Push Through



Scene Title Push Through
Synopsis Limits exist to be surpassed; given a lever, one can move the world…
Date January 24, 2021

Isaac Faulkner struggles, his face twisted in a beet-red rictus, sweat pouring from him.

There is no one else to help him here; the room is empty, save for him. That's the thing about being stupidly rich — you can afford to have your own personal gym in your suite. It's a luxury Isaac has been using to the fullest of late… though the trouble with training alone is that there's no one to bail you out when you find yourself in over your head.

Like now, for example. Straining to get a bar with too much weight — far too much weight — up off of his chest one last time. His teeth grind, his lips peel back, and he reaches deep to find enough strength to make arms that feel like Jell-O do their job one… last… time. Gray starts to creep in at the edges of his vision, but slowly, slowly, the bar rises, a millimeter at a time… and finally, it's high enough. He slides the bar onto the hooks and lets his arms drop, gasping and sucking air like he'd just run a marathon… then, with an effort, manages to sit up. His arms hurt. They don't want to move, don't feel like they want to exist — working out is and always has been a matter of controlled destruction, and what he'd just done to himself had only barely been controlled… and he's not done yet, either. Thankfully, the remaining exercises don't involve free-standing weights, just well-maintained equipment… though that's not going to make them any less punishing.

It takes him another two hours to finish his routine — a low rep, ultra high intensity workout, with weight loads calculated to push him to his absolute limit. By the time he's done, it's all Isaac can do to stagger back to his feet and limp his way over to the chair that's waiting for him; he collapses into it, covered in sweat and panting with exhaustion. He can feel how thoroughly he's destroyed himself; as he slouches bonelessly, his mind drifts…

A few days earlier…

"Yes, hi. I was hoping to pick your brain a bit. You don't mind, do you?" Isaac asks, burner phone held to his ear as he works on finding a notepad and a pen — he knows the safehouse is stocked with those, it's just a matter of figuring out where. "I'm having to take a little downtime the next few days, and I wanted to — no, no, nothing serious. Just… feeling a little under the weather. You know me, I'll be back at it soon enough," Isaac says, projecting his warmest tone.

"Uh-huh. Right. So, you remember when we were talking about training methodologies, back when I first started boxing?" he asks, a grin finally coming to his face as he finds the pesky notepad. "Yeah, that's been a hot minute, I know. But there's something you said back then that stuck with me — about how the biggest limitation in training was recovery time. That there was a plateau that it was all but impossible to rise above, because anything you gained, you lost while you were healing back up from the damage training did to you. Even Olympic athletes hit plateaus in their training regimens…"

Isaac nods, shifting the phone to his other ear. "Yes, exactly. But… I was wondering if I could get you to indulge me in… a thought experiment. What if you didn't? Let's say there's some… breakthrough. Something that allows you to completely heal up in, say, an hour or two —"

Faulkner grimaces, pulling the suddenly very loud phone away from his ear. "Wait wait wait, whoa, hold up. This is a thought experiment, not something I'm seriously intending to do," he says, chuckling; the look of annoyance on his face tells a different story, but thankfully that doesn't carry through the phone. "Yes, seriously. Just a thought experiment." He puts the phone back to his ear, but whatever is said next makes him grimace. "Yes, I am well aware that being rich does not actually make me immortal. I get it, thank you," he says, letting some of his annoyance spill into his tone.

There's another pause, and then he laughs. "Is that what you're worried about? Don't be. Look, you're paid on retainer until 2025, and you're worth it. That's why I'm talking to you. Like I said, it's just a thought experiment — I know I'm just as human as anyone else and I don't have any magic healing pills." Conveying an eye-roll in a voice only conversation is certainly an acquired skill, but Isaac has lots of practice dealing with politicians; it's a skill he's honed well. "So. Indulge me a little bit, will you? I'm just trying to figure out a hypothetical workout schedule for this entirely hypothetical situation. So indulge me, will you?"

The reply makes him grin. "Awesome; thanks, Mizuki," he says. Whatever's said in response makes him chuckle. "Right. Pandora. So, in this situation, we'd be focusing primarily on strength, not muscle mass, with a side of endurance…"


Isaac opens his eyes. He takes a deep breath in, ignoring the pain that accompanies it… and as he lets it out, he focuses on his pain-wracked body — the torn and ragged muscle fibers, the strained tendons and ligaments, the stress-induced microfractures in his bones — and…

…he wills himself whole.

The pain he'd been feeling sublimates, changing from agony into bone-deep weariness; it is an act of will to drag himself up out of his chair and trudge off to the shower, another to stay upright long enough to wash and trudge to his bed. He forces himself to stay awake long enough to chug the (hideous tasting) protein slurry he'd prepared beforehand — he refuses to dignify that vile mix by calling it anything as wholesome as a 'shake' or a 'smoothie', both of which are typically pleasant. Then, and only then, does he let himself lay back and close his eyes. He's asleep almost before his head hits the pillow… which is good. Faulkner has a great deal of work to do, and he'll need every tool at his disposal to accomplish it; he might not have chosen what Asami did to him, but he means to make the most of it.

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