Tea For Two

Summary:
July 16, 2014: Cricket tries to find out who she is by finding the people mentioned in Dr. Eli Schodt's day planner. While she doesn't learn much about her past, she does learn something about herself.

Richard Dragon's Dojo

In one of the darker spots of Gotham, a small storefront with a sign that simply states itself as a 'School'


Characters

NPCs

  • None

Mood Music:
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==== When one goes looking for the Dragon, one can only follow rumours. The man known as Richard Drakonovski, or The Dragon, is something of a myth or a legend to some people. He is known only in some circles of those people who consider martial arts to be an artform that transcends humanity to be a purpose for life itself. So when one sets out to look for one such as him, it may prove difficult.
Unless one has an idea of where to look in the first place. If someone had access to age old memories, hints, data… they could collate that data. They could find the details of Chinatown and an old piece of property owned in that man's name. A piece of property that has been under ownership for twelve years though not always occupied. It's just such a piece of property in Chinatown, a place that once was an abandoned warehouse… that in some ways might seem familiar to one whose memories had visions of it and of the man who dwelled within.
It is an old building on the outside, with only a single sign in one window that simply states, 'School', in Cantonese.

*

Cricket does not look the sort to be walking around at night on her own in Gotham. She looks more the Metropolis sort, with that air of optimism about her that they all have over there. That's what living in a city with Superman as its guardian will get you. She also wears that niavete about her that many Metropolites have. Nothing bad would happen to her, cause Superman is out there always protecting its good people.

She walks along with a day planner in hand, reading it carefully. When she gets to the address that is written on the page she is on, she looks up. "School," she reads from the sign. With a deep breath, she pushes the door open, looking inside.

*

Inside the place is transformed. It looks nothing like the outside. There is an elegance in the form, the hard wood floor sweeping across the room wall to wall and looking immaculately cared for. At the far end of the way is a small shrine in the wall with a portrait of a wizened old man holding prominence. Upon another wall there is a large mural with a dragon and a tiger each locked in mortal combat with the other, their eyes wild and their claws bared. Next to the door is a cubbyhole where visitors and students are to place their shoes when they come in, and then in one corner she can see what looks like a small kitchenette like area that's shielded from view partially by a screen.
Nobody is present within at the moment, nobody clear in view. But at the sound of the door she will hear the faint shift of footsteps above, then those footsteps carry the figure of a tall man in casual clothes and bare of foot descending a winding wrought iron staircase into the room. Once he finishes his descent he cocks his head to the side and greets her, "Hello."

*

Looking about the room, Cricket smiles. It's nice. She waits patiently by the door, the day planner in her hand. When she sees the gentleman coming down the stairs, she offers him a friendly, beaming smile. "Hello," she says, her voice as friendly as her smile. "Do I have the pleasure of meeting… " She looks down into the planner then, a finger tracing along one of the lines. "Mr. Drakonovski?"

*

Hands at his sides, the auburn haired man cants his head to the other side curiously and draws up short perhaps a dozen feet from her. His lips curl into a faint smile as he looks upon her and he answers her in a terribly calm and level voice, "I am. Or Richard if you wish."
There's something about him, the way he stands, the way he watches. It's as if he were at peace with the flow of time around him, at ease with his place in the moment. Not to mention there's the way that he moves that seems almost preternatural in its grace and precision. This may very well be the man that she is looking for. He lifts his chin slightly. "How may I help you?"

*

The woman approaches, being careful to stop before her shoes touch the mats. She holds out a picture, offering it to Richard. "I was wondering if you might know this man. A Dr. Eli Schodt? He has you listed here as… " Once again she looks down into the planner. "Important."

She takes her sun hat off since she is inside now, giving her hair a light tussle to avoid a case of hat head. She then looks at him expectantly.

*

Stepping forward a few paces he accepts the small photo from her and gives it a look. He lifts his chin a touch as his thoughts drift to memory, but then he looks back towards her. "I believe so. Some time ago." There's a furrow of his brow as he asks, "Are you his… daughter?"
As he says this he steps back after returning the photo to her. He gestures with the calm uncurling of one hand towards the school proper, extending to her the invitation to come with him. "Please feel free to enter fully. Though if you wish to do so, please remove your shoes." He pauses for a moment then asks, "Would you care for something to drink?"

*

Accepting the photograph back, Cricket places it in the day planner before closing it. "Well, you see, I don't know. He passed away last month and the shock of it seems to have caused me to have amnesia. I know I lived with him, in a room of my own, that I have his last name, and that he left everything to me. I mean, the paperwork says I'm his daughter, but he was nearly 60 years my senior. THat seems a little late to be having children."

She walks over to the cubby, unlacing her roman wedge sandals. It takes a little while but she finally is in bare feet. "Anything you have to offer would be lovely, Mr. Drakonovski."

*

"Tea," Dragon says this as half-question and half-declaration to let her know that it is what he intends to have, and most likely the only things. But as she sets to her sandals he walks towards the small kitchenette, leaving her behind him for the moment. He listens to her words, brow furrowing a touch in reflection. Richard turns at the last and quirks an eyebrow, "It is a bit late, but not impossible."
A teapot is put upon the burner of the small stovetop, then he folds his arms over his chest and levels his gaze fully upon her. "I believe when I met him he was mainly seeking to do some research. He was curious about aspects of the martial arts and asked me many questions. I told him what I could and he even observed myself and several students practicing. But our relationship did not go too terribly far beyond that. I would not say we were friends, at the most colleagues of a sort."

*

"Tea would be lovely, thank you. Oolong?" She walks over the mats to join him, her movements delicate as a dancer, or perhaps a skilled martial artist. "No, not impossible. But there seems to be no indication in any of the paperwork of my mother. So, was I adopted then? I have so many questions and no one seems to know. It seems my father, for lack of anything else to call him, was a very private man."

She sighs softly, not seeming entirely happy with the revelation that Dr. Schodt wasn't known here either. "So, just research then? You can't tell me anything about him that might help me?"

*

The teapot starts to whistle faintly and it's removed from the stovetop. He turns to the young woman as she speaks, reaching casually for one of the coffee mugs that hang from a small hook. Richard fills it with the warm water and then provides her with a small metal tea filter that is filled with tea leaves. He dips the filter in the warm water as he prepares it, then asks her lightly. "Honey?" He indicates the small bottle of honey with his eyes.
It's only once she has her mug of tea that he starts on his own and he finally answers her question. "He seemed intent on learning some aspects of the arts, something like a code of sorts he alluded to. About how movements could all work together." Richard smiles faintly then as she crosses the distance she can feel his gaze follow her, shifting to consider the lines of her form… not in the way of a man considering a woman. But in the way of a master considering a student.
"You have studied the martial arts, have you not?"

*

Taking the offered mug, Cricket nods her head politely. "Thank you. Oh no. If it's green or oolong, I prefer it just like this, thank you." She picks up the chain on the tea ball and uses it to sedately bob it up and down in the water.
"Yes, from what I can gather, my father was some sort of scientist. There are many notes in that book that talk about codes and designs." She takes a sip of the tea to see if it is at the strength she likes but looks up, puzzled by the question. "I don't actually know. I suppose it's possible. Why do you ask?"

*

Without hesitation he answers her calmly, "The way you move." Which might be a ludicrous thing for most people to say, yet they are not Richard Dragon. He does, however, indulge in some honey for his tea and then wraps up his mug in both hands to sip it lightly as he walks away from that stovetop, towards a small table that sits underneath one of those large soaped over windows that would look out over the street if one could.
He opens one hand, gesturing to the seat opposite him for her to please join him, and should she do so he'll wait for her to sit down before he takes his own seat. "I would say you've most likely trained for a long time. Do you not recall such?" He cocks his eyebrow at her curiously, her story beginning to interest him moreso.

*

Cricket does indeed come over to the table and takes the offered seat. She smiles as she notices that Richard is being a gentleman, following the old world rules of never sitting before a lady. She wonders to herself if she is a lady. Maybe she's not a very nice person. Or perhaps she's downright mean. Cricket looks thoughtful as she sips at her tea.
"I have no memories before waking up and finding father dead on the floor beside me. I feel terrible about it. The funeral was awful. I was the only person there! It just doesn't seem right that a person would die and no one goes to say good-bye. That's why I'm on this search to find out who he knew. Maybe someone will remember me, but also, I learn more about him."

*

Settling into his seat, he looks across the table at her and scritches his chin thoughtfully. "I am sorry you are in the situation that you are in. It must be terribly difficult. I could not imagine such, memory is what makes us who we are, defines us. Without it… it is difficult to say who we truly are."
There's a small shake of his head, "Things will come back to you I imagine, and it is good you are capable of finding these matters out for yourself. I have known individuals who have lost themselves and were not able to fully recover. Though for some… that is a blessing."
He takes a sip of tea and lets those words linger there for a time, his eyes distancing in memory.

*

Cricket brushes a stray lock of hair out of her face and over her ear. She smiles sweetly to Richard and sips at her tea some more. "I appreciate the condolences, and you're right, it is difficult. I was really hoping for some more clues."
She listens as he ponders about people being lost. "So, tell me about yourself. Maybe I'll get some idea on why my father wanted to speak with you specifically? Like, why does a man who isn't the least bit Asian have a dojo in Gotham?"

*

At that Dragon's facade of complete control and the immutable master breaks as he looks away and shakes his head. "That's just a bit… racist." He looks back at her, lip curled amused. He lifts his eyes upwards as if whispering a quiet prayer for the young and the naive. Richard takes another sip of his tea then sets the mug down with a faint ceramic click.
"There is not much to me," The tall man pushes a rough and calloused hand through his hair, then meets her gaze levelly. "I started training when I was a teenager, and I have continued. I do well as I am, though of late I do not have many students. Luckily I am fine with that." His lip quirks, "But I get the feeling you want to ask something else."

*

Seeing the look on Dragon's face, Cricket at least has the decency to look embarrassed. "I'm sorry. I meant it as a joke. I guess I lost my sense of humor as well as my memory?" She offers a wan, apologetic smile and sips at her tea some more, looking away.
"How do you manage to afford the upkeep of the school then, if you don't have many students?" she asks then. She looks puzzled then, eying Richard with a hint of suspicion. "Ask something else? Such as?"

*

"Just a touch of intuition. Probably wrong," Richard Dragon rests his hands around the base of his mug, watching her steadily with thoes greyish-blue eyes holding her gaze. But then he goes on to answer her questions easily enough. "I've been fortunate in the course of my life to have come into sufficient funds to look after my meagre life style. I enjoy my life as it is for the most part, so I am able to support myself on my savings and on the few students I take on."
There's a pause, then he rises to his feet. "If you will be so kind, Ms. Schodt, and you are sufficiently finished with your tea. Would you join me on the practice floor? I am curious to test a theory."
And with that he steps away from the table, walking silently across the hard wood floor and towards the training area.

*

Cricket listens intently, glad that Richard has seemed to let her terrible attempt at humor go passed. She smiles as he describes the fact that he enjoys life and doesn't need much to do so. It causes her to ponder what she must be like, living in a penthouse suite in Metropolis.
When Richard rises and heads to the practice floor, she arches a brow. She stands, leaving her cup at the table. "I'm not really dressed for a lesson, Mr. Drakonovski. Or is this your way of flirting with me?"

*

At that she'll hear the slight exhalation of breath that passes for a faint laugh from him. He looks over his shoulder at her and cocks an eyebrow, then lifts his eyes again heavenward as if offering yet another prayer in servie to today's youth. But that having been done he looks back to her and says calmly enough. "Oh, you mean a 'special' lesson. No, this is not one of those."
He gestures with one hand towards the screened off area, "Actually that may be an interesting test in and of itself. If you wish, please go change behind that screen. Perhaps you will realize you know how to wear a gi and tie the belt. That might be a clue in and of itself. Then once having changed, please join me."

*

She gives him a playful pout as he goes praying to whatever deities he holds dear about her a second time. "I'm not that bad, am I?" she asks as she walks passed him and over to the screened off area. "You know, if I thought for a second that you had even the remotest alterior motive for getting me to change, I wouldn't."
She is behind the screen for a little while, having had to find a gi that would fit her small frame. However, when she comes out, she does indeed have it on correctly. "Hrmm… you might be right. I do seem to know how to wear this."

*

A small nod is given as his eyes follow her movements, and then when she walks back out onto the practice floor she can tell he's gauging her entirely. Those grey eyes follow each step, drift over the subtle shift and flow of her musculature, settle upon her eyes, her hands. He is looking for those small tell-tale signs and hints that will tell him who she is, what she has learned, and how good she must be.
"Then please, forgive me." And as he says this she might find herself thinking, 'for what?' and _that_ is of course the moment when he snaps forward with a short sharp twist and the back of his fist flies suddenly towards the side of her face in a blurring fast whipcrack of movement.
From afar, Richard Dragon figures her training will take over abruptly. But if not he's not trying to knock her out, though it might sting.

*

That is the odd thing about Cricket. She moves with the grace that one would expect from a martial artist or a dancer, but at the same time there aren't those tell-tale signs that indicate she is aware of it. A trained martial artist *knows* that they know what they are doing and that confidence suffuses into everything they do. Cricket has the grace, but not that air of knowing what she is capable of.
She is about to ask what he is apologizing for when he snaps a fist at her face. She doesn't even move her feet, just bending back at the waist to get out of reach of the hand. Conservation of movement, only doing what she needs to to get herself out of danger.

As she stands there, back bent in an arch, she looks at Richard with surprise. "I… well, that was unexpected."

*

Eyebrows lifting as he meets her eyes, she'll see the first ghost of a smirk light upon his features as he holds her gaze. "Indeed," He answers her even as he holds that stance, the backfist still extended. But then in the next moment he's moving again. He rounds on her and suddenly he is a blur of movement. She can see his powerfully build body tense, uncoil, release as he lashes out. She can see the subtle shift and flow of his taut musculature under his skin as his lithe form executes each technique in perfection. It's first a low stabbing side kick with the edge of his foot aimed at her shin, followed by a series of strikes at her chest, her shoulder, then her chin. It ends with him drawing his foot back as he steps closer, chambering a powerful sidekick and then firing it firmly at her abdomen. All of these movements at full speed, and all of them attempting to gain a response from her.

*

It's hard to decide what is more surprising. The talent that Cricket seems to have as she defends herself from the blows, or the look of disbelief on her face as she does it. Her body seems to be going on automatic, mostly defending herself rather then going on the attack. She blocks and parries with apparent ease and then suddenly grabs the sidekick into her side and punches at his thigh to give him a charlie horse.

*

She'll feel the impact of that strike jolt up her arm, even see the slight narrowing of his eyes as she makes a perfectly timed counter. Yet he's so terribly fast that she only has that small window. He does not let up, having broken through the barrier that prevented her from striking back, he aims to push her further to see what they can find out.
Shifting stance he balances on his other leg and then presses the initiative against her, keeping her engaged as he moves in. There's a blur of movement, a lightning fast series of strikes… all that she's able to block and parry, to slip to the side and around. He builds up a steady rhythm, their movements like a pair of dancers well choreagraphed together and his movements leading her defense higher.
And that's when he strikes with a low sweep, one foot barely off the hardwood floor and slicing through the air with a whip crack of motion, the cloth of his pants leg snapping from the speed of the movement. Yet even as he executes that movement it leaves his back open to her for a bare instant.

*

Cricket's moves are precision perfect. As she gets over her surprise, she just lets her body do whatever it seems to want to do, trusting in it to not let herself get hurt. Her reactions are exactly what he would expect them to be, as if he himself had been teaching her for years. There is a look of serenity that blossoms on her face, almost zen like as her body just seems to take over.
The sort of speed she exhibits would make the trainer in him proud. If she was one of his students, that is. She takes the open back as an oppertunity, leaping over the sweeping leg and landing right behind him to snake her arm about his throat and then hold him tight.

*

And all of a sudden the match is over, she is in the perfect position to lock down a choke or attempt to hyper extend the neck. So when she draws him taut and back over her knee partially and into her grasp he no longer resists… just in case her instincts are lethal.
Yet it might be one of those strange moments of deja vu, might be a strange instant where time slows and she can feel the intensity of the moment. The strain and shift of bodies, the interplay of two forms, her arm over his throat and his terribly warm body held tight against her chest. Then she'll feel his hand upon her forearm as he taps lightly to signal the submission.

*

And with the tap of submission, Cricket is back to herself again. She lets go quickly and backs away. "I'm so terribly sorry! I don't know what came over me! I've never done anything like that before. Well… at least not in the last month. I didn't hurt you, I hope." She reaches out to touch his shoulder, the worry on her features showing some concern.

*

Straightening up, Dragon meets her eyes as he dusts off his arms and adjusts his shirt from its slightly discombobulated position. He crinkles his nose at her and then tells her, "I think we've both learned something, however." As he says that he gestures with one hand back towards the screen. "Feel free to change back if you like. Or keep it now, upon reflection. You may wish to practice some by yourself to try and jog your memory."

*

Cricket seems more concerned now as she heads to get changed. "So, we know that I've had some martial arts training. Actually, more then some unless you were taking it easy on me. Which I do believe you were, but not as much as I would like to make me feel better." She gets changed again, having put the gi in the laundry. She comes out again in her dress. "So, if I know so much martial arts, why did my father need to talk to you? Why not talk to me?"

*

Those calm grey eyes follow her movements once she returns to the training floor. His look is contemplative, his hand scritching at the stubble upon his chin as he considers her thoughtfully. "There could be different reasons. I have a certain reputation in some circles, he could have been trying to get information of me in hopes to learn something that would make me more inclined to teach you."

*

She arches a brow, curious. "And would you? Teach me, that is?" The look on her face is one of uncertainty and concern. She has so little to grasp to that gives her some semblance of identity. "I can pay you. Father was rather wealthy, apparently. I have plenty of resources."

*

"No," And that single word might seem terribly harsh as he gives it to her. But then he steps forward and takes her hand gently in his. His stern gaze is meant to be reassuring as he holds her eyes and tells her gently. "You are a young woman that will have to focus your efforts on many things more important right now. You must find who you are, find the woman you wish to become. Then, if you feel strong enough to ask me again, knowing that such is the path you truly wish to travel… then we shall see. But as for now…" His smile is gentle as he gives her hand a small squeeze and then lowers it. "I cannot teach you."

*

That single word acts like a slap to her face. She pulls back, looking shocked. She nearly pulls her hand away from his, clearly offended. It's his gentle words that mollify her and she takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly. She thinks about her penthouse apartment, about the half of it she refuses to go into. Certainly the answers she is looking for could be found in there. But…
She shakes her head then, backing away. "I don't think I'm ready for the answers yet. They somehow strike me as being unpleasant. It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Drakonovski. Perhaps we will meet again sometime?"



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