly into sadists and masochists. Some people enjoy it for other reasons, too. Like winning. Like Joshua.

He isn't fighting tonight, incidentally, but he is working. A self-rolled cigarette is smoked down to a stub, threatening to burn his fingertips when he pinches it near his mouth to suck down smoke. His feet are in combat boots, the kind that might have steel in the toes, and a BDU jacket pulled over grey cotton that doesn't seem good enough against the cold outside. He doesn't appear to be armed, at least.

But he does appear to be following Claire.

Maybe it's the sound of another pair of feet as she starts walking, or that tingly sort of feeling you get up your back when someone is watching you. Of course, that tingle could just be the malaria. Even so, the regenerator slows to a stop, boots scuffing as she turns just enough to look behind her.

Once it's confirmed that someone is indeed following her, Claire turns to face him. She manages a relaxed pose, hands tucked into pockets as she gives the man a once over with open distrust. If she recognizes him from inside, it doesn't really show in the darkness.

"Can I help you?" The words rough and bland, but softly spoken in the night. Now that they are out of the loud sounds of the fighting arena, everything sounds much ore prominent. "Or… do you just make a habit of following people?" Claire's brows lift above eyes outlined in smudged black, clearly waiting for an answer.

She stops. He doesn't. Joshua's steady stroll continues to carry him forward, with yesterday's snow still melting and squelching under foot, but he lists left shy of actual collision, close enough that the reek of smoke from slightly damp cigarette is quick to take over the smells of the city. "Only sometimes, sugar," is sneered out as he turns a tight circle around her, allowing her space by the time he's reappearing at her right side, with a step rocking back. His hazel eyes look as dark as dirt in this light, scalp gone over with a razor to shear hair severely to his skull, his face clean of any bruises or cuts.

"I work security back there. I'm wondering what a little princess like you think she's got worth seeing in a place like that." He tricks his gaze from one of her eyes, to the other, and takes some pleasure out of adding, "The Triad hate hookers comin' down there, 'less they're on their payroll, y'know?"

Sugar? Princess? Hooker?!

That last is a new one, but just as insulting as the rest. It has eyes hooding in obvious displeasure, eyes shadow dark and grey in the low light, while her jaw tightens just a little. Claire only turns enough to try and keep an eye on him, as if expecting a sneak attack. "I wasn't in there looking to take any of the Triads money by selling sex."

It's her turn to invade a little bit of the space he's given her, her body leaning towards him a little as she informs him rather calmly, "I was there, scoping out if it was worth me coming back tomorrow." Straightening, her chin tilts up in defiance, as she states plainly, "This princess is planning on stepping in that ring."

Okay, she hadn't been fully convinced, but now he's got her digging in heels and deciding she will fight. "If only to show men like you that even girls like me can kick your ass." A humorless smile slowly pulls at the corners of her mouth, her tone mockingly pleasant.

"Men like me, huh?" Joshua doesn't seem impressed, a kind of snakeish tilt of his spine and condescending tilt to his head. His mouth is stamped into a permanent half-smile while the eyes beneath his defined brow remain shadowed and distant. He is not remarkably tall, but she's remarkably short, and he has the kind of thick muscled physique expected of someone who bounces at a fight club. Stubbed cigarette is pitched leftwards.

Errant smoke slides passed his teeth as he adds, "And girls like you? Babydoll, please, I'm in stitches. The hell kind of power you got to make you think you're so invincible? Business question, y'understand, because they don't like to let in easy KOs. There's no cash in it."

He's nearly a foot taller then her, so Claire does have to look up a bit to meet his gaze, but she doesn't seem at all intimidated. Much like a chihuahua doesn't seem all that impressed with a pit bull, it'll still snap at it. Lips press into a line as she considers that question. "Mmm… and that would be ruining the surprise."

A sarcastic smile tugs up the corners of her lips again. "But I can say that I do know how to take a beating and I am not an easy… KO." History might argue that, especially where Sylar was concerned.

Her head turns just a little, to send a brief glance towards the business, as if pondering something about it. After the briefest moment, Claire gives a bit of a chuckle, "I'm use to people underestimating me, happens all the time" Blue eyes are gray in the dark, lifted back to gaze defiantly at Joshua. "And like before, I'll prove you and them wrong. Just let me in that ring."

"Sounds like it's gonna be a show," Joshua says, jolting a shrug through his shoulders, and after a look up and down of darkly hazel eyes— he scrapes back a step, mouth pushing into a cynical kind of pucker. There's relenting, in his posture, a gesture that suggests she's being awarded a free pass. Maybe with the killing of his cigarette, or the sentiment that yes, it should be quite the show. Sickly green and yellow illumination highlight the more underground entrances beneath the boxing gym, gleaming off the icy white packing around the curb.

His fist rises up as unexpectedly as a snake striking, and when it clocks across her chin, it's with a casual brutality befitting for someone you don't like, let alone a woman. Other hand is coming to grip her ponytail in a brutal twist that seems to send fire across her scalp— for those of us who care about such things as damage and pain, anyway— before other arm is coming to lock, with a militant sort of skill and precision, around her throat.

And squeezes, her back hard up against his chest. She has a weak spot, buried in her brain. But a chokehold is fine too.

The sneak attack works well, Claire doesn't see the punch coming or expect the force behind it. Her head snaps to the side, disorienting her enough that she ends up being choked by a rather strong arm across her neck. She needs to breath to keep going, the spots in front of her eyes telling her she doesn't have much time. Fingers instinctively moves to dig into his arm, nails sharp against skin as she tries at first to claw it away.

Teeth clench against the sensation, blood on her lips a testament to the fact he split her lip. In the back of her mind, Claire is thinking… I go down, but then come up swinging, but that's not going to work for the arena. Or is it? Does she risk it?


If she's got to prove herself to a bouncer, she had to make it count. It takes a lot for her not to go with that first instinct to panic, like many would do. Instead, she brings her elbow up and with the other hand griping the wrist to help and she drives it back, attempting to twist her body at the same time. All she can do is hope she's lucky.

Joshua takes the punishment with a forced exhale, a crumpling of his posture, and Claire finds her elbow colliding with solid muscle. His breath blows hot across her scalp, inhale drawn back in with a near vocal growl, but his arm remains painfully rigid, constricting things like the ability to breathe and to scream for help, if that latter one ever crossed Claire's mind at all. Her feline twisting defense says otherwise. The blow sends them careening back but it doesn't tip him — Joshua responds by hauling her off her feet, by the neck, helped by their disportionate heights and—

And some considerable know how on his part, a lack of scrappy roughness for a thug, smooth and sanded into more economical choices and distributions. By the time the world is becoming a collection of blurs and black spots, he's releasing her. Not kindly.

She's shoved away, a kicked aimed at her hip like one might bat a stray dog aside, Joshua backing up several steps. "Yeah, I know you got wild cat in you," is darkly grumbled.

When freed, Claire drops and almost crumbles there on the ground, lungs working with a gasp to draw in a precious breath of air. Knees bent in the motion but a hand to the ground prevents her from finishing that movement. His kick does the trick, sending her twisting down to sit heavily on her rump with a oof.

She doesn't moves to get up right away, just takes a moment to sit there. Knees are drawn up some and the regenerator is brushing bits of gravel from her hands on her pants. She even takes a moment to tug at her ponytail tight again, but she literally radiates anger and probably embarrassment.

Then a glare is sent his way, feet tucked so that Claire can stand with that grace that comes from years of athletics. Or you know… Cheerleading. It's probably hard to see in just the glow of neon, but she wipes the blood away from her cut lip, but it doesn't seem like she really split it. The blood is casually wiped on black jeans as she silently watches him with a touch of disdain. There is no mottled darkness of a bruise setting in along his jaw, where his hit her. Her skin is still perfect and flawless. He might be able to see it as she seems to be stepping closer.

In fact, accept for the flecks of blood that still cling to her lip and the dustiness of her dark clothing, Claire looks unharmed. She snapping out in a rough angry growl, "And you fight too damn good for a mere bouncer." He might see the tensing of her body as muscles get ready to spring, before she launches herself at him, fingers curled into a fist, aimed at wiping that look off his handsome face.

It's not that Joshua lets her hit him. That would be an arrogant thing to imply, without respect to her own speed, strength, cheerleader agility and terrorist viciousness. When her knuckles connect with his face, he would rather that they didn't, but he does turn away enough in the last instance that is nose keeps the integrity of its bridge, that his eye isn't sunk a fraction deeper in his socket. Punching faces hurts, her knuckles scraping hard across strong cheekbone, but Claire doesn't have to worry about things like swelling and knuckle dislocation.

"Ow!" is genuine complaint, but only after a strong hand has come to wind around Claire's wrist on her follow through, arm feeling steely in its strength, and instantly, bone fractures beneath his hand with no particular effort on his part.

In an alternate universe, Claire might not even feel the pain as the bone cracks. Not here. Luckily, her ability at least dulls the pain some, to a point that there is only a hiss of breath between her teeth from a sharp intake of air, body twisting a bit as if yo take the pressure off it. However, he doesn't get the satisfaction of turning her into simpering girl, or begging to be let go with tears streaming down her cheeks.

It does however, get her attention and has her stopping her attack.

Claire stands there wrist in his grip and stares at Joshua, eyes narrowed and conveying that she clearly does not like him much. A grimace twitching across her features now and then as she slowly rotates her wrist in his hand, even as her ability works to knit the bones back together.

"Now what?" Claire hisses out like an angry cat, head tilting a little as she studies him. Lips press tight and she gives a vicious tug on an arm that should have her shrieking in pain and driving her to her knees, clearly wanting to be let go of.

"Do I keep going?" Claire asks him softly, since they are so close. "Any bone you break is going to knit, any cut " Fingers of her other hand brush across her bottom lip where her teeth had split it. " is going to heal and bruises are going to fade." Her chin tips up and to the side to give a good look where he punched her.

"I could keep this up all night if I wanted too." Claire's words are spoken low, almost growled, and with a promise to it.

There is no shock on Joshua's face when it seems like a broken bone has no effect, although his mouth does pull in grimace, a shadow of dark disdain reflected behind gold-brown eyes. It's the kind of look someone of Humanis First inclination would deal her should she be telling them the same thing. "That right?" Joshua lets go of Claire in the way people in fights do — with more force than necessary, a painful squeeze before jarring release.

"What happens if I pull that stunt on your pretty little head, princess?"

Princess is surely a formality, now. There's worried red coming up where her hand hit skin, after all, and Joshua's hands hover a little to deflect her should she trying anything else. "Bet it'd turn your brain in somethin' people dip crackers in. So we better leave it here if you want to step up tomorrow night, peace?"

She doesn't try to hit him again, once released Claire simply steps back. There is a slow twisting of her now healed wrist as if testing to make sure the bones knit correctly. A part of her is seriously thinking of taking another crack at him, maybe something lower, but —

Claire sighs and gives a slow nod of her head. "Yeah. Peace," she says almost reluctantly, glancing up at Joshua again.

That he threatens her brain bothers her, it shows for a moment, but then it smooths out into a bit of a smirk. "So does this mean I pass?" There is a thrill of excitement through her stomach, a feeling someone that looks like her, shouldn't be feeling. Again it stems back to those years of Claire's morbid need to throw herself into things to see if she'd survive it.

The girl needs professional help.

Digging out a cigarette back from the breast pocket of his jacket, Joshua flicks a glance to her. Doesn't really answer her, that same dislike sunk deep and expressive into the planes and lines of his face as he nips his teeth around cigarette filter and buries a hand for his lighter. He takes his time, touching flame to tip, before he's simply stepping back from her, peeling out of conversational range, and headed back for the gym and its underground organisation.

He does, after all, have to get back to work.

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