Deep Blue Sea: Learning to Swim

February 09 2015: Rowan makes good on his promise to teach Aspen about being Blue. Thiiiiiis could take a while.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior is cold this time of year. And rather dark and deep. Which is the point.



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Mood Music:

Rowan had promised Aspen that he'd do what he could to teach her about the Blue when she was ready. After seeing the Atlanteans in action he's become more convinced than ever that it's both necessary and right that he do so. He's also convinced that teaching her about the Blue isn't all he should do. On his world she was an incredibly potent hydrokine and it's possible, even likely that if that's also true for her it will come into play sooner rather than later. Which means, it'd possibly be nice for her to know about it.

He's already gotten started on some of it. Earlier in the week he flew some bouys to the carribean and dropped them off. He'll check them later to see if they got any unusual attention and possibly get Babs to help him make more solid contact. That's for the future though. Right now…

Well right now he has to teach Aspen how to Blue. This oughta be interesting.

The oceans aren't safe right now, but lakes? Those are fine, so he's offered to meet Aspen out by Lake Superior so they can do what he anticipates will be the hardest part of all this. Or at least, the hardest part of the immediate future.

Deep Marine Discovery has pretty much shut down during this whole thing. Everyone is taking a sudden extended vacation. This left Aspen sort of scrambling on where to go since she kinda lives down there. Having a direction, even one so far north and into the cold, was rather welcome.

Dressed for the weather, her hood pulled up and hands tucked into her pockets she looks over at Rowan. "It's freezing." She points out of the water.

Rowan has thought of that yes, though he's not dressed for the weather at all. "Sorry. Largest body of water not days and days away by car." He gets car travel times. They never apply to him, but he gets them. "I did bring some kit to warm you… though I'm surprised you're cold. I've never been. Or…" He looks out over the lake. "Did you mean the water? It's a bit chilly yes, should be okay though."

"I'm not cold, no. I made sure to dress for the weather." Aspen points out. "But I'm guessing you want me to go in the water and that is definitely going to be cold! You should have told me to bring my suit." By which she means her wetsuit designed for those kinds of cold temperatures.

"An oversight on my part… mmm… though one that can be corrected if necessary." Rowan's never met a Blue who'd lived on the surface for this long. It wasn't possible, really, in his world. Not safe, anyway. "Before we start, I'd like to… mmm… see something. Would you mind taking your coat off?" If she gets genuinely cold from that, it may be necessary to rig her up a wetsuit. He can get his adaptive clothing to do it, though he'll need to change. Which he's less prepared for than he should be, though not entirely so. No need to have her dealing with both breathing and hypothermia at the same time.

Aspen Matthews gives Rowan a dubious sort of look but, when he doesn't wave it off as joking, she unzips the thermal gear and shrugs out of it. She still has a long-sleeved shirt on beneath. "What did you want to see?" She pushes her sleeves up to her elbows in antcipation.

"Mmmm. I want to see how you react to the temperature before I ask you to go into really cold water." The dragon-blue just folds his arms and watches for a few minutes. He's seen surfacers in New York bundled up and shivering still in this kind of weather. He knows from talking to Babs that they're horribly vulnerable to changes of temperature. His own people live under the arctic with no complaints. Or they did on his world. He doesn't know here.

After a few minutes, he cants his head slightly. "How are you feeling now?"

Aspen Matthews rubs one hand up and down along one arm slowly. "I'm alright. I guess it's not as cold as I thought it was. But I've always been less susceptible to temp—" A pause. "It's becuase I'm Blue?" It's all a bit out of her usual box, but she can put things together.

"We do live down at the depths." Rowan says with a smile. "It gets cold down there. Or well, it does by surfacer standards." He looks out at the water again and then back to Aspen. "Alright… there's… a lot I have to explain to you but I wanted to start with the basics because, ironically, the basics are going to be the hardest. We need to get you used to being underwater. Which means you need to learn that you can breathe down there." And, he suspects, that means unlearning survival instincts she's spent a long time holding on to.

Especially since Aspen doesn't remember breathing water. She worries her lower lip and then nods. It's something she's rather been avoiding, and she knows it. She's not normally the sort to avoid a problem like this, but solving it hasn't been terribly easy. "I've tried, a few times. When my breath eventually gives out," Which she's found out is incredibly long, "I mentally freak out and surface."

Rowan looks sympathetic. "I thought that might be the case…" He looks up as if seeking guidance. Actually he's just thinking. "Have you ever seen someone have a panic attack, Aspen? They hyperventalate and pass out, then their breathing returns to normal. Sometimes the best treatment for them is to allow them to pass out, so that they can start getting air again." He's seen it a few times on the field. Passing out is a less than ideal outcome there.

"I have a way to solve that, but it requires trust and… I'm not sure if you've known me long enough for that. But if it would help, I promise you that I wouldn't hurt you. I think, perhaps, you will eventually be far more important to the fate of the seas on this world than one soldier ever could be. And I rather like you, on top of that."

Aspen Matthews's specialty is marine biology, but that still involved a lot of that second word and she nods as she follows his line of logic. "So you think I need to what, have the panic attack? Or pass out before I start trying to breathe water?" She asks with a slightly lopsided grin.

The opinion that she'd be someone of any importance? That just gets a chuckle and a shake of her head. "I don't know about that. At best I could join the ranks of would-be-superheroes." She jokes.

"Well… I'm not sure you're going to be able to breath it in… voluntarily breathe in water. You've spent so long learning that it's bad. So I was, um…" Okay, this sounds horrible. Rowan knows this. He can't think of anything else though. "Er. I was thinking of going down with you and, um, holding you down until it happened on its own…"

Blink. … Blink. "You want to hold me under water until I pass out, and hope that I'll start breathing water instead of drowning." It certainly sounds ike a terrible idea. Of course she's also kind of had it happen to her already. She squints at him. "Do you even know CPR?"

Yeah. That's about the response he expected. To be fair to Aspen, it's an entirely reasonable response. "Well yes. Combat lifesaving. I was a soldier, after all. And I can get you to a hospital very, very fast if need be. But I really do think you'll be alright. The firt time we met you spent fifteen minutes face down in a foot of water. Your genetic markers test out close to mine. They're not likely to be identical because I'm… er… well, that's another conversation. But close enough to mine. And you've been standing in the snow at negative ten degrees for the last oh… six or seven minutes. And you're not even pinking up yet.

Aspen Matthews hadn't… actually been paying attention to the cold. And of course she just told herself it wasn't really that cold. She doesn't carry around a thermometer like some people apparently do.

"You're right. You're right." Sounds more like she's trying to convince herself more than agreeing with Rowan. "And if it doesn't work there's also the cold that should slow down my metabolism to give me better odds of survival…" Honestly, she knows that if she doesn't prove it to herself one way or another, she's going to drive herself batty. Besides, she'd be embarassed to admit to Captain Matthews she keeps shying away from something. Especially when logic is pretty clear. "OK." She says finally. Or is that again. "Let's do this."

Rowan nod once. He's not sure if Aspen's going to want to 'change' or not. While cold and wet don't bother him, and likely won't her, he can't deny that wet clothes are kind of awkward and surfacers don't seem to like them much. While she makes that decision he goes to get the toolbox full of warming supplies and set it by the shore. Just in case. Then he steps into the water. As he does his clothing adapts to give him an odd kind of… well they look like compression shorts and an underarmor tee. He's vaguely relieved that they didn't go full Blue. He'd like a chance to explain that first. "Whenever you're ready, we'll start."

Aspen Matthews didn't exactly bring her swimsuit! She does start to strip down her outer clothes though. The last thing she's going to want at the end of all of this is not dry clothes. Her skin does prickle a bit from the cold, because she's aclimated to surfacer climates. She's been an athelte long enough, and spent enough time in bikinis that she's not really all that worried about being in her undies around Rowan. She stands at the edge of the shore, looking down at the water. Then, cringing a bit, she steps in. Her breath catches in a gasp, "That's kinda cold!" She says, arms flailing a bit with her voice going up an octave.

"You'll get used to it. If you start to show signs of hypothermia we'll get you warmed up right away." But Rowan's not planning on letting it get quite that far without getting to the main point. "Okay ready?" He grips her arm and dives for deeper water. Aspen's a good swimmer. Rowan's been at this his hole life. And they don't need to go far. Ten feet or so will do. Once they're in a good spot he stops to hold her down. The struggle, which he thinks is inevitable, he hopes isn't to… frantic.

Ready? Probably not. Aspen gives a yelp as Rowan drags her down, holding her breath as he takes her under. Of course it takes a while before her lungs start to burn and then she does indeed start to struggle.

On the upside, she's an admittedly athletic scientist. But she leans towards fitness over strength whereas Rowan has been a soldier. Aspen does try to keep her head, it's when the air she has bubbles upwards and she inhales water for the first time that she really starts to struggle.

Rowan is not cruel. He's killed before. Hell, he's drowned people before. On purpose. But he's never done it to see them suffer and watching Aspen (a woman he in his own world admired as one of the pinnacles of the Blue, a genuine war hero) struggle is… kind of… hard, actually. Still, it helps to know that if this doesn't work he'll know right away. And there's a fairly good chance he can get her medical attention in time. Explaining how it happned… might be more difficult.

For now he just watches and waits to see if she'll keep breathing or go limp.

Aspen Matthews's struggles go to thrashing when she's got both air and water in her lungs, limbs churning the water frentically. Finally the last of the air escapes her lungs and her body's ability to breathe water kicks in and the struggling slows. Her aquamarine eyes blink slowly through the fizz of bubbles.

Once she's A) Cleary breathing and B) no longer struggling Rowan lets her go and swims back a bit. "So… talking underwater takes a bit of practice." He says ever so slightly awkwardly. After all, he did just kind of drown her. For a good reason and with no ill effects… but still.

Aspen Matthews's arms settle down, floating outstretched out to either side. She takes a while just to get used to breathing and when she finally does try to speak, it takes a few tries. "I'm doing it! I'm breathing!"

Rowan laughs and backs away, indicating a direction of travel. "Yes you are." Good thing too, it's saved her life at least once. "You'll get used to it. Switching back and forth is rough at first, but after a while you stop even thinking about it. Which'll be handy later I'm sure…" He starts to swim, making sure Aspen is following. Lake Superior is plenty deep and safe from the Atlanteans. Good practice ground. "So like I said, there's a lot to tell you, but I'm sure you have questions first."

Water is like… well, it is apparently her first home and she kicks off to follow after Rowan. "Well, the biggest one you probably can't answer for me." She admits. "Which would be if I'm Blue, why don't I remember it? And why have I been on the surface?"

"Can't answer for you yet… though I have my suspicions. Appearing out of nowhere with a vanished cruise ship? Seems like something a group I know of would do, but I probably shouldn't say more because they're really just guesses." Rowan is headed for the bottom, just to see what's here. He's not shifting now. Too awkward.

"I can tell you that I've started the process of contacting our people. I… have some things I want to find out myself. When I do, perhaps you'd like to come. Nearest enclave is in the Carribean but I have no doubt the answers to both our questions will eventually end up in the Pacific. It's where most of our people are. Or so I hear."

"But the Blue that you know could be entirely different from the ones here." Aspen notes, more observation than any sort of objection. "They could have even been wiped out by some weird Butterfly Effect happening in the past, right?" It isn't like the water races that have made contact with the surface have been passing out maps of what's under the sea.

Rowan nods. "Right. Things could be very, very different here. Still, there are… sorry, were Blue in Atlantean waters until a few days ago. But no one who could or would particularly tell me anything useful. Right now I'm just trying to get their attention in the area they're most likely to be. It may take some time. Which is fine. If nothing else it's time for the situation in the Atlantic to settle and for me to teach you a few more basic things."

"Well, hopefully nothing else is as panic-inducing as that." Aspen says, managing to get that dry humor into her 'tone'. She gives a quick kick of her feet and the water surges around her to help her catch up to Rowan as he swims in deeper.

"Well…" Rowan hedges a bit, glancing back as Aspen caches up remarkably quickly. "Nothing so physiological, I think."

He grins a little. "So, all Blue have an innate ability to control water. Er, well, I don't, but every other Blue I've ever met does. Our people use it to get around and the more powerful ones can do… other things. I was thinking we might have to locate someone a little less defective to help you learn but… perhaps not."

Aspen Matthews peers at him a bit, aquamarine eyes narrowing on him. "That's not the first time you've said something like that. You hardly seem 'defective' to me, Rowan."

"Mmmmm…" Rowan thinks about that for a minute. He's quite used to thinking of himself as defective. Not in a particularly self deprecating way. Just sort of as a reality. The needs of Blue society in the midst of an all consuming war were… quie different than anything he's found here. "I lack our people's ability to manipulate water at all. A genetic de- er, quirk. Mutation. Very rare. Literally one in a million. It put me at a rather significant… well, it made me a liability. That's why I accepted the modifications I did."

Aspen Matthews frowns at that. "You shouldn't have been made to feel like you needed to undergo experimentation just because you couldn't splash water around. And maybe it would make you a liability in some circumstances, but I'm sure it wouldn't have mattered in others." She points out, the conversation of course causing her to completely forget that the water is Damned Cold.

"Maybe here…" Rowans had a lot of time to think about that actually. "Maybe there too. I'm no longer sure. At the time, with the war on, I thought, as did most around me, that I needed to be able to fight. Military service was compulsory. We'd long since passed the point of being able to afford not doing so. I don't know if I think they were right anymore. In some ways it seems like we became a mirror of what we fought… but right or not, that is how it was for me at the time." This isn't 'lesson' per se, but he does hope that understanding the world he came from can put some perspective on the current clash between surface and sea.

"When you're under pressure, it's hard to see anything other than what you're looking for." Aspen says with slight nod. They needed soldiers, so they only saw that he wasn't one, instead of anything else he might have been. "You fought the surface there, didn't you?" Because by all accounts, he's been pretty friendly to the surface here.

"Not the way the Atlanteans here seem to want to. We fought the Overlords, who did, yes control most of the surface. But we had allies. Naturalist tribes and Magi who did not accept their rule and had no place in their society." So Rowan is used to seeing surfacers as friends instead of only enemies. It probably helped that Arthur and Mera were on hand when he arrived though.

Aspen Matthews gives a slow thoughtful nod. "Well, that's probably good then. Less bad habits to break in a new place." She flashes him a bright grin, eyes twinkling with her own amusement.

Bringing the topic back around, "So you figure I can manipulate water, since the rest of the Blue can. And it's something you can't really teach me, since you can't do it."

"Well I figure you can manipulate water, yes, since nearly every Blue can." And that was a really odd pressure wave Rowan just felt. "But it's possible that just being in water will trigger some instinctive uses of it." He pauses again, thinking. "Its possible actually that it's always been the case and you never knew it. Anyway, it usually is second nature for most Blue by their late childhood. Simple as breathing. If you end up needing someone to teach you, we'll find one."

"So I should just work at thinking at water to see if I can make it dance?" Aspen asks, grinning. Rowan, being much more familiar with water movement around him can feel the way the currents shift with her, to help her keep pace with him and face him while still moving in the direction she wants to.

The Blue can think of a few things that might speed the process up. Some of them are a bit more in depth than he'd planned for an initial lesson but, really, this is going rather well. "Well I think it's possible that you won't even need that but… sure, go ahead and give it a try. But for now… let's see how good a swimmer you really are, shall we?" And see if she can keep using that ability of hers even without knowing. Rowan winks over his shoulder and takes off, calling Water to him as he does to let him slide through the lement more easily.

"Did… did you just turn blue?" Aspen says, gaping a bit before she heys! and kicks off to chase after him.

Everything else aside Aspen was, literally, an Olympic-calibre swimmer. Gold, in fact though the reason for that is likely because she's Blue, even if she didn't know it. She can swim on her own pretty damned fast and, her nature sluggishly waking with her forcible immersion, the water helps her move even more quickly through the liquid. Rowan's not the only one that can call Water!

And Aspen is, potentially better at it. She does it… differently. And ultimately more powerfully. Rowan aligns himself with water. Calls its essence to him. Aspen literally calls to the water itself. And she's fast. Still, the dragon-soldier is no stranger to racing for duty or for sport and he's doing his level best to stay ahead of her without changing. Partly because, hey he hasn't had this kind of fun in a while and partly because he's fairly sure that a bit of 'muscle stretching' will invigorate her already stirring heritiage.

Aspen Matthews is used to going in straight lines, and so it's when Rowan makes turns that she looses ground. But she's getting better at it. Her laughter seems to resonate with the water itself, her emotions riding that tide and brushing against Rowan as she works on chasing the blue Blue down.

Feeling that Rowan feels rather justified in believing her potential is everything he'd seen back on his own world. To be doing this within minutes of entering the water? Speaks of a great deal of latent power. He rather sincerely hopes that she never gets mad at him because that might actually legitimately scare him more than Mera does.

He twists again, used to the three dimensional field available, corkscrewing through the water, now near the floor now twisting upward only to bank and dive back.

Aspen Matthews's shaping of the water is, at the moment, entirely done unconsciously and with a bit of effort, Rowan is able to keep and even widen that lead as it takes much longer for Aspen to make those tight turns. Even when it becomes clear she won't be able to overtake him, she continues the chase until eventually coming to a stop. She waits for him to notice and circle back around to her. "I'm suddenly starving." And the nearest spot to get some food isn't exactly close. "How about we continue this conversation back above water." She's still got to do the water-to-air transition, but hopefully that won't freak her out quite as bad as the air-to-water.

"Sure…" Closest place to eat isn't close at all. Fortunately they can drive… or Rowan can fly them there. Either way. He's done it for others. Mostly Babs, but enough that there are even places near the harbor that do not immediately call the police at the sight of a dragon… though he probably shouldn't do that here. Still, flight's an option. "Let's get you back above water and… er…" Probably dressed. Surfacers do seem picky about that. "Get your clothes back."

Aspen Matthews smirks at that. "Yeah. Next time I'll wear something a bit more suitable." Not everyone can have the fancy change-on-command clothes, after all.

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