It’s been some time since Natsu left Jericho and Gabrielle in his office. She hadn’t been happy when she left, Jericho knows that and judging by what he’s feeling through their shared connection, she still isn’t. He might imagine what Gabrielles request has stirred up for her.
She’s been busy in the intervening hours though, she hadn’t been lying when she said she had work to do. Now though, he can find her in the gym at the factory.
The tall, willowy, part elf is dressed in light ‘yoga’ style clothing, so far from her usual mode of dress it’s almost jarring. Her hair is pulled up in a simple pony tail and she’s … sparring with one of his younger corsec. Sparring, in a martial arts sort of way and from it looks like, she’s holding her own.
Jericho stops just inside the gym doorway to watch. All of his CorSec study vibroblades as part of their training. Fencing as an art is of only so much value against demons but knowing the principles of attack and defense and knowing how to wield your blade are of immense value. It’s interesting if perhaps not terribly surprising that Natsuki has taken up that study. Living around him she would have been exposed to it’s value a lot…
“Are you sure you don’t think you’ll have to duel for me?” He says raising his voice only slightly.
Natsu had studied sword play before she met Jericho, he’s seen her practice with her own Captain before. This is different though – this is with vibro-blades not a fencing foil but she seems to have picked up the principles well enough.
Of course, he can tell his man is taking easy with the part-elf. It probably wouldn’t do to slice her up, even a little bit.
An interruption like that, unexpected as it is, should cause her to falter but it doesn’t. Then again, she knew he was near, didn’t she? It doesn’t bother his man either – but it shouldn’t, all of Jericho’s troops are well trained.
The part-elf lunges, barely missing Harrison as he turns and he brings the blade down her backside in a strike. “Better, Miss Taniguichi, but you keep leaving that side open …” The part-elf winces and turns, raising her blade in a salute before she looks at Jericho “I have better tools in my arsenal if I want to keep you…” she answers in return.
Harrison looks between them “Were you after Miss Taniguichi, Sir?” he asks carefully.
“I was. Would you mind suspending your lesson?” Jericho says waving to the man. “Miss Taniguchi and I have some things to discuss.”
It’s telling that he asks rather than commands. It’s more his style in non combat situations anyway. He’s not a tyrant even if he is in more or less absolute control of his guild.
Once the man is gone he steps on to the mat. “Shall I take his place?”
“Of course not, Sir. We were nearly done here, weren’t we Miss?” Harrisons one of the few of Jericho’s corsec who will even look at the part-elf, let alone speak with her. “Will you be by tomorrow?”
“We were, Norman…” That Natsu has taken the time to learn the CorSecs first name speaks volumes. “And I think so, planning disasters not withstanding. And Norman? Tomorrow, you don’t get to be so easy on me …” Oh she knows he was doing it. “And Thank you for the lesson.”
The young blonde leaves and Natsu turns, watching Jericho step onto the mat “You’ve refused to duel with in the past, doubting my skill…” she says quietly. It was more like he knows his skill far, far, outstrips hers. “Why now? But I’m game, if you are. What did you want to talk about?”
Jericho picks up one of the trainers. These weapons only deliver a light jolt when they make contact rather than the horrible eviscerating field that rends armor made for combat robots. He spins it in his hand and settles into a low guard. “I wanted to talk about what my sister did… and I let her do by not saying anything. You’re upset and I wanted to apologise for both of us.”
Natsu watches. She hasn’t greeted him with anything like her usual effusivness. It might be that she was focussed on the sword play or it might be that she’s still upset. When Jericho crouches low, she takes up a mirror stance, judging his positioning and starting to side step. One foot moving to the other, never crossing over.
“And what was it your sister did, leannan, that has me so upset you need to seek me to apologise?” Maybe she’s not so upset that she won’t her diminutive for him, but she doesn’t seem inclined to make this easy.
She doesn’t stop watching him though, and he might feel she’s a bit like a cat watching her prey.
Jericho lashes out with his blade. It’s a simple thrust, right at her center of gravity. A very Jericho like move that he expects to be swatted away, but that’s intended. He’s testing her defenses. Seeing if she has what it takes to take more of his skill and technique. It’s no good beating someone about the head all day. They’ll never learn anything.
“She asked for your blood and refused to tell you why.” The Baronet says simply, his blade humming as it darts forward.
Natsu seems to expect the thrust and just as Jericho expects, her blade comes up and parries it, letting her own blade slide down his to the hilt before flicking her wrist and trying to push the thrust wide. Not unskilled, by any means, but not Jericho standards at all.
“She did yes and she refused to say, yes. But there’s more to it, isn’t there?” She murmurs, watching him. “Blood is important, Jericho. So is family and she’s investigating both with my input …”
Jericho lets his blade flow aside and brings it back in a cross slash. Every move he makes is simultaneously a defense and an attack. Natsuki is aware of the principles of ‘priority’. In order to be able to launch an attack she must first defeat his. And he’s not making it easy.
“I assume she has good reason for doing so. But I trust her and I cannot necessarily extend that trust on your behalf.”
Natsu doesn’t expect Jericho to make this easy and she parries again, trying to step inside his attack. Again she lets her blade slide down to his the hilt, but this time she doesn’t try to move the blade, she just holds it there.
“Why is she investigating my lineage? She could have spoken to me about it and asked. But she didn’t. I’m sure she has //very// good reason to delve into my past, after all I’m just a traitorous elf, aren’t I?”
It’s not that Jericho trusted Gabrielle, it’s that Gabrielle doesn’t trust Natsu. Or so it seems.
“She said something had come up in her investigations. I presume she means her investigations of Greg and the code he left behind. Is it possible that Greg did any research on your family?”
Jericho withdraws his blade for a moment and then launches into another attack, this one intended to draw her guard high while driving her back.
“I’m not defending what she did. I’m sure she does have a good reason but she could have come to you and she should have. You’re part of the family now after all.”
“Of course it’s possible and it’s expected, Jericho. When I introduce someone to the network I’m putting back together, I’ll do the same…” Natsu sighs, wincing as the Baronet goes on the attack again. She only just gets her blade high enough to block him, and yes, she takes a step back, or maybe three or four.
“What’s not expected is for the woman I wish to call Sister to do that to me. She would offended and likely try to cut my throat if I had done the same to her. All I wanted was to know what she had found …” And she’d been shunned or perhaps treated like a child.
Is Natsu really part of the family now? She has to wonder. Gabrielle is cool at best to the part-elf. It’s possibly that the rest of the Guild is waiting for Jericho to get a ‘better offer’ and put Natsu aside.
“She probably wouldn’t tolerate it well no.” Jericho pauses in his conversation to lash out in a kick once her guard is sufficiently high up. The point of that particular series of maneuvers is to force an opponent to compromise their defenses in the face of a second attacker. When there is no second attacker, though, there are other ways to work that out.
“Would you like me to speak to my sister about more appropriately keeping you informed of things regarding you and your family?”
Natsu tanks the kick. Probably much to Jericho’s surprise. It will bruise, but the the elf doesn’t let her guard down. Instead her wrist twists, trying to bring their locked blades lower and she watches his eyes as they move.
Two can play that game though and she lets her blade pull closer, letting the Baronet close on her if he will.
“No, she wouldn’t. And neither would you. And yet both of you expect it of me…” She sighs though and let’s it go “No, Jericho. I don’t want you speaking for me. I will find your sister when I’m sufficiently calm and speak with her about it.” That might not be ideal but Natsu must make her place in the … hierarchy.
Jericho twists his own blade, interfering with her attempt to defend her lower quarters until he can get back on solid footing. It doesn’t take long, Jericho wouldn’t unbalance himself unless he were certain of a killing stroke. Instead of pressing his attack he pulls back to evaluate and starts to circle again, this time with his blade in a high guard, tip angled downward toward Natsuki.
“You may find that she had not considered that. Gabrielle is often rather oblivious when she is working on a project or a puzzle such as that.”
Natsu has just completed a work out with his Corsec. She should be tiring and it’s possible she is.
She pouts a little as Jericho pulls back and bats her eyelids at him, limping slightly where his kick had connected. Circling with him, the part-elf holds her sword before her, watching his eyes as they move. She patient, waiting to see if he’ll lunge again …
That might surprise him. She’s so impulsive usually.
She’s quiet as she thinks on his words though and nods slowly “I will grant you that, leannan. She is rather focussed. As the spymistress for your Guild though, she should be more aware of how others perceive things. It will help her all the more.” Says the people-elf. “It still hurt though leannan, that she wouldn’t tell me. It feels like she doesn’t think I’m good enough …”
“It’s possible she still bears you some resentment, I’ll grant that.” Because Natsuki is an elf? Or for some other reason? “However you’re only going to know after talking to her so I won’t speculate for you.”
Jericho knows his sister though and knows her quite well. He knows what her faults and foibles are.
After a moment Jericho lunges forward again, slashing downward across Nat’s right shoulder.
“I don’t blame her for resenting me, Jericho. What I did was unforgiveable but I’m trying to make ammends.” There’s another sigh as the part-elf turns with Jericho, still watching. Waiting for the tells that he’s going to move. “And I’m not asking you to speculate, nor will I accept any apology from you. There is nothing for you to apologise for after all… But I needed to say that.”
The lunge when it comes takes her by surprise, despite the bond and despite how observant she usually is. She yelps and stumbles backwards, tripping on her feet and starting to tumble back towards the mats.
Jericho follows through on his slash – which does not connect because Nat trips – and steps forward to bring his slash down from the opposite angle. There are ways to get out of this position but it’s a very dangerous one and recovering from it requires training and experience. Mostly training. Experience might get you killed.
“In that case I won’t apologise but are you sure you don’t want me to help in some way?” He’s still talking, even while trying to thwack her across the head.
Nats sword goes wide as the elf hits the mats but she uses her momentum to roll. Mostly out of the way of Jericho’s slash but it catches her on the shoulder, sending a jolt through her and causing her to yelp again.
Training in this – she doesn’t seem to have.
“Do you think it wise, leannan?” She pants as the pain of the trainer courses through her “Surely you would rather your … mistress… make peace with your sister on her own.”
Jericho raises his weapon and steps back to let Natsuki up. It wasn’t a bad bout all things considered though it ended very quickly. Duels do, though, especially duels among the skilled. They probe until one person makes a mistake and then it ends lop sidedly after that.
“I would prefer if you did it but I don’t want you to feel unsupported.” Which means regardless of his personal preference he’ll take action on this if she asks him to.
Natsu kneels on the floor for a little while longer, hair escaping the pony tail she put up in. Eventually she rolls the shoulder that he hit and makes her way to her feet, giving him a salute with her trainer. “Do I pass, leannan? Or do you kick me from the ranks of your CorSec?”
She sighs again as she goes to gather her towel and mop her face down. “I have it, Jericho. And if Gabrielle finds something, I’m sure she’ll tell me.”
“I think you should meet with Norman again tomorrow to continue your training. But you’re coming along.” Jericho says, putting his training sword away. He returns to offer Natsuki his hand.
“It will be okay, and if you need me, I am here for you. I promise.” And she knows he doesn’t promise things lightly.
Natsu snorts. “Coming along…” she turns and takes the hand he offers, tugging him to her. “If I have to duel for you, I’ll be in fine form, then …” Can he imagine her doing that? Duelling for him?
“I know, Jericho and I would have been fine in the long run. I … ” the part-elf shrugs. “… I’m passionate and sometimes things get to me.”
“I know Natsuki. It’s one of the things I like about you. One of many.” Jericho gives the part elf a hug and a quick kiss.
“Now. Will you join me for dinner?” Dinner is always a surprise in the factor’s residence. Sometimes he has it delivered and sometimes he makes it himself, but it’s always quite good. Well, he likes to think it’s quite good when he makes it himself anyway.
“Dinner?” Natsu returns the kiss and puts her head on his shoulder. “I said I would, did I not? But I’m not sure, young Norman was looking at me earlier … maybe I should make his evening …”
She’s teasing, of course. Of course, she’ll join her Baronet for dinner and probably stay the night, as she does often.
“Do I need to assign him to some cold, forsaken backwater? Like Gabrielle’s security detail?” Jericho is also teasing. He knows his CorSec and he knows Natsuki. And he’s not bothered by any of them.
Turning from the gym the Baronet gestures for the lights to dim. They’re the last ones out and for the next several hours at least the place is likely to be empty. He, Natsuki and indeed everyone else have better places to be.