No Excuse for Stupidity


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Scene Title No Excuse for Stupidity
Synopsis Assumptions can be dangerous, or so Nora learns when she presumes herself alone in Hana's presence.
Date December 19, 2010

Pollepel Island Bannerman Castle

A stiff breeze off the Hudson sinks icy teeth into the flaws of scar tissue, bites deep into joints that will someday — in ten, twenty years' time — finally and emphatically protest the use and abuse she puts them through. Cold concrete, eroded by water and weather, pocked by the questing roots of weedy clumps, leaches feeling from her feet, bare against the gritty surface. The soot-gray shirt and sweatpants she wears offer little protection against the sting of frigid air; a small pack just outside the purely imaginary practice ring holds clothes better suited to wintry weather, but not the spirit of her current preoccupation.

Jaw set just a shade more determinedly than usual, Hana Gitelman continues though a series of motions which are remarkably fluid given the fact that her body would probably much rather be huddled up and shivering. Even if her mind and will finds the brisk atmosphere an aid to focus, the solitude of this little-used courtyard peaceful, the warm-up kata a relaxing and almost meditative exercise: it isn't cold enough for the one to override the other. Skin whispers against artificial stone, cloth rustles faintly beneath the intermittent whistles, chirps, and warbles of winter birds; Hana moves on.

The door to the castle opens and closes quietly before Nora appears, fingertips peeking out of her too-long sleeve and dragging along the wall that bounds the courtyard as she counts off steps in her mind. Perhaps it's the counting that keeps her from hearing the soft scuffs of feet on ground or fabric on clothing, the exhalation of breath that comes from the stranger in the yard beyond.

The area feels empty; she thinks she's alone. Of course, she can't ever really be sure — even without blindness, in times such as these, Evolved abilities offer a myriad of ways to spy on people.

She sits down on the cold ground, some yards away from Hana yet. A radio is pulled from her pocket, set down beside her and power turned on, loud enough to no doubt irritate the woman in the midst of her forms nearby. There is a blurt of sound as i a tuner knob has been spun too quickly, though Nora herself is now lying, hands moving beneath herself into push-ups position, wincing a little at the shock of the cold ground beneath gloveless fingers.

The radio settles on Depeche Mode's "People Are People" as Nora begins to exercise, not knowing she's invaded someone else's makeshift gym.

Hana turns to the door as someone emerges into what was her training ground, right up until that moment. The way Nora walks with her hand on the wall until she finally steps away; the way she doesn't quite look at anything, never mind see the woman who was here first. That the radio is tuned without touch is noted, but only insofar as such things are filed away.

The radio doesn't actually irritate Hana as such — the entire situation does. With the music providing another layer of ambient noise, the Israeli's resumed steps pass unnoticed. Resumed, but with different intent; and for sake of surprise, her course draws a wide arc around Nora.

Technopathy or no, the abrupt click of a depressed power button cuts Depeche Mode off mid-word.

"Have you fallen into the bad habit of assuming you're alone, or do you really not care?" The voice, however feminine, is familiarly edged; but at least this time there aren't any airborne metal objects coming along with it. So far — there's a definite sense imparted that one of those two is the wrong answer.

The abrupt end to the music makes Nora pause mid-push-up, her lean body held aloft by those wiry arms as she tips her chin upward toward the direction of the voice. The whites of her eyes are still blotched here and there with red spots; the fact she doesn't quite meet Hana's eyes is enough to be certain the girl can't see her.

Nora's dark brows knit at Hana's words, and she tucks her knees beneath herself to sit back on her heels, hands moving to her knees.

"Maybe I assumed," she says, with a shrug to suggest perhaps the latter is true as well, though there's a tension to her jaw and eyes and a flush on her cheeks that make the nonchalance seem a little feigned. "I didn't think if there was anyone out here that it'd be interrupting anything important." There is a distinct lack of apology in her words.

"You didn't think," Hana affirms, three words spat out with an intensity which makes them seem more like profanity, some derogatory and insulting curse. In the silence that comes on the coattails of those three words, Nora can hear three steps taken with the whisper of stone abrading skin — the hitch of a foot over the radio, second stride closing the distance between them, third positioning the woman's other foot in stable balance.

The interruption was irritating. The assumption raises hackles.

The hand that clamps viselike on Nora's upper arm drags her up to her feet.

Stumbling upward, Nora would fall back to her knees if it weren't for that strong hand on her arm, and she gasps at the transgression.

"What the fuck," she protests, as the hand of her grabbed arm jerks outward to try to chop her way out of that viselike grip. Her free hand strikes out in an upward motion, the butt of the palm aiming for her "attacker's" forehead — Nora is clearly not the type to pull hair and scratch her way out of a fight. They are trained moves.

But trained or not, she can't see her target which puts her at the disadvantage, no matter who her attacker was. The fact it's Hana Gitelman that Nora can't see means she's got no chance at all.

The steel of Hana's fingers doesn't budge; Nora's long sleeve is the only reason nails don't prick skin. Blessed with functional sight, the Israeli readily twists away from the poorly-aimed palm strike, callused sole scraping over concrete in one gliding step. A second in the same mode brings her around behind Nora, hand sliding down only to twist the girl's arm up behind her back; she grabs for the other, roughly pinning it in equal fashion, somewhat on the theory that abrupt and painful incapacitance will keep Nora from realizing she still can kick.

Mostly because the woman wants to make a point. The sudden kiss of cold metal against the side of Nora's throat might just do that.

An angry growl sounds in the back of the teenager's throat, and kicking — or stomping — seems to be on the agenda for the briefest of moments as Nora's booted foot is raised. But the soft-soled Uggs likely wouldn't do any damage anyway, and then there is that shocking touch of cold, and Nora stills, suddenly.

Her lean frame is taut and tense, back arching away from the woman behind her, wrists and arms all angled painfully as Nora hisses out her exasperation and surrender in a puff of white breath.

Still, her chin tips upward in something like defiance, something like pride, and her eyes narrow as if to scrutinize the sky above the courtyard that she can no longer see. "If you wanted me to leave you alone, all you had to do is ask," she finally manages, voice straining to sound unaffected by the sudden turn of events, despite the fact that the metal against her skin is causing her heart to beat harder against her thin chest.

The girl can't see her; it's safe for Hana's lips to tug back in a thin, grimly approving smile. There's no sound of it apparent in her voice. "I want you," she answers Nora, "to remember that blindness is no excuse for stupidity. What you don't think about will kill you."

The blind teenager is released with an abrupt, jostling push forward, the slim edgeless blade folded back along Hana's own forearm so she can't get caught up on it. There's nothing but open concrete ahead if Nora falls; and Hana, obviously, doesn't consider it her responsibility to protect Nora from scrapes or contusions in the event that she does.

The smaller and younger woman stumbles forward a few steps, almost falling but somehow manages to keep her feet. "I'm not stupid," she says, turning around to face the other woman though she keeps her distance. "I just refuse to live caged inside just because I can't see. I guess the fact that my mere presence is offensive to some people is something I should be used to; after all, I'm Evolved, right? I just didn't expect that this would be a place I have to worry about it."

She shrugs, bending to touch the ground in small patting moments until she finds the radio, picking it up and tucking it back into her pocket. Apparently she trusts that Hana won't attack her again while she's bent over and vulnerable — more vulnerable, that is.

"My mistake. I won't make it twice," Nora tosses over her shoulder as she stands straight once more. "So I assume you're supposed to be here — that I shouldn't be wailing for all I'm worth for Raith and Ryans to come throw you in a dark hole?"

The scornful disapproval of Hana's snort is her only reply to Nora's initial outrage — clearly you completely missed the point and I'm not going to bother explaining it to you. While she seeks out the radio, Nora can hear a louder rustle of fabric across concrete, the more muted echo of cloth on cloth, and finally quiet thunk as the weight of the pack lands against Hana's torso.

"Ryans won't dare." It's been made abundantly clear that Hana's tolerance for the Ferry's former-Company members is minimal at best; and that provoking the barely-sleeping lioness will have lethal consequences for someone. "Raith is welcome to add himself to the list, if he's taken leave of his senses." The brief scraping sound is rubber on concrete, as if of shoes; but not footsteps, because it only happens once and then her voice begins to recede with departure. "Feel free to ask him."

"Yeah?" Nora calls after the ebbing sound of Hana's voice. "And who am I supposed to ask him to put in the hole, then?"

The tone is just a touch playful; the anger is fading and there's a tinge of respect in the tones, though her cheeks are still flushed with the anger and embarrassment of being bested in the scuffle.

Footsteps pause as Nora asks the obvious next question; she can't hear Hana look over her shoulder, but the motion might be inferred. "Gitelman," the woman replies, curt and matter-of-fact in spite of the girl's attempt to tease.

Gitelman. Nora's brows rise and her lips part and close, before she shakes her head slightly, dark hair falling into her face and across her blind eyes.

"Leader of the Ferry extraordinaire. Do I know how to pick my fights or what," Nora says, loud enough to be heard, though not calling it out in a playful taunt this time. She isn't stupid, though Hana might think otherwise after this meeting.

One hand goes to her neck, chilly fingers touching the spot where Hana had pressed the knife just moments before. "Sorry," she adds quieter, probably too quiet to be heard this time, before she steps backward — her bearings a little off due to the scuffle, it may take the blind teen a few moments more than she'd like to find her way back inside.

For her part, Hana has already gone, leaving the girl's path indoors otherwise clear — and leaving what she heard, or didn't hear, to Nora's best guess.

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