Voices From The Past
Roleplaying Log: Voices From The Past
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

After a sparring session, Matt and Danny find their martial trainings may spring from the same source.

Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: December 17, 2018
IC Location: Danny Rand's mansion
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 18 Dec 2018 04:26
Rating & Warnings: R (Language)
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Danny Rand is a hell of a fighter. He doesn't look it. In everyday life, he gives the impression of a guy who keeps himself in decent shape by focusing on cardio and free weights. Maybe a jogger, maybe a swimmer, but not peak athletic performance.

In motion, it's another thing. Maybe it's the power of the Iron Fist, maybe it's the particular nature of K'un L'un's training, but the way he moves is not exactly expected. For one, he's fairly tall, but manages some incredible grace. There is a dance to his sparring - a fluidity of motion that one only really notices when it's not a life-or-death scenario.

The Iron Fist and the Devil of Hell's Kitchen have fought beside each other several times now, but sparring is a different story. Danny asked Matt because as much fun as it is to try and drop Luke and taunt him about telegraphing his punches, that doesn't really present the technical challenge he needs to try and find his footing again. He moves easily between at least a half-dozen established styles, with a few moves that don't match up to anything currently practiced in the earthly realm.

That was a day ago. Afterwards, he couldn't shake the feeling that there was something familiar about the other man's moves - something buried beneath the patchwork of boxing and street fighting that blends with more traditional martial arts to become Daredevil's unique fighting style. It's like a hauntingly familiar melody buried in a much different arrangement.

As much as the tune is stuck in his head, Danny has had other distractions, namely in the pile of documents he's still poring over. He's mostly been in his study, but he's been working off maps. That has necessitated the use of the large formal dining table where they had their Thanksgiving dinner only a few weeks before. He's bent over the map, shoulders hunched and pinched, brow furrowed. There's an old tapedeck playing. It echoes with a familiar voice.

"…we done with this bullshit? Stop dancing around and ask me a straight question and maybe then I can give you a straight answer."

"I have," says another voice. "But you keep dodging and insulting me. Which isn't going to kick me off the trail, you know."

"Jesus you remind me of Orson."

They're alike and different even in their seemings. Few would peg Matt Murdock as a fighter, even if they didn't know he was blind. His slim-cut lawyer's suits and plain t-shirts may betray a fit build, but you really have to see him in motion, at work, to have any sense at all of his capabilities.

And those capabilities are formidable to say the least.

It's true that he lacks polish. He has stripped much of the ritualism and style out of the traditions he has gradually folded into his repotoire, but the tactics themselves are there and solidly executed. Not just the artful jabs and footwork of boxing, but in the opportunistic elbow and knee throws of Muay Thai, the crouching strikes of Silat, or the elegant blocks of Wing Chun.

Those last are perhaps most impressive. Is it possible for a man to know a punch is coming before it's even thrown? It almost seems that Matt is less gifted with powerful senses than something like precognition. It's nearly impossible to fool him with a feint or misdirection, and he fights with an unpredictable south-paw's style.

Matt clearly enjoyed the bout; relished it really. Matt's opportunities to spar with gifted fighters are few and far between, outside of the odd bout with Bucky Barnes. And if he had observations about the obvious similiarities in the foundations of their training, he kept it to himself. Though it'd be hard to imagine he failed to pick up on those parallels, as strangely observant as he can be.

Regardless, days later, he's in 'his' suite at Danny's mansion at Gramercy when he hears the audio tape begin to play down the hall and around the corner. And even across that distance he can make out one of the voices. Even across the span of more than a decade, he can place that that caustic crackle of a voice precisely, and all the memories it brings with it.

He jolts up from the braille display at his laptop, looks over his shoulder at the closed door. It's several beats more before the man rises from the sofa chair and opens the door, rounds the hallway and approaches the expansive dining room table. "What is that?" he says with a lift of his chin towards the player. His brow is furrowed, his expression a gathering storm cloud.

"Your dad wore a wire when he was talking to people?" Matt says with a little lift of his eyebrows, as if that was the thing that surprised him most. It's the kind of conniving behavior he'd never expect out of the person who raised Danny Rand. Of course… Wendell Rand didn't raise Danny, not any more than Jack Murdock raised Matt. They both spent their truly formative years under the care and tutelage of various others. On Matt's side, one of them was —

"Stick," Murdock says with something like disbelief as he walks into the room and pulls out one of those beautiful wooden chairs to take a seat at the table. "That man on the tape. His name is Stick. He was my — my sensei for a few years." There's little in the way of fond memories or warmth in his tone. An abuser, Kinsey had named Stick when Matt described what his training at the tender age of nine-years-old had entailed.

"No, he just…recorded it." Danny grins a little and picks up a microphone attached to the old tape recorder. He waggles it around. "Dad hated taking notes." He watches Matt's reactions. He may not be able to listen to peoples' heart rates, but he is fairly good at reading body language.

"Your sensei? Really?" He grabs for one of the old leatherbound notebooks and flips through. His father's handwriting really is poor, judging from the volumes. "Here it is. September 16th, 1989. Copenhagen. Interview with Stick." And then, the reality of things sort of starts to fold in together. "Your…sensei was interviewed by my father when he was trying to discover how to get to K'un L'un." He lets that sink in. He won't editorialize on what that might mean. Not right away, anyway.

"Copenhagen," Matt repeats, as he rifles through the collection of sense memories that formed his vision of Stick. The old military clothes, the light smell of his aftershave, the gravel in his words, the quick tap-tap-tap in of his walking stick, the way the back of his hand felt when it struck Matt's chee —

Danny's follow-up brings him back to the present, and the new implications of these old tapes. "Uh, Stick always told me he was training me for some kind of war," Matt says, hands splayed palm-down on the table. Matt Murdock, child soldier. "But he wouldn't tell me who it was against, or what it was about. And my training was, uh, cut short —"

He left me. I reached out to him and he left me.

"Was Stick — did Stick help him? Your dad."

That familiar tune gets louder in Danny's head. Training for some kind of war. He frowns, looks down at the map, then up at the other man. "Matt, do you think it's possible that…Stick was trained in K'un L'un? The other day, when we were sparring, some things about the way you fight seemed familiar to me. I've kind of felt it for awhile, but usually when we were fighting…" there wasn't exactly time for technique analysis.

As for whether Stick helped Wendell Rand? Danny reaches for another cassette tape. This one is a mass of scrambled and broken tape. "I tried to play it and the tape snapped and got caught in the machine. This tape…" he indicates the machine. "…is part of another interview with a museum curator, then a good twenty minutes of them just verbally sparring with each other. It cuts out right when it seems like Stick was actually going to give him a straight answer."

Do you think it's possible Stick was trained in K'un L'un?

Matt takes off his new red specatcles, a reasonable facimile of the old ones lost in the Hell's Kitchen fires. "I - I don't know," he says at first, and it's the truth. "Stick didn't talk about himself much at all. Or at least not about his history. He said he was born blind, and didn't have my powers… but still knew how to fight like hell."

Try and stop me, said the old man who had young Matt Murdock's arm locked behind his back,r eady to snap. Come on kid, and show me what you've got.

"I just — I don't know much about K'un L'un either," Matt adds after a moment. "Aside from it being where you were trained. Why was your father looking for it?"

"I told you…when I figured out who you are, that I trained with people who were blind in K'un L'un. There was a whole order who were trained, mostly as spies. Because they were spies, I didn't learn much about them and their dorms were separate from ours. But…" Danny's lips twist into a little smile. "…you get your ass kicked by a blind nine year old girl, you learn pretty quickly not to underestimate anybody."

As for K'un L'un itself? "I'd be lying if I said it was a nice place to grow up. They trained us hard. We worked from sunup to sundown. We meditated, we cleaned, we cooked. We mentored younger students. We hardened our fists by punching them into harder and harder substances. To strengthen ourselves and get used to pain." He looks at his hand and flexes it. A very faint trace of yellow surges along his veins, then fades out. To Matt's senses, it's barely a ripple in his aura, or his chi, or whatever it is that the blind man can see.

"As to why my dad was looking? That's what I've been trying to find out for weeks. He's left a lot of what, but hardly any clues about why."

Matt flickers a smile when Danny makes that crack about getting his ass kicked by a blind nine year old, the first of its kind since this strange conversation started. "You're not the first," says the blind Catholic schoolboy who, amped up on rage and abandonment issues, had gotten into so many furtive fights Father Lantom had to take him aside and tell him to lay off the fisticuffs.

As Danny goes on to describe harsh life in K'un L'un, the brutal training regimen and ceaseless devotion to perfection of body and mind, Matt's flash of good humor is quickly snuffed out. "Yeah, that sounds like the sort of place Stick would have been at home in," he says with a little shrug. "As much as he would have been at home anywhere."

He brings a hand to his temple to rub away the beginnings of a tension headache. "I guess he could have been one of these — spies? You were trained there. Were they prepping you for some kind of war too?"

"Not for a war, but to protect the city if war came to us. And the masters seemed to think that was all but inevitable. K'un L'un only connects with Earth once every ten years. It's now, when the city is back in sync, that it's the most vulnerable." And yet, their protector, the Iron Fist, is not standing there at the gate. Instead, Danny is in New York, getting into trouble with the press, bringing down gangsters and building community centres.

"But it would make sense that there would be a force trained to fight a war. To send out forces to make sure no one got close to finding the city or amassed the power to attack it in the ten years disconnected from this realm. There are also…" he struggles for a good way to describe it. "…fringe groups? People disillusioned with the city. We were always told that we weren't prisoners, that we could leave. But they also instilled in us a strong sense of loyalty so it would make us feel ashamed if we did leave." When Danny is parroting or reciting something he's been taught, his manner of speaking becomes more deliberate and his language more formal.

Matt has a powerful sense of curiosity, and a dangerous one for someone with his formidable sensory powers. Danny digs deeper into the strange nature of K'un L'Un — a city that appears only once every ten years — and his lawyer / perpetual houseguest listens closely.

"So Stick could have been a spy trained to ferret out, what, heretics?" Matt asks at the end. A moment and then he shakes his head. "Or maybe not. Maybe he was the heretic, and rebelling against the place that raised him."

It's just hard to say, because Stick himself was always such an enigma, for all that he was often as blunt as a cudgel. "Do the notes say anything about him? Stick, and why he was in Copenhagen?"

Part of him rebels against this whole line of inquiry, sends tendrils of fury up the length of his spine. You were a goddamn orphan and he abandoned you. Why do you care who he is or what he wanted with you? Have some self respect. If you somehow managed to find him, Stick would fucking laugh at you.

But curiosity wins out, for now.

Danny Rand lifts his arms up in a frustrated quasi-shrug. "I don't know, Matt. There's so much I don't know that I've been trying to figure out. I have a map on the table…" he smooths a hand across the surface. "I've been trying to construct a timeline of my dad's movements based on his notes." Speaking of. He picks up a marker and scribbles in September 16, 1989 right next to Copenhagen, which he circles. "Trying to find some…pattern to it."

He takes a breath, then rubs his neck. "There is…a lot they didn't tell us in K'un L'un. Knowledge was a thing earned with work. And even then, they only told you what you needed to know. At least when it came to the city's secrets, or the military, or anything like that. They were very free about moral lessons and philosophy though."

He picks up another volume and thumbs through it. "Maybe. I have to go back through the journals now that I know his name." He seems to sense something in the air around Matt, because he sets the journal down and looks at the other, even if eye contact can't really happen. "Sometimes…you just need to know. Because it's part of you. I…" he ducks his head, lifts it. "…don't know if I'm going to like any of the answers this will give me about my dad. I already don't like the questions. But I need to know. Knowing the motivations of the people who raised you is the only way to really know who you are."

Knowing the motivations of the people who raised you is the only way to really know who you are.

The sentiment strikes Matt like a gong, sending ripples of conflicting emotions through his core. "Maybe," murmurs a man who, once upon a time, learned more about his dad than he should have, to disastrous result. "It can be a real, 'careful what you wish for' kind of scenario." There's a note of warning in his voice, even concern. "And at the end of the day, as much as Stick taught me, I know his fight isn't my fight. Even without knowing what it is. My fight's here." In this city, the streets just beyond the ostentatious mansion they're currently cloistered in.

But quick as Matt is to warn people off of fights — that's the lawyer in him — he's rarely shirked from his own. See the way his jaw juts. "Still, uh, let me know if you need any help. Or — if you find anything."

"I've been grappling with that. That's why Christmas this year feels so weird. Last year, I'd only been back in the city a few moths. I could kind of get carried away on memory and nostalgia. Like visiting a theme park. This year." Danny lifts a hand, lets it fall to the table. "All the Christmas memories feel…tainted. Or tinted, at least. Like I have to wipe away a layer to see things clearly again." Which could be considered growing up. Danny, as cloistered as he was, is sort of a late bloomer on that front.

As for help? "Thanks, Matt. I'll let you know what I find about Stick, okay? I have a feeling he's going to be important to this story." Then, a brief pause, "He didn't…ever say the name Orson, did he? They talk about him here. He's mentioned a few other times in my dad's notes, but without any details."

"I get it," Matt affirms with another brief, slight, and slightly sad smile. "It's hard, learning new things about the people in your life that cast them in a new light. Makes you rethink, recontextualize. Makes you wonder how much you really knew them at all."

A beat, and then a quieter: "For what it's worth, you've got people in your life now who you do know, and who know you. That's something. Value it."

To Danny's question, the lawyer just shakes his head. "No, he didn't mention any names at all. He came in like some kind of lone gunslinger." A dark little smirk curls one corner of his lips. "Clint Eastwood with a katana… and he left the same way."

There's a shrug of his eyebrows, a tone of what are you gonna do? He sounds resigned, if not quite at peace. Like so much of what Matt Murdock projects and performs, it is a lie. He is neither resigned nor at peace about the matter of his former mentor. And it is an open question as to what he'd do if Stick were ever 'found.'

But they're presumably a long way from that. Matt pushes himself up from the table. "Thanks, Danny. I'll let you know if I remember anything more that I think might help. And — you know. Good luck."

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