Taking a Fall


hana_icon.gif rue_icon.gif

Scene Title Taking a Fall
Synopsis There are differing opinions on the similarity between two women's chosen art forms.
Date January 23, 2011

Bannerman's Castle: Courtyard

Dawn has just broken through the clouds that hang heavy and oppressive over New York state, and Pollepel Island in particular. It's grey and muted, but the daylight is still present. Sneakers crunch over snow that's swept away from the courtyard's stone in a six-foot circle. Broom and knee-length coat are abandoned just at the edge, in favour of a red sweatshirt adorned with the signature black web and insignia of Spider-Man on the chest. Yoga pants don't look warm enough for the weather, but a layer of thermal underneath takes some of the bite out of the morning chill.

Rue Lancaster's mittens are convertible, flipping back to create fingerless gloves which she uses to navigate the screen of an iPod used only sparingly to conserve its battery. Swan Lake is perhaps not what most would choose for work-out music, but for someone practicing ballet, it's actually cliche. Purple ear buds are pushed into her ears, and similarly-coloured earmuffs are placed over the top.

Humming along with the music, the ginger-haired woman begins to dance. Her movements are fluid — she's practiced this same choreography for years. She picks a point for her focus and stares intently as she begins to spin pirouettes. One. Two. Three.

On the fourth, rubber Converse sole skids on a patch of ice. With a startled cry, the girl goes down onto the stone, and a grunt when she hits the ground. Embarrassment colours her cheeks as Rue pushes herself up to sit, rubbing her hip gingerly.

The morning chill has a lot of bite to it. Even Hana has to admit that, though she simultaneously welcomes it — frigid air means few dare brave the outdoors. She's prepared for it, though her gray long-sleeve shirt and black pants don't look particularly warm from an outside viewpoint; the plain black toque covering her loose hair and the equally black gloves on her hands are a visible concession to winter. Folding her arms across her chest, Hana considers the redhead dancing in the middle of the courtyard. It's just her luck to happen across the other person on the island who will right here.

"Well, that's not very smart," is Hana's acerbic opinion of doing pirouettes on ice-slick stone. Especially when the performer slips and falls. Any possible kinship between pot and kettle, dancer and martial artist, goes disregarded, as usual. "You cleared the snow, but didn't think about ice?"

Rue doesn't hear the first comment about her lack of intelligence, but she spots the observer in time to realise she's been spoken to, tugging her earmuffs off and the headphones out of her ears. "I didn't—" She stops herself, not content to have this conversation while she's still sitting on the ground. Pushing herself up to stand, she takes a moment to tug the hem of her sweatshirt down again and turn off the iPod, winding the cord of her headphones around it.

"I did think about it. I just didn't expect it to be a problem. I come out here almost every morning. This is only my first fall." A sheepish smile is offered to the much more severe woman. "I'm Rue Lancaster." She strides forward and extends her hand.

Dark eyes scan up and down the redhead's tall and skinny appearance, a purely detached assessment — of whatever the woman considers worth assessing. They finally come to rest on the extended hand, lingering there for a moment before Hana allows a perfunctory handshake. "Hana," she replies. Letting both hands fall to her sides, she nods briefly towards the younger woman. "Ballet?"

That cracked smile grows a little brighter as Rue nods her head in confirmation. "Yeah. I'm not a ballerina myself. I mean, it isn't my chosen profession. My best friend's a dancer. We took classes when we were little and it stuck. I find it's good exercise." With the handshake out of the way, she tugs the mitten portion back into place over her fingers. "It's nice to meet you, Hana."

Then there's a realisation accompanied by a tip of Rue's head, curiously. "Gitelman?" Blue eyes grow a little wide and something in her expression suggests that the words oh, that makes sense may be running through her mind. "I take it back. It's an honour to meet you." Her head tips down, a respectful sort of nod.

Hana nods slightly at Rue's explanation, but says nothing; dance classes were no part of her childhood, however much her father encouraged her to do 'normal' things. One dark brow arches as the younger woman's expression changes, a soft huff of breath faintly misting the air between them. "Gitelman," she affirms, inclining her head in return. "Don't make too much of it," she adds, dismissively deflecting any such honor.

Snow crunches under the Israeli's feet as she walks around Rue's cleared circle to the far side, footprints further defacing the courtyard's whitely stark shroud. "And is your friend also here?"

"Samara Dunham," is offered easily. "She's the reason I'm here at all." Hana's modesty - as Rue looks at it - somewhat surprises the younger woman. She hadn't expected it from someone who carries herself as confidently as she does. Her eyes track Hana's movements until she's behind her on the other side of the circle. Only then does she actually turn.

"Can-" There's a hesitation. A retraction. "No, I'm certain you can…" she murmurs mostly for her own benefit. When Rue addresses Hana again, it's after pulling herself up to her full height - six feet in her shoes - and squaring her shoulders. "Will you teach me to fight?" Rather than leave it as a simple request, she explains herself. Perhaps unnecessarily. "I'm serious about the Ferry. I want to be helpful around here. When Miss Simms and Miss Rowan took me with them to help run supplies to the Garden, we were attacked. I froze, and I needed to be rescued."

Gently, ginger curls brush and fall over shoulders with the shake of Rue's head. "I don't want to have to be rescued again."

Six feet in Rue's shoes is a good two inches taller than Hana in her own, although the disparity in their heights doesn't really feel that way as the older woman pivots on a heel, dark hair swinging out with the force of the motion. "Teach you?" she echoes, unblinking gaze intent upon the redhead. She strides forward, bold despite the risk of ice underfoot, until she stands square in front of Rue, regarding the dancer for a silent moment.

"What do you think you'll learn?" Hana draws back slightly, lifting her chin — then shifts her weight, takes a half-step closer, snakes her other foot behind one of Rue's and pulls.

"It's not so different from dancing, is it?" Rue posits. "Two dancers have to coordinate their movements. They flow, act in tandem. Opponents do the same, don't they? Fighting is just a different type of choreography."

Deftly, Rue darts back a step when Hana stays still just a little too long. The posture, the look, coupled with the fact that the girl just practically begged to have her ass kicked has her expecting something. Of course, the movement is somewhat clumsy, since Rue doesn't know how to guess what comes next. Rather than try to anticipate, she lashes out, curling her her fingers inward and striking out at Hana's face with her palm the way Nora taught her.

"Fighting isn't choreography," Hana replies scornfully; both true and untrue, as it's a sort of choreography that telegraphs Rue's intentions to her, bringing the woman's left arm sweeping up to block that counterstrike. It's muscle memory rather than conscious decision that sends her right driving for the younger woman's abdomen — a pulled punch, compared to what Hana could throw, but she fully intends for it to hurt. She also expects to bring the point of an elbow down on Rue's shoulder afterwards.

"It isn't about being helpful. Self-sufficient. Flow." Hana's tone can be very disparaging when she wants it to be. "Why should I teach you?"

Rue takes the blow to the gut and the subsequent shoulder, falling to the ground with her lips parted around a silent exclamation, the air temporarily gone from her lungs. She doesn't have instinct on her side, just what she feels is reason. She reaches out her hand to grab for Hana's ankle and pull with the intention of sending her off balance if only to give her time to scramble away and back to her feet.

She manages to suck down a full breath of air again, setting her jaw before she shouts her answer, "Because I will learn!"

Hana isn't about to stay where she is, 'downed' opponent or no. In other circumstances, she'd probably keep pressing Rue; here and now, in the time it takes the young woman to struggle for breath, the Israeli hops back, weight lightly balanced on the balls of her feet. She does it again when Rue snatches at her ankle, evading the attempted attack.

"Hmph." Hana doesn't seem particularly moved by Rue's declaration. She has a long ways to look down at the redhead now, nearly every inch of her height, and does just that. "Hold on to that, and it'll get you somewhere."

Rue scrabbles back when her grapple misses, dragging herself up to her feet again. "Tell me how to stand." Because she's certain that having her hands up, balled into loose fists, as she's seen in so many movies cannot be the proper way. "I'm going to learn how to do this." Her lips set in a determined line, her gaze intense. "Tell me, show me how to do it, and I will do it. I can do it."

Hana tilts her head to one side, birdlike, studying Rue. The soles of her shoes shush briefly against stone as she steps around the younger woman, scrutinizing from all angles. Perhaps to do exactly as asked — her shoulders are still, her hands kept close, feet confined to a simple path.


Then again, that would be letting Rue set the curriculum. "The first thing you're going to learn —" Hana moves a half-step nearer, observation sliding fluidly into offensive motion: a palm-strike towards Rue's face, a seeming opening for counter-attack to Hana's torso.

Rue follows Hana's movements, watching the way her feet move, and how she holds her arms, emulating the posture even as she keeps space between them and never gives her back to her seemingly reluctant instructor.

That Hana repeats Rue's previous attempted strike surprises the younger woman, but she counters with the same move she was shown, swinging her arm around to deflect the palm that she's pretty sure will break her nose and ruin her budding career. She tightens her opposite fist and aims a blow at Hana's stomach.

It's exactly the response Hana was looking to provoke.

Twisting sideways around the punch, the older woman anchors her heels, grabs that extended arm, and proceeds to coopt Rue's own momentum — the better to heave her over and down onto the concrete.

The first lesson…

"…is how to take a fall," Hana informs the redhead, completing her interrupted sentence. A lesson which hasn't even started yet, because there's a point to make abundantly clear first.

"You're going to take a lot of them."

Rue's eyes go wide when Hana's counter isn't at all what she anticipated. She does go down, but perhaps with a bit more grace than expected, even though a pained grunt escapes her lips. The move to get up doesn't follow immediately. Not as a show of weakness, or out of an inability to do so, but to take a moment to absorb the lesson given.

There's a quiet breath of laughter, visible as vapour from Rue's parted lips. "A lot like being dropped in rehearsal." Her tongue darts out between her lips before she pushes back up to sit, "Point taken."

Except in rehearsal, your partner isn't deliberately trying to drop you. But Hana chooses to leave that lesson to experience; Rue will figure it out soon enough. For the moment, she simply lifts a hand, beckoning crook of two fingers directing Rue to continue — to get all the way up to her feet, not just stop with sitting.

There's an abundance of daylight yet to burn, and plenty more points to be made.

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