Old Masters 2.3
Kame House was surprisingly nice on the inside, very quaint and clean. Nice wood paneled floors, a mini bar separating the living room from the kitchen, a low table on a nice white carpet dominating most of said living room. One of those old TV's with the really large rears was sitting on a white dresser in front of the table, and an aquarium with a turtle rested on a shelf above it, soaking in soft red light from the lamp attached to it. A stairway in the corner of the living room led upstairs, I presumed to Master Roshi's bedroom. If I lived alone on an island, this was probably the kind of house I'd want to live in.
I was puzzled by the electrical lighting though; I hadn't seen any solar panels on the roof and there definitely weren't any power lines. Underground generator? I strained to listen while Weld talked quietly with Roshi. Nope, if there was a generator, I could definitely hear it in a house like this.
"...No, Master, she's not." Weld said, loud enough that I heard him and in a disapproving tone. I wondered what that was about.
Pulled from my musing, I saw Roshi readjust his sunglasses, "Ah, well. Can't blame an old man for asking, hehe."
He turned back to me and frowned, "I hope you don't plan on tracking dirt inside. I just cleaned."
I looked down at my feet and then at the wall by the door where Weld had neatly stowed his shoes. I flushed a deep pink., "Oh, sorry!" and quickly removed my shoes and put them by Weld's.
"Hm," Roshi grunted. "Bit of a deep thinker, eh?"
"She… does that from time to time." Weld admitted. I glared at him indignantly, but he shrugged helplessly.
Roshi's smile returned, "It's not often I have thinkers coming and asking me for lessons, hehe. At the very least, this should be interesting. Go on, sit down. I hope you like rice and chicken, I made extra!"
I sat at the table cross legged and glanced at Weld with one eyebrow raised. He sat next to me and said softly, "I told you, eccentric."
"Not eccentric!" Roshi yelled from the kitchen, "Just old! There's a difference!"
"One's quirky, the other's a condition." Weld replied in deadpan.
Roshi laughed, "Hehehehe! The real challenge is figuring out which is which!"
He returned with a tray loaded with three modest bowls of rice and chicken. The smell of rich spices set my mouth watering, but I restrained my hunger. I was here to learn, I could stuff my face later. Even if the food teased my senses with a promise of explosive delight with every-
I tore my eyes from my food to look at Weld and Roshi as the old man sat down with a grunt of satisfaction. He grabbed his bowl, paused and looked at me, "Well, go ahead and eat before it gets cold! No point in talking over an empty stomach!"
Then and there I decided I liked Roshi, and I happily snatched the bowl off the table. He actually used chopsticks with them, but watching Weld and Roshi use them for a few seconds was enough to give me a general idea on how to use them. It was only my unfamiliarity with them, and my general anxiety that kept me from inhaling what Roshi had offered me. I still managed to wolf my food down before either of them had finished.
Roshi had paused halfway through my feast and watched with morbid curiosity. I smiled sheepishly when I finished. "It was good, thank you Master Roshi."
"Good appetite and good manners." Roshi said, the edge of his lips turning up in a smile, "You're making a good case for yourself already. But I suppose since you're finished, we'll get down to why you're here."
He set his bowl down and peered at me over his sunglasses. He had youthful eyes, dark brown, but very serious; it was an odd contrast. I swallowed the lump in my throat and glanced at my guide. Weld gave me no hints of what to say, he was stone faced.
"Weld said you could teach me." I started.
Roshi held up a hand, and I stopped. "I didn't ask what Weld said; I respect my students opinions, but I'm not interested in what he has to say about you.I'm interested in what you have to say."
I had no answer for him; no one had asked me a question like that since my transformation. Every major choice of the past two weeks, from joining the Wards, to my transfer to Boston, and finally my trip to Kame House, had all been made for me. I had made no argument against any of these decisions, I had simply accepted them. Like the bullying in Winslow, like my fathers depression… losing mom. I had accepted it all, a life of coasting without ever asking myself a simple question.
Why had I accepted all that life had thrown at me? Why had I just let my dad waste away from grief, why had I lied to him about school, about what my friend had done to me. Why had I simply sat down and let the Protectorate make all these decisions for me? What little resistance I had made was simply to make my situation more comfortable or mild outrage. But why?
That was a silly question, I knew exactly why.
I balled my hands into fists and met Roshi's eyes.
"Because I've been afraid. Afraid of change, afraid of taking control of my life, and afraid of my power. I've been coasting for years, content just to survive. I joined the Protectorate because I wanted to survive, because I was afraid of what the alternative was. I was afraid that with my power, I could hurt someone. I'm still afraid that I could hurt someone; I can barely control my powers, Roshi. There's… something inside me, anger, rage. I can keep it under control most of the time, but I snapped today and nearly killed someone, and that scares me more than anything else."
I felt tears well up in my eyes, "It was so easy, I could have so easily killed them, hurt them for hurting me. I won't be that person, this bully that crushes everyone under my feet, who lets my emotions control my actions. The problem is, I don't know how. That's why I'm here Master Roshi, to learn how to control myself, to learn how to use my powers to help the people that have no one else, and to learn to stop being afraid. Weld's a good person, he's been kind to me, and he trusts you. If he thinks you can help me, teach me to do these things, then that is good enough for me."
Weld handed me a napkin and I wiped at my eyes. Stupid powers and their emotional manipulation. Roshi stroked his beard thoughtfully, letting me gather myself. Once I had wiped away the tears, he finally spoke.
"You're quite the passionate young woman aren't you? Yes, I can see it, you have a fire burning inside you, begging to be let out. I can train you, oh yes. But before I do, you need to understand one thing."
"What's that?" I asked, trying to hide my relief.
Roshi pushed his sunglasses back up with a finger, "This is not a casual commitment, Djinn. If you become my student, you will follow my directions exactly. So long as you are on my island under my watchful gaze, I am your Master. I will push you to your limits, and once we have found those limits, we will shatter them. I won't lie, it will be hard work, grueling work. Your abilities might make you stronger than the average man, but that just means we need to push you all the harder. Every day, you will come by the crack of dawn and every day we will train. No weekends off unless I say otherwise, we will train everyday until I am satisfied with your progress, understand me?"
I stared at him, surprised by his conviction, and only managed a mute nod. Roshi shook his head, "No, I don't think you do. I am not a miracle worker, and I am not one of those cheap karate mall masters. While you are training under me you will learn discipline, self control, and respect. Martial Arts are not simply learning a fancy fighting technique, it is a way of life. A drive to push yourself ever onward, to improve upon your ability and yourself. You will become a student of the School of the Turtle Hermit: Work hard, study well, and eat and sleep plenty… that's the turtle hermit way to learn!"
He grinned, showing off his many missing teeth, "Which brings me to another thing. I will assume the Protectorate is educating you like they are Weld. This is good, I will expect you to keep up with your studies as well as your training. I expect your grades to reflect your potential, your absolute best."
"I… don't see how that has anything to do with martial arts." I pointed out.
I didn't see Roshi move, but I felt the light whap on my head from the end of his cane. I clutched my head, "Ow! What was that for!?"
"Lesson one!" Roshi said, ignoring my whining. "You will study the art of peace as well as the art of war. To stand ignorant of the world is to stand ignorant of yourself, for only by seeing the reflection of your actions can you truly know who you are. You must temper your sword with knowledge, understanding, and respect; that is how you will conquer this fear that you claim controls you. Understand?"
I nodded slowly, and he frowned, "Do you really? Explain what I mean?"
My attempt at glancing to Weld for help was interrupted by another sharp whap upside the head. "Agh! Stop that!"
"Weld doesn't have your answers, only you do." Roshi said sternly. "So, explain."
I grumbled and rubbed gingerly at the already vanishing welt on my head. "Okay, okay. You want me to keep up with my studies because it will help me expand my worldview right? I can understand the world better, so I can think better about my actions, or something like that?"
Roshi rubbed his beard and peered at me with a furrowed brow. His lips twitched up in a not quite smile. "You're certainly giving Weld a run for his money so far. Yes, that's close enough for now. I do believe that I am willing to take you on as my student, Djinn."
"I'm starting to wonder if that's a good idea." I mumbled. This time I was ready and tried catching the stick. Only to be surprised when he poked me in the ribs instead.
"That's no way to talk to your master, is it?" he said, though there was a little amusement in his voice.
I bowed my head, trying not to rub at my side. "No Master Roshi, I'm sorry."
"Good!" he heaved himself to his feet and shuffled around the table towards the door. "Then, if you're up for it, I'd like to see what you know so far. Weld says he's taught you the basics, well, we'll see how true that is."
I watched him go and once he was out the door, I looked at Weld with an acute 'what the fuck' expression. He just shrugged and stood up, offering me a hand, "That's Master Roshi for you. I did warn you."
"You said eccentric. I didn't expect to get interrogated." I replied, and accepted his offered hand. I made a mental note to figure out an appropriate way to get back at Weld, and stored it for later.
We followed Master Roshi outside, where he was waiting for us by the grove of trees. Inside, I was surprised to see that the grove was actually neatly planted into a near perfect circle, leaving a space open in the middle with meticulously cared for grass; not a weed in sight. A single large stone rested opposite us, its top worn smooth.
Master Roshi sat on the stone with a satisfied stone. "Now then, here's how things are going to go for this week, Djinn. Today, I am going to see what you know so far. Tomorrow, you have time to settle your affairs, rest, relax. Enjoy yourself. Come Monday, I expect you here at first light in the morning and we will properly begin your training. Understand?"
"Yes, Master Roshi." I said, with less enthusiasm than I should've. The idea of getting up that early didn't sound particularly great, but I would manage. If he could really help me, then it would all be worth it.
Roshi grinned and stood up, patting the stone behind him, "Excellent. Weld, if you could be so kind. You'll be the referee for our little sparring match."
I blinked, "Wait? Seriously? Aren't you a little… I don't mean to be rude, but I'm almost as strong as Weld. I wouldn't want to hurt you, er… Master."
Was he actually a parahuman and he just hid it well? Was that how he had managed to train someone like Weld? It didn't seem like a good idea to me for a normal person to even think about trying to fight someone with a Brute rating in hand to hand combat, even if it was a friendly sparring session.
Roshi's grin tightened, and the afternoon sun flashed off his sunglasses, "Oh, leave that to me to worry about, Djinn. I appreciate the concern though."
Weld strode past us and sat on the rock, giving me a look of purest sympathy. I was not looking forward to another whack from his walking stick, that was for sure, but I had a feeling I could handle the old man in a fight. Martial Art Master or no, I was leagues faster and
stronger than a normal human, it wouldn't be fair.
"Will this be a ten second knockout?" Weld asked.
Master Roshi reached up to the pack he'd been wearing and pulled it off, "No no, that won't be necessary. We'll just see how long it takes Djinn to actually land a hit." he dropped the pack beside him, and it landed with a hefty thud that sent vibrations through my feet.
My eyes went wide as Master Roshi straightened up and folded his arms behind his back, smiling innocently at me. "Go on, dear. You get the honor of first move."
Right, so I realized I might be a bit over my head. Pride pushed me on though, and I fell into the fighting stance Weld had taught me. The metal man raised a hand between us, and dropped it with a shout. "Go!"
I lunged, throwing a blurred fist at Master Roshi's shoulder; I really didn't want to hurt him. He deftly sidestepped the blow, and delivered a knee to my stomach. Stars exploded in my vision as all the air was driven from me and I doubled over gasping. Even Weld hadn't hit me that hard, how in the world had this old man!?
Parahuman, he had to be a parahuman.
I sucked in a breath, bared my teeth in a snarl, and lunged again, attacking much faster than before. To my surprise and shock, not a single punch even grazed the old man. He ducked, dodged and weaved between each of my blows as if they were in slow motion, that grin on his face the entire time.
A feint from the left translated into a roundhouse sweep at his legs. Master Roshi jumped over the kick, and hit me in the chin with one of his own, sending me tumbling onto my rear and rubbing at the footprint planted on my face. I glared at Master Roshi through my fingers, but he continued to smile at me.
"You have good form, I won't deny that. I'd say you're a natural even."
"Thanks." I growled, and lunged off my feet towards him in one fluid motion, trying to strike with my elbow.
He practically vanished, and I felt my head whip back while my antennae began to stretch behind me. I made a surprised noise of pain and outrage, even as he casually pulled me off my feet and face planted me onto the floor. In a matter of seconds, I soon found myself hog tied with my own damn head tentacle!
"W-what!?" I yelped, and struggled to free myself. "How did you do that!?"
Master Roshi crouched in front of me, resting his hands on his knees, "You're a fast learner, Djinn. But you only know what little Weld has taught you. You've begun erecting the walls of your home, but you have no foundation to build them on."
I glared at him, "You're a parahuman, aren't you?"
That actually made him laugh, "Hehehe! Oh that's good. No, I'm not a parahuman. I'm just an old man with lots of experience. Don't feel bad though; it took Weld months before he managed to land a successful hit on me; you'll get here eventually."
He reached up and pulled on the end of my antennae. It snapped back into place, and I nearly jerked my face into the ground. With my limbs free, I forced myself to sit up, and rubbed my wrist. "I don't get it… I should have been able to get you easily with how fast and strong I am."
Master Roshi shook his head, like a parent disappointed in their child. "Djinn, strength and speed alone are not everything. You may learn fast, but you have no experience to draw on. You lean on your power to support you, but you need experience to guide you."
His smile softened and he offered me a hand, "Fortunately, I have plenty to share, hehehe!"
I looked at the old man, who'd managed to kick my bright pink ass up and down the field in a handful of seconds, and I felt a small smile cross my lips. There was no malice in his face, in his actions. In a way I was reminded a lot of Armstrong; they both wanted me to be the best person I could be. Sure, he had beaten me, but it had been to teach a lesson. I might pick up on techniques quickly, but there was still more to learn, more to understand. A surge of excitement filled me, igniting something within me.
I clasped his hand with mine, and my smile widened, "I hope so Master Roshi, because I can't wait to learn everything you have to teach me."
A/N: To be honest, the only reason this chapter is so late is mostly laziness on my part. I kept putting it off but once I actually got into it, it kind of took off on its own. I might go back and add some more prose to it later, maybe expand a few scenes, but I'm pretty happy with it as is. Dialogue chapters feel a lot longer to write than they actually are, I might add, it's weird.
So that aside, yeah. I decided to tone down Roshi's perviness by a metric fuckton, and focus more on his wisdom and experience. The poor old man barely gets any respect in Dragon Ball anymore even after the ToP, so I felt I'd bring him back a little more to his roots. It was a breathe of fresh air to write.
Next chapter, Taylor makes a terrible life decision that totally won't backfire on her in any way shape or form, so look forward to that on Friday!
Oh right, schedule change. So, I mentioned this in another chapter, I'm changing my change in update days. I won't be posting on Wednesdays anymore, only Monday and Friday. I'm hoping this will take some of the pressure off me, but I can't say I'm off to a great start. Time will tell if this was the right call I guess. Otherwise, hope you all enjoyed the chapter, feel free to leave comments and criticism as they come, and I'll see you all Friday!