ace_icon.gif luke_icon.gif

Scene Title Reshaping
Synopsis Ace takes an evening to check in with Luke Campbell to see where his fellow d'Sarthe employee's head is.
Date March 23, 2021

Staten Island

Teaching someone used to fighting with rage to draw on different sources didn't come easily. It took practice, patience.

And more than once letting a hit meant for his body or face pass through him.

It's been a while since Ace Callahan has practiced directly with Luke Campbell in such a way, but it's been a while since this particular relationship has been reaffirmed. With the goals he has in mind, no matter how many months they may be down the line before pursuing, it would never hurt to reassert closeness with others that could help him when the time finally comes.

So today, he's let Ourania know he'd be handling his daily exercise away from their usual, shared setup. Silk tie and cufflinks have been exchanged for boxing mitts, dress shirt replaced with the cling of an athletic shirt. He taps the mitts together before lifting his chin up at Luke, head tilting to the ring in the center of the Staten Island boxing gym they've met in.

Apart from them, there are only four others in the gym, lifting weights or punching bags. Two are others associated with the d'Sarthe Group. It smells of sweat, but what place like this doesn't? It at least is well-lit, and is maintained to an extent it passes Luke's mentor's standards.

"Let's run some drills," Ace proposes gamely. "For old time's sake."

These sparring matches have been a weird time for Luke, to say the least. Usually, if there was a fight, he'd just let loose and punch someone until they went down, which ends up 90% of the time being the very first one thrown. As such, what use does he have for knowing how to properly fight?

However, he has also found that there are those he can't punch, namely people he absolutely shouldn't try to beat up.

And then there's Ace Callahan.

Not only does he fall in the category of people he shouldn't pick a fight with, he is also damned hard to actually hit.

Bedecked in a pair of boxing gloves, Luke didn't need to dress down for the fight like Ace did. T-shirts are perfectly acceptable wear for all occasions, right?

"Yeah, sure. Still don't think it'll matter how I punch someone. My probation officer was also big on expending energy pointlessly." Which is probably not how Dan Schwimmerfarb phrased it all those years ago.

He takes a deep breath and punches his two fists together, noticeably not in a way that results in property destruction, then gestures towards the other. Come at me, bro.

"My point will forever be that just because you have all that strength behind you, doesn't mean you always have to use it," Ace remarks after slipping between the ring's wires and turning back to him. "You have two weapons in any fight, Campbell. Your body, and your mind."

With a cant of his head, he asserts, "Do you know why no one wanted to fight you in the Crucible in the end?" His right hand lifts to indicate he's ready to catch a punch against the flat of the mitt. "Because the majority of the time, you only used your first weapon. You're a man possessed of incredible strength— and everyone knows it. But when you decide to leverage it will be the key that makes for an interesting fight, both from the perspective of the audience, and your opponent."

"Keep them on their toes," Ace asserts, other mitt rising as well. "Keep them guessing whether the oncoming jab to the face will merely disorient them or shove their nose into their skull." With a roll of his shoulders, he adjusts his posture to be more fluid, lighter on his feet.

"Let's start with an eight-count." Green-grey eyes remain intent on the younger man across from him, regarding him as sharply as ever to gain the necessary edge of a moment to know when a thrown punch will be something he needs to shift to diminish the impact of, in one way or another. "Mind your stance, your closeness," he reminds. Then, once satisfied with those preparations, he marks the time by murmuring, "Five, six, seven—"

Eight is silence, palms made present for the steps which begin again at Luke's one.

It took Luke a while at the beginning of these little 'sparring lessons' to fall in to the right rhythm, once he figured out what it was Ace actually wanted him to do. Repetition, however, worked its magic, so he followed Ace into the ring and prepared himself for the bout. At the counts he dutifully followed the pattern, though not very enthusiastically.

There's a hint of concentration that has little to do with the movements, and more to do with the fact that none of the hits to the focus gloves are out of the ordinary. Rather, if Ace had sparred with others, it may even have less strength than usual.

There's a sour grunt at Ace's words once they're done, and he averts his gaze to frown at the floor of the ring. "Yeah, yeah. One hit KOs aren't exciting for others after the first time, I've been working on that. There might be some wannabe who's new to town who could serve as a demonstration, I bet. Especially if he thinks he's all that." Not that Luke is aware of such an individual, but one can dream.

Even for Luke's lack of enthusiasm, Ace takes the performance of his role in the routine seriously. His swings necessitating a duck are performed with the swiftness needed of him by the exercise. He smirches his tongue off his cheek when Luke looks down.

"You have the advantage of there being a new arena now. The Crucible gone, the new grounds may carry with them their own stash of tricks. So perhaps there's a greater risk appetite than there was before."

Unbidden, he swipes at the side of Luke's head with the side of his mitt. "Again," he demands, holding up his palms to receive the hits.

"How else have you been keeping busy lately, if that outlet has been closed off to you?" Ace asks placidly.

"Yeah, should be good in the new place. Whoever tipped off the Feds that got the Crucible shut down is in for a world of hurt if they're ever found out." Whatever else Luke was planning to say was derailed by the slap to the side of his head, and he frowns over at Ace. Meh. Grumbling under his breath, he nevertheless gets into position, though the first hit has a little more force than normal.

"Eh, whatever I want. Sometimes I just feel like wandering around town. Making sure the safe zone stays safe for everyone." The smirk added afterwards gives lie to that statement, since the idea of Luke suddenly becoming an upstanding member of society is laughable, at best. "It does everyone a favor if certain idiots aren't able to breed afterwards. Besides, it's considered self defense if the other guy throws the first punch."

Ace lets out a huff of amusement at the mention of the Crucible's downfall. "Staten got Staten under lockdown," he reminds drolly while the punches hit center mitt. "Though, were there any to point the finger at for that happening, I suppose we can thank the Trade Commission."

There's a mocking air there, a lack of respect. It's one he feels is owed, despite the fact that Staten's would-be gentrification is nothing but a boon, long-term, for d'Sarthe. Its reputableness in the eyes of greater New York. You know, for those who their reputation is able to increase.

There would always be some stubborn holdouts who saw the fang behind the smile despite all charm.

"Mind who you punch, Campbell," he warns. "Though it's common knowledge we don't suffer those who look down on us," the literal us as much as the proverbial us, "you're not invincible. Just strong. The last thing I would enjoy is fishing you out of the Hudson. Not after we've built you up."

He swings, as the exercise demands Luke in turn duck.

"Not after how far you've come."

Luke shrugs off the correction, but he does have a well-known tendency to blame everything on the government. "I'm more careful than that. I know who the real sharks are, it's usually the loudmouth guppies pretending to be big fish that need to be put in their place. Those Pure Earthers or whatever, they're the ones who need to be taught a lesson. People need to watch their mouths in our city." As if the Safe Zone isn't made up of all kinds of people.

Whap, whap, and Luke ducks under the swing, in the rhythm now. He's breathing a little heavily, since he doesn't often feel the need to work out on his own.

"I've been through enough shit by now to get out of my own messes." he adds after the set is done, stepping back and wiping his face with the back of his gloved hand. "Nothing that'll need me to get bailed out… again."

Ace wags his mitt at Luke over that last bit. That again. That's the key, isn't it. He lets out a laugh under his breath and only shakes his head once. After all, he has gotten better. Luke's temper is a thing Ace likes to think he has honed, shaped, directed.

It was such a useful tool after all.

"Jab, jab, cross," he directs the next throws of that strength verbally. "Again.

"Start with the other.


Only then does Ace allow for a break, scraping his mitts together and sliding a step back. "Well, it's good to know you've been keeping active," he submits, head tilting back and to the side thoughtfully. "Could I count on that strength soon?"

It's certainly true that someone he actually respects putting forth the effort made it a lot easier for Luke to work at being something other than a force of destruction. Not breaking his smart phone when someone annoyed him during a call was beneficial as well.

When Ace orders another one, Luke sighs but gets into position again, saving his breath for when they finish the set again. "Hopefully not right now, if I didn't know better I'd say you're deliberately trying to wipe me out." After that mock complaint, he starts stripping the gloves off, breathing a little more heavily. Controlling himself is more tiring than the actual exercise.

"Eh, I'm good for it, like always. Just tell me when and where." He goes over to where there's some water bottles and grabs two, then makes like he's going to hurl one at Ace, except he ends up just lightly tossing it at him instead with a faint smirk. Ace would be fine either way, right?

He catches the lobbed bottle with one hand, removed mitt under the pit of the opposite arm. Ace only huffs a small laugh for the joke played on him— see, he can have a sense of humor. "As soon as it all starts coming together, you'll know," he assures. "In the meantime, carrying on and keeping your nose clean enough is the important thing. I'm capable of many things, but disappearing a man from a jail cell isn't a magic trick I've mastered with panache just yet. And besides— that would impede your ability to heed the call when it's placed."

Sighing, he strips off the other mitt so he can open the bottle he's been handed. "All that being said," he relents with a tilt of the water, brows lifting. "Absolutely destroying any Pure Earth scum you come across is something I'll have to enjoy vicariously. I've found myself with static assets requiring protection recently, which leaves me without the freedom to pursue as many dangerous pursuits as I'd normally enjoy."

With a hint of fang in his smile, he admits, "That trip to Missouri was something else, though," before taking a satisfying sip of the cold drink.

"Heh, want me to take a video of them crying afterwards? I can start a video series, I'll call it 'Pure Tears' or something. Not as good as being there yourself but you'll just have to settle, I guess." Luke holds his own bottle to his face before he opens it, enjoying the coolness.

"Missouri, huh… that's random. Reminds me of when I somehow ended up in Louisiana." That's more of a tale though and Luke doesn't seem too interested in elaborating, taking a long drink from his bottle instead.

"Eh, I won't get caught, so I'll be ready whenever you need me. Try not to get arrested in Missouri, though I bet I could get you out easily enough if needed." Just not in a subtle manner.

Ace's hint of a private smile spreads a shade more wicked before he shrugs. "Big crime in little Washington, KC," he teases of his own adventures. "Surely noticed, but not commented upon. The administration is ever so fond of its secrets, after all." He looks thoughtful for a passing moment before his mood mellows. "Fear not, though, I'll endeavor the same as you to keep my nose clean. Federal isn't a place I'd like to end up."

But there's his mirth again, a gleam in the green-greys of his eyes. "I visited once, and the food was terrible. 0 stars, would not return."

He considers that for a moment, head turning to Luke by the end. Ace finally crouches to slip out of the ring and drop the foot or so to the ground, setting aside the sparring mitt. "I'll be here a while yet. My other plans are cancelled this evening. You?"

“Visited, huh. I take it on the correct side of the bars, rather than enjoying the hospitality yourself?” Luke’s hand comes up to finger the Moab scar on his chin, and he frowns off into the distance. “Yeah, the food is shit.” Of course, it’s highly unlikely that Ace ever found his way into that particular prison, given it got blown up years ago, and to be fair, Ace doesn’t really seem to fit the Tier 3 designation. Tier 2, tops. He lets his hand drop and follows suit, jumping off the edge. “Wait, you mean you went to the new capital, not just…” he waves his hand vaguely towards where he thinks west is, but it’s kind of hard to tell indoors; he’s probably waving south. “Surprised you made it out.”

When he mentions sticking around, Luke shrugs, going to grab a hand towel to tousle his sweaty hair with. “Never really have anything specific planned to be honest, unless there’s a party that really needs crashing, I usually just go out and find something interesting. Got anything in mind?”

As to the nature of Ace's visit to federal lockup, he keeps his peace. He rolls one shoulder as he works out some tension in his shoulder, the act almost like a shrug, save for that it isn't.

"It certainly helps that I can walk through walls when I want to leave," he chides with a chuckle. His steps begin to idly take him in the direction of the weights. "As for what I have in mind… dinner at the Nuojin He Jia? I've grown fond of that place lately."

"My treat," Ace offers before crouching to pick up a handheld dumbbell.

Ace not wanting to elaborate on what exactly went down out west suits Luke just fine, and he doesn’t seem interested in pressing the subject. None of his business. Ace got in, and got out, and that’s all that matters.

“Hey, you know me, the tastiest food in the world is food I don’t have to pay for.” Luke grins at the other man, then stretches his arms over his head until his joints crack. Dropping them to his sides, he watches Ace go to pick up the dumbbells and chuckles. “I guess I’ll meet you there. No risk of you getting trapped under something too heavy for you to lift, after all.” Why, no, he’s not implying that Ace might have trouble with the handheld ones, not at all. Without waiting for a response, Luke heads off to go take a shower, no need to show up still smelling like the gym.

Ace huffs a laugh under his breath as he twists his wrist, bringing the weight up toward his chin. He peers after Luke thoughtfully, looking like some sort of Thinker statue sans a seat to sit on. With the younger man's disappearance, he looks away to focus on his repetitions.

After all, if he didn't keep up his own strength too— then what was the purpose of any of this?

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