2007-06-27: Bonding And Bruises


Nova_icon.gif Max_icon.gif

Summary: Nova and Max have their rematch. Of sorts.

Date It Happened: 27th of June, 2007

Bonding and Bruises

Hartsdale, NY - Primatech - Gymnasium

She could have handled it better, in hindsight. Walking out of her first confrontation with Max, here in the facility, even Nova can recognise this, and she didn't need superior Company agents to tell her so. But playing nice guy is just so hard, and clearly, not the way to go about it. As she walks down the corridor, with two lower-level Company employees trailing her as extra security, she's not sure if this approach is wise. But in the end? Nothing wrong in testing out the guy who's supposedly your new partner - no matter how unhappy he is, she is, about this arrangement.

Without bothering to knock, as the more polite employees have done for their captive, Nova undoes the locking mechanism to Max's cell, pushing it open and pacing a few steps into the small room. Behind her, the two hoons take up station on either side of the door, outside. No surprises here, she's dressed as sportily as ever, hair out of the way and face free of makeup.

Max has scrounged a pencil from somewhere, which can only mean that he's been minding his manners. He's got it clenched between his teeth, though from the many underlines and scribbles on the copied files he's reading, it's apparent that the writing utensil has been getting some action. Immersed in his studying, he's surprised enough by Nova's abrupt entry that it slips out of his mouth and bounces onto the bed. "Agent Armstrong," he greets her cordially as he sets aside his reading material. As usual, Max is much the same as ever. Dirtier. Smellier. Unkempt. No matter how sterile it is, a cell is still a cell, and he hasn't been let out of this one yet to freshen up. "I see that you've brought friends." He inclines his head to indicate the two guards. "To what do I owe the honor?"

Storm-blue eyes quickly sweep over him in assessment. Guy needs a bath, but they both know that, so she's not about to bring it up. Her hands settle casually on her hips, and notably, she doesn't go to shut the door behind her once she's in the room, nor does she find a place to settle herself. She glances over her shoulder at the guards, and her mouth twists in what could be interpretted as a smile. "Don't get excited, they're not here to talk," she says. "Just making sure you don't do anything stupid." She speaks dismissively, and it might be likely that the added security wasn't her choice. But here they are. It's rare that she disputes orders. The door is pushed open a little wider. "You're going for a walk."

Max studies each of the guards in turn. Armed to the teeth, no doubt. He's already seen Nova in action, so he has no need to question her prowess. Either way, he's not about to argue. At this point, an escape attempt is flatly out of the question. He hauls himself off of his narrow cot and stretches both arms above his head. There's a protesting creak and crackle from his muscles and joints before he settles back into a more comfortable stance. "Very well, Agent. Where are we off to?"

She gives a nod in satisfaction when he agrees, and turns her back on him to walk once more into the corridor. She waits for him to follow, before explaining. The two guards march along silently behind them, their eyes always on Max. In contrast, Nova is substantially more relaxed, striding along at a swagger and eyes ahead, rather than to her companion, of sorts, to her left. "Gym," she answers, simply. Her regular haunt, when she's not out and prowling (although if anyone called what she did 'prowling', they'd end up with a slap to the head). Now, she glances at him, as they walk through the white and metal and cyan hallways, through the hospital wing. "You took a swing at me, back there in the alley. Brave move. Figured I'd see what you could do when you're not tranq'd."

This proposition is intriguing for Max, to say the least. Rather than behind Nova, he strides along beside her. "I'm also eager to see what you can do. You appear… formidable." That's about as close to a compliment as anyone's liable to get from Max. As they move through the complex his eyes are active and observant, memorizing faces, corridors, workstations. Any detail that may be of later use.

Nova nods, once, at his reply. Max gains a point. A reluctant sparring partner is just no fun at all. Not that she still wouldn't attempt to test him, see what he has, see if this whole thing is worth it… If there's one thing that Nova is arrogant about, it's her own physical capability. She wants a partner that can keep up, Evolved powers or no. "That'd be because I am," she informs him, as they turn a corner.

"Oooh. And so modest." Max's tone is amused, gently teasing even. He has his own reasons for being confident. When they reach the gymnasium doors, the holds them open and gestures for her to preceed him. His pupils are slightly dilated, his pulse respiration are quickening. Good ol' adrenaline. "After you, Agent."

The teasing gets no reaction - save for the barest hint of a smile, although hard to tell when she walks on by him. The two guards stay a good distance away - you don't need to be too close to shoot a guy full of tranqs as needed, anyway, should it ever come to that. Around them, the gym is not entirely empty, but those that occupy some of the machines pay them no mind. Nova toes off her shoes and steps bare foot on to a wide blue mat, broad shoulders rolling once. "No holding back now, just 'cause I'm a girl," she says, rather seriously, although a glint in her eyes communicate some irony.

It's finally time. After more than a week in his cell, Max has a chance to hit something without getting punished for it. He closes his eyes and inhales deeply through his nose, tasting the air, savoring the final few seconds before the confrontation begins. And then he's ready. He kicks off his slippers, then shrugs out of his white t-shirt and lets it drop to the ground. His torso is mottled with fading bruises from his conflict with the guards, and a small square of gauze has been taped high on the left side of his chest, partially obscuring the 'RT06' tattooed in heavy, black ink. He follows Nova onto the mat and cracks his knuckles. "Hold back? I would never." And he doesn't. Grinning fiercely, he feints a hook punch that turns into a devious, wicked elbow strike.

Almost. Nova turns out of the way of the strike, off-balance for a moment as she only just avoids the blow, before stepping to the side, back on track. She doesn't crack a smile - her enjoyment is only obvious in subtle hints, and otherwise, she's the picture of concentration. And speed. Her fist whips around with the intent to strike him beneath the ribs, aiming for accuracy over damage.

Max tenses his stomach, accepting the blow and rolling with the momentum. It doesn't flatten him, but it does send the air whistling from his lungs. When he's properly regained his footing, he raises both eyebows and nods approvingly. Then he steps close and pulls out one of man's oldest dirty tricks, and his favorite manuver. The headbutt.

If that bruises? Max is getting his ass kicked. No time to think on that too much, as the smack is startling, and Nova backs up quick, blinking at him… before laughing, a singular sound that comes out in a breath, but it's still a laugh, and she shakes her head as if to clear it. "Sunuvabitch," she mutters, even as she moves, fist coming back up to execute a right hook, aiming for the jaw.

That was a good one. If this were a boxing match, you'd be watching that hit again in slow-motion right now with much spraying of blood and spittle. Max hits the mat and stays down for a solid six-count before he staggers back to his feet. He probes at his freshly loosened teeth with his tongue, then wiggles his jaw side to side experimentally. "Ow," he mutters eloquently. Then he narrows his eyes, hooks his instep around Nova's ankle, and hits her in the sternum with an open-handed strike.

Gotta hand it to him. He can take it. Nova grins at him when he gets back to his feet, but that grin vanishes when she finds the balance kicked out from under her, the smack to her chest knocking her, well, on her ass. She 'oof's when she goes down, and there's a flash of a glare before, as fast as she can, she moves enough to swing a leg out from her downed position, an intent to his legs out from under him - or at least knock him back.

Max is tripped up by the leg-sweep, but rather than fall away from Nova he throws his body toward the blow. As much as the hit to his jaw hurt, he's enjoying this. It's been a long time since somebody kicked his ass in a daylight fight. He's not out yet, though. On his way to the ground he brings out another old stand-by. The elbow drop.

No you don't. Nova smoothly rolls away before the elbow can connect, flowing onto hands and knees, to her feet. Then? It's an intermission. Breathing harder and thin locks of loosened blonde hair sticking to her forehead, Nova settles for circling, waiting for Max to get to his feet too. Her fists her up and eyes locked on him, but she remains avoidant. She's quick to make the first move once more, however, fist lashing out for a body shot.

Max is clearly overmatched in this confrontation, but giving up isn't a concept he's familiar with. For the second time, he tenses up and rolls with Nova's strike to his gut. From the way he's slowing down, it's clear that he won't be able to soak them up that forever. Still, he's only a fraction slower than his opponent with his counterstrike. Using her extended arm as a guide, he closes the distance between them and hooks a fist around for a kidney strike.

Max's fist connects as intended, and even as she goes to twist away from it, she had left herself wide open for that one, and grunts at the impact. It occurs to her that even if she's quicker, maybe in some ways stronger, the way he's not backing down… might mean his victory. Not tolerable. Not in the slightest. Not right now, anyway. Adrenaline is a gift, and she manages not to buckle beneath the blow. She turns, elbow coming up with the intent to smack him square in the face.

The strike catches Max across the bridge of the nose. He stumbles backward, eyes watering and a thin trickle of blood leaking from one nostril. This fight is not going the way he'd originally envisioned it. He's slowing even more now, but he's still in the game. He sways on his feet, then rocks backward and uses the momentum to launch himself toward Nova, both fists leading for a high-low torso strike.

For a moment, they're back in the alleyway, despite remaining in the brightly lit gymnasium. Max is slowed down, now from the fight rather than a chemical, and Nova is turning aside from his blow, almost a pirouette, though she'd vehemently deny it. She doesn't strike him, but she still lashes out, a grip on his bared shoulder and bruised torso, and using her sheer strength to shove, using his own momentum against him. She skips back a few paces, hands still in fists.

The force of the push sends Max flying backward and off of the mat. He lands on the floor and log-rolls ungracefully to a halt. He sucks in several deep breaths and shakes his head wearily. "That's enough," he mutters. Much like their first confrontation, this fight ends in disappointment for him. This is not something he enjoys.

Her fists lower, and Nova nods, and sucks in a deep breath. Her muscles ache, and she's catching her breath, and she's pretty sure her brow is on the way to being black and blue. All in all, a good match, in her view. It's rare to find someone willing to play rough. She steps off the mat, and offers him a hand. "Enough for today," she agrees.

Max hesitates briefly before he reaches up to clasps wrists with Nova. Still, he's smiling when he's regained his footing. "You are formidable," he concedes. Already, his jaw and the sides of his nose are swelling noticeably. He pinches it to stem the flow of blood from his nostril and continues, "We should do this more often."

Right answer, if Nova's disarming smile is of any indication. Max gets a friendly thump to the shoulder, before Nova backs up, rolling her shoulders again with a slight wince, before jerking her thumb over her shoulder. "Do yourself a favour. Showers are that way," she says, and looks towards the guards, who move on cue to escort. She clasps her right hand in her left, rubbing a thumb absently over somewhat bruised knuckles. Ice. Ice is key.

Shower? That sounds good to Max. He nods to Nova, shelves a quip about her joining him for a time that isn't right after she's kicked his ass, and heads toward the locker room with his escort. Hopefully he'll get a change of clothes out of the arrangement.

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