1964-10-01 - Well Played
Summary: The old man and junior spar.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
strange vic 

The young man gets to use a physical war-fan, steel-spined and -ribbed. It's a beautiful weapon, its metal silver and its webbing black silk, strong and resilient despite its gloss. The elder has a Mystical construct in his own hand, its lines all golden magic and patterned in a lacework far more esoteric than a simple knitting.

"It is both weapon and shield," Strange is explaining in the sparring room upstairs in the Sanctum. Padded flooring and the charm of a mirrored wall makes it complete; the windows letting in faint light are a trick in the end. He flicks the tieshan in his hand open to half-circle, a full one-hundred and eighty degrees of bright light. "Don't rely too heavily on either aspect or it becomes a weakness." The Sorcerer is in Gi pants and a white t-shirt, barefooted and delightfully lacking his usual formality in the case of his son.

Vic handles the shield with care, and he makes a good student. He watches, he listens. He doesn't try to play pranks. He's dressed much like his dad, a chip off the old block. "Balance in all things," he ventures as he gives the fan a flick. He flubs it a little, frowns, and tries it again. There, that's much better form. "This is so neat to handle," he says. "The way it just moves with you." With a grin, he adds, "Way classier than what I'm used to, but you never know when a good old-fashioned crowbar will come in handy."

Strange snorts, the sound still to be considered a laugh for the half-smile.

"A crowbar could be used in a similar fashion, though it lacks the shielding aspect in the end." Settling himself into a stable stance beside Vic, one foot before the other and knees lightly bent, the Sorcerer flicks his own fan shut. Unlike Vic's metal-ribbed weapon, the collapse is almost silent but for a fritzing crackle of energy; each drop or closure of the black-silk fan causes a ringing, like someone running a tea spoon along the bars of a fine bird cage.

"A simple set of forms then, to show its myriad uses. Watch first and then we'll run through it step by step, hmm?"

Vic's fan closes with a whisper of metal. For a newbie, he's got a decent hand. This is what happens when one listens to one's teacher. He assumes a relaxed stance, closed fan in hand, and he watches Strange attentively. "I can see some of what I learn here translating to crow bars, too," he says. "I'm just speaking in turns of using what you have on hand, right?" He rocks a little, foot to foot, loosening up some. "All right, ready."

"Creativity with one's surroundings is a great skill and weapon in itself," Strange replies, nodding.

Centered over his hips, the silver-templed man then collapses the Mystical tieshan wide again; to an opponent, it would blur any movement of the torso behind. Rotating his fan-hand inwards, the punch comes in a rapid point of invisible impact, its intent clearly to be a sudden and surprise assault. Collapsing the fan means the sudden flick and appearance in his other hand even as he follows up with a whipping high-kick meant to take out an opponent at the chin or perhaps send them stumbling with a well-planted hit to the chest. The other fan follows, slicing across the air.

Ah, from feint to weapon, the shift. After-light blurs like the tail of a comet from the tieshan and then it's collapsed to a thin gathering. Strange takes a step back, forearm up to block a blow, and then angles the fan. The crook would catch at a limb, perhaps crank it awkwardly or painfully to the side, and then another fast straight punch to an undefended flank.

Unwinding the point of contact means a quick step-back and then Strange flicks the tieshan wide again, bringing the concept about to shielding at the last.

Vic watches every moment, so serious-faced. His teachers must love him if he gives them the same fullness of his attention. He bites his lip, and though he's still in 'pay attention to Dad' mode, there are subtle movements, none quite followed through upon, as he tries to suss out what has been done. Flick the fan open, hide the punch… "I think I've got it," he says.

Retracting himself into that beginning stance well-grounded and source of potential for all forms of motion, Strange glances over at Vic.

"Go on then, show me what you've got." He's got a lop-sided smile on, dimpling a little, and flicks his Mystical tieshan shut even as he remains in his posture. It seems to be an easy habit.

Vic assumes the starting position, and he nods a little to himself as he goes over it in his head. Centered over his hips, he opens the tieshan wide, and he rotates his hand inward. The punch is swift and precise. Dizzingly so. If he hits someone like that, they're going to be surprised.

He moves slowly next, working through his memory and translating visuals into physical movement. The high kick he executes well, but the handwork with his fan could use subtlety. He gets the job done, but there's elegance to be learned. One can't fault his balance, though. He's got it in spades.

There's that kick, then the slice. He moves so slowly when he's working with the fan, its unfamiliarity creating caution, but the next punch? As dizzyingly fast as the first. He comes to rest then with the fan in its shielding position. Then he gives Strange a hopeful look.

"Good. Again, faster this time."

Strange reaches out and taps at the young man's fan-wrist lightly with the golden-light tieshan. "Mind your angles. They project your intentions to an experienced foe. Flow through the motions."

Vic nods quickly and assumes the starting stance again, chin lifted. This time, he flows through it much more easily. Maybe not supernaturally intelligent, but bright all the same. A quick learner. This time the tilt of his fan-hand is subtler, the punch still as precise, then a smooth transfer of hands, a strong and balanced kick, the swift punch that would take out someone's flank. If there's any major critique, it would be how mechanical the movements are. Still, that's the cost of inexperience. One could grow out of it.

The Sorcerer nods, his gaze returning to Vic's face after having watched the youth run through the motions.

"Good. Again," he repeats, calm and quietly-spoken. "Practice makes perfect." What he won't explain if that he's going to begin to move about the room. To fidget. To flick the golden flash of tieshan open at unpredictable times simply to attempt to jar the young man from the motions he runs through.

He begins the process of walking around in front of Vic, beyond reach of any punch or kick, but barely so. Another thing to test, whether or not the Mote will commit so much to the action that he might feel the air disturbed near his skin.

"Is my form all right?" Vic asks as he goes into the kata again. Then he grimaces. Of course if his form wasn't good, Dad would say something. He sets himself to the task with more determination. Another failing amidst his admittedly impressive dexterity and ability to comprehend basic combat (punching, kicking), is the need to impress. He's trying very hard to do it exactly the way Dad did. His natural grace compensates for that to a degree, but it's definitely a liability.

The youth does well, given that the forms are completed with what grace he can manage. Strange does his thing, moving about, flicking the tieshan open and closed in peripheral vision to trigger the most primal of human instincts to glance at possible danger.

"Your form will improve with further repetition," he replies to Vic, still no more energetic that the placid surface of a slow-moving river. Ah, but still waters run deep, as the young man well knows.

Vic does know well, and he gives his father a sidelong glance. A small smile touches his lips, and he relaxes as he goes through the movement again. The ease in punching and kicking is starting to bleed into ease with the fan. He will still need to practice just opening and closing it ad infinitum, but there are first timers who have certainly done worse.

"I like this," he says, "the way it quiets the mind. Sometimes I've got so much going on in there I feel like I'm rushing all the time. It's nice to stop and have one thing to focus on." He's in the middle of a move, so sure things are hectic for a young man.

"I find the same solace in meditation — and Tai Chi," his father replies as he paces around behind Vic, watching his actions with an experienced eye. He taps the Mystical tieshan on his palm as he comes into view again. "To release all worries but for completion of the strikes and the surety of the flow. It's a kind of peace. Once more and then I'll summon up a construct. It'll allow you to experience first-hand the influence of your actions and to defend as necessary. It won't hurt you. I wouldn't allow that." Nope, not in his house. Er, mansion.

Vic is a good son, and that's why he doesn't say anything about how he can't truly be hurt, not permanently anyway. Nope, he wouldn't say that for anything. He merely nods and says, "All right," and he hits his Dad with the full brunt of that guileless grin. He finishes the kata, then begins again seamlessly. "I might try to learn Tai Chi too," he says. "It sounds relaxing. There's a lot of stress that goes into having a body."

Let the cub beam; the hoary-maned lion simply observes, marking what subtle changes have come of repetition. All positives, in the end. The subtle hesitation borne of uncertainty has mostly passed.

"There are a handful of groups who meet regularly at the Park. They may be moving inside soon due to the weather, but I would send you there first if you're truly interested in learning Tai Chi." The tieshan collapsed is suddenly lifted like a conductor's baton. A few small runes drawn upon empty air summons up the translucent human form in shadow. Like smoke garnered substance, it's androgynous and bows to Vic before assuming a balanced pose not unlike his father did not minutes past.

"It'll move as soon as you commit to the kata," Strange explains. "Block the attacks, return the blows, finish it out." Vic will find that his war-fan, fists, and feet will make contact with the construct; it, however, will rush over him if given chance to 'connect', leaving behind the lingering sensation of numbness to mark places where, in reality, he would have been wounded.

"I am," Vic says, those big blue eyes so very sincere. Painfully so. "I want to learn Tai Chi and maybe meditation." He wants to be more like Dad. He steps back and watches with quiet awe as Strange sketches out a form in shadow. He awkwardly bows back to it.

Nodding again to Strange, he gets his serious face on, and he takes up a loose stance. Then he flicks his fan into a semi-circle, turning his hand just so to guard his body. The punch comes swift and hard. A human would be blow back and maybe have a broken rib or two as a souvenir. He's a strong boy.

Swift, too. Graceful. It's his lack of practice that lets the shadow connect once in awhile. He grimaces, shaking the numbness off one arm. It slows him down for that second punch, but he reacts on instinct and the fan slashes the shadow before coming to shield the youth again.

The shadow-warrior acts precisely as its creator stated earlier. Punches by the Mote land, but indeed, the mistakes show. The numbness lingers, not too unlike pins and needles, a potent reminder for enough time that one must acknowledge their error, intentional or not.

The blur of war-fan slices through the torso of the shadow-warrior, erasing its smoky existence not too unlike rag on a chalkboard; the mirror on the back wall shows through. It retreats once the kata's done, all points of successful attack left on its body.

"Meditation may be an easier place to start, though if your druthers are movement, Tai Chi is about controlling it." From where he stands, off to one side, the Mystical tieshan is dismissed with another casual flick of his wrist. It dissolves to firefly motes that die out as they fall into nothing. "Your arm would be broken if not fractured where the construct touched you. Laceration was likely as well. Next, it would have targeted your other arm after disarming you and you would have been at its mercy." He lets Vic digest this before adding, with a small smile, "You may also spar against me, if you're feeling your oats. You won't injure me. However, I will only pull my blows enough to avoid injuring you in turn."

Vic may be a sweet and thoughtful boy, but he's also a young man full of vitality and health, and who, deep deep down, doesn't harbor secret dreams of overthrowing the old man? Even saintly children are still human. "Sure, we could spar," Vic says. Steady hands close the fan.

There's a small faltering. He may be feeling his oats, but he's also aware of just who his dad is, and he says, "But go easy on me. I've never done this before. All I know is dirty fighting." He flashes his pop a smile. "I threw a dumpster at some bad guys once. Not very disciplined but it got the job done."

He takes up a loose stance again. "All right. Are we going to go through the kata again?"

"A dumpster would do it," the Sorcerer replies after a quiet laugh or two. "Yes, we'll go through the kata. I'm going to deflect your blows, to show how you may see an enemy do the same."

Stepping around front of Vic, he then settles himself into that same balanced readied stance seen earlier. No fan in his hands to be seen — though be wary, little Mote, it's but a willing away in the case of the silver-haired mentor.

"Once you've completed it, I'll then attempt to break through your defense." And by attempt, he absolutely means put the youth on his toes to keep from being swatted. Scarred hands rise, wrists angled and fingers held in slack readiness, and await action. "Go when you're ready." He nods, a little twinkle to be found in the depth of his steely-blues.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d100 for: 35

Vic assumes the position again. He's still happy with his work with the shadow being. He did well. Vic generally does things every well, so well he's unaccustomed to failure. He's also unaccustomed to coming up against the Sorcerer Supreme. He goes through the kata, he does everything that heretofore he's supposed to do, but sometimes your arms are just too short to box with God.

He ends up on his ass. That swat smarts, and he sits there blinking, as if to say how did this happen? It's a moment of defining character. What does he do now that he's tasted failure? That he's lost the fight? That he's lost, period? He grimaces, and he's careful with his fan as he gets back to his feet. He dusts himself off, and he musters a small, weak smile. "I left an opening on my flank," he says. Yeah, he knows what he did wrong. He exhales sharply, then squares his shoulders. He's ready for another go.

Deflections come at the long-bones, the strength buried under lean muscle as is. The punch, with the speed and confidence of youth emerging from behind the steel-boned fan, is deflected by the precision of experience. Skin slides on skin and then comes another forced change of angle — and another. The closed fan and attempt at hooking is avoided and countered with a brief catch in turn, released for the instinctive retreat.

The swat comes when the kick is easily caught, the youth's ankle grasped in scarred hands that show no trembling for the amount of keen focus required to spar in this style. Open ribs are considered, options weighed, and WHOP — a cupped-hand swat indeed, right on the revealed line of torso. A twist to throw off the balance in the same direction of collapsing form and Strange dances back, two light steps, and settles into a defensive stance once more.

Indeed, the taste of failure is sour (sometimes in his past case, metallic; bloody lips hurt way back when as an apprentice!), and he watches Vic swallow his pride silently.

"Yes, you would be dead," he replies, lacking judgment in tone. A beat. "If you could die, that is." There, a pinch of a Dad ribbing, because the man can't help it. "We can repeat the kata or free-spar. It'd be as I spar with my apprentice, this street-fighting, as you call it."

Vic says wryly, "Still trying to avoid that." No dying. It hurts. Not just in the body, but in a way Vic can't bring himself to tell anyone: the pain of being dragged back from that perfect state of peace, of completion. If there is a Heaven, he never gets to stay there. Better off not to taste what he can't eat.

He walks off the wallop, flashing his dear old dad a grin. "Street-fighting sounds fun. How easy are we going to be on each other?" Part of him wants to show off how hard he can beat things up, but he doesn't want to hurt the old man.

"I'm not looking to make you bleed," Strange replies plainly. "Your mother might not approve." Might. Then again, if at the practice room door, she might also lean on the lintel of the door-frame and comment about pragmatism and really cuffing the kid across the room because enemies won't hold back their blows. Mom knows best…?

"You're welcome to attempt what you will. However, make note, Vic, that if you cause pain, I won't hold back. You may not like it." Hurt the old man at your own risk, he seems to imply, composed confidence in every line of his stance. "The point is not to cause injury. I have nothing to prove, only to teach."

Vic grins. He has the best mom. Willing to wallop out of love. Hey, Mom might want them to go for the pain, maybe? She also might want Vic to do as his father says, and that's Vic's guiding principle. "All right," he says. He paces as he considers his approach. Quick eyes take in his surroundings for places he can use to his advantage, things he can use as shield or weapon. The city is his ally when he fights, or his enemy. It all depends on the setting.

He moves like a young predator, a smooth stride and fleet of foot. A normal person wouldn't stand a chance against him. Normal people simply don't move like this. To the old silvery-maned lion, he's probably a quaint cub.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d100 for: 28

|ROLL| Strange +rolls 1d100 for: 67

'Old' is relative, especially in this family. 'Old'? Dignified, maybe. Brutally experienced, in a facet akin to the Mote's mother, since it's either survive the encounter in another dimension or die in utter agony, the enemy always attempting to make a point through the messiest death possible for the man. Pfft, Sorcerer Supreme, still squishable. In his own home, on his own turf? Vic doesn't know half of the tricks up the man's t-shirt sleeves.

Muscles flex as he shifts, never ceasing to present his front and those readied hands towards the youth. The least amount of energy expenditure possible, smoothest motions — why waste effort when one can land a single, cataclysmic blow and end it all right then and there? His is a patient approach, the snake waiting to strike.

The sparring room won't help in the least. There are no extra objects to distract or aid. Simply padded flooring and walls save for the one mirrored length, reflecting their intentions back in crystal clarity.

"Mind your approach," Strange murmurs, a toothy grin mostly concealed but for the flash of ivory from behind gently-curling lips.

This is sub-optimal. Vic relies on things people leave laying around and the variation in building design. Even a window ledge to balance upon would be something. Vic circles Strange, looking for an opening. His hands are up to defend himself, but when one can take a shot to the flank, one tends not to protect them very well. Or his vitals. There's a kidney for the taking.

He's so focused on trying to find an opening to attack his pop, he's not paying enough attention to himself. It's just a matter of patience to get him this way. Finally, he lashes out with a kick that, were he putting power behind it, could put some more schmuck through a wall. It's a fine kick, but he doesn't defend well as he delivers it.

The opposite leg this time, leading with some strength. Nice and fast, absolutely able to knock someone unprepared to their behind — with more force, one might expect some heavy bruising, perhaps even some dented ribs if landed in the tenderest area. Alley-thugs, beware. Strange deflects the kick and as Vic's force of motion carries him through, there's a quick motion on his part.

A scarred fingertip flicks the end of the youth's nose impertinently, hard enough to create a muted sound and maybe enough to make him sneeze. No blood, of course. Dear 'old' Dad did promise after all. Lightly, he steps away, his bare feet impacting the mat with minimal noise, and readies himself with a small smile quirking his lips.

"You telegraphed the move. Not faster, but blend the motions," Strange offers as feedback.

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d100 for: 33

|ROLL| Vic +rolls 1d20 for: 20

Vic doesn't expect to win the first few rounds — if any, ever — but the force of the blow floors him. What exactly counts as 'hurt' in these matches!? Oof! Down on his rear he goes, and his healing kicks in. It's not instantaneous, but he'll be okay in a few. Still, it was unexpected, and it changes the game.

Then he's flicked, and he blinks a few times, and he clamps his hand over his nose. "Ow!" he says, more startled than hurt. He sniffles, wrinkles his nose, and rubs at it. It takes him a second to suppress the urge to sneeze that won't quite manifest. He gets to his feet, groans, and rolls his shoulders. "All right, Dad, I'll work on that."

And boy, does he ever. The strike comes sneaky. It's all perfect timing. Serendipity, as he's called. He's walking away from Strange to take up his stance again, supposedly, but then he speeds up, abnormally fast, runs not into the wall but onto it, circling round and springing from the side in the time it should've taken to turn around and take up a stance.

In one continuous motion, he hooks a hand around Strange's hip, pulling on his center of gravity, pulling it over and down. As he goes by, so it flips the Sorcerer Supreme over. On the floor, the strapping youth's arm over the back of his shoulders with one arm behind his back, held firm. A painless takedown, and one in a freakin' million.

Not to downplay the boy's skill. He has the chops. But this kind of sneak attack isn't going to work twice, not now that Dad knows he can run fast enough to spring off walls.

Immediately, Vic lets go of Strange and rolls to his feet, then offers Dad a hand up. His first mistake. "How was that?" he asks, utterly sincere.

"You'll need to. I could have bloodied your nose or even shoved your septal cartilage and nasal bone up into your skull. Near-instant death." Strange delivers this news with a rather grave expression, settled into his stance with the certainty of long-practice.

Then comes the sudden lash-out. Son of a bitch, but the kid is fast when he puts his mind to it! Must come from the conceptualization of the Mote within, a touch of photon's blurring dance. With a WHOOFT! of sound, he's on his stomach, the mild crank of an arm telling him that he's down one natural weapon. The moment is fleeting, but makes an impression and therein lies the future plan: turn the walls to jelly next time. It'd be funny as the seven hells to see Vic do an imitation of a blue-bottle bug on fly-paper.

Ah, the offered hand. Strange gives the youth a half-smirk, vaguely rueful, and takes the offered hand.

Therein lies the rub.

A yank, a complimentary shift in body weight — the fling of Vic's body overtop his dad's shifting stance gives the momentum needed for Strange to follow through on his roll while also changing the angle of flight to slam the kid into the padded floor. A knee to the Mote's sternum and a hand spread with firm lack of closure across Vic's throat makes the Sorcerer's point clear even as he softly says,

"Well-played, Vic, but do not offer an enemy kindness. They will kill you."

Quickly enough, the Sorcerer slips back, putting a kick and half's reach between himself and the youth, before straightening up. "Still…well-played." Dad's pleased, in a roundabout way.

Vic erfs as he's slammed. He really need to be trained in combat sense; he just doesn't see it coming. He's offering a hand to Dad, then he's on his back, staring up at him as his hands close instinctively over the hand at his throat. He struggles, but nope, he's not going anywhere.

"Urk. Okay, Dad," he says in a rasp. Then he grins. Dad said well-played! He has no idea there are thoughts of jelly walls, but the vigor of youth is no match against old age and treachery.

He springs to his feet when the Sorcerer slips back. He's still grinning, ear to ear. "Thanks," he says, impossibly pleased. Still, though, not strutting. Proud, but not prideful.

Strange smiles back from where he stands, though indeed, there's experience and wiles to smooth it out to something more paternal in amusement in the end.

"Don't let it go to your head. I suspect your mother would have been far more aggressive in her actions. Let's call it at that," he adds, rolling shoulders and stretching arms briefly above his head. The flexion of well-worked thews comes and goes. "Any questions?"

Vic ducks his head and says, "Okay, Dad." He paces, not restlessly, but merely for the joy of movement. Having a body. It's the little things that matter. He thinks about the matter of questions. "Will you teach me how to guard my flank on that kata? I'm not quite getting it right. Is there anything I can practice that'll get me watching my ribs?"

He considers more. Hrm. "I'll think of a million more later," he laments. "Thanks for today, Dad." For being tossed around, bruised, kicked, flung. "That was cool."

"You're welcome, Vic." Strange watches the youth pace, recognizing little flecks of himself, those steely shards that make him irrevocably his own person to be found in another form. How…harrowing, in a way. No small wonder he's reminded from time to time of his younger brother. "We can revisit the guards during our next lesson, if you wish to focus on that. It's more effective to practice it actively than hear me lecture on the concept. Words tend to take back-seat precedence when you're engaged in hand-to-hand combat."

"I'm still going to look for some books on Tai Chi," he says. I mean just to put myself in the mind frame for when it comes time to learn on the floor." He smiles at Strange, hauntingly familiar and completely unintentional. "But yeah, I'd like to focus on my flank. I'm pretty sure there's no nice way to die by having a kidney gouged out." And he's had a shattered hip. No thanks.

"What do you want me to do between now and our next lesson?" he asks. That's what every question in his head boils down to anyway.

"We'll focus on the flank next time," the Sorcerer promises, walking past Vic and over to the wall by the door. An impress upon the wood and it collapses out a shelf to reveal a collection of white towels, meant to wipe away sweat…or blood. He idly throws one about his neck and then tosses one in Vic's direction.

"Continue sparring with your friends, with members of the Contingency. Your edge lies in the 'dirty' combat styles, in utilizing your environment. Mine is a more formalized approach, though no less effective. Take what you will from it, in the end. Specialization can be a weakness." Strange towels at the back of his neck, into the silvered temples and overtop his scalp, lightly mussing his dark hair. "The goal is to have an ace up the sleeve, always."

And for pure amusement, he skillfully shows the palm and back of his free hand before snapping fingers. Poof — ace of spades, right there between pointer and thumb, the symbol emblazoned in black on playing card white.

Vic catches the towel and wipes his brow, then slings it over his shoulder. Little Mister Stamina has worked himself up a sweat today. It's good for him. He nods as he echoes, "Specialization can be a weakness." Another nod. "Yeah, I want to learn more than one style. I like the way I fight, but the way you do is so much more elegant."

The appearance of the card gets a delighted grin from the kid. "That's so cool," he says. He never went through adolescence as a mote, and OldVic had no parents; he never learned that parents are lame and boring. So Dad? Dad is cool.

Aw, a compliment. And here he'd half-expected the youth to roll his eyes at his dad being utterly ridiculous. Thus, the showing of both sides of the card before rolling his wrist in a quick, fluid gesture to make the card disappear again. Sleight of hand, Sorcerer Supreme-style.

"It's a joke at the bars, at least the ones who cater to the Mystical. Otherwise, a hell of a way to win a free shot." A flash of a charming grin, the one that bowls Mom over regularly, dimples and all. "Elegant…? I suppose." His own towel ends up slung about his neck again and he meanders back over to Vic. "It's archaic enough to be unexpected. A fighting style from a more civilized age, enough to grant an edge."

Vic beams in the face of that smile. Yep, Dad's pretty cool. Here Vic goes betraying young people everywhere. "I want to learn tricks like that, too. OlcVic did a mean three-card monty. He could cheat better than anyone. I want to learn them for parties and stuff, though."

He goes serious, then as he mops the back of his neck. "That's another reason I'd like to learn it. I've been studying History a lot in school. It's my favorite subject. I've learned more than anything that so much falls away when it's not preserved. I want to learn old things. As long as someone knows how to do these things, they don't die."

Strange seems pensive even as he replies, "Yes. The bygones of another age have the off-chance of rediscovery if written down, which is why the library here is preserved and contained as such. Still, long before the written word came the spoken word and the preservation of knowledge through action."

The gravity lifts, shifting him into the more relaxed stance beside Vic. "Speaking of books, Blackstone. Find his book, about the great Blackstone. He entertained the troops during the war. His sleight of hand, while not containing any actual magic, is unparalleled in skill."

"Blackstone," Vic says. "All right, that'll be my project this week. So far, all I can do is this…" He extracts a quarter from his pocket and shows it off. See? Just a coin. A whole twenty-five cents. Nothing to sneeze at. He rolls it over his knuckles smoothly, then again. His hands are steady, fingers deft and nimble. The coin dances over his knuckles lightly. Fast, then faster. Then a blur of metal before he catches the coin and shows it off again. "See? I didn't even use telekinesis, but there are cooler tricks to learn."

"That's an excellent start," Strange grants, after watching the coin dance about the youth's nimble fingers. "It's not bad at all. It teaches dexterity and fluidity of motion, all precursors necessary for successful sleight of hand. I don't have the Blackstone tome in my collection at the moment; otherwise, I would let you borrow it. It should be easy enough to find at the National Library, I would think."

Vic nods and says, "I'll pick it up this week sometime. I wish I was like Kellan. He can make copies of himself. He does all his homework at the same time. I could be reading three or four books simultaneously if I could pull that off." He shakes his head. Man, other people have the cool powers. "But I'll make time. I don't need to sleep all that much."

His stomach rumbles audibly. Ah, he may not need to sleep as much, but he does need fuel, and he burned through some today using his speed. He offers Strange a lame smile. "I'd better get something to eat. It'll just keep doing that."

"There is the tea shop down the way, if you're inclined for lighter food. Otherwise, I presume you know the neighborhood well enough. Just…stay out of the refrigerator. I'm…keeping something there. For now." The side-glance given to Vic does imply that Dad means business — and acts as subtle reminder that the the Sanctum is a maximum-security prison as much as repository of Mystical knowledge and artifacts.

"I had no means to replicate myself when I was earning my PhD and MD. That would have been useful," he muses, drawing a fingertip down the line of his goatee. "We'll spar again soon. Off with you, get food." The youth gets a pat on the shoulder, a sudden and possibly surprising move on Strange's part. The smile is probably more familiar, solicitous and quirked to accent the faint crow's feet at his eyes.

Vic was born here He knows better than to mistake it for a normal domicile. "There's a place down the street that does good kabobs. I'm going to grab me a couple." Mystery kabobs are much more comforting than anything Dad might be keeping in the fridge. Brr.

That pat on the shoulder just makes Vic's world. He grins, all dimples, and he says, "Okay, Dad. Tell Mom I said hello." How his eyes shine when he speaks of his mother. Who can blame him? He pockets his quarter and heads out with a bounce in his step. He got trounced by the old man. Best day ever.

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