NFG Season One - Talk Between Team... Friends

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Description: Iris and Djamila have a talk about things. Which ends up beneficial for both of them.

It took a while for Iris to recover from her fight with Hawksley; the brawler from Cork hit considerably harder than any fighter she'd faced in the NFG so far, and while the Brit is certainly capable of defending herself, she is not exactly a fighter who excels on the defensive... or the offensive, preferring a balanced approach. Or, more likely, as a result of the fact that she doesn't really have a 'fighting style' so much as an 'approach' to fighting. There's no rote techniques or learning for her to fall back on, as most martial artists do.

Making it up as you go along is not as easy as it sounds.

Ultratech -- and by extension the LifeBands -- are definitely good for one thing, and that's letting the company's extensive response team know when a fighter gets straight up KOed in a bout. Combine that with her fight being a scheduled match, and she had barely hit the floor when an Ultratech med response team was there to pick her up and take her somewhere safe to recover.

That 'somewhere safe' is, of course, the EVOLVE center at Ultratech HQ, which is where Iris found herself when she woke up. Part of her wanted to be annoyed that she was moved without her explicit consent, but she is also aware that she was, uh, UNCONSCIOUS, and thus they did the best they could. Still... Ultratech EMTs appearing out of the sky with that level of speed and foreknowledge is still more than a little creepy, a fact she turns over in her head as she glances down at the shiny LifeBand around her wrist.

All that was hours and hours ago. Finding herself with nothing to do -- and reflecting on how her fight with Hawksley went -- the magus is actually on the practice floor, standing opposite one of the place's high-tech training dummies. Her 'workout' right now? Lunge forward, summoning a weapon -- a different one each time -- to strike with, and then letting it vanish. No complex katas or combinations, no sequences of attacks. If anything, it seems like she's drilling the actual act of summoning weapons itself, rather than attacking with them...?

Djamila, meanwhile, had time to go and win her match. She almost felt sorry for how much damage she looked like she had done to Genie. If she was honest, it had been easy. But that just means she needs more training. Because when something goes too well, you get too sure of yourself. Djamila didn't want that to happen, so more training.

The elevator makes a ping sound as it opens for her, and she gets inside the training area. She can't help but whistle a little. She can still be happy for her win. Then she realizes someone is there training. "Oh. Hi! If you want to train in peace, I will go to the other end of the room. But I am here if you wanna talk." She also offers. She wants to be there for her teammates, just like she would like them to be there for her. Just like Kenzo was before.

She doesn't go to the other end of the room right away. Instead she poses to see if they did want to talk. BUt she doesn't settle. There is no pressure. Alone time will be offered, or talk time will be offered, or whatever else she's not thinking about right now."

There's a weird sound -- something halfway between the *CRACK* of an object hitting plastic and the *BWONG* of something ringing a gong -- as Iris swings a summoned warhammer into one of the practice dummies, just as Djamila enters the room. Apparently the magus was deeply focusing on practicing, because the sound of the dancer's voice makes her suddenly whirl to the door... and drop the hammer, which lands with an EXTREMELY loud *CLANG* on the training room floor before vanishing.

"What th... oh. Afternoon, Djamila," Iris says, once the moment of shock has passed. "Sorry, I guess I was a little focused, there." She's mostly lucky she didn't just drop a metal warhammer right on her foot in surprise, because that would definitely sting, and while she's healed from the fight, that doesn't mean she isn't still a little sore.

There's a pause, and she seems to be about to say something noncommital about not being bothered, before the Brit's eyes widen and she thinks back to watching the video just this afternoon of Djamila's fight with Genie. "Actually... you might be the perfect person to talk to about this, right now," Iris says, seemingly out of nowhere. "If you don't mind me keeping at what I was doing while we talk. I'm... sorely in need of endurance training."

So many loud things happening. She didn't mean to startle anyone, but she can understand being so focused on what you do. "Hey Iris, I am sorry for your match." She takes a pause, then she adds. "Sorry if I surprised you also. At least I don't think it has hit anything on you." She smiles sheepishly. "I am just quite happy with myself. If I may say so." R
With that done. she listens to Iris about what she needs. "I can listen to you. You can continue what you do, or I can be your live dummy. Whatever makes you more comfortable. You're important Iris." Hopefully, she didn't make that sound too weird.

She then settles her staff nearby, but not too near. Then she leans on it, ready to listen to her. She gives her her whole attention.

That gets a faint laugh out of the Brit, who rubs the back of her neck. "I think if Mint were here, she'd have something quippy but accurate to say about spatial awareness." What she's not expressing aloud is that Iris really HADN'T realized how in-the-zone she'd been, and glancing at her LifeBand -- and the readout of the current time on it -- she's actually quite thankful for the dancing fighter's appearance: Iris has been at this for an hour already, at this point, and barely even noticed. It's only now that she's stopped that her protesting muscles in her arms are starting to speak up loudly enough to cut through the fog.

"You know... I will, maybe once I've... had something to drink." Walking over toward the wall, where her bag has been lying, the wizard helps herself to a bottle of water and a protein bar, ripping open the wrapper on the latter and taking a bite before taking a... rather large swig from the former.

"Let me ask you a question, if you don't mind," Iris says, leaning against the wall and facing Djamila. "Do you care about... winning your matches?"

She smiles more when she hears Iris laugh. Everything is better when someone can laugh for real. "If Mint was here. How do you know she's not? You were completely focused on what you were doing, I think until I made noises." She smirks. "Maybe she's around, quiet as a mouse." She's kidding, of course, but why not?

After that, she pauses, listening to Iris once again, while she is pretty chill on her staff. "It's up to you. No pressure. I don't know how you are feeling physically right now. I mean, I can have an idea, but we don't deal with pain the same way." She goes quiet again while Iris takes nourishment.

"Yeah, sure?" She listens even more. "In the first round, I cared too much. When I lost, I was so mad at myself. Even in the rumble. I did well, but I got mad and I blamed Ichika for it. It was unhealthy." She takes a deep breath. "Now, I still want to win, but I have come to realize I am a good fighter. Whether I win or I lose, I will learn something. So the most important is not to win but to be kind to myself." She sighs a bit. "I sound like a self-help booklet, but if you hate yourself, you're going to get mad at things and you lose control. That's my experience with it." She goes quiet to see if it helps Iris in any way. If she has follow-up questions or anything else. She's not even sure if that's helpful.

Even as she's biting into the protein bar while listening to Djamila talk, the look on Iris's face as the dancer describes caring a little too much, blaming Ichika, the unhealthiness of putting too much stock in winning... it's very pensive indeed. There's a long moment where she uses chewing slowly to mask not 100% being able to figure out what to say, but eventually that has to end.

"Yeah. That's... kind of where I'm at right now." Djamila calling it 'unhealthy' was like a slap to the face in some ways, because she's not wrong at all, but... but.

The wizard breathes out through her nose, sharply and loudly, before continuing, looking off to the side as she speaks, like she's replaying something in her mind. "I keep thinking about how I felt after that fight in the last round, against Tamaki. Where it felt like I couldn't DO anything, that no matter what I tried it blew up in my face. I guess I'm lucky that I didn't blame Tamaki for it -- it's not her fault she fought well -- but I guess since I couldn't, or didn't want to, blame her, I put it all on myself, instead."

She takes another sip of water before turning back to Djamila. "And now I'm just... I can feel myself not putting it all on the line because I'm afraid of losing. Keeping something back. Getting into fights with myself when things go wrong. All because I'm afraid of losing." She gives a faint little laugh. "Stupid, right?"

"Did someone put you down? Someone who either told you you couldn't do this or someone who made sure you knew you weren't worth anything? Because that's a lie." All this is from personal experience, but she doesn't mention that.

A slight pause, then she continues. "You're a fighter. You have your place in this tournament. You have your place in Team Metal. Because believe me, if you didn't have your place, there were recruits to pick instead with undiscovered potential."

She moves closer to Iris. "Think about the time you joined here. The first time you were here. Then realize you're already better than you were then. You're not the same woman who entered this." She doesn't, however touch Iris. she's just closer.

"Be yourself. Use your strengths. Be aware of your weaknesses. Then just go all in. Win or lose, make your opponent remember your name. You're Iris, damn it. That means something." She lifts her head as if looking straight into Iris's eyes. "It's not stupid, but you have to get over that part. We're all afraid of losing. Because no one can claim they are a league above everyone else. We're all new to this. We're all developing. Not all at the same speed. Not all in the same way." She takes another deep breath. "Win, lose... Just be Iris. If you're yourself, then you win, no matter what happens.

"Nobody had to," Iris says, in response to Djamila asking if someone had put her down. She gestures at her head with the hand holding the protein bar, the closest she can get to pointing with her hands full. "I was more than happy to do it to myself, I guess." And that part is definitely true... or at least, true of everyone she's met INSIDE the NFG. None of her competitors, or sponsors, or the organizers have ever said something like 'you're bad and should feel bad'.

Djamila talks about just allowing herself to be 'be Iris', and the Brit has to focus and bite back her automatic reply: that part of the reason why she's in the NFG at all is because 'being Iris' hadn't been enough up to this point. She was never good enough for her demanding mother, and basically invisible to her overachieving sister.

And now they're both gone, with no chance to ever change their minds about that.

"Thank you for saying that," is what the Brit eventually manages to say, sounding genuinely grateful. "Sometimes I feel like it would just be so much easier not to care. Especially because I can FEEL it hurting my ability to actually fight."

"I won't argue with you. I don't know all of your life to even dare say you are wrong. The mind is indeed a nasty tool, however." She nods her head. "I think your fighting style is pretty cool. I have mine, and your fighting style doesn't scream Djamila. So I continue with mine. But someone who can make things out of thin air. It's just so fuc... damn impressive.

If Djamila would know about Iris' Mother and sister, if she could read Iris' mind, she would say right there. 'They are the people who have put you down, just not in those words.' But Djamila for all the (weird?) things she can do, mind reading is not one of them, so nothing is said about that.

"You're welcome. I mean it. Just remember one more thing. You and I, among a few more, are in NFG. Many others are not. We're already special enough to be in here. So it's not about proving you're good enough. It's about giving yourself the chance to show what you can do. I don't know if that's what you need, but you could take every match like it was your last. The goal is not to win necessarily. The goal is to show your opponent and the world what you can do. You already started to do that because you have fans Iris. There were already fans at your match against Hawksley." She then smiles wider. "And I met you not that long ago. Yet, I will never forget your name or who you are. You are making an impact.

She's been standing all this time, but Iris finally slides down to the floor with her back still against the wall, having a seat. Maybe she needed a break more than she let on. "I appreciate that you think making stuff appear out of thin air is cool, but would you believe me if I told you I think you being so well-adjusted and positive is a much more useful life skill?" After all, if you need a hammer, it's not THAT much of a hassle to go to a store and buy one instead of conjuring it out of nothing. It's not like you can dip down to Lowes and get a box of Feeling Okay With Myself and the World off a shelf in an emergency.

Iris takes another bite of the now almost-gone protein bar and chews on it reflectively for a moment or two before speaking again. "As someone who's been in the position she was in before, I think Genie was lucky to be fighting you when things went so wrong for her," the magus adds, continuing her thought from before. "Not that I think anyone else would have been mean to her or anything. But I bet it helped that you genuinely cared about reassuring her."

She asks Iris, "Are you okay?" as she presumably hears her sliding to the ground.

When Iris tells her how well-adjusted and positive, she has to say a few things. "Recently, my father beat me up, probably would have killed me, and said very nasty things. That wasn't even the worst he did to me or in my life in general. I was heading toward a wall, to be honest. But I got help, and after the rumble, I realized how I was wasn't good for me." She brings her head down. "Then, there was a solution for my father, and I think I've let go. At least for now. Until PTSD hits me again. I didn't even know PTSD was possible to have if you weren't in the military, but it's possible. Mint made me realize that." She brings her head back at Iris. "So now, I am at peace, and I want to be there for my teammate more than I was before the rumble. Because you're all great and I am proud to call you friends and to be on the team with you and all the others."

"I was proud to be winning like this, but I also got worried for her. I wouldn't want anyone to quit because of me. Genie is another amazing fighter. She has proved it before, and she will prove it again."

The revelation of Djamila's (recent!) trauma slams into Iris like a slap to the face, and it shows in her expression; the blue eyes go wide, before the Brit grimaces with frustration. "I'm so sorry, Djamila," she says, before anything else. Iris's own memories of her mother aren't exactly rosy and positive, but for good or for ill, there was never violence. The idea that PTSD can follow even an everyday person, though... that Iris believes all too readily. Sometimes it feels like the ghosts of everyone she's disappointed are following her home every night. "But I'm glad you've moved past that."

A pause, and then the Brit shakes her head. "I'm sure Genie will too. I've fought her before, in round one... I got very, very lucky, to be honest. Or maybe she was just very unlucky. But I can tell from the times that she did tag me, if I hadn't been lucky, that could have gone another way easily."

Frowning, the wizard takes a sip of her water, then shakes her head again. "Weird. If it's someone else, it's easy for me to say 'they were just unlucky, I'm sure it'll be different next time'. If it's me, I'm... not quite so forgiving." She tilts her head at Djamila, especially now that the dancer's shared some of her own tales of suffering. "Is it like that for you, too?"

"It's alright. I just wanted to say I wasn't always this positive or healthy for me or anyone else. Also, we all have our demons following us. Everyone in NFG has them I am pretty sure. Some are just better at hiding them." She shrugs.

She continues on the next subject, "There is both luck involved, and you were the better fighter than. Sure, there is luck, but there is skill involved too. You're allowed to say and think you earned your wins. We also earn our losses because it's not like it's just based on bad luck either. I earned all of my losses. I can tell you that."

Then another answer for iris. She seems content to be leaning on her staff again. "It's not weird. If you're a good person, you can justify all the mistakes and bad luck of a person you care for. But the same mistake, it's unforgivable if it's you. Should have known better. How could I've been this stupid? Instead, if I had done this, I would have won the match. Then there are the opposite people. People will consider all of your problems very easy because they don't have those problems. You just have to do this to solve them. It's easy. But don't try to solve their problems, because their problems are hard and you just don't understand. At least that's how I've seen things in my life. That's not to say I have all the answers."

She sighs. "Can I share something with you? Something that you have to keep for yourself? Because I never told anyone else truth be told.

If her facial expression is anything to go by, Djamila agreeing actually makes Iris feel a bit better. It IS really hard to forgive yourself for things, and if you're not a complete jerk, it's usually pretty easy to be gentle on other people for things that don't necessarily have earth-shattering consequences. "I wonder what the secret is there," she adds, genuinely curious, before laughing and shaking her head helplessly. "Nobody said that learning to hit people in a fight would be the secondary challenge, and overcoming your own emotional state would be the big one."

But then the dancer asks to share something, and considering Djamila's usual demeanor, the sudden change is mood is palpable indeed. "Of course," Iris says, tilting her head at Djamila in concern. "If you want to, I mean. I'm happy to listen and keep your confidence, but don't feel like you have to share if you're not up for it." She takes the final bite of her protein bar and settles in to listen.

"It might help to think of a friend, and then wonder, 'If it was happening to my friend, what would I tell them.' Then try to tell yourself that. It's not easy, especially at first, but with practice, it might work out. You can see if it works for you." She smiles. "Hitting people is easy. Keeping them from hitting you back in retaliation is the challenge." She laughs. "Seriously, our mind is the biggest enemy for sure." She nods her head.

She takes a deep breath. "Maybe most people who know me have a suspicion about it, but I've never told anyone anyway. This has been my secret, never to be confirmed because It was a challenge to get there, and I don't know if anyone else could do it. It has been my path, and it's my own." She frowns. "Ok, I am delaying... I can see Iris. Obviously, not with my eyes. I don't have any eyes at all. So, a blindfold is kinder to everyone, but I can see. I suppose one might call it the third eye, though I also don't see as physical eyes do. But I see enough." She is aware there's probably a recording device around that will pick up that secret. She's alright about that. If the sponsors come at her with the knowledge, she won't blame Iris. But the first person she tells, it's her choice, and that's what matters to her. "I just felt right to share with you at the moment. I hope it doesn't make you think less of me." Suddenly, she was worried. What if she thinks she is a fraud? Nan, it's herself who feels that. But she is blind, physically. It's a truth.

"Well," Iris says, after a brief pause, digesting that piece of information carefully and thinking about her response with equal weightiness. "The first thing I'd tell you is: you're talking to a literal wizard. So if you're worried I'm going to think that's strange or weird or whatever: you do not have to worry about that." A faint smile, perhaps made all the better with the knowledge that Djamila may be able to actually see it. "Thank you for telling me about it all the same. And... Greg, probably," she says, glancing up at the walls. "Who I hope will think carefully about how that information is used."

Not exactly THREATENING her sponsor, but perhaps making it clear that one teammate is looking out for another, even when the sponsor is involved.

"I don't think anyone on this team would judge you for it, either," she adds, getting herself standing and stretching her arms over her head, placing the capped water bottle and protein bar wrapper on her bag. "I sure don't. There are more things on Earth than even normal people know about, let alone fighters and all the weird stuff WE can do. There's a *vampire* in the league right now, after all."

She ends up laughing a little, like stress leaving. Stress that probably shouldn't have been there, but it was anyway, and now it was leaving. "Thank you, Iris. You are right. I jus,, it never felt right to outright come out with it, and with you, it felt right at this moment. If that doesn't sound weird." She even giggles a little. "Thank you, Iris." She wanted to jump into Iris's arms to hug her, but that would be sudden and perhaps even weirder. She holds back."

"We do have a vampire, and I wonder why anyone would want to live forever. That's horrible. You only get to see the ones you love die. Horrible, I tell you." She sighs. "Thank you again, Iris. Tell you what, I think we might both need to rest at this point. Unless you need to talk more. I certainly won't leave you behind all alone if it's the case. Otherwise, we get some rest, and before our third fight, we'll spar. That sounds good to you?" She gives a smile back now.

Living forever... yeah. It sounds like a good deal as long as you never get attached to anyone emotionally. "I'm with you on that one," Iris says in agreement. "There's lots of stories in the world of magic of people who try to find immortality. I can tell you MOST of them end in a really grisly fashion." The Brit shrugs. "Kinda says to ME that maybe man wasn't meant to live forever."

Whether or not Iris would be receptive to a hug, the truth is that while Djamila's speaking, the wizard is rolling her shoulders and arms a bit, hopping on her feet, and other 'getting back to readiness' little physical things, meaning attempting to hug her would be a bit like jumping into an ongoing game of double dutch. At the dancer-fighter's words, however, Iris nods. "You've got yourself a deal. I think I'm going to get back to practicing. That was Mint's advice, after all -- make it second nature. Could be worse," she adds, walking towards the training dummy and squaring off with it, before turning back to Djamila. "I hear in Japan, onmyouji would stand under a cold waterfall in nothing but a loincloth to help improve their focus." She can't help but sympathetically shiver. "No thank you to that."

A pause, and then Iris puts up a finger. "And for the record... thanks for being that ray of sunshine. People probably aren't good about acknowledging that, me included, but we notice. It helps."

Maybe another time. "I can believe that. It just doesn't sound good at all."

Ok, good luck with your training. I am going to get some food and some sleep. She laughs "Have a cold shower if you need it, but I don't think it helps that much for fighting. But that's just me.

"It's... You're super welcome. Thank you for listening and not judging. I really like you, Iris. Until later! For our spar, or before, or whatever comes up." Then she skips away, really in a good mood now.

Log created on 18:04:56 09/23/2023 by Djamila, and last modified on 13:14:10 09/24/2023.