"Well, if you were not the trounced, then you were the trouncer."
<NYC> Y Downtown - Brooklyn
Though this YMCA has existed since the late 19th century, it has expanded and modernized extensively in the last few decades. The facade is bright with cyan-tinted glass and red brick, and the facilities inside have plentiful light both natural and artificial. It has an Olympic size swimming pool, basketball courts, squash courts, a massive weight room and an adjoining room with fitness bikes, elliptical machines, and treadmills, billiards and ping-pong tables, a climbing gym, and several community rooms for classes, meetings, or support groups -- these latter often open to the public even if the athletic facilities require membership to utilize.
The Y has been unusually quiet for a Sunday--perhaps Easter just isn't when most people choose to work out. Even so, there are a few stalwarts lifting weights and riding bikes here and there. A solitary swimmer doing laps. Tian-shin has just come from the climbing gym and is now stalking through the racquet sports area. Her workout ensemble consist of a magenta t-shirt decorated with an adorable cartoon owlet, black yoga pants, and glossy rainbow sneakers. She looks like she has seen better days: her long black hair is dull, her jaw tight with stress, the dark shadows under her eyes bespeaking illness or at least inadequate sleep.
Savannah is one of these few silly souls at the gym on Easter Sunday. Her dark brown hair is drawn up in a ponytail, and looks damp with sweat. Dressed in a mud-colored tank top, black compression shorts, and graying and frayed running shoes, she hops off of one of the stationary bikes and stops to adjust her glaringly neon yellow hairband. Snatching up a standard issue YMCA water bottle from the holder on the stationary bike, she takes a chug only to realize that it's empty - and thus, proceeds to make her way towards the nearest water fountain on the far side of the racquet area. Hopped up on post-workout adrenaline, an unintentionally goofy smile sits on her face while she walks. On her way, she starts to whistle the song from Kill Bill, albeit not well. The notes are shrill and slightly uneven.
Tian-shin winces at the whistling, but her interest in the presence of another living, breathing person /not/ currently engaged with a piece of exercise machinery seems to supercede any annoyance she might feel for their lack of musical talent. "Hello," she ventures, with a shy wave of a hand. "You wouldn't happen to be looking for some table tennis, would you?" She sounds hopeful, but uncetain; there are plenty of places one could be headed, going that direction.
Thankfully for all, Savannah stops mid-whistle. "Me? Hello!" She looks around quickly, in case she is mistaken and the other woman may be addressing someone else, but the only nearby beings are engrossed in their own workout worlds. "Table tennis sounds good. Good timing if you're looking for a partner, I just finished up my own work out." She extends a hand, "I don't think I've seen you here before, I'm Savannah."
"Tian-shin." Her grip is quite firm, her palm and fingers quite calloused in places. "I've only been here a few times since I got my membership. Too busy." She dips her head slightly, as if embarassed by the admission. "Are you a regular?" This as she fetches paddles and a tube of balls from the equipment locker.
"Tian-shin... Tian-shin," Savannah repeats to herself, seemingly in an effort to remember more than anything else. "Busy is a good thing, right? I am more of a regular that I'd like to care to admit, and I'm sure you have much more going on than a gym rat like me." She walks over to the nearest ping pong table and sets down her empty water bottle on the ground. "So, are you good?" The question is friendly, but a bit cautious and probing.
"I used to /like/ busy, but these days..." Tian-shin shakes her head wistfully. "What I wouldn't give for some extra indolence! But really, I know some gym rats who work more than I do. Not sure how they manage it." Though here she pauses, frowning. "Lots of insomnia, probably." She passes one of the paddles to Savanna, flips the other one from one hand to the other. "I /used/ to be decent, when I played all the time. Still enjoy it, but I'm out of practice. You?" Prying open the tube, she rolls one ball out onto the table and sets the rest aside on the floor.
Savannah takes the paddle with a nod of thanks, before taking position on the opposite end of the table. At the mention of insomnia, she frowns, though this gives way to a neutral, half-hearted smile and a shrug. "Some people," she remarks before straightening up and falling into her more natural, excited demeanor. "/Used/ to be decent means you still are. I'll be honest, I'm usually better at playing when larger balls are involved but I'm not entirely terrible. What's the usual rules? Play to 11? I hope you'll be kind."
"I haven't gotten enough sleep, either, but I've no one to blame but myself." Tian-shin picks up the ball, bounces it off of her paddle a few times. "Hah! By 'decent' I mean 'didn't get trounced all the time.'" She grins, but blushes, as well. "Yes, let's play to 11--and I will if you will." True to her word, she serves with a light hand, the shot easily returned.
"Well, if you were not the trounced, then you were the trouncer." She returns the ball with a backhand, equally light in force. A very friendly fire. "Are you from New York originally...?" The question hangs with the usual implication.
Tian-shin returns with a bit more force. She has quick and eyes and hands, to be sure, but does seem to take need some work getting back into the rhythm of this particular game. "Family's from Shanghai, but I'm a New Yorker, born and bred. How 'bout you?"
Caught off guard, Savannah swipes and misses the ping pong ball as it bounces off the far left side of the table. "Oof," she says, sheepish. Snatching the ball from the floor, she tosses it over in Tian-Shin's direction. "Grew up in the South. My dad's side is from Nanjing, though - I think." The city is pronounced with an American heaviness to it, like one who has never actually been. "One-zip."
"ABCs, represent!" Tian-shin look /almost/ as sheepish about the point as Savannah does, but she accepts the ball back. "My parents were at once determined that I should be successful in America, but that I should also remain 100% Chinese. It was a strange childhood." She makes another easy serve, though not as slow as her first.
Savannah gives another defensive backhand. The ball sails back across the net, a middle of the road return. She chuckles, "Does that mean I can safely assume that you play violin or piano, went to Chinese school on weekends, and now work in some sort of tech or medical field - or all of the above?"
Tian-shin returns swiftly, toward the right corner, though not at exceptionally high speed. "Piano--poorly. Weekends /and/ evenings." She's grinning crookedly now. "And lawyer."
Savannah grins widely back at the other woman and manages to catch the ball in time, aiming it diagonally towards Tian-shin's right corner. "Nice! I'm sure your parents are pleased." The words are delivered genuinely, without irony or sarcasm. "Mine would probably be over the moon if I were practicing law."
Tian-shin hesitates a moment and misses the return, though she chases the ball down before it goes bouncing across the floor. "Oh no. The way my mother tells it, I'm squandering my potential, lawyering pro bono and teaching high school to pay the bills." She tosses the ball across to Savannah. "What's your field, then? Or fields?"
Savannah spins the ball in her hand between her thumb and pointer finger three times before finally serving. It's decent, though the ball is a bit high off the net. "What? She's upset about that? You should tell her that one day you might get a movie made after your life. That was like, what that woman did in the Blindside right?" Way off. "And I'm studying engineering, but probably not for much longer." A more serious pause, "How did you figure out that pro bono law and teaching was for you?"
"The day someone comes to me with a film deal, she might see the light." Tian-shin returns the serve easily, without a whole lot of thought. "I went into law so I could fight on behalf of people who often don't get justice. The teaching...I kind of just fell into it, I guess." She shrugs. "I wanted a day job that meant something and wasn't killing me. Xavier's was hiring."
Savannah attempts a front hand drive for the first time, though her positioning is off. The ball flies back with more force than before, though she steps over herself awkwardly and scrambles to recover before the next volley. "Oh, so you work with," a pause, "... were you the one who represented Steve Rogers and Jackson Holland?" Her face flushes, for various reasons.
Tian-shin only barely reaches the ball in time, and returns with a somewhat sloppy backhand. "Mutants," she finishes for Savannah, studying the other woman's expression closely. "And yes, I...still do. For all the good that's doing right now." She clears her throat. "Engineering not doing it for you?"
"Well, I certainly don't envy your workload. /Busy/ may be an understatement," Savannah responds, missing the ball after an unfortunate swipe. The ball bounces away and it takes her a moment before tracking it down again. She does the usual three spins of the ball between her fingers before serving once again. No eye contact is made until after the serve. "Yeah, engineering is just not what I thought it would be, I could finish up and graduate, but," she shrugs, looking more morose, "what's the point of doing something you don't actually love?"
Tian-shin's brows furrow slightly, the twist of her mouth sympathetic. "Survival is a common one," she offers. "There are dozens of good reasons to do things you don't love, and /hundreds/ of bad reasons." She deflects the ball back deftly this time, lightly. "Weighing your reasons, though, isn't always easy."