"A black eye, huh?"
Commander Goddard once again examined the large bruise on Miss Davenport's face as they walked the halls in a post-adventure check of the ship. It was getting to the point where the wound was a genuine painter's palette: blues and purples streaked over a jaundiced yellow. He knew it was a sign of healing, but it wasn't looking very pretty. Miss Davenport just turned her head away to block the damage from his sight. "I need more concealer," she muttered.
"Who threw the first punch?" he asked.
"You said to be aware of our weaknesses," she said quietly. Embarrassment was unpreventable. "Apparently my double was better at fighting than I was."
"Did you at least land something?"
"I think I hit her... its cheek. Then it had disappeared." Miss Davenport kept looking ahead. "It felt like it would have bruised."
"Speaking of bruising? I'm quite aware that I look like an abomination," she stated.
"No, I was wondering if your hand was doing any better," he mentioned with a shrug.
"Who said my hand was hurt?" Davenport snapped gently.
"Well, other than outing yourself just now," he frowned, "you've been cradling it the entire time."
"It is a tad sore," she admitted.
He stopped walking and put his hands on his hips. "Were you punching correctly?"
"Correctly?" Stopping after him, she turned around and stared. "Commander, I have not had to train for hand-to-hand combat in several years, and even then I wasn't doing much of the punching, thank you."
"I was just wondering. You should know how, in case you ever get into something like that again," Goddard said.
Davenport smirked. "Something like challenging a clone of myself to a fistfight."
"Doppelganger," he corrected. "Gimme your arm."
He reached over and pivoted her so that they were square to each other. Taking her right hand- she whimpered for a second- Commander Goddard curled her fingers inward and put her thumb in place. "Now, what you want is a fist that isn't too tight or too loose."
"I can still move my hand myself," Miss Davenport said with chagrin.
"Lift up your hand and lemme see how you're holding it," he said, adjusting her grip accordingly. "There, make your fingers tenser horizontally. But not too much. Good."
"OK," she said after he had left her clenched fist in the air. "I appreciate the pointers, but I think..."
"Wait," he cut her off mid-sentence. "You have to actually practice with it first. You're gonna want to hit primarily with the first two knuckles, and you have to remember to keep your wrist straight."
"Commander, there is nothing around here to practice on."
The look in his eyes was saying differently; she picked it up rather quickly and refuted with a wide stare. "I am not hitting you, Commander!"
"It'll be no problem, Miss Davenport," he reassured. "I've taken more punches than I'd care to say. Just hit me in the arm."
"Can't I just use a punching bag or something later?"
"Just one hit, I promise. What you're supposed to do is aim just beyond the point you're hitting." He put up a fist and started a slow-motion jab towards her shoulder. He extended his arm and winding up doing something that looked like a slowed-down friendly chip at its speed. Her shoulder rocked backwards on impact and slowly rolled forward when he drew his arm back. "Don't lock your elbow. Now you try."
"But I don't want to hit you," she protested. Miss Davenport was trying to emphasis her point with gestures, but her hands were still curled into balls. The mischievous look was back on his face, and that only meant trouble. Even that smirk was back. The cute one.
"All right, only once, and it won't be hard."
She swung her arm and hit Commander Goddard in the bicep with all the speed and strength of a hard-boiled egg being slow-pitched into a brick wall. "Miss Davenport, that was weak."
"I'm not going to actually hit you, I said that. Was my technique OK?"
"Your technique was pretty good," he nodded. "But I was hoping for a bit more. I know you've got it in you. This time, go all out."
Goddard clamped his hands down on her shoulders; she jumped a bit. "When are you ever going to have a chance to do this again? You're training, that's all. If you need to add any personal biases, feel free to. Now, come on and hit me!"
He put his hands back on his hips and grinned. Miss Davenport sighed. She positioned her feet to a fighting stance before looking up at him, all the while swaying her head back and forth in an I-can't-believe-this fashion. Then, summoning all her energy, she took a swing back and...
She had punched him in the chest, left of the breastbone, which was now being covered defensively with a hand. Commander Goddard was still half-wincing. "That hurt!"
"What!? I told you, Commander! I did not want to hit you!" Davenport squawked.
After a few more expressions of pain, he looked up at her, amused. "You pack quite a punch, Miss Davenport."
The lack of malice in his voice left her feeling a bit less guilty. In fact, she was sure there was pride somewhere in it. She let her fists go and folded her hands behind her back. "Ah, thank you, Commander?"
He rubbed his chest, almost laughing. "Is your hand feeling OK after that?"
"It's still sore, but that didn't hurt nearly as much as the other punch," she said. "Giving or receiving."
"Do we need to go down to MedLab for it?"
"I think it'll be fine, I just need to rest it," Davenport said, bringing her arms back to the front of her and holding her wrist once again.
"Well, let's take a swing down that way anyways," Goddard suggested as he started to walk again. He kept a protective arm loosely across him as he made his way down the hall.
"I didn't hit you that hard, did I?" Miss Davenport ran up to catch him. "I told you I didn't want to," she said as she nudged him with an elbow.
"Ow," he said in reaction.
"Oh, goodness, your injuries!" she burst out suddenly, guilt rushing back to her. Taking him by his free arm, she tried to get him to walk faster. "You should go rest right away."
"I'm fine, Miss Davenport," he said warmly. "I'm just a bit sore still." He took his arm from his body long enough to give her a tough-guy muscle flex. "A heat pack'll fix me right up."
"If you're sure."
"If I ever had any doubts about having someone to protect the ship, they're pretty much gone now," Goddard laughed.
"Goodness," she whispered. By this point it was more ribbing, but at the same time she couldn't feel bad about it. Miss Davenport picked up her pace, and he followed. There wasn't much that would stop Commander Goddard, either. She nodded. "Let's go to MedLab and see what we can do about this."