Eight Seconds


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Scene Title Eight Seconds
Synopsis Hana and Nora in an otherwise unoccupied courtyard of a morning — take two.
Date December 23, 2010

Pollepel Island: A Courtyard outside Bannerman's Castle

Whether the courtyard is empty today or just seems to be is something that Nora can't totally be sure of. No radio is turned on this morning, however, and she murmurs tentatively, "Anyone here?" and waits for several moments. When no reply comes, her dark brows knit with concentration as she slowly turns around step by slow step, as if surveying the area's circumference, as if looking for something with those eyes that can't see.

Deciding finally that she is alone, she moves to the center of the yard. She wears no coat — the temperature is chilly but not frigid, the cloud layer above providing an insulating effect — but instead just a couple of layers of sweaters on top of leggings and her Ugg boots. The last is not the best choice for what she wants to do, but they are her only shoes here, and the ground is cold.

Today is not for calisthenics, but instead tai chi, and her lean body begins the graceful opening postures of one of the martial art's forms, arms lifting and legs sliding in a balletic grace that does not require her sight.

The courtyard was empty; then there was one. After that, there were two.

It's no accident that Hana comes out into the courtyard a few moments after Nora. No surprise that she finds the girl here, although the Israeli is pleasantly surprised by her choice of exercise. It was made clear, last time, that Nora's had some training; it's a given that Hana approves of someone making the effort to practice.

Unlike last time, the older woman isn't endeavoring to be sneaky in her approach. The door isn't entirely quiet as it swings once again closed; the soles of her shoes rasp softly against concrete, detectably audible if Nora's concentration isn't absolute. The length and measure of her strides is recognizable mostly in the people it isn't — not someone the girl has had chance to associate with often, not someone whose cadence she's learned to identify. She can be heard to walk around, somewhat outside arm's reach, until the footstps stop directly in front of the blind girl.

The lack of speech is unsettling, but only lasts until Hana has reached her chosen destination. "T'ai chi, isn't it?" That she doesn't introduce herself for Nora's benefit is impolite — but she's already demonstrated her opinion of courtesy.

Nora hears the door, and a tension creeps into her limbs as the footsteps draw nearer; the fact she doesn't stop maybe a matter of pride or a matter of defiance, but there's a readiness and alertness to her stance that was absent the last time — she is not taking for granted her safety today.

When Hana speaks, Nora finishes the motion she is in, before drawing her limbs back in and setting her hands on her hips. She nods, dark eyes staring through Hana though she tips her chin slightly to account for the few inches' difference in their height.

"I like it for balance," Nora offers lightly. "And I think it'll help me keep from becoming an utter klutz, if this is permanent." This is punctuated by a vague flip of one hand toward her eyes.

"Likely," Hana allows in response to Nora's statements. She doesn't, at any rate, appear to be criticizing the girl's choice of martial art as such. No sounds suggest action on the woman's part, not even the rustle of motion-displaced fabric; as if she's simply standing there, evaluating whatever she sees in the blind girl before her. "Is that the only style you know?" Hana finally continues, tone impersonally detached, offering no suggestion of approval or scorn towards either possible answer.

"Formally speaking," Nora says after a slight pause and crinkle of brow. "I've learned from a lot of different people so I guess I don't really know any one style. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Most of the time I didn't really think to ask the names or what system they were from — as long as they worked, I didn't really care what I called them, right?"

She smirks slightly and shrugs one shoulder. "The forms are the only thing really systematic I do — having a structure makes them more meditative, which I like. Gives me balance in more than one way." There's a slightly impish grin at that — the girl knows she has a bit of a temper, and knows it's a weakness, at least.

Hana inclines her head, a gesture Nora cannot see. What Nora can detect is a scrape of rubber over gritty cement, the brief sounds of adjusted stance and shifted weight. Not a change of place — the woman neither steps forward nor back, but remains exactly where she was.

"Show me," Hana prompts, simple and bluntly straightforward. In truth less to see the styles themselves; those are all but immaterial compared to how well the blinded girl executes them against an actual opponent.

The teen bites her lower lip nervously, cheeks coloring just a little at having to show Gitelman what she can — and can't — do. Her arms drop at oblique angles to her sides for a moment, hands open but fingers held together firmly; without warning, she suddenly reaches with both hands to shove at one of Hana's shoulders, to throw her off balance. Simultaneously, Nora's feet dance forward quickly in a couple of steps before one makes an attempt to sweep the back of one Hana's legs, the soft Ugg boot trying to make contact with the sensitive tendons behind the knee in an attempt to throw her opponent to the floor.

The shove is nearly on-target; near enough, Nora having the sound of Hana's voice to extrapolate position from. The Israeli twists her torso aside, one foot pivoting back in line with her body; the shift leaves nothing for the focus of Nora's thrust to connect with, though her hands may brush sidewise across Hana's collarbone in passing. The sweep isn't, too low to fold its target's legs and bring her down; this is instantly telegraphed in the grunt of breath expelled as Hana rocks a bit under the force of impact and her failure to collapse, collision jarring back up Nora's bones.

The hand on Nora's shoulder is stabilizing twice over: once to ensure she doesn't lose balance for any reason, and again as a signal for hiatus.

"Don't get fancy unless you know you can hit on-target without any doubt," Hana remarks. "The eight second rule applies doubly for you." Verbal silence, then, but not an absence of sound; she can be heard to walk around Nora, as if her footsteps might echo — or hasten — the turning gears of her thoughts.

There's an initial quick tic of Nora's head as her lips part. From her narrowing eyes and the quick flush on her cheeks it's a good guess it's to argue, perhaps to ask just how she's supposed to know without a doubt she's on target when she can't see, but her mouth snaps shut a second later and Nora simply nods to the advice.

"Eight second rule?" she asks a moment later, reaching up to tuck a strand of dark hair behind her ear. "I didn't think that was fancy, but I guess next time I'll just go for the head butt," she tosses over her shoulder, lips curving into a slight smirk.

"It's fancy if you can't reliably hit the knee," Hana replies. "And clearly that will take more training." Her feet stop moving, the quiet shffs which accompanied motion also ceasing. "You can distinguish footsteps? Go for toes, instep, or ankle. Not the effect of a sweep, but can still be a good setup.

"Eight second rule," Hana reiterates, in the declarative mode of term to be defined. "You're disadvantaged twice over: gender and lack of sight. If you don't incapacitate your opponent in the first eight seconds, the odds of your victory become extremely slim." The thin curve of her lips isn't apparent to Nora, but shapes the grim gravity of her tone. "Pick your tactics accordingly."

The smaller woman nods at the question of footsteps, her eyes dropping as if watching Hana's feet as she moves, though clearly she can't see them. Her chin raises a touch defensively at being told she's at a disadvantage due to gender, but then the corner of her lips raise as well. "Well, if you were a guy and it were a real fight, you can bet I'd be aiming for your balls."

There's a slight pause, before she amends, "Not that you don't have more in the metaphorical sense than any guy I've met, from the stories I've heard." There's a touch of respect there in her voice.

She can't see the feral smile which bares ivory teeth, but Nora can hear a scuff of sole against artificial stone that can only have been deliberate, pronounced in a way Hana's movements — at least thus far — have never seemed to be. To someone who knew Hana, the tick-tick-tap of a lioness' agitated tail might be implied in the slow grace of her steps, her narrow-eyed consideration of the girl they center around.

"Get your act together," Hana snaps, quick and abrupt, though at least only with the heat of irritation and not anger. "Aim."

Equally quick and abrupt is the footstep which coincides with her last word, closing distance between them; and the fist that goes for Nora's solar plexus isn't a pulled punch.

Rather than back up when that forward footfall is heard, Nora bursts forward — an indication of a more offensive style than one that teaches only defense. With her legs' force driving her forward, Nora's lean arms taken the momentum of that motion: The left strikes Hana's and makes a flip outward to shuttle the offending hand away, before thin fingers make an attempt to curl around the wrist; at the same time a knee comes up for the groin — to incapacitate that theoretical male attacker.

That smile doesn't diminish as Nora blocks her strike; if anything, it becomes wider, showing more of Hana's teeth as the girl's knee lands square on the angle of her hip — painful, yes; a bruise that will smart for days to come; but not incapacitating. "Two. Three." She lets Nora's fingers close, if only so Hana's hand can latch on hers in turn, upper body thrown in an attempt to yank the girl off-balance, simultaneous with a heel driving down towards Nora's stationary foot.


Nora's foot does remain stationary as she figures out where her last knee went wrong, using that knowledge to wrap the lifted leg around Hana's as quickly as possible, quick motion outward intending to throw her opponent off balance, and perhaps to the ground.

Unlike Hana who grins like a Cheshire cat, the teen scowls in frustration and concentration — she's not used to losing in a fight, and it's clearly maddening.

Even more so, when that foot comes down on the soft boot Nora wears — at least it's cushioned, thanks to the shearling lining! — and Nora hisses with pain as she shifts weight to the other foot, stumbling off balance and grabbing at Hana to bring her down with her.


Feeling Nora's stability shift dangerously under the combination of Hana's heave, the smash of her foot, and Nora's own actions, the Israeli lets her own balance-keeping go and leans into the impending topple, not only committing entirely to the descent but attempting to be the one controlling it. To drive Nora down with her weight, perhaps even knocking the wind out of her lungs upon impact — with a little luck. Meanwhile, the hand that's tangled with Nora's wrenches aside, attempt to smash hers against the ground — and potentially buy a split-second of non-interference as the other one goes for the blind girl's throat, heel-first.


Nora doesn't go down without a fight, knees bending up to make it more difficult — and perhaps more painful — to land on top of her, and also preparing her imminent scramble to get to her feet again. Bony knees will likely leave more bruises on Hana's lean body.

As Hana's hand comes for her throat, Nora's strikes out, but just a touch too high to contact with Hana's head.

The older woman's punch is pulled as it makes contact in what in "a real fight" would have been, no doubt, a trachea-crunching strike and Nora's frustrated breath hisses out in acceptance of defeat.


Nora's hand lowers lightly until she can find what was her target, the open palm touching down on Hana's head lightly. Her eyes close and her brow creases, but the anger is directed inward — at herself. At her blindness.

"Eight," is quiet but pointed assertion of victory. Hana's chin dips slightly as Nora acknowledges it; she remains still for a beat more, then rolls back, getting her feet under her and standing back up. That she leans down, fingers curling over the girl's forearm in tacit offer of a hand up, isn't meant to imply anything negative — for Hana, it's rather the opposite.

"It's always a real fight," the woman states emphatically: what has become the point of today's lesson. "Your own attitude is as important as any skill."

Nora's fingers curl around Hana's forearm as she accepts the hand up. The slightest expression of pain flickers through the girl's face as her weight distributes to her feet, the one rather sore and likely to be for a few hours at least. One hand goes to her neck, touching the place Hana's just had, and she nods her understanding.

"I don't know how to be like this," Nora finally whispers, the hand coming up to touch her own brow. "I hate feeling helpless. Vulnerable."

It might seem like once more Nora is missing the point of the lesson, but then she speaks again: "Thank you for not treating me like I should be, or… " she flounders at the words, shrugging a little, "…you know. Showing me I am, but that I don't have to be." The words lilt up a little at the end, into a question.

"Everyone has vulnerabilities," Hana says, continuing to hold Nora's arm for a moment more. Then she releases it, letting her own come back to her side. "Flaws." Which doesn't mean the woman's going to volunteer those of her own that she knows about. "Some, you can turn into an advantage." Nora can't see her smile, the thin sly twist of lips; she can hear it in the Israeli's voice. "Who's going to expect the blind girl to unleash an attack?

"But you need to know your attack more perfectly than the sighted. You can't afford to miss. Make your targets of choice the ones you can hit without question. If that means unlearning old habits, do it."

The girl listens, fingers curling around the frayed edges of the too-long cuffs of the too-large sweater she wears. Her own smile echoes Hana's regarding the blind unleashing an attack, though she grows more solemn as she listens to the rest of the advice, long lashes veiling her injured eyes as she stares unseeingly at the ground.

Nora nods, chin rising and falling just twice, before she takes her defensive stance once again.


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