Logs:Riddle of the Steel Abs

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Riddle of the Steel Abs


Characters: Essie and Kestrel
Date: 2020-07-01
Summary: Kestrel wanders into Rounder's Gym where Essie is training and gets a lesson in Mixed Martial Arts.
Disclaimers: Mild language.

.oO( Rounder's Gym - Mid-City )Oo.........................................o.
  It's evident this former warehouse is no regular gym upon entering.    
  Front and center are four raised and roped "octagons" for MMA fighters 
  or would-be fighters to spar. The receptionist's counter sits off to   
  the side of the front door for easy check-in. A sign cheerfully        
  proclaims that drop-ins are welcome for the price of $15 but           
  "Membership Plans for every budget are available."                     
                                                                         
  A variety of weight machines take up the space along one               
  brightly-painted blue wall while cardio machines line another. Along   
  the back wall are five smaller rooms, each equipped with floor mats and
  mirrored walls, evidently for classes or group sessions. A hallway     
  leads to the locker room, supply closet, and office.                

This might be no regular gym, but Essie is no ordinary girl and luckily her sparring partner doesn't seem to be an ordinary fighter either. The two are currently the only ones occupying any of the octagons at this fairly late hour. Maybe some better shock absorption needs to be installed because a few of those tosses and throws seem to shake the floor considerable, but it holds. And eventually the match comes to an end with no clear winner. The two shake hands, the man walks off and heads for the locker room but Essie sticks around, grabbing a towel and a water bottle before slipping out of the ring for the moment.

At this hour in New Orleans, most of the places still open are serving up either alcohol, pancakes, or free weights. And it's for that reason that Kestrel ends up wandering into Rounder's Gym: he's just polished off a stack of pancakes down the street... and frankly he's not ready to go back to his lair to sleep them off yet. He cuts a relatively unimpressive, lanky silhouette: he's fit and athletic enough, but he's certainly no shredded and tattooed MMA fighter. Wearing a pale gray shirt that says 'Space Cadet' with a cartoon rocket ship and black sweatpants over a pair of dark brown sandals, Kestrel's brown hair is a tousled mess and he's got rings under his eyes. Nonetheless, here he is.

In one hand, a metallic mug with freshly steaming coffee is raised up to his lips as Kestrel steps into the gym properly after a few moments spent surveying the interior from near the entrance. A sigh of relief escapes his lips at the unmanned help desk near the front, as he goes about his business looking over the place without having to be hassled by a sales pitch or, shock horror, actual human contact. He's looking around the place assessingly, whistling a little tune to himself with a practiced (and surprisingly pleasant sounding) little chirp from his lips, which is periodically interrupted by slurps of coffee. He spots Essie, the only person really left in the gym, as he meanders inwards. "Is it always so chill in here?" Kestrel inquires offhandedly in her direction, voice just barely carrying a Southern accent, while he is stepping towards one wall to inspect the rack of free weights with a flick of his dark eyes.

Essie can't help but notice the latest arrival to the Gym that might as well stick out like a sore thumb, although she does try her best to keep her observations as indirect as possible, mostly as an occasional glance into those full length mirrors on the far wall as she settles to stretch out her leg. It's only after said stretch is finished that she turns to give Kestrel a bit of a shrug. "Depends on your definition of chill. Usually more guys trying to see if they can manage to punch each other, but that usually all stays in the ring." That's an awful lot of usually’s but not any guarantees. Her eyebrow does arch up a bit as she takes a closer look at the sweatpants and sandals. "Think there's a planet fitness down the way. Hear they offer pizza occasionally. Or bagels."


The food comment does get a subdued snort of a laugh into Kestrel's coffee as he's raising it up to his lips, finishing the drink and swallowing before he glances at Essie through the mirror in front of him. "I've known you for all of five seconds and you're already recommending me the food poisoning. I see how it is. Don't worry, I'm one Hawaiian shirt and camera on a neck strap away from being a tourist here," he looks down at himself and then back up to the pink-haired woman with a smirk curling his mouth.

“I had a wild thought, just now while I was walking home, 'huh, I wonder what it would be like to win a fight without having to cheat.'" He looks around to some of the pictures on the wall near the reception desk, of the staff and regulars. "Answer seems to be, I'd do a whole lot of getting my ass kicked first." His smirk has faded into more deadpan amusement, though there is a thread of subdued laughter in his voice. "Now I'm just debating how much I can tolerate getting my ass kicked, and how much of it's just the late-night pancakes talking. But hey, sorry, they seem to be unusually talkative. The pancakes." He glances aside to Essie, briefly apologetic, at the abrupt foray into conversation that he's found himself in. And then he's taking one last gulp of his coffee, draining the mug. "I don't suppose..." he mutters to himself thoughtfully, looking around for any percolator that might be set out around here.

"If I was trying to poison you, there'd be a lot of places to send you first besides pizza," Essie gives a bit of a snicker as she hops off the bench, rolling out her shoulders a bit. As much as he talks about being a tourist, she's watching the man like he might be the entertainment, her head tilted and a slightly bemused head shake as Kestrel continues his wondering. "What sorta cheating are we talking about?" There's a world of difference between a sucker punch versus a shiv after all and color her curious. She can't help but snort out laughter at the mention of talkative pancakes. "You drunk? Or just looking to hurl pancakes all over the mat?" He will be in sort of luck as there is a coffee maker behind reception, but who knows how long that pot has been on the burner.

"Don't worry, I'm pretty damned efficient at poisoning myself, no effort from you required," Kestrel responds as he pulls the pot of coffee off the heating element and sniffs it warily, before compressing his lips and pouring himself a refill. Then he's getting out his wallet and taking out a one-dollar bill, folding it and leaving it under the stack of disposable cups. "This might just do the trick," he eyes the coffee warily before getting one of the containers of creamer, pouring it in, and mixing it with the tip of his right pinky finger. Then he's glancing aside to Essie. "Oh, normally I just yell 'look a distraction!' and run away. Pretty solid at that, used to run a lot of track. It's my secret strategy." He sips the coffee cautiously, before shrugging to himself and taking a larger gulp as he turns back around.

"Nah, not drunk. I have an iron-clad rule that says 'never drink alone,' and I am certainly alone and not looking to get into a fight with one of you fine, scary, Mixed Martial Arts people at..." Kestrel pulls out his phone and illuminates the screen long enough to glance at it, "Just past the witching hour." He shrugs, slipping the device back into his sweatpants. "Was just thinking about getting myself into some kind of exercise routine. Get out of the house, you know how it is. Work's been boring, just routine service calls, so here I am, engaging in some late night sleep procrastination." A thin, humorless smile, before a thought flashes in his dark eyes. "Oh, and talking your ear off, apparently. The name's Kestrel, nice ta meetcha, you deserve a medal for hearing that word-vomit from me."

Essie doesn't need to say it because the arch of her brow and the smirk on her face just about screams 'ya think?' when Kestrel mentions being capable of poisoning himself while pouring random coffee. She gives a little shrug at his secret 'cheat'. "That can work, but not really much distraction in here tonight. And helps if you actually name something instead of 'distraction...'" Free pointers tonight along with the coffee. She gives a slow nod as he mentions not wanting to get into fights and the exercise routine. "Picked a pretty bizarre way to look for an exercise routine. They do lessons during the day. I think." She seems a little unsure as if she hasn't actually been to one. "Name's Essie. And word-vomit is better than vomit-vomit." Everybody has their lines and apparently that's one she's not willing to cross tonight.


"Don't worry, Essie. I'm not some frat boy that can't hold his moonshine cruising for a hot date. I had a music gig at Lafitte's a bit ago, little piano and sax duet number, and didn't feel like calling it a night yet. Diners and 24-hour fitness spots are about as entertaining as it gets if you're not trying to get sloshed around here, though. This is my little slice of excitement." Kestrel looks over to the side with a briefly helpless smile, raising an eyebrow in return at the sarcastic smirk on Essie's face. "If the running away doesn't work, then I have to resort to the telekinesis and mind magic, and that never ends well for anyone." He raises up both eyebrows with a too-serious expression before breaking out into a laugh and then taking another sip of his coffee. He's turning around to lean against the table with the coffee machine, having thrown caution to the wind and continued drinking down that sweet portion of sugar and caffeine in his insulated metal coffee mug.

"Avoiding people at this hour is one of the perks. I love the idea of gymnasiums, as they were concepted by the Greeks... I just can't stand closed-in places where a whole bunch of people are sweating up a storm. It's why I never get around to actually attending one, even though I get flights of fancy about learning to box or something." Kestrel raises up the coffee mug in an idle salute to one of the empty octahedral rings in the gym.

"If I were worried, you'd know. And probably then be the one worrying," Essie gives another careless shrug, leaning casually against the side of the ring she had been using just a few moments before. "I don't know. Hear you could always try a midnight walk in the park if you don't mind the goth vampire crowds..." While she may have been grinning with the joke, as he mentions telekinesis and mind magic, the grin disappears as she seriously stares at him as if... how does one even tell if someone is telekinetic without them actively doing telekinesis. "We covered not drunk, but you're not making a good pitch for being drug free, Mister Strange." So close, and yet so far with her comic references! At the last though, she tilts her head a bit curiously. "Well, you found a gym where folks aren't sweating about," and really, despite the fairly energetic bout not that long ago, she seems neither particularly sweaty or winded, "and someone who could perhaps be convinced to give a boxing lesson if it were worth my while."


"Mmm, that's Doctor Strange, PhD to you, ma'am. I worked hard for my degree," the lean man rakes a hand back through his mostly straight brown hair, suddenly serious without missing a beat. "I dated a Vampire once, not really my thing these days. She was great besides the whole 'constantly needing me for little favors' routine that most of 'em get up to. You know the sort, I bet." Kestrel actually sets down his coffee mug on the table next to the gym's coffee machine, apparently not needing the extra brain juice /that/ much at the moment. Without it in his hand, he's folding his arms loosely across his lean chest, turning his attention back towards Essie. "First she just wants your help dealing with a bit of car trouble one night, and then next thing you know, one of her hangers-on has overdosed at one of their cute little blood orgies and she needs a ride to the local alley doctor to restart his heart. Always a mess," he clicks his tongue, disappointed, before inhaling deeply with a scrunch of his nose as his eyes refocus from the memory and he looks back to Essie.

"Oh, sure, lessons. I could do lessons. What makes you sing? Money? Power? Secrets of the dark world underlying our own? Druuuugs?" With a smirk, he exaggerates the last syllable: not exactly a scathing retort to the accusation that he's high as a kite, but definitely poking a bit of fun at the idea. Kestrel spreads his hands with raised eyebrows. "Probably money, huh? Sure, hell, why not. Best time to learn boxing was in high school, second best time is tonight."

Essie blinks as he continues to ramble about the story with this whole vampire business. "Either you've read waaaaay too much Anne Rice, you're one of those Accorded folks, or you're just pulling my leg." Three options and she buries the important one in between. At the offer of what is worth her while, she flat out laughs. "Buddy, you don't have the drugs that float my boat. But I'm a simple girl. Money works well enough." She stands up, setting her water bottle back down. "You are gonna have to lose the shoes though. Would be embarrassing to trip on them and fall on your face."


Stepping out of the sandals, Kestrel rolls his shoulders in a shrug. "I've developed this habit in my years of telling the unfiltered truth to people and seeing how they react. Usually does me pretty well." He notes the mention of the Accords in the middle of Essie's statement with a thin smile, but doesn't comment on it immediately. "And then I don't have to keep track of which parts of my story are drug trip hallucinations and which actually happened, y'know? Great burden laid right off my psyche."

Kestrel is pulling out his wallet a moment later, and then a quarter 'accidentally' falls out of it. "Whoops," goes Kestrel, stage-whisper serious, as it rolls on its side in an ouroboros infinity double-loop, before rolling back towards him. He twitches the index finger of his left hand while it's performing his strange feat of physics, and then it jumps up into his waiting hand as he leans down, with barely any effort, to 'scoop' it up from the floor and drop it back into his wallet. "Girl, I /am/ drugs," he says in Essie's direction with half a grin quirking his mouth, before flexing his now-bare toes on the matted floor of the gym. "So, sandals are ditched, drugs are acquired, how are we doing this?"

"It's a strategy," and one that Essie can't fault as she gives a bit of a nod. Her eyes follow the quarter that falls and then rolls into the gravity defying manuever. She blinks and then after a moment lets out a laugh. "That answers at least part of that anyways." As far as she's concerned. Pulling legs still hasn't been ruled out. She grins at the bold claim, shaking her head a little. "You might be some drugs, but some you still won't cover. But just follow after me." She gives a wink to the man and instead of just slipping under the ropes, she jumps straight up and over, sticking the landing like a gymnast would be proud.

Kestrel gets 1 success on a Strength + Athletics roll to jump into the ring.

"Ah, jeez," Kestrel mutters at the straight jump up and over the ropes from Essie with a raised eyebrow, before exhaling slowly and taking his fancy smartphone and black leather wallet out of his pockets and placing them on top of the sandals he'd removed a moment before. He bends his knees and manages to get himself a decent amount of lift, not clearing the top of the ropes but getting enough spring to roll underneath them and into the ring. "Whoo. Gotta get that shame adrenaline going," he grumbles to himself as he pops up to his feet with a surprising amount of agility for a guy who doesn't fight or hit the gym. There's a faint redness to his cheeks from the obviously lackluster performance, but it's not the first time he's been embarrassed and it certainly won't be the last, so he just shrugs it off. "Alright, sensei, your grasshopper is here and waiting," Kestrel quips, dark eyes attentively on Essie.

Essie is certainly not the biggest patron of the gym (just look at those pictures on the wall), but she's definitely well acquainted to a little showing off. Actions speak louder after all. She at least mostly manages to rein any joy at the mutter to just a grin and a sparkle of mischief in her eyes as she waits and watches the attempt up, which wouldn't be bad if she hadn't set the bar so damn high with her own jumping standards. The mischief-spark just grows at the quip. "After that jump? Don't think you can call yourself grasshopper just yet. I can tutor on that too if you want." She gives a wink before she easily slips into a basic fighting stance, bouncing slightly. "First things first, all about how you hold yourself. Wanna be light on your feet, on the balls of them really. If you just try and root yourself and swing, they'll topple you right over."


"One painful commitment at a time, thank you. I want to have use for my legs for the foreseeable future, not suffer from hideous cramps and have to go around in a wheelchair. Next thing you know, I'll end up balding, and that's the end of me." Kestrel shakes his head vigorously, though his eyes do keenly consider the stance that Essie falls into and he tries to mimic it as best he can. His form is still stiff at the knees and elbows, but he's not locked up on his feet either. He's been in a few dangerous situations, anyway, and ran away fast enough to resolve them. "Okay, don't get knocked over and stay light on my feet, got it." He tries grape-vine stepping a few times to adjust his posture on the balls of his feet. Still, maybe it's the freshness of the environment or just the weird spontaneity of the situation, but he's juuust a bit too awkward at it.

"There are worse guys to be than Professor X," Essie gives a grin even as she moves her left foot in front, wincing just a little at the awkward footwork, but nothing too awful that she's stepping in with corrections yet. "Right handed? You'll wanna put your other foot forward, like this." She taps her lead foot as an example. "And the next one's a biggy. Never, ever toss a punch with your thumb in the middle of your fist unless you wanna break it. Put your thumb over the knuckles and keep your wrist straight."

Looking down at his fist, Kestrel inhales and curls up his fingers, taking a moment to intentionally place the thumb on the outside. "Thumb on the outside," he mutters mostly to himself, as if this rote act will help him remember. "Got it. I like my thumbs not broken, me." He swings the fist a bit, a bit too circular but involving the elbow somewhat at least. He slides his footwork into a shuffle after this, correcting his stance a bit and trying to lean down more. He's not comfortable with it, activating muscles that haven't gotten a work out in... well, a while, but he makes the effort. "So you're saying there's a real chance I might actually punch someone. That's encouraging."

"Most people do," Essie nods but lets out a tsk at the circling. "Windmill isn't really a good strategy, definitely not like that. You're gonna want to just go for a jab to begin with. Twist your hip forward, lean into it to get more power." She slowly demonstrates how to throw a Proper (tm) punch. At the last, she gives a laugh and a wink. "There's a good chance you might try, but whether you actually hit is up to you. Take your time and your best shot at me. Don't worry about holding back, I can take it. I'm the expert, right?"

Imitating the proper posture, Kestrel shadowboxes the air a few times with gradually increasing confidence. Then he nods, before clearing his throat. "Alright, then. Here we go." He's stepping in and striking, not /completely/ without form... but not much better than someone who's never been in a bar brawl. At least, someone who's never thrown a real punch in a bar brawl. Relying on his supernatural powers has definitely made Kestrel soft... which was the whole point of the lesson. He can't back down now. His punch is obviously telegraphed and easy to read though, and he's definitely not packing much trained force behind it.

Kestrel rolls a Brawl attack and misses.

Essie easily slips right on under that punch, perhaps unnaturally nimble. And while he's still in the process of swinging, she reaches out to give a nice, solid tap to his side. Enough to sting a little bit, but shouldn't do any permanent damage besides giving a reminder. "The more important thing is never let your guard down. Whoever said the best defense is a good offense was a liar. Or just wanted to beat you easier." She's grinning as she slips back to her previous position, lightly bouncing on her feet yet again. "Think you can do better the next time?"

Essie gets 1 success on a pulled punch to deal 1 bashing to Kestrel.

"Agh," Kestrel hisses lightly through his teeth at being struck, but rather than shy away from the pain... there's something lighting up in his eyes. Some kind of madness, and its accompanying intensity. "You know, it might be time for a punching bag, back at the house," he mutters to himself, realigning his posture after it had been shaken by the blow he received from Essie. "If I can't do any better after only a few repetitions, I really oughta just give up at Life, huh?" He steps in to swing again, this time putting more force behind the blow. It's not exactly confidence, but he's definitely getting into the fight more.

The punch impacts firmly on Essie's sternum... and then there's a moment as Kestrel's wrist twists at a weird angle and he yelps abruptly, leaping backwards on both feet. "What are you /made/ of?!"

Kestrel takes 2 bashing from his own voluntary dramatic failure to punch Essie.

That was a LIGHT tap, but still Essie watches closely to make sure the man is holding up cause you never know. She gives a nod about the punching bag. "Worst case, you have it around whenever you need a good bout of cathartic wailing on things. Just remember the thumb thing." But then he's lining up for another punch and she's getting ready to take the impact which actually manages to surprise her and catch her square on the sternum. She doesn't even wince as he's yelping back, but she does come out of the fighting stance, running a hand bashfully along the back of her head. "Uhhh... not rubber, clearly?"

"Damn," Kestrel hisses through his teeth, shaking out his wrist for a few moments before balling his hand back up into a fist experimentally. "I think I'll take my chances with the punching bag. You have abs of steel, Essie. No joke, that's wild." He rolls his shoulders slowly, looking at his injured hand with a raised eyebrow before looking back towards his teacher, who is apparently also physically a lethal weapon. "So... you wanna teach me how to kick now? Might be a good time. Gotta start my ass-kicking legacy somewhere, after all, and my wrist isn't going to be doing any lifting." he says pointedly, both eyebrows raised in a moment of 'how is that even possible?'.

"Yeah..." Essie gives a reluctant nod of agreement. "But you're one to talk Mr. Makes Quarters Fly." They're both mutant weirdos here. Her head tilts a bit at the suggestion of continued tutelage. "You really don't know when to quit, do you? And kicks... they look cool and can be useful, but they're super risky. Unless someone's on the ground, as a beginning you're more likely to get your leg caught and used against you. Grappling would probably be phase two but..." Her eyes glance down pointedly to his injured wrist. "Can get some ice if you need it?"

"It's all right, thanks. If I gave up because I punched my instructor and she was too tough, I'd have to go and promptly commit seppuku and end myself. It's in the rules somewhere. I read 'em yesterday. Think it was right under 'when in doubt, apply drugs, explosives, or both.'" Flexing his hand again, Kestrel grits his teeth before forcing a smile out as he tunes out the pain. "Yeah... I don't like to give things up until I've mastered them. And getting humiliatingly whipped into shape like this has been... enlightening, anyway. Certainly better than having it happen during a bar fight." He shrugs. "Anyway, normally I cheat. Shoot a handful of spare change at a guy, trip 'em up. But I'm not about to give up from just this much, doing things the 'fair' way, huh?" He clears his throat, then settles back into a posture for another punch. "Alright, here I go. Try not to be so damn metallic."

Kestrel gets 2 successes on a Brawl roll, still not enough to get through Essie’s armor.

"I'd switch the order maybe, but you do you!" Essie will at least support the explosives, as long as they're not endangering her own well being. Despite all the talk about cheating, he does give her enough warning to be watching for the punch. Being so dang metallic isn't something she can really turn off, but she can turn to the side so he manages to hit a more fleshy part of her arm... which still doesn't seem to phase her much even though it was a solid hit. "You're getting a bit better... but life isn't always fair..." And while she might be trying to go for a grapple, apparently the psychic is more nimble than she had experted and she ends up with a swing and a miss of her own.

Essie tries to grapple Kestrel and misses.

"Oh, no, no, /no./" Kestrel is not about to get locked up in a grab, reflexively. "Is it time to learn grapples?" He tilts his head to the side, wincing preemptively as he already knows the answer to that question. "Your steel abs are going to crush me, pop me like a melon. Totally one-sided. My abs are, like... cardboard. Syrofoam, maybe. Not steel, no siree." he mutters to himself, lamentingly and with a deep-seated sorrow. Then he straightens his back, exhales a long breath, and steps forward to assume a more ready stance with his hands up. "Alright. So how would grappling work, if I didn't suck?"

Reflexes can be good! At least some of the times, but Kestrel's seem to be alright today. Essie laughs a bit at the mention of being abs crushing. "It's not really the abs that would do the crushing, more the arms or legs." She gives a shrug when he looks like he's going to decline, but then brightens just a bit when it seems he reconsiders. "Well, step one is to get a good hold on your opponent. You can then take 'em down to the ground and use some body weight against them. Ground game is important. Also makes it easier to get some cheap shots in."

"It's just an expression, turn of phrase..." Kestrel mutters, mostly to himself, at the note about being crushed by Essie's arms or legs instead. That's not particularly more comforting. Nonetheless, he braces himself, and goes in for the grapple. 'Body weight?' Against Iron Woman? Yeah right. Nonetheless, today's the day that he's falling on his sword for this one... might as well take it all the way to the end. "Alright, here we go..." he psyches himself up, moving in on adrenaline-quick feet. Kestrel gets 1 success on a grapple initiation. Essie wins the contested grapple by 1 success to Kestrel’s no successes.

Is this a trap? Kestrel does manage to get a hold on Essie, but it's only for a minute. Cybernetics and military training really helps to turn the tables because while he's got a hold on them, she's holding back and bring the both of them down, but at least she's not squishing anybody yet, falling mostly on her own side. "Getting up or away is the hard part."

Being taken to the ground isn't too terrible on the octahedron: at least it's not an asphalt road. Or at least, that's what Kestrel tells himself as he's brought down with a loud 'thump' and an exhale of breath, which he promptly inhales to try recovering again. "Mmm, I noticed!" He manages to speak out through his exertion, attempting to practice that mantra of 'body weight' that Essie had been talking about before to turn the tables and shift his center of gravity up and away from the ground.

Kestrel spends a willpower and gets 1 success on the contested grapple check to Essie’s 3 successes.

Body weight works just fine if you're Essie. She slips to the side, pinning the man down with her legs and grabbing his arm for a hold. It might not be a choke hold, but firm enough for the moment. "You can tap out whenever you want." Or try to escape, which is looking a little unlikely at the moment.

Kestrel grits his teeth and weighs his situation... or the weight that's pinning him to the mat. "Yeah," he reaches to tap out against the ring, "..don't gotta tell me twice." Not that he's out of fight, but he knows a losing situation when he sees it. He can feel the stark difference between the two of them... and Essie is way stronger and more practiced at this than he is. No sense going into work with a limp and a sprained wrist tomorrow. "Well," Kestrel exclaims, laying back with a tousle of hair falling across part of his face as he stares at the ceiling, and then aside at Essie, "I think I've just achieved enlightenment. Serious bodhisattva status shit. What a rush." He clears his throat, expression turning towards a smirk. "Some people are just cut out for winning. And then there's me, cut out for cheating through my teeth."

As soon as Kestrel taps the mat, Essie releases his wrist and slips herself free, offering a hand in case he needs help up. "You didn't do half bad, for a beginning. But still a long way to go." She gives a grin and a wink. "Cheating also sounds like an option. Especially if you got more of those mind trick things up your sleeve. Under your hat?" She gives a bit of a shrug as she sits back, watching.

Kestrel isn't so proud as not to accept the offered hand from Essie, using the leverage to lift himself back up to his feet with a quiet sound of exertion. "Hey, thanks. I'll take the condolence prize. Normally my thing is thinking, looking stuff up in my library, solving ghost problems or thievin' gremlin infestations. But..." He presses his lips together as he prepares to pass judgment on the MMA experience, head tilting to the side as he meets Essie's eyes for a moment, "I will say it's more exciting than jogging." His solemn expression briefly breaks into a grin. "Though it might just be the excessive coffee. Normally I can't be bothered to give a damn, but I'm well into 'delirious and past caring' territory, so my normal sense of shame and dignity's all torn up tonight."

He tilts his head. "So, what, you do the tutoring thing a lot? I wouldn't mind some lessons. I've got free weights at home and hanging up a punching bag's not too difficult, but aside from, like... Youtube videos or whatever, actual instruction's probably going to get me further. And you seem like you've had real training, not mall karate." Sure, the content of the lesson was basic, but he tested Essie's competence first-hand.

"It's at least a prize," Essie gives a bit of a laugh and perhaps more rewarding, she does at least breath a little harder than normal, so some exertion may have been required! When he's passing judgement, she gives another look around the gym and gives a bit of a shrug. "This at least is pretty tame. Nobody shooting anybody up with super soldier serum or anything. And if jogging isn't exciting, you just haven't made it challenging enough. There's always rooftops." That grin turns just a little bit wicked at the thought before she turns to considering the offer. "Haven't really done it professionally, no. But I pick up a lot of things from time to time. Gig economy, guess you could say. Everything depends on the pay rate."


"Serum, huh?" Kestrel raises up his eyebrows briefly before nodding a bit to himself, a quiet 'huh' escaping his lips along with an exhale. "You're right, my drugs ain't got anything on that. I'm a lightweight." A brief but genuine smile does pass across his lips here, distinct from the practiced sarcasm he's been throwing out all evening. "Still, though, I actually had fun. If you're looking to teach, I'd be happy to call you sensei any day. Or evening. Well, some evenings, the ones where I'm not drinking myself into oblivion or otherwise forgetting the world exists. I can do some evenings, is my point. Up to you, though. I could just pay you in bar tabs, if you prefer. I get pretty sweet discounts, on account that I play at most of the jazz and blues bars around town."

Kestrel goes over to retrieve his wallet, phone, and sandals, slipping his bare feet back into the footwear. "A deal's a deal, though. You got Venmo or one of those mobile banking bits? I'll give you my number, you can just bill me on that."

"Like I said, it's a might specific drug," Essie says with a grin that doesn't quite reach the seriousness in her eyes. "But think I get my feel of substances, either way." She'll follow him out the rink, taking the normal path of slipping under the ropes with no need to show off any. "Yeah, I got a Venmo. That sounds good. And I'll let you know some night I'm free in case that'll work for another lesson."

"I look forward to explaining why I've got black eyes or a cut lip. I can really practice my 'fallen down some stairs' routine with this one," Kestrel offers up with a shake of his head, walking over to where he left the mug. He's about to outstretch his hand and call it to him... but he remembers this is a public space and there might be cameras, so he's got to do it the difficult way. Finishing up what's left of the coffee in a gulp, he turns back towards Essie. "Well, nice meetin' ya, Essie. I better head home and call it quits for the night, don't think I'll have much trouble sleeping after that. Same goes the other way, too. You got any weird problems, give me a call. I'm not exactly the Ghostbusters but I could be worse." He raises the empty coffee mug up in salute towards his new pink-haired sensei, and then he starts making his way out of the gym and back towards where he parked his car on the street.