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Grip

He changed from a standard grip to a one-handed one using his right hand, continuing the giant swings, going around and around over and over again. Changing to a mixed grip he reversed direction, changed to a left handed single grip and kept going.

Around and around, over and over. Body straight, legs locked, perfect form.

The bust had been routine, one of a dozen, two dozen he'd been involved in the last few years. Standard stuff, just another day at the office.

He moved into a series of Endo's in an el grip, over and over again, his legs forming the flip as he rode the bar, ignoring the build up of friction and heat in his hands. Over and over again, occasionally tossing in a half pirouette to change his direction around the bar, to change his view of the training room as he went around and around.

It wasn't all that difficult a move in and of itself, but throwing twenty or thirty of them in a row, each one purposely made as close to perfection as he could was a strain and he could start to feel the burn begin in his shoulders. He made a conscious effort to concentrate focus on the feel of the air on his body as he moved through it—moving through the ocean of air, as he'd heard it called once. He liked the imagery.

They were the usual importers and suppliers, nothing special.

Tired of the Endo's, he rolled to a series of stoops combining with Tkatchev's over and over, again and again, feeling the pressure in his shoulders, preferring the feel of the breeze he was creating for himself and he spun like a giant clock hand, counting out the endless revolutions.

It was the kid waiting at the end of the alley; that was what bothered him. She was waiting to make a buy, hanging back, keeping in the shadows, trying to stay out of sight. She was young, maybe twelve, fourteen at the outside. Her expression when she saw the cops cuff the supplies, knowing she'd have to go elsewhere for a fix was a mixture of anger and terror. Thirteen years old, she couldn't have been any older than that. And she was pregnant.

Geinger's. He made the transition to the release move, a giant for the speed, tight body, straight, a flip to a recatch. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. At the peak of one of the giants hr turned another half pirouette for the change of scenery. Geinger, release, turn, flip, repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

A normal bar routine was forty-five seconds, maybe a minute at the outside. He was headed into close to twenty straight minutes without a break. He knew he was doing himself damage. He knew this was foolish. He was a professional; he knew better than to do this.

Tsukahara's. Double Flyaways. Same thing. A giant for the needed speed, release, semi-tuck for two loose somersaults while also turning a rotation eight or ten feet in the air. He changed it, though. A Tsuk is a dismount but he caught the bar and kept going, making a series of what should have been an ending.

His right shoulder was starting to hurt from the strain of centrifugal force and supporting his weight compounded by the added strain of the flying catches without a rest between moves. He knew he should stop.

He would, just a minute.

He wanted to get help for the girl, talk to her, get her into some kind of shelter or foster home or hospital or something. Even a private cell would have been something but when he was free she was gone. He'd looked, asked around, but come up empty.

He rolled the Tsuks into a dozen stretched Kovacs; layout flips done above the bar to a recatch. They were super E moves, and he'd just learned them. Giants to a release, a complete full body flip over the bar in a layout position reaching for air, trying to fly—straight body, no tuck, catch the bar which sent him into a giant fast enough to make them a series.

He felt the skin tear, a common injury for a gymnast. A callus had torn. It had happened before when he'd worked too long and while he was used to working through pain, he knew he was close to his limit.

One final windup of giants for the final push. At the apogee of the swing he released, tucked and spun, landing the quad without a hop, arms up, knees bent to absorb the impact of the landing.

When he was a boy there would have been applause and cheering. He'd gotten used to working in silence.

He walked over to the chair and picked up a towel, wiping the sweat and removing the grips. He'd torn a piece of skin off his right palm about the size of a quarter; it wasn't anything he hadn't seen before.

It would heal.

8/1/08