1964-10-29 - Cigar Factory Throwdowns
Summary: Kamala cheats on Hope! Ne finds out the truth about Keith! Sage gives advice! DRAMA. Except milkshakes make everything better.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
keith sage ne kamala hope 

Sure, Avengers Mansion has a gym. It's got all the fancy equipment, everything a hero might need to stay in fighting shape. But it's also got a bunch of adult heroes, and in Hope's opinion, a fight is never as clean as it is in a well-stocked gym inside a mansion, so better to get some experience somewhere a little bit…grittier.

So when she called Kamala and invited her to go for a training session, she suggested they meet somewhere other than the mansion. "This looks a little bit more like home," she says approvingly as she steps inside, shrugging out of the oversized jacket she's been borrowing and starting to wrap a few strips of fabric around her hands.

When Kamala got the call, she was totally excited to train with Hope. They had done so several times before after all, and it was almost a standing date for them. But when she mentioned the change of venue, the young woman had wondered. All the way to the Cigar Factory, she had been telling Hope the story from the other day, finishing with, "…and she nearly had her baby right there in my hands!" she exclaims, before they enter the gym.

The young woman's nose wrinkles a little at the smell of stale alcohol and sweat mixed with the dirt and inadequate use of disinfectants. "…this is like home?" she asks, glancing towards Hope as she takes off her own jacket. "Uh. Yeah. Right, world of Rossum's Universal Robots."

It isn't often that Tessa Valentine comes all this way. The relatively fewer minds at the school mean fewer accidental (and occasionally on purpose) attempted telepathic intrusions. Still, she learned to fight in a variety of ways in places like this in London. Things should not be so different here, right?

She was a bit of an odd sight the first time she showed up, and she remains an odd sight every time she has shown up since then. Bright blue hair, pulled back primly. Businesswear kept immaculate. But then she changes into clothes more suitable for a gym. Those that might scoff at someone as proper as Tessa stepping into a gym soon have to pick their jaws off the ground when they watch her, cycling through a variety of punches and kicks, each with perfect, graceful ease. Those that have seen her before smirk and move on. For her part, Tessa narrows her focus to the heavy bag before her, ignoring the stray thoughts and glances of others.

Into the gym another walks silently, another mutant tough not one of the school or even the Avengers. If oddity was the theme? Well, Ne fit right in. Her own hair was striking enough, a mix of bright pink on one half and brunette in the other, a juxtaposition mirrored by her eyes. Currently dressed in her usual and hardly 'gym-like' attire, the young woman has what appears to be a gym bag slung over one shoulder and in the other? She carries a white parasol, strange enough on its own. At least she kept it closed indoors! Sweeping her eyes over those already gathered, Ne inhales the harsh scent of the building. It was like a trip back in time being here, back to the days when she was on the street struggling to survive.

Keith has remained wandering since his return to the United States. Not only has he made an endless conga-line of excuses not to return to Westchester and see people at the mansion, he has also found convenient reasons not to drop by after Billy's extended invitation to see him at Stonewall. As a result, he had grown more aimless while trying to figure out what he was going to do.

The one thing he did intend to do, however, was not advertise he was Unusual. The magical illusion that made him look human was firmly in place. Nothing but normal ginger here, yes siree.

The whiff of scents from the Cigar Factory makes him smirk as he enters. This reminded him of part of his trek through Yorkshire, although he couldn't quite put a finger on why. He pauses for a moment to take in the young woman with the parasol and the unusual hair.

"Nice parasol," he says as he comes in shortly after her, just for the sake of conversation. He reaches into his jacket to grab his cigarettes-

And then remembers he doesn't have any anymore, because Billy told him they would kill him. He grumbles quietly to himself about time travelers spoiling your fun.

Time travelers are the enemy of fun. Just ask Kamala in about thirty minutes when Hope is done training with her. "Hey, it's not so bad," Hope laughs when Kamala wrinkles her nose. "And fights aren't always pretty or clean, either. Might as well get used to falling onto concrete, or having uneven footing, or the place being dark or smelly. That way you're not surprised when it really counts." Tessa's powers ping off of her senses, drawing a brief glance, but she doesn't focus on the woman or the other arrivals.

"Are the others like…" Kamala asks nervously as she looks around at the new arrivals, before glancing at the stunning woman already at work on the bag. Just a momentary pang of jealous that Kamala Khan will never ever be that hot or dare to wear something more revealing. Her future is supposedly as a mother of five or ten, taking care of raising and making babies while her husband is uber successful and pre-picked for her.

She'd take the RURs any day.

"So.. this is supposed to be uh.. no funny stuff, right?" she asks as she fishes in her gym bag for a pair of boxing gloves.

Both Keith and Hope have been 'pinging' on Sage's senses for some time; her range at detecting mutants is considerable. So when she realizes two have actually come in, she can't help but look. Her emotions may be suppressed, but she can still be curious. So as she attacks the heavy bag, she slowly works around it until she's facing the newcomers, rather than keeping her back to them. That sated, her focus goes back to her bag, hitting three or so times. "The only funny thing would be the smell, and that's because the owner enjoys stale… everything," she offers to Kamala. She doesn't smile and her tone remains even. Joking? Serious? Hard to tell!

Funily enough, it wasn't that long ago that Ne wouldn't go anywhere without an illusion to conceal her strange appearence. She'd been pushed to embrace what she was and she was trying to stick to it. Being addressed by another has her looking back over her shoulder as she sets both the parasol and the bag down, tilting her head a little before she nods at the man searching for his absent cigarettes. No words, just a slight smile and that nod of thanks. A pause, from her other pocket she withdraws a battered notepad and a well-worn pencil, setting both down carefully beside the bag. It was pretty much her 'voice' around most people after all! The conversation of the others does catch her ear, but the mute is hardly going to interject.

Keith returns the smile- he's very good at smiling, even though he does it rarely nowadays. He takes in the occupants of the gym, and notices the woman with the parasol taking out a notepad. He is curious, and realizes he feels driven to asking questions. They probably aren't appropriate.

Instead, he focuses on the others and ponders whether he risks training. He has gained a greater control of the illusion magic he uses to disguise himself, but he's not certain if he can be focused on training and still maintain the illusion.

It was worth a try. It's not as if he didn't come with his own exit strategy if he needed to beat a hasty retreat. While deciding on his next course of action, he shrugs off his leather jacket.

"People?" Hope finishes Kamala's question with a wry smile, shrugging. "Let's stick with no funny stuff, though. Another thing that's good for practice. Never assume you'll have any advantages if you get into a real fight. Always assume your opponent will have all of them." She tips her chin in greeting to Sage, tying off the wraps on her hands before she turns back to Kamala. She's noted Keith and Ne, but they're not her focus just yet.

"But how would someone turn off.. nevermind. You probably totally have a story about that." Though Kamala is not going to make Hope share it, from the the looks of it as she works on tying on her boxing gloves. "Though I think you are totally getting a kick out of kicking my butt all over the place." she murmurs a little, before Sage speaks up.

"I.. oh." she blushes a little at the woman. "I meant if Hope wanted me to use things." She's still nervous about saying powers or abilities, she's still getting so used to using her own. The girl with a parasol gets a wave and she oohs. "I love your hair!" she offers cheerfully. "It's very brave. Yourself or did you color it that way?"

"Coloured it," Tessa confirms with a nod. She punches the bag twice more, shifting from side to side. "It made for quite a stir with my old employer back home." She allows her accent - crisp, perfect Received Pronunciation English - to say where home would be, even if she does not say it herself. "Still, it helped him be remembered. No one remembers yet another assistant with brown hair. But the one with blue hair stands out in their minds."

Questions or not, Ne doesn't seem all that bothered. Shrugging off her own jacket and laying it down with the same care, she moves off like she intended to start her own training regardless of the fact that she wasn't really dressed for it. Then again, how often was one wearing workout gear when they got into a fight? Walking past the space, Kamala calling out and waving draws her closer in curiousity, leaving her to tilt her head the other way as she assesses the pair about to start training. The question of hair has Ne pointing to herself, a little mime to answer the first before Tessa speaking up makes her blink. Ah, seems she thought she was being addressed.

It seems as if there is a social center of gravity developing. More used to being in the background than in the foreground, Keith nevertheless finds himself ambling in the direction of the people training. The bruises and wounds from that impromptu fight in the street have healed by now, but Keith is very aware of the fact that he needs better training. The problem, when it comes down to it, was finding a steady mentor. And that came with its own complications.

"I think your hair is nifty, too," he adds to Ne as he walks. "Natural?"

"Things happen," Hope shrugs to Kamala. "Besides, you'll be better with everything else if you've got a strong foundation." She casts a quick smile toward Keith and Ne as they come closer. "Hey," she greets, then nods to Sage as well. She seems surprised to hear that the hair is natural - likely she assumed it was part of whatever mutation belongs to the woman. "Also, I don't enjoy wiping the floor with you," she smirks at Kamala. "I'll enjoy it when I can't any more, actually."

"Yes, well.. that will most likely be a long time coming." Truth be told, Kamala is learning to dodge better. Her core's getting stronger. But with the constant work that Hope had with the soldier of the future, she has a long way to go still. "It's like Karnak says to me - my ability is that I have no abilities and you should be as strong and as fast as me.. I can't help it that I've only had these.. things.." for a couple of months now." she says with a sigh, before offering a smile to Ne. "I like your hair too." she offers quickly before blinking at Sage. "That's one way to make an impression.."

Sage returns Hope's nod, though she maintains a glance at the redhead for a little longer. "That was the point," she agrees. "But I am certain it was too scandal-inducing for some." She thinks a moment and steps away from her heavy bag, removing one of the gloves to offer Kamala a hand for a moment. "Forgive me, I tend to forget my manners at the drop of a hat it seems. My name is Tessa Valentine." The movement allows her to catch Ne's approach and she nods at the other woman. "I have to agree. The colour is very nice."

It's a rather direct question, but a fair one. Ne just shrugs her shoulders and nods lightly. Reaching down to where her pockets…should be, the mute frowns and looks back towards where she'd left her notepad behind. A silent sigh and she gestures to her hair, then her eyes in sequence before nodding. All natural, all her, a byproduct of her mutation it seemed. Not everyone could keep it subtle without a trick or two. Hope's words of wiping the floor with the other woman earns a tilt of her head and she moves to clearly position herself for watching. Tessa's introduction gets a nod and she gestures to herself, placing her hand against her chest and then slowly tracing the letters 'N' and 'e' in the air. It was easier than assuming someone understood sign language.

It seemed that trying to be subtle wasn't really needed. At least there was one other unusual individual in Ne. Keith decides to make a nice gesture and reaches into the air. A Rabbit hole, a tear in the fabric of space itself- opens up, with its sibling appearing near Ne's notepad. He grabs it and offers it to Ne with the hint of a smile. "I'm getting the impression this might be more useful?" mostly because he's not sure people are good at reading letters traced in the air, backwards. The idea gave him headaches- whereas his mother was one of those freaks who could mirror write. In cursive.

Well, the cat was out of the bag, at least. He was curious to see what reception his brief display would get, though.

"I feel like I like this Karnak person," Hope grins at Kamala. "Sounds a lot like Nathan." She doesn't seem to be bothered by Ne's silence or Keith's rabbit hole, taking both in stride as she raises her hands and nods to Kamala. "All right, let's do this. Try to hit me."

"Oh wow.." Kamala starts to say, when Hope says for her to try to hit her. The Pak-American frowns. "Nuh uh." she says, stepping back and going defensive. "I've done that before!" A lot before. She knows that Hope wants her to go all off balance, and for a change, she's trying to find her center. "I'm not throwing the first punch tonight!"

"A pleasure," Tessa tells Ne. She quickly teps out of the way of Hope and Kamala, settling to watch, if only for a little. She wonders what the chances are that the Karnak Hope and Kamala have mentioned is the Karnak she knows - probably pretty good. It's an unusual name. Very much so. She'll have to ask Karnak next time.

The note-pad fetching does earn a reaction from Ne, even if it's only a small look of suprise complete with another blink before she takes it. Flipping to the first page, already words written in neat and graceful handwriting exist to make the introduction properly for her. <I'm Ne.> Beyond the suprise? There's hardly going to be any negative reaction to the reveal of a non-human ability. Instead she turns her gaze over towards the start of the fight.

Keith appreciates Ne's handwriting for its neatness and grace. His own handwriting looks like a grisly murder took place at a calligraphy school, which was the eternal torment of his teachers at Saint Mary's. If he ever needs to send a coded message, all he needs to do is write things down verbatim and no-one will be able to read it.

Including himself.

"I'm Keith," he says to the group in general, on general principle, and then turns to watch the fight. "I should get around to training. You know. For self-defense," he says as an aside to Ne. "Some people can get pretty nasty when they catch wind you're not a garden variety."

"Aw, it makes me feel guilty if I just hit you," Hope grumbles to Kamala, right up until one hand snaps out with an open-handed slap at her jaw, feet already dancing to take her a step back. She'd probably have been even more cautious with the dancing back, but they did say no funny stuff, which decreases the chances of being unexpectedly reached. "Always good to be prepared," she replies to Keith's comment.

See. She knew it. And this time, Kamala's ready.

Cause she totally cheats.

There's very few people that have her power set, and Hope can't copy it - as her neck elongates just so that she can't quite be touched by the slap at her jaw.

"You're a terrible liar, you know that, Hope Summers?" she asks with a laugh before she takes a swing at Hope, just as the girl had shown her to do.

Sage would try to make it like the sudden display is just a huge surprise, but…. Tessa's never been a good actor. Ever. So instead she watches, her mind already considering the things that could be done, how a fight could change… "Preparation is always handy," she says to Keith, agreeing with Hope.

That stretch from Kamala is interesting, certainly enough to make Ne smile. It had been a while since she'd been anywhere where the crowd was mostly mutants (or similar), mutant town not including. Crossing her arms, she continues watching, but Keith's words earn a tilt of the head yet again from the short woman and she gestures to herself. An offer prehaps, someone to train against?

"Hey… that wouldn't be a bad idea," Keith says to Ne's gesture, "Admittedly, I'm not the best." He was competent, at best, but he was competent inside a dojo, which means he was ok as long as there was one type of approach. It wasn't a varied fighting style that helped him survive when the X-men came under attack. It was his ability to do crazy things to space, and the fact that the Professor linked his mind to the minds of their attackers and sent them on a one-way trip down the rabbit hole.

"If you're game, I'm game!"

"Kamala!" Hope exclaims with a laugh, even as she dances back another step and starts to circle around the other girl. "Did you just cheat? I'm so proud of you, I think I might burst." She grins broadly, steps carefully silent as she stalks around Kamala. After a moment, she darts back in, this time with a fist aimed for the ribs.

"I did not cheat!" Kamala sputters, her cheeks flaring bright red for a moment as she tries not to very well admit to the fact that she so cheated. "I uh.. uh.. adapted!" See, that's a better term, even as she's trying to dance away, but takes the hit to the side and oofs. "Ugh!" she mutters and tries to swing back to hit Hope in the side before she can get away.

Sage watches and studies. "Cheating would indicate you set down rules before sparring," she notes simply, trying in her way to get Kamala to be okay with how she reacted. Or 'adapted' as the case may be. She gestures at Keith and Ne. "Go on. Consider me the impartial referee of sorts." She'll just watch both of them at once. That's the great part of her brain. She can do that, if she can keep them all in view.

Ne on the other hand was…a pretty good fighter, something that tended to work to her advantage when in conjunction with her own less-than-impossing stature. Moving to a space a little to the side of Kamala and Hope's struggle, she gives a little 'curtsey', one leg crossed behind the other and all to the man before gesturing in a silent but cheerful manner for him to begin. She wasn't intending to use her abilities. Illusions had their uses, but generally any sudden plummet in temperature might leave the others a little unhappy with her.

Keith nods and returns Ne's curtsey with a bow, and then gets into a fighting stance. Normally his approach would be a cautious one- a good offense is a good defense yada yada yada, but in the last few situations in which he has found himself, he didn't really have much of a choice. And, really, when the other person can hurt you from a distance if they get to attack first, that isn't really an option.

He's not intending to use his powers, although he can't really turn off his feline agility or reflexes. But he does keep his illusion up, to see how much focus he can divert to fighting without the illusion collapsing completely.

He moves in, trying to circle around Ne, looking for an opening. He decides to try a quick jab to see how fast she reacts, obviously having problems by going back to being over-cautious, even when he's trying to be aggressive.

"Hey, I'm not complaining," Hope grins, staying in close and taking the hit in the interest of being able to catch Kamala's hand and start to twist, pulling her into a joint lock - or at least what would be a joint lock for someone who can't change their size and shape, that is. "I said I was proud, didn't I?"

Okay. It should lock, right? But that's the thing with morphagenic. It's like trying to twist and hold silly putty. Kamala's arm twists, unnaturally. The arm twists a full rotation in Hope's grasp, and Kamala just blinks as it happens. "I.. I never tried that before." she admits quietly, in a bit of shock as she steps back from Hope. It's not anger or hurt at the other girl, it's more that Kamala has just discovered something else about her powers that she needs to figure out. "I really wish you could mimic me to show me what all I could do."

Which is exactly what Sage decies to do. She maneuvers and finds herself the perfect vantage spot, letting her watch both fights without really having to split her attention. Besides, she can find it enjoyable to watch people spar. It's a way for her to see how people think, and it gives her a little insight to their character.

Ne is…infuriating. It's more than an ability, it's seemingly a practiced style. She's got more than enough practiced reflexes and feline-like agility of her own, but he movements seem more focused on swaying, moving and dancing out of the way of Keith's blows than actually returning any of her own. Tiring out one's foe was a tried and true approach, but Ne? She was just as likely to be trying to make Keith get frustrated and make a mistake. There's a smile on her lips the whole time, every graceful duck, weave or backstep does nothing to displace it.

When it comes to the ignoble art of fisticuffs, Keith is still rather bad at the 'patience' component of the game. It didn't use to be this way, but since things changed, he has found that he dislikes being toyed with less than before. It isn't long before he starts losing his patience and lunges forward, trying to get something to connect, opening himself up way too much in the desire to connect.

Hope doesn't seem upset when Kamala slips through the hold and steps back, the corners of her eyes crinkling in approval. "I had a feeling you probably could do that," she nods. "And I'm not sure it'd be all that much help if I had your powers. They don't come with instructions, you know. I just kind of…wing it. I think you'll find that you realize you can do things when you need to do them, but it's nice to have an idea before it's life or death. I think it's probably similar to how you heal. Your body just…moves things."

"….yeah. I think.. I should practice more with learning what my body can do." Words that no parent ever wants to hear their daughter say as Kamala frowns but then she glances up and pounces Hope to hug her. "Thank you." she whispers and kisses the other girl's cheek quickly before hoping off. "..come one, I'm buying the milkshakes."

And…it's a mistake swiftly punished, although it could be worse. When Keith lunges? Ne simply drops low, sliding and lashing out with her leg. It's a simple, practically childish sweep…but that doesn't mean it's not effective. Either way, she elegantly rolls back up to her feet, still practically beaming, and extends a hand towards the man lightly.

As Keith falls, he finds to his distress that the surprise is enough to knock his disguise from him. As he lays on his back, blinking a couple of times, he notices that his arms now bear the bright orange and red pattern os his stripes. And, of course, he's covered in fur.

He tries to make light of the situation by taking the hand, if it is still offered to him, and standing up with a sheepish grin. "Well, I've heard about being fuzzy after getting knocked about, but this is kind of ridiculous."

Hope laughs, returning the hug a little awkwardly. "All right, milkshakes sounds good," she nods to Kamala, waving over her shoulders to the others - not so much as a blink at the change in Keith - on her way out.

One might almost…ALMOST swear there was the start of an audible snickering from the two-tone woman at the furred pun. Shaking her head in amusement as she helps the man up to his feet she gestures to him lightly. The illusion was nice work.

The others were leaving and their suggestion? Well, for the sweet-toothed woman of icecream colors? She could sure go for a milkshake.

While Keith isn't fluent in sign language, it could be argued that he is very fluent in the universal language of milkshakes. It's a particular indulgence of his for which he has no adequate justification. Thank goodness it doesn't need one.

He gives her a grin, and it's a -very- good grin, before he tilts his head. "Sounds like they've got the right idea. C'mon, let's have some."

He reaches for his jacket and shrugs it back on, "My treat."

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