2007-07-19: Natural Disadvantages


Max_icon.gif Nova_icon.gif

Summary: Some Company partnerships talk out their issues.

Date It Happened: 19th of July, 2007

Natural Disadvantages

New York City - Queens

The sun is just cresting the horizon. It's early. Painfully early, if anybody's keeping track. Though he's only been gone for a few hours, Max has obviously been making the most of his brief jaunt into the city. He's got on a new suit, simple, dark, elegant, and somehow tailored in the short span he's had available. He has a fresh black eye, but it doesn't seem to be bothering him. If anything, he seems pleased with his present situation.

Right now he's strolling as if he doesn't have a care in the world. His overcoat is draped across one arm, though it seems to weigh him down less than usual. Someone's travelling light.

"Just pull up at the corner," is Nova's instruction to her driver, as soon as she sees her partner out the window. About half a block behind Max, the featureless black car comes to a temporary halt, giving the woman enough time to step out onto the pavement before it pulls away again. Briskly, she follows. In a black wife beater, plain jeans and running shoes, the only thing that allows her to stand out is, as usual, her height. It only takes a minute to catch up to Max, long strides taking her far and irritation giving her speed, and just as she draws up to walk level with him, she snaps, "Do you know what fucking time it is?"

Max glances down at his watch. "It's a quarter to six," he replies. "What took you so long? I've been wandering around Queens since four this morning." That's right. Not only has he had a date with a pneumatic injector, Max has also met Molly Walker. He knows how easy to find he is. As he speaks he makes a sharp right turn into an alley that's barely wide enough for the two largish people to walk side by side.

"And I've been up since— " Nova's sentence is halted when they turn sharply into the alleyway, gritting her teeth briefly as she avoids scraping her arm against the rough brickwork to her left. "I've been up since five, woken up and told to come find you." Not that they couldn't do it, but apparently, and like the man over the phone pointed out, Max is pretty much her responsibility. Lucky Max. "You're supposed to check in. What were you doing?"

Now they're away from the few people who are out and about this early. They're nestled between a condemned tenement on one side and an occupied one on the other. Once they're shielded from view he turns, his brow furrowed with frustration. "I needed some space. I've been cooped up in that damnable complex for weeks. When I do get out, I always seem to have an escort." The scar at the corner of his mouth twitches, then his lips tug upward into a small smile. "At least I made it easy for you to find me."

Nova turns to him, her expression as stoic as usual, but a line between her eyebrows has formed and her eyes are very focused on Max's face. That look might send lesser men running. "It's not my bloody job to come find you," she snaps, hands lifting in exasperation. "You have an obligation, you're supposed to be meeting it. What do you want, a tighter leash? That's all you're tempting them to do."
Yes. Lesser men.

Max steps closer.

Now within arms reach, he meets Nova's gaze squarely. There's something different about him today. Calmer. Even his show of frustration is far milder than it might have been. He smiles a little wider. "Give me a rematch. You win, I'll follow all the rules like a good little puppy. I win, you give me a little more play in the leash. I have personal matters to attend to. Deal?"

Her irritation isn't quite as mild. There wasn't even time for coffee, you see. But Max's proposal seems to take her off-guard, usual mask falling in favour of a look of disbelief. "What, here?" she says, then considers, frowning. She has an immense amount of trust in her own ability, after all. Her gaze flickers to his blackened eye. "What, you got some confidence knocked into you?"

The two are more alike than either of them would admit. "Not here," he agrees. Though it's an alley, they're still too exposed. His blue eyes flicker back and forth, considering possibilities. The condemned tenement seems promising. The windows are boarded up and the brick and mortar are decaying. It's clearly been abandoned for a long time. Casually, he leans back and kicks in one of the side doors with an expensive Italian shoe. There appears to be a laundry room on the other side. With a subtle flick of one finger, he focuses a magnetic field and shoves all the rusted, antiquated washing and drying equipment against one wall. "In there."

It only takes half a second of hesitation before Nova is walking inside, pushing back the door when it bounces off the wall, glancing around at all the pushed back metal objects. "No powers," she tosses over her shoulder, ground rule number one, as she regards the space. Not bad. Oh, well, if it's a step towards him falling into line… She cracks her knuckles, not a motion that's particularly helpful, just an unconscious habit. "I'm game."

Max follows her in, pushing at the sagging, splintered door as he passes. Where Nova cracks her knuckles, Max twists his neck to each and produces an audible popping from his vertebrae. He drops his overcoat to the floor in an untidy heap. Knowing well that she doesn't have to do this, Max inclines his head briefly in a gesture that's at least partly respectful. "No powers," he agrees.

Then he throws a sharp, straight punch that's meant to respect her right in the face.

Well played sir. Nova doesn't have time to avoid it completely, but a twitch in the right direction allows her to take the punch a little easier, moving swiftly. Bruise, but no blood. She can live with that, and does. Her tension winds higher as the fight begins, going on alert, heart starting to pound. Her hands in fists, she advances, only to return the blow in a kick to the stomach.

On the other hand, Max is cool and collected. He doesn't even try to avoid the kick. He just tenses his stomach and stoically accepts the blow. Smirking, he shakes his head. Then he bulls in through Nova's guard, grabs her by the collar, and lifts her feet from the floor. That's not enough for him, though. Grunting with effort, he lauches himself forward and uses her body as a battering ram to clear a path through layers of drywall and rotted wood and into the next room. Standing in his new, improvised doorway, he tosses her to the ground and knocks out more bits of wall to widen the hole for his own passage.

Getting rammed through a wall is surprisingly… loud. There's a crack, then something louder… although that last one may be the sound of her body hitting the ground. With a compulsive cough as she breathes in a lungful of dust and flaked away paint, Nova groans, staying stationary on the ground for a few moments. They're… in another room. How about that. It's almost as if Max has achieved himself an early victory… then with a loud, indefinite "ARGH!", Nova swings her leg around in a wide arc. Whether or not it knocks him down, she uses the momentum to roll to her feet.

"OOF!" Max does go down, and hard. He lands flat on his back, arms spread wide to slap against the floor and absorb the brunt of his accumulated momentum. He rolls sideways several times to put distance between them. The room they're in now is blessedly open and empty except for two rows of empty metal shelves at one end. When Max comes to his feet he curls his upper lip disdainfully and brushes plaster and splinters from one shoulder. Then he cocks his leg and pistons it forward in a kick much like the one he used to knock in the door.

The blow is taken, accepted, and Nova steels herself against it, only backing up half a step when it connects. When her hand snaps out to grab his ankle, it's mostly clear that she allowed the kick in order to do just that. With a grunt, she brings her other fist around in a back-handed blow to Max's face, a short and snappy hit rather than a true swing, releasing him with a shove towards those shelves. She bears down on him even as she does so, intent to keep the advantage of space, offense over defense.

Max crashes spectacularly through the weakened, aged shelves, collapsing several sets. He comes to his feet more slowly this time and his new suit is streaked with rust spots. His eyes are distant. "That will never come out," he informs her coldly. He rocks back, then throws his weight forward and tackles her. The hit carries them both through the doorway of this room and into a hall. When they land he immediately doubles up a fist and slams it into her side.

She's silent when the blow lands, but it hurt, if the way she quickly untangles from him is of any indication. There's a moment of very tense peace once they're on their feet, the corridor as abandoned as the rest of the near gutted building. It's not an ideal space. Even so, Nova pulls back her fist and swinging it in a curving arc, and rather than connecting with flesh and bone, it cracks through the thin wall with a flurry of dust and splinters. Damn. Who made this building, anyway? With a grunt, she yanks her arm back out of the wall, leaving behind a sizeable hole. Her attention turns back to Max, eyes almost flashing with adrenaline, and she steps forward with an artful but powerful high kick.

The kick catches Max on the chin. The raw power snaps his head to the side and he spits out a mouthful of blood. Rather than fight it he turns in the direction of the hit. Then he backpedals, crushing Nova between his back and the wall. Now back-to-front with her, he lashes out with one elbow, likewise taking out a chunk of plaster and showering them with dust and paint. When he doesn't connect he growls with frustration and presses back harder, using his superior weight to his advantage.

Perhaps Max's last punch to her side cracked a rib, because as he slams himself back against her, she lets out a startled gasp of pain, hands gripping his arms, fingers digging in. Breathless, she kicks once at his ankle, before her arm whips out and around his throat, other hand gripping her own wrist and pulling in tight, only slackening when he lets up.

He doesn't let up, though. Keeping his back pressed against Nova's torso, he leans into the chokehold in what can only be considered a boldly dangerous maneuver. The muscles in his neck clench and his veins bulge as he strives to keep from passing out. He gains several slow inches, then slams his head backward into her face. It's a final, desperate gambit.

And it works. The world goes white for a moment, cold pain flashing where his head connects against her face, and her arm loosens, the stranglehold abandoned in favour of, well… leaning there and groaning, kept up by simple virtue of the fact that Max's body is keeping her there. A thin trickle of blood courses from one nostril, down to her lip, and Nova looks simply dazed as the fight abruptly leaves her. She'll totally win this when her vision stops doubling up.

Max sucks in a deep, shuddering breath as soon as he's released. Still slightly disoriented from the chokehold, his own vision is dark around the edges and he lifts a fist to lash out again. The strike never lands, though. He realizes that it isn't necessary. "Don't feel bad," he groans, sagging back against an intact section of wall. "Your breasts put you at a natural disadvantage."

Slowly, she lifts a hand to wipe the back of it along her mouth, streaking blood, and she makes a face when she sees it. Then gives him a narrowed-eyed look for that comment. She might have attempted to show him his own natural disadvantages, but she's too busy sliding down the wall to sit to really aim a kick anywhere, sensitive or otherwise. "You don't get good without losing a few fights," she says, a hint of defense in her tone, though it's clear that losing hurts, damnit. All the same, she cleans her hand off on the hem of her shirt, and mumbles, "I'll talk to our superiors."

A deal is a deal, and Max is pleased to see that Nova's honoring her end of it. He would've done the same. He dusts his own hand off, but instead of taking hers he grips her forearm just behind the wrist. It's an old-fashioned gesture, a way for one warrior to respect the strength of another without requiring a girl movie moment. Then he slides to the floor as well. He dabs absently at the blood leaking from the corner of his mouth with the cuff of his already ruined suit.

The dust settles, and Nova takes a mental inventory of her wounds. Mostly bruises, a few scrapes, though she'll need those ribs checked. Nose too. Damn. She winces, then breathes out. Lets it go. When she looks at Max again, she raises an eyebrow, and comes close to a smile. "You can at least buy me a cup of coffee." She takes out a now crushed pack of cigarettes and a lighter, touching the tip to flame and drawing a lungful of smoke, and as an afterthought, she adds, "Jerk."

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