The young man with the full head of raven black hair and gray-blue eyes adjusted his position on the deck of the ship. Moving his back so that it was more between two railing posts than against a single one, he released a deep breath and continued cleaning his sword. He had discarded his red battle vest to the crates beside him some time during his diligent training of his yet unmastered skill of the 'Sleeping Dragon', taught to him by Master Kazan after a face-off with the student at the arena in Phorchoon.
When will I be ready to use it? Should I use it? What if it's too powerful for me? What if--
The timid and soft voice of a young woman drew his attention and then his smile. She was pretty, with long auburn hair and green eyes that almost looked like emeralds from a jeweler's shop. Like the one where he got the diamond ring for her. Sharon, the owner of the ship they traveled on and self-proclaimed pirate, always gave Maya a hard time for wearing the non-revealing garb of blues. But Lang didn't care what she wore. Since meeting her in the prisons of Doplin castle, he'd come to respect and admire her quiet strength and determination. And of everyone, she understood him the most.
Or so it seemed to him.
"Hey, Maya. Come to watch the ocean some more?" He'd noticed how she could watch it for hours without getting tired of it.
Maya timidly smiled and then sat down on the deck beside him. She offered forward a small biscuit. "I noticed you didn't eat much at dinner, so I saved you this."
Lang set aside his sword and accepted the biscuit. "Thanks. I guess I am a little hungry." He broke it in half and offered it to her. She refused with a simple shake of her head before looking away. Lang regarded her down-turned face, absently munching on a bite of biscuit. "You alright?"
Maya silently nodded and began worrying her lower lip.
Her response was a sigh, another nod, and then a soft smile as she met his gaze. "A lot has happened. I find myself thinking on it more every day."
Lang nodded along with her admittance before looking ahead and letting out a slow breath. "Yeah."
"Can we do something silly?"
Lang looked over at her. "Huh?"
"We're always so serious... Well, most of the time, and I was wondering if we could do something..."
His lips twitched. "Silly?" he prompted.
Maya smiled and nodded.
Okay. Sure. What'd you have in mind?"
"Well..." Maya's gaze drifted to his sword for a moment. "Can you teach me something about your sword?"
Lang focused on it and then Maya. "Like what?"
"How to hold it or use it or something." She stood and took his hands to pull him also to his feet. "I'll look ridiculous, and that will make us laugh," she told him, already smiling.
So was he. "Okay. Sure." She released his hands and he bent to retrieve the weapon, holding it carefully in his hands before focusing on Maya and offering it forward.
She hesitantly took it, looking down at it with wide eyes. Her fingers on one hand kept back from the blade while they curled around the haft in the other. Her expression grew serious and uncertain, and she met his smiling gaze. "This sword? But... But this is your good one. Can't I... Can't I just use one of your old ones?"
Lang put a hand on each of her shoulders, turning her toward the center of the main deck and urging her forward. "This one's fine. It's light and simple. Nothing like the Venom Blade or the Spider Bite. Those handle a little weird." He halted her progress and turned her to face him. "Now. Let's get you holding it right."
Maya smiled and focused on her hands and the sword as Lang patiently instructed her with touch cues and verbal cues to hold the haft with both hands. When he stepped back, fists on hips as he watched her hold it, the sword began to dip and her arms to lower.
Lang laughed and stepped forward again, raising her hands and the sword with a gentle pressure beneath. "I guess it's a little heavy for you."
Maya giggled. "Oh that's okay. We're supposed to be doing this to laugh."
Lang regarded her, still smiling the same as she. "You want to try an easy move?"
Maya's eyes widened and she gasped.
Lang laughed again. "I'll teach you 'Blue Moon Buster'. It's really easy."
Maya leaned slightly back, shaking her head. "But... But..."
"Come on. You'll be fine." Lang went around behind her, stepping up close to surround her with his arms and cover her hands with his. Her long hair tickled his chest-- He cleared his throat. "Okay. Now. Crouch down with your right knee up and your sword resting against your left... Well, not really resting, but-- Yeah. Like that. Now, we're going to slash toward the right, using your body motion to give it more power. Here. One handed. There ya go. And come around, just slowly, as you straighten and slash. Yeah."
Lang stepped away, clearing his throat again as he smiled at her and tried to ignore the heat of his ears and face. Maya faced him, eyes bright and lips smiling. He couldn't help but laugh.
She giggled. "That was fun. I don't know how you do that so quickly, and with all those other moves before and after? You make it look so simple!" Maya offered forward the sword. "Can you show me that pretty one?"
Lang's lips twitched upward as he took the sword from her. "Pretty one? What pretty one?"
"The one when you almost seem to pause mid-air before coming down, but there's three strikes one right after the other."
"Uh..." He scratched at his head.
Maya giggled again and waved it aside. "Oh that's okay. Shall I show you mine now?"
His smile returned as he sheathed his sword. "Okay."
"Well. First we need to take off these gloves of yours." Maya pulled first one hand and then the other up, removing the gloves and then handing them to him with a smile.
He tucked them into the back of his trousers and focused on her smiling face. "Now what?"
"I don't want to embarrass you by making you say the words, so I'll just show you the hand signs. Alright."
Maya put her hands together in the shape of what seemed a diamond, index finger and thumb of each hand touching as they pointed downward while the remaining fingers were curled within. "This is the symbol for water."
"Uh... okay." Lang lowered his focus to his hands, curling the fingers and touching the others and pointing down - all the while not noticing her softening expression and her twinkling eyes as he stuck his tongue out one side of his mouth in an effort to concentrate - before giving a grin and looking up. "Like this?"
Maya giggled and very slightly shook her head. "Not really. That's more like for Earth and Fire together."
His smile vanished as he looked down. He flushed, quickly dropping the 'pose'. "Oh."
"Here. Let me help." She stepped up to him, taking one hand in both of hers to gently position the fingers - and then on the other hand - and then guide them together. "There. Like that... You have nice hands, Lang," she said almost absently, hers still covering his. She looked up, vaguely noticing the red of his ears and face. "Is that why you wear the gloves? So the haft doesn't hurt your hands? I noticed the haft is quite rough."
He cleared his throat and gave a slightly uncertain smile down at her. "Yeah. All the sword-fighting can really mess them up. You can't do much fighting if your hands are so sore and bloody you can't even hold the sword."
Maya nodded absently as she separated his hands from the magic position and turned them palm upward. Lang's expression changed as he watched her thoughtful examination.
Then she smiled up at him, hands still holding his, and asked, "Did you want to try another one?"
Lang smiled, easier this time. "Sure. Okay." Sleeping Dragons have waited this long...