Fight Like A Brave


sf_faulkner2_icon.gif sf_nova_icon.gif

Scene Title Fight Like a Brave
Synopsis The gloves come out on this atypical date night. Literally.
Date February 10, 2021

Upper East Side, Manhattan

Wednesday evenings, after her rehearsals, is a usual standing date for Nova and Isaac. Sometimes plans change from Nova taking the Uber to his place to him coming by and picking her up, or the two of them meeting at a restaurant. Of course, these days, little is usual — but the changes of plans are more easily communicated, thanks to the security detail Isaac has accompanying Nova around town.

It makes for interesting rehearsals. The brute squad is learning a lot about classical music, though, and can now tell the difference between Brahms and Liszt.

Most of the last-minute changes in plans come from Isaac, given the nature of his work. Today it’s Nova throwing a wrench in the works. When she walks in to Isaac’s study, she carries dinner — sandwiches from Alidoro, from the looks of it — and wears workout clothes. She’s not the type to don athleisure wear just to lounge around watching a movie, so something’s up.

When he looks up, she can’t help but smile as his eyes find hers. But then her brows come up.

"Teach me to fight.”

Isaac's eyebrows rise as Nova steps in wearing workout gear — not her usual, by any means. Not that he minds; he has yet to see her wearing something that he didn't think she rocked.

Then that request.

Isaac tilts his head slightly, eyes narrowing as he regards Nova appraisingly. Considering. "How to fight, huh…" he muses. "Alright," he says, his smile returning. "Let me get my workout gear on."

Ten Minutes Later

Isaac's gym setup is simple, but it covers the basics. Two sets of weights, several bars and benches, a stationary bike, a speed bag and a heavy bag; there are wall-mounted speakers for those occasions when music is wanted, but it's been awhile since he's used that. Isaac's switched from casual wear to black shorts, white gym shoes, and a sleeveless grey shirt that just so happens to be pretty flattering to his arms. "Alright, so… I can teach you what I know. I'm not certified or anything, but… I did box, back in the day. I wasn't bad at it, either; Dad hired some pretty fancy instructors to make sure of that."

He's grinning, but that grin fades a bit as he recalls how his first and last real fight went. "But technique alone does not a fighter make." Isaac looks to Nova, suddenly serious. "Nova. Tell me. There are different reasons why someone might need to fight. Why is it that you want to learn?"

His gray-black-white color scheme is contrasted by her more colorful one of teal and yellow tye-die leggings and crop top. Her tawny hair is pulled back in a ponytail to keep it out of her eyes. Contrasting too is her grin, even as he grows serious.

“Back in the day,” she teases. “You talk like you’re fifty sometimes. But.”

Nova schools her features into a more solemn one, her eyes on his. “I mean, I think I should anyway, living in New York and all of that. I never took martial arts in the past because I was afraid of getting a broken finger or something, but you can take care of that for me,” she says, reaching for his hand and swinging it in hers.

“But with everything going on around us, I don’t know. It seems like it’d be smart. To at least be able to defend myself, if anyone comes after us.” Her wide blue eyes study his, she can read them like a book, moving left to right. “I want to be able to take care of myself, at least a little bit, so that we have each other’s backs, you know? Not just you looking after me, but the other way around, too.”

"I feel like I'm fifty sometimes," Faulkner retorts, a lopsided grin touching his face. "But yes, you are correct; your precious hands are indeed safe with me," he says; he raises the hand he's holding up to his lips and gives it a tiny kiss. That moment of lightheartedness from him is brief, though; when he lowers her hand again, his expression is serious, his eyes troubled. "Your reasons are good ones. But…" he hesitates.

"Before we start… there's something I want you to understand about this, something that's important." Faulkner grimaces. "This is probably gonna sound like a lecture. God knows I probably wouldn't have listened to it when I was starting out. But… humor me, okay?" he asks. "Please."

"Knowing how to fight is one thing. But something that I didn't really know… there are different kinds of fights. I used to box; I was pretty good at it. Then I did some underground fights at a club; I won more often than I lost," he says, shrugging. "Then one day… I got full of myself. I was drunk. Picked a fight with a guy at the bar. But it was the wrong kind of fight, and the wrong kind of man. My technique didn't matter, my skill didn't matter, because I had stepped into the wrong kind of fight. I was fighting for show, he was fighting because I'd pissed him off and he wanted to hurt me bad."

Isaac falls silent for a moment. "And he did. I spent two months in the hospital. Longer still doing physical therapy to get my full range of movement back."

Now he looks back to Nova. "I can teach you how to block, how to throw a punch, how to read an opponent's movements and what to do to counter them. And I know you can learn it. I mean, you did Saint-Saens. Just… make sure you know what kind of fight you're in. If someone's seriously coming to hurt you, don't stand on technical superiority — do whatever it takes to make them stop. I don't want you to end up like I did."

The light kiss to her hand, juxtaposed with what she’s asked him to do, makes her smile, and her hand tightens in his. Her expressions shift, as emotive as her music is, with the telling of his story. Of course she knows he’s all right now, to tell it, but it doesn’t mean she doesn’t feel fear or worry for the younger Isaac of the story.

At last, she brings her free hand up to touch his face, gently tracing over the lines of his cheekbone, his jaw, the corner of his mouth.

“I get that. I’ve gotten cocky in my art, too, but no one ends up in the hospital for being arrogant in a symphony — at least unless someone throws an instrument or chair at them,” she says wryly. “But I’m not looking for technical perfection here. If I have to use this, it’ll be just that — that I have to, and if that’s the case, I’m not playing fair and I won’t expect them to, either.”

Nova steps on tiptoe to press a kiss against his mouth, smiling. “I promise I won’t go picking fights in a bar, either,” she murmurs, but the smile fades, and she steps back again. “I’m sorry that happened to you, but I’m glad you learned something from it. A lot of lesser people wouldn’t have. So don’t be too hard on yourself for making a dumb mistake.”

Isaac sighs, his expression one of contentment. Nova's said exactly what he needed to hear to put his mind at ease, and plus she is a wonderful kisser; it's a win-win. "Yeah," he says quietly, lips curling into a smile. "I'm… trying not to. And I'm trying to be a little better, too." The look in his eyes as he regards Nova says clearly what the reason for that particular change is.

Then he takes a breath. "Alright. I'll teach you what I know. We're going to start with the absolute basics, and work up from there. First — how to make a fist." Gently, Isaac reaches out, taking Nova's hand in his own and lifting it up, palm up. "Make sure your fingers are tight together, with your thumb out to the side, then… curl your fingers inward, like so." Gently, he rolls Nova's fingers inwards, turning her wrist to the side a bit so it looks like she's giving a thumbs up motion. "Lastly, you want to lay your thumb across the second knuckles of your first two fingers." He looks serious for a moment, then he grins. "You'd be amazed how many people get it wrong when they're starting out."

That moment of levity is brief. "You want to keep your fist as tight as you can, so that the fingers are braced against your palm and your thumb is out of the way. If your fingers can move, they can get jammed or sprained when you hit — not a good time. And you're always trying to strike here — with these two knuckles," Isaac says, touching the knuckles at the base of Nova's index and middle fingers. "Make sure to keep your wrist straight — you want those two knuckles in a straight line with the rest of your arm. That minimizes strain on the wrist, so it doesn't get jammed or sprained, and it also maximizes your force delivery."

That look in his eyes is met with her ardent gaze, and it takes Nova a long moment to turn her eyes down to her hands as he demonstrates how to punch. Oh, that’s right. She’s supposed to be learning how to defend herself.

“Yeah, I would have probably…” with her other hand, Nova makes an instinctive fist, her thumb resting on top of her index finger, as if she’s counting down a thumb war. She corrects it, though, so the thumb curves over the knuckles of her first two fingers, in both the hand he holds and her free hand.

“You know, I didn’t think about cello as beneficial to punching, but bowing a cello isn’t for the weak of bicep,” she says with a grin. “Maybe you should add some strings to your gym workout.”

"I think that'd probably work better for you than for me; personally, I'd be afraid I'd end up injuring my eardrums," Isaac replies, deadpan. "But," he says more seriously, "you're probably right; at least some of what you've done for your music will probably carry over. Endurance… maybe precision. It'll be very good if that does carry over, because being able to strike with precision is important."

"Just remember that a punch doesn't come from the arm alone… and on that note. Let's talk about your stance." Isaac takes a step back, falling into his own stance to demonstrate. His feet are shoulder width apart; his right foot is in front, pointing towards Nova, while his left foot is further back and slightly angled, with the heel off the ground; his back is straight, his fists raised, with his left fist near his ear and his right held further forward. "Whichever is your dominant hand, you want to hold that back; that foot will also be your back foot. That way, you have more room to swing with it, and you can capitalize more effectively on your dominant hand's greater strength," Isaac explains.

"That leads us to punching. Like I said — when you throw a punch, it shouldn't just be your arm. The force should come from your whole body. Even for a jab, you want to roll your torso a bit, like so," he says, demonstrating by throwing a slow-motion jab from his right hand — sure enough, he twists a bit as he brings his right fist forward, then drawing it back to its neutral position. "With a cross — a straight punch from your rear hand — you have even more room to come forward, because you're striking from a position that's further back."
"There are other types of punch — the hook, the uppercut, the bolo punch," he says, demonstrating each. "The jab, the cross, and the hook are your workhorses — they're the ones I used the most. The uppercut's grand if your opponent gets stupid and leaves themselves open — or if you make them leave themselves open." He hesitates. "I'm getting more into boxing territory here. That's what I know the best, and there's a lot there that you can use, I think, but I should probably try to go into more practical stuff. I learned some of that, too, after…" he trails off, shrugging. After Zarek had given Isaac his brief lesson on what else there is to fighting aside from technique.

She’s a good student — it’s something she wants to know how to do, but she’s also chosen a career that hinges on taking direction at times. As he speaks, Nova adjusts her body, mirroring his; her leg goes back, her hands come up. When Isaac demonstrates each of the punches, she imitates him, though in miniature, and all the while her eyes stay focused on his but for quick looks at his stance or hands.

When he trails off, Nova’s expression softens again, for that younger Isaac learning life lessons the hard way. “Practical is good. I’m not going to be the next Laila Ali,” she says softly. It might be surprising she even knows who Laila Ali is, but she certainly couldn’t name another one with a less famous father, let’s be honest.

“I think my strategy is basically what they teach you in school — run, hide, fight — so I don’t want to fight unless I have to, but I’d like the odds to be a little ever in my favor instead of never.” Her smile is a little wry at that. “How do you practice without getting hurt, though?”

Isaac nods as she imitates his motions, trying to hide how pleased he is — she's picking up everything he's laying down, showing just how sharp she really is.

"Striking dummies and punching bags are a start — they're a good place to work on combinations, timings. Get this stuff from up here — " Isaac taps his temple " — down here," he finishes, curling a hand into a fist and grinning. "Muscle memory. Beyond that, there's sparring. I used to spar with my coach at the end of every training session, and then I was sparring with Nicole once a week." Something troubled touches his face for a moment, but he shakes it off. "You can get hurt a little in sparring, but usually it's not major — everyone's pulling their punches, at least a little."

"So. I'll give you a course on the practical stuff… then, you'll get a chance to show me what you've learned. We'll do a little practice; you're going to try to hit me, and I'll show you what I know about defense. Then we'll switch off, and we'll see how well you handle being on the defensive. Okay?" he asks, smiling.

Her brows draw together as she notices that flicker of something darker in his expression, but she doesn’t push it when he moves past it. Instead, she nods, and smiles, reaching to squeeze his hand where he’s curled it into a fist.

“I would never have thought to compare fighting to playing an instrument, but getting it from head to hands — that I know something about,” Nova says. “Only I don’t usually spar with anyone at the end of a rehearsal, I guess.”

Despite her grin, she looks a little wary, as Nova studies him. “I’m not thrilled to be hitting you even if it’s for the sake of learning. And even if it’s very doubtful I’d even hurt you. And even if you can heal yourself if I did.”

Her lower lip juts forward in a bit of a pout, but then she laughs and steps closer to cup his face. “I have found the flaw in my otherwise excellent plan.”

"Pity," Isaac observes at Nova's comment on the lack of sparring at the end of rehearsals. "Dueling Cellos would be interesting."

Then she steps forward and puts her hand on his face, and the entire world seems to narrow down to the two of them; his grin changes into something less teasing, something more tender. Seeing her pout like that, though is the best/worst thing… so he gently raises a hand to cup her cheek in turn. Her beautiful eyes seem to have a gravity that draws him forward, and then he's kissing her.

But even a perfect moment is just that — a moment — so eventually it has to end. His hand falls away and he pulls back, just a bit — not enough to pull her hand away, but enough that he can resist the temptation to kiss her more. For now at least. "You're probably one of the very few people on this Earth who would balk at a chance to slug me, you know it?" he says softly, that warm smile still on his lips. "But… I think you're right. This is probably something that's good for you to learn. I want you to be with me for a long time, you know?"

His smile doesn't change, exactly, but there's a definite hint of a teasing gleam in his eye as he thinks of what to say next. "Besides. If you feel too bad about it, maybe you can think of a way to make it up to me afterwards."

When he pulls back from the kiss, Nova sighs softly, both in contentment and in protest at once. But her smile returns immediately and her eyes shine at that hint of a long-term future, before mirroring his own, gleaming with that same hint of mischief, at the hint of what will happen in the nearer future.

“That sounds like a fair compromise,” she agrees, squeezing his hand once more before letting go. “I promise to kiss better anything I hurt.”

Despite the playful and distracting words, Nova seems determined to continue the lesson, stepping back to take the stance Isaac had shown her. Her hands form fists, her left hand ahead of the right, her right foot back. She lifts her brows to wait for correction or direction.

"Sounds like a winner," Isaac grins at her promise… then as she settles into her stance, he takes a step back, regarding her appraisingly. She isn't mirroring his earlier stance exactly, but that's good; she's right-handed, so her stance should be orthodox, not southpaw… and so it is. He gives an approving nod.

"Back straight, feet set… maybe pull your left hand in a little closer. Your goal there is to be able to guard when your opponent tries to punch you in the head." Isaac considers a bit longer, then nods. "Honestly, though, looks good. You'll be able to refine your stance further as you practice; everyone's got their own variation to suit their own body."

"Now… time for the practical portion. Almost all of these blows are extremely illegal in boxing, and not the kind of thing you want to do in sparring… but they're effective, and if you're defending yourself that's what you want." Isaac takes a deep breath. "You already know that there's no such thing as fair play when you're fighting for your life, so I won't remind you of that," he says, neatly ignoring the fact that he just did in favor of launching into the nitty-gritty.

"So. First off — let's talk about feet. You want them set when you're punching, to maximize the amount of force you can push, but… if your opponent is focused on your hands, you can do some real damage with a surprise kick. There's the obvious, of course — a kick to the groin is definitely effective — but it's not the be-all, end-all of low blows. There are other techniques."

"So let's talk about the knee stomp. It's easy to do and it's ugly. Land it right, your opponent will, at bare minimum, be slowed down." And will also possibly have torn ligaments or a dislocated knee. "It's simple. You raise the leg, and then drive it down with all the weight and force you can muster; you're trying to hit either just above the front of their kneecap, or to the side of it," he says, patting his own leg to illustrate the target zones. "Not something you want to use all the time, but it's fairly safe; if you miss, your foot hits the ground and you can immediately move into your next attack. And if you hit with it, slowing your opponent down can be enough to ensure a getaway."

"That's probably the single most effective thing you can do with your feet… there's something similar you can do with the arm, too. Try to jab me in the face — slowly — and I'll show you a counter technique for that."

Nova raises her left hand and makes the other adjustments as he gives her notes — she’s easy to direct, thanks to the years of taking constructive criticism from directors. As he demonstrates where to hit on his knee, Nova lifts her foot to pantomime the blow, though she stops short of bringing her foot down on him.

“My dad always said if anyone ever grabbed me to jab ’em in the eyes and knee ’em in the balls,” she says with a grin. “Definitely will pull my punches on anything in that area, don’t worry.”

When he indicates she should punch him, Nova nods, biting her lower lip a little. Jab. She glances at each hand for a moment, as if she needs to look before remembering which one throws the jab. before she slowly extends her left forward, back of her hand facing up and her curled fingers facing the floor. Her elbow comes out a little too far to the side to call it a true jab, but her fist is at least in the right position to connect — eventually.

"Your dad's got the right idea; that's an effective, if basic, combination if it lands," Isaac nods. Then he frowns; it occurs to him that, in all this time, he's never met Nova's dad. He sets that thought aside as he sees Nova launch her jab, though. He frowns, noting the weakness in that jab's form, and makes a note of it… but right now, he's demonstrating a counter.

So he focuses on that. He moves slowly as well — he wants her to see everything he's doing. He starts with a tiny step to the left, moving his head out of the path of her blow. His right hand comes up as he moves, gently taking her wrist; as her arm continues to extend, he turns to face it, his right hand twisting ever so lightly to rotate her hand, turning it so the wrist is facing up. He ducks just a bit, his left hand dropping… then he rises up, the heel of his palm tapping her just above the elbow.

He holds that pose for just a moment, staring directly into Nova's eyes, before letting her go.

"Three steps," he says quietly, his voice serious. "Step one — dodge. Step two — grab the hand, turn. You don't want to stop their punch — this isn't about pitting strength against strength — just apply enough pressure to turn their wrist. Step three — finish your turn, strike. You want to have your full body behind it, like I did, and you want to strike right there — just above the elbow, right as their arm is fully extended. If you do it right, it won't matter if they're bigger or stronger than you — all of that strength and mass will be committed to their strike, and won't be able to oppose yours."

He exhales. "It's tricky, and it's something you have to time just right, but it's a good trick to know, and if you practice it and get it down, it can really ruin someone's day," Isaac says, smiling faintly. "I also wanted to show it to you to illustrate a point — when you're attacking, you're also creating openings in your defense. The only reason that trick works is because your opponent is fully committed to that attack."

Isaac takes a breath. "Okay. That's that. Before we go on, though, one thing about that jab — keep your elbow tucked in as close as you can when you're throwing it. If your elbow's coming out, you're leaving yourself open to a body shot, and that's not a trade you want to make." He throws a slow-motion jab of his own at the air, letting Nova see that he keeps the elbow in.

"Now. With that said… we've talked about knees and elbows and eyes and groin. There are a few other weak spots worth knowing about. Throat, obviously; that's a hard spot to hit, but a jab in the Adam's apple will definitely stop anyone from doing anything for awhile. But let's talk about something a little less obvious. Give me… a right hook, please. Same speed as the last."

Nova watches the slow-motion defense unfold, looking up again when he stills his movement in the final pose. She holds his gaze as long as he holds hers, her eyes bright and focused. With a nod at his explanation on how the defense works, she moves her hands and body in imitation of what he’s just demonstrated, though on a smaller scale. Dodge, turn, strike.

“Elbow in, got it. Hashtag Cellist Instinct,” she says with a laugh, demonstrating pulling a bow across the strings of an imaginary cello, her elbow bent at a 90-degree angle for the pantomimed musical number. She then tucks her elbow back closer to her side as she returns to the fighter stance with a smirk.

This time, when he calls for another attack, Nova doesn’t have to look at her hands to remember which one to use, at least, given the answer is in the attack’s name. It does take her a few seconds to remember what it looked like when he demonstrated. Her right arm moves in a slow arc, with her fist’s trajectory aimed at the left side of Isaac’s jaw.

Again, the slow-motion counter unfolds. Isaac leans back, just enough to slip past her hook, and launches one of his own, his left hand coming around and pressing into her right side, at the base of her ribs. Again, he holds the pose. "The dirtiest move in boxing that's still legal — the liver shot. It has to come from the left hand — the liver's mostly on the right side. You want to hit near the back of the abdomen for maximum effectiveness. If you can land it, it can end a fight. It takes a few minutes to recover."

He steps back. "Aaand that's just about it for dirty fighting 101," he says. "I wish I knew more of that kind of thing to teach you, but the only other thing I have to say is to take advantage of your surroundings. If your life is being threatened, don't be afraid to grab whatever you can find and put it to use."

"Alright. That's the lesson. Now…" Isaac turns and steps away. A black bag hangs on the wall near the doorway, and it's that he goes to, unhooking it and bringing it back over to Nova. Inside are two sets of gloves, two sets of headgear — one is bright blue, the other dark red.

"Now it's time for the test," Isaac says, stepping back into his own stance, he says, fishing out the blue headgear and tossing it to Nova, followed by the blue gloves. "This is to protect your head and hands," he says, settling the red headgear onto his head, pulling on the red gloves.

Then… he settles into his stance. "Now. When you're ready… show me what you've got."

Catching the gear, Nova gives Isaac an expression of mock horror. “A test!” she cries out, looking all the world like the human embodiment of Greek mask used to symbolize a tragedy. “Well, I guess if I fail, I’ll just need some more one-on-one time with the teacher, she says with a grin.

She tugs the headgear and gloves on, then takes the fighter stance, her right hand close to her right cheekbone, left hand just a few inches farther ahead.

She bites her lip, bouncing a little on her feet, before she jabs forward with the left fist — neither full strength nor full speed.

"Ha," Isaac grins. "Just remember — it's a test, but not just that. It's another opportunity for you to learn, too. Like…" he hesitates, then grins more broadly as a flash of inspiration strikes. "Like a duet."

"People think of boxing as two people punching each other — they focus on the big hits — but it's also two people trying hard not to get punched. Defense keeps you in the game, so watch how I defend." He nods slightly as he sees her stance, and then she throws her first punch —

— and Isaac leans, swaying back and to the side enough to slip the punch; he doesn't even move his feet. "Your form's good. Don't settle for just one punch, though; you don't usually throw just one punch, anymore than you settle for just one note. Give me a whole phrase! Throw punches in bunches; let the followthrough for a left be the windup for the right that follows," Isaac says, his dark eyes still watching her, waiting for her next move.

“Cute and clever,” Nova says with a smirk for his analogy and attempt to compare boxing to music. “I mean, normally I’m not worried the viola’s going to punch me in my kidney if I miss a note, but I can work with this idea. It’s a little like a jam session — improv, not rehearsed.”

That makes her laugh, an effervescent thing. “Most classical musicians aren’t great at those, but I happen to also play jazz bass from time to time.”

Nova backs up a couple of steps, as if to reset the pas de deux. When she moves toward him again, she uses the momentum of the forward motion to throw a couple of jabs followed by a right hook, then retracts her hand to give her own face cover once more in anticipation of his retaliation — not that she thinks he’ll try to hurt her, even if they know he could heal it in mere seconds afterwards.

Isaac sways the first jab, but her second forces him to take a half-step back, and the hook hits his raised glove — he had to block that one. "Good," he grunts. "You're getting it."

"Careful, though. You're headhunting — that's what got Tyson. The head's your endgame, not your opening. An alert opponent will be able to defend or evade; gotta wear 'em down first, unless you can force an opening. Crush the body, and the head will fall!" he says, and now, since Nova seems to be expecting it, he steps in and fakes his head to the right, then throws a jab of his own at her solar plexus, his left hand lashing out lightning fast… but though the punch is fast, it doesn't have a lot of force behind it. He's trying to illustrate a point here, not win a fight.

"The head is easy to move. Easy to fake with, too. Moving your stomach, though, means you have to move your whole body."

She tries to block, but she lacks his instincts and moves too slow to stop the hit from connecting, gentle as it is. One blue-gloved hand touches the spot as she makes a face and fakes a light cough, like Isaac had knocked the wind out of her — as he would have if he had punched with any strength.

“There’s so much to watch for,” she murmurs, though it’s an observation and not a complaint.

After backing away again, Nova strikes out with a jab with her left toward his face, but adds to it a hook aimed at his side, along the rib cage. Somehow, she manages not to telegraph the coming hit by keeping her eyes on his fists and his face, though the strike comes slowly in comparison to his lightning-speed punches.

"There is," he agrees, smiling ruefully. "But —"

He sways again to slip the jab, but her hook flows from it as quickly as one chord shifting to the next, and her efforts to avoid telegraphing pay dividends. Once he recognizes her attack, he moves to defend against it; his arm slips down, his elbow moving to intercept. It's not quite quick enough; his elbow knocks her arm downward, but it still connects with his side, albeit with diminished force.

"But you're getting it," he finishes, grinning fiercely. "That's good. You didn't telegraph that hook, either; you're learning fast. I'm proud of you," he says, that fierce grin still on his face.

It fades, though, replaced by a more resolute expression. "Alright. You're getting a good feel for attack. There's more to cover on that, and you need more practice to get your moves to muscle memory, but we can keep working on that. For now… let's work on your defense a bit," Isaac says, raising his fists.

"You want your defensive movements to be minimal; wasted movement leaves openings in your defenses. The best way to defend against an attack is to dodge it; cleanly dodging an attack makes your opponent waste energy. That's why you see me bobbing and weaving," he says, leaning as if in anticipation of an incoming jab. "Just be careful about kicks," he adds, grimacing; this is another place where his boxing-centric style works against him, but at least he's conscious of it. "Bobbing and weaving do great to protect your head and body, not so much for your legs."

"Block or deflect what you can't dodge… but dodging's better. Just watch out that your opponent doesn't fake you out and then make you dodge into something; that's a quick way to do your opponent's work for them." He takes a breath. "Alright. Time to get a little more into this now; let's see you defend," Isaac says, and then he starts his attack.

His punches are still light, and they're a little slower than he'd been throwing them before, at least at the start. He steps in with a right jab followed by a left straight at Nova's face, then throws another pair of quick jabs in rapid succession, the first aiming for her face while the second's launched at her stomach. There's a pause as he starts to step back… and then comes forward and to the right instead, swinging in with a left hook aimed at Nova's ribs.

“The butterfly part, got it,” Nova says with a grin. “My feet are not the most agile part of me, but I’ll try.” She isn’t clumsy but she also hasn’t spend thousands of dollars on learning how to move her legs.

She pulls backward to avoid the first couple of punches at her face, and brings her hand down to block the one thrown at her stomach. He catches her on that last left hook, though, because she turned her eyes to his right hand rather than watching his left.

“RIP, my liver,” she says with a laugh, not at all hurt by the gentle tap Isaac had given her. “It’s so much more complicated than it looks on television. Here I thought I just had to be able to run up some museum steps and I’d win the big tournament,” she quips, stepping away to grab her water bottle where she’d set it nearby for a long draught. She takes the moment to rest, fanning herself with her free hand as she drinks, the action a little exaggerated but for his amusement.

Isaac grins wryly. "No, though that's not a bad idea," he says. "Coordination and reaction speed are what you're going to need to work on, then probably raw physical strength and endurance…"

He looks thoughtful for a moment, but shakes his head. "Well. You're picking up the theory, though, and that is definitely a sign of your excellence as a student, rather than mine as a teacher. I think you'll pick it up fairly quickly, honestly, if you keep practicing."

"You know, though. If you like…" Isaac muses, "I can introduce you to one of my personal trainers. I've got her on retainer, and I haven't had a lot of chance to work out with her lately. She could probably do a lot better job of teaching you how to fight than I could. My lesson plans are somewhat haphazard, I'm afraid," he admits.

Setting down her water bottle, Nova returns to Isaac, but this time, rests her forearms on his shoulders, gloved hands dangling behind him.

“That is probably a good idea,” she agrees. “Seeing as you’re a lover and a fighter, maybe it’d be best to keep to the side only I get to see.” She pushes up on her toes to kiss him, as if to emphasize just what she means by that notion.

“Besides, I wouldn’t want to have to kick your ass,” she says as she pulls away. “I plan to become excellent at this, so long as I have someone who can heal any broken fingers before my next concerto.”

Isaac can only grin in the aftermath of that kiss… then he grins wider when she adds that aside about not wanting to kick his ass, shaking his head. This woman.

"Well. I think I can manage that, for my part. And I hope that you accomplish your goal, as well. You've got the talent for it, I think," he says, his tone shifting to seriousness for a moment. "I'll make the arrangements tomorrow, see what she's got open; twice weekly would probably ideal if you want to learn fast, but it'll depend on what you've got on your schedule."

"But," he continues, a hint of that grin resurfacing. "That is something to worry about tomorrow. Tonight I must find something else to occupy my time. Maybe my lovely and talented girlfriend can offer some suggestions?" he suggests, glancing to Nova with a sly smile.

Nova nods when he suggests twice a week. “I can fit some boxing in around my Bach-ing,” she quips, but more solemnly, adds, “it’s important.”

But the serious look fades to something more playful at that sly smile of his, and she pulls off her gloves, and then her head gear, tossing them to the side. “I definitely have some suggestions,” she replies with a grin, putting her hands on his hips, fingers curling around the waistband. “The first includes a shower.”

She turns away, to head off in the direction of the bathroom, ponytail bouncing in her wake. She looks over her shoulder to grin back at him. “Coming?”

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