Location Infinity Fitness Gym

This is an in-universe location thread.

Phoenix

Member

In the neighborhood of Elliot in Pittsburgh, the newly renovated Infinity Fitness Gym has just opened its doors. It’s already gotten a reputation of being the best spot for kickboxers and regular gym goers alike in the neighborhood, despite only just opening and being membership only. Word has it that the owner was letting the neighborhood in for free during the last week of its renovations. The equipment is new, they’re LGBTQ+ friendly, and the owner teaches kickboxing classes that bring in amateurs and masters alike.

The gym is divided into two sections by a wall that has a hall on either side. When you first enter, you’re greeted by two kickboxing rings and a row of punching bags along the right wall. To the immediate left of the entry is a receptionist's desk. There, you can either pay a one-time fee or sign up for a monthly membership. As you venture past the rings, you come to the wall of the weight, lined with flat benches and FID benches. There's a wide range of colorful weights, meaning it’s almost impossible not to find the weight you want. The room itself is colorful, its white brick walls are painted with bright and fun murals.

By way of either hall, you end up in the back half of the gym, which caters more to the average gym-goer. Here you have your ellipticals, your treadmills, and your exercise bikes. They line the far wall, right under a series of windows that allow sunlight to pour in over the rest of the room, which consists of two more distinct sections. On the right-hand side, there’s a series of yoga mats, and on the left side, there are a dozen or so raised trapeze tables. The dividing wall on this side is covered in mirrors. Here, you can take classes in yoga and pilates. The dividing wall on this side is covered in mirrors and has a ballet bar.

There’s a men's and women's locker room, and between the two doors (which are located on the far right wall of the first room) resides a refreshment table, usually full of sports drinks, waters, and jars of pre and post-workout proteins.

Infinity Fitness offers a variety of classes and training assistance. Some of their more popular classes are kickboxing, yoga, pilates, and barre. The owner teaches two of these classes (kickboxing and barre) and contracts a third party to teach the others.

The owner herself is a woman by the name of Samantha Walsh, who can usually be found in the ring with one of the members or teaching a class. Sometimes, she’s at the front desk. She has a running competition going where if you can beat her in a three-round kickboxing match, you get a free year of membership to the gym.

So far, no one has managed to beat her, but there's always a chance.
 
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Nat stood in front of the glass doors with his duffel bag thrown over one shoulder, a slight frown on his face as he turned over the same question in his mind repeatedly. He hadn’t told Todd that he had looked into Phoenix, into Sam for all of the good it had done him. He figured Todd had probably done the same when they met, after all half of the investigation tricks he used to get what little information he could on Sam he had learned from Todd in the first place.



It wasn’t any sort of guilt that stopped him from walking into the Infinity Gym, where he had learned Samantha Walsh was owner and instructor. It was surprising how many Sam’s there were in the city, surprising still how many sported red hair. Nat had seen her fight, though, and there was only one person who had met all three of those criteria. Rumor had it that Samantha Walsh was undefeated. He wondered if she defended that record with hammer.



His slight frown turned at the idea of Sam in her vigilante outfit beating people up in her own gym. Around Todd it was hard to believe how vicious she could be, and Nat had seen that other side of her well before seeing how sickeningly sweet she was with her boyfriend. It still felt weird to him, that they were together. He would have been lying if he had said there wasn’t a touch of jealousy to it. Todd was his mentor, and was busy enough without romance distracting them from their mission. From Nat’s mission, even if Todd didn’t know exactly what that mission was. It was safer that way.



Someone knew more about it, though. He had dismissed it before, had let Sam play the part she had played all while gathering every scrap of intelligence he could find. What he lacked in experience in investigative matters he made up for with well placed bribes. It was surprisingly easy, especially with Todd’s teachings. Maybe he was lying to himself about not feeling guilty about investigating Phoenix behind his back. He had his reasons, and he was almost positive that Todd would understand if it ever came to conflict.



Nat had plans to keep that from ever happening, but this was was a confrontation that had to be made. They had established a rapport, and Nat was ready to exploit Sam’s familiarity to finally get the answer to the question that had been bothering him. He held out hope that he was wrong, that this would end with laughter. That was why he came without armor, without his mask. If he was going to confront Sam about Cryptid, he was going to do it as Nat. With a deep breath he pushed open the doors to the gym and stepped inside.
 

Sam Walsh was where she always was at that time of day– finishing the preparations for the kickboxing course that would start in three hours. It was early in the day, and the gym had only been open for an hour, which meant the morning crowd had just finally shuffled in. She looked around to make sure everything looked like it was functioning as it should be, and no one appeared to be struggling with any of the equipment. That was good, given how many of the ellipticals had been on the fritz lately.

She turned and headed for the receptionist desk for her morning shift. Mina didn’t come in until roughly nine a.m. so Sam usually managed the desk until then. Kyle was in that morning, and he knew the front desk operations as well, which she was grateful for when the front door opened and she looked up to see Nat.

She quirked an eyebrow, looking the kid up and down. She hadn’t told him about the gym. She wondered briefly if Todd had, but that didn’t feel very Todd. Which meant the kid had gone out of his way to find her. She leaned forward on the desk and tilted her head. She had a sneaking and sinking suspicion about what this could have been about. All the same, she smiled.

“Nat! What a nice surprise! What are you doing here?” She put on a friendly and warm smile, all while her eyes held an obvious question. What are you doing here?​
 
It only took a few steps before he saw Sam behind the counter, the same amount of time it took for her to notice him as well. There was no hesitation as she called out to him, though there may have been a hint of dark curiosity behind those bright eyes. He returned her smile easily, with no more hesitation and without any trace of apprehension. He had become alarmingly adept at hiding things from his practice with Todd.



”Sam!” Nat waved to her and headed her direction, weighing his best approach. ”What are you doing here? I heard I could get a year’s worth of free membership here if I win three rounds against the boss. Thought I might try my luck.” Nat looked around casually before setting his bag on the counter in front of her. ”You work here? Any idea where the boss might be?”



It would have been more suspicious if he had let on to the fact that he knew who was in charge, might have set Sam’s guard up so that he would have a harder time getting the information he wanted. He wouldn’t have been lying if he hadn’t thought about sparring against Phoenix before, but that was with their powers at hand and in the privacy of the Den. In public he would have preferred having no connection with Phoenix’s secret identity, in the off chance he was arrested or worse. He might have had questions for Sam but she was still his friend, and Todd’s girlfriend. He couldn’t help but think of protecting her first.



Hopefully being a member of her gym wouldn’t be enough for anyone to connect the dots, if the worst were to happen.
 

Sam blinked. Then she chuckled. Nat was Todd’s pupil, his student, and Todd was a detective. It was part of being a vigilante. A good one, anyway. And Todd was a good one. A really good one. And as of date, one of the best liars that Sam had ever met, even if he couldn’t hide even his darkest secret from her. Nate, however good at lying he had become, was still ticking off the Vibe Checker.

He was telling her a half-truth. It was a good one too. His posture was relaxed, but held just the right amount of tension for surprise. His face was full of genuine surprise and seemingly happiness at seeing her. He moved casually, didn’t twitch, had no tell. But Sam knew. Half of what he said, he already knew the answer to.

She leaned forward on the counter and gave her best dazzling smile, “I own the place, actually. This is my gym. And you would be right, I offer a year of free membership to anyone who can go three rounds with me and win. You’re more than welcome to try, but I’m undefeated as of yet.”

Her smile turned sharp while she spoke, and she narrowed her eyes slightly. I see what you’re doing, was what they said. I see what you’re doing, and I’m not sure I like whatever it is you want..​
 
He didn’t really listen to her reply, though he kept his attention on Sam as if hanging upon her every word. Perhaps he was being paranoid, but there seemed an edge to her tone, a tension that was more hint than tell. The gym wasn’t particularly crowded, a few customers filtering in through the door and meandering here and there, but Nat leaned over the counter conspiratorially and shielded his mouth with his hand anyway.



”Is that really fair?” He didn’t have to feign the curiosity in the question. He had seen Phoenix in action, had seen the way she moved. Even without the knowledge that she had powers beforehand, Nat had trained with his grandfather long enough to know when a body moved in ways that weren’t quite natural. ”I mean, do they know you’re a meta?”



Not that Nat had any intention of letting that stop him. He could probably buy the whole gym if he wanted to, a free year really didn’t mean much to him, and that wasn’t the goal behind challenging Sam. Regardless, Nat couldn’t help feeling that Sam was taking advantage of her abilities to earn an income. It wasn’t exactly a heroic choice, though Nat supposed everyone had to eat.
 

“I don’t use my abilities in fights. If a person is particularly good, and can beat me on training alone, then I would give it to them. So far no one who had come through has been particularly good at fighting. Therefore, undefeated.” She looked back down at her paperwork with a small smile.

Nat’s innocent and somewhat naive nature was really what did it for her. He was so… so very childlike. Given he was actually a child, she meant it as a good thing. He was so straight-edged. She thought back to the nearly disastrous meeting they had first had when Nat had been so intent on arguing about morals that they had nearly gotten arrested.

“They don’t know I’m a meta. Nat, I’ve worked very hard in my life to not be recognized as a meta. I wouldn’t willingly advertise it, ever.”

In fact, her parents had gone to great lengths to keep talk of Joshua and her powers to the barest minimum the town could manage. Everyone knew, but everyone also loved the Walshes and would never tell anyone who they were. It had been a form of protection they had offered them, an anonymity that she didn’t really appreciate until she was on her own after her falling out with Joshie.​
 
Nat looked down at the counter for a moment, not quite ashamed but admonished enough by Sam’s vehement reply. His own powers didn’t affect his physical ability, and he had expected such abilities would operate by different rules than. He hadn’t expected that Sam could limit her physical capacity. It made a certain sort of sense now that he knew she was a practitioner of martial arts. Physical control was a large part of the lessons one learned from such skills.



”I’m sorry, Sam. I didn’t mean anything by it.” Nat raised his head and flashed her a winning smile of his own. ”If that’s the case I say we give these early birds a show!” He had to get the mission back on track. ”However, if you have to use your power I will count it as a win, even if it still results in my physical defeat. A little handicap for your junior?” If she had any difficulty in controlling that physical aspect of her abilities the “handicap” would serve as an extra distraction, something to keep her off of her game enough that he could take her off balance and get the information he needed.



He wasn’t actually there to win, after all. That didn’t mean it wouldn’t be fun to try.
 

Sam gave a small, pleasant huff. Then she looked across the gym, to where Kyle was, and she waved. He stopped, then waved back. He finished clipping the back panel of an elliptical back into place, tapped the screen a few times, and then jogged over to where Sam and Nat were. He stopped right next to her, looking Nat up and down. “What up, Sam? Need the desk covered?”

She looked up at the young man. He had a kind, open face, eager brown eyes, and soft, curling blonde hair. She smiled up at him, a slightly less dazzling look, and said, “If you could. Shouldn’t take long, we just have a challenger.”

The young man nodded and gestured for her to stand. She did so, giving him the seat. Now that she was standing, her sweatpants and camisole were clear as day. Hardly real workout clothes. Kyle looked up at Nat, and in a serious voice, he said, “You sure about this, bro? Sam’s tough.”

She snorted, then covered her mouth. She started stretching, groaning at a particularly sharp crack in her back. Then she turned and sighed. “He’s going to do just fine, Kyle. Besides, I never intentionally hurt people, much less a kid.”

She smiled at Nat, the much more dazzling smile, as though hoping it might distract him from whatever the real reason he was there was. She gestured to the boxing ring closest to them, then started walking. She ducked under the wires, slipping into the ring with an easy precision that indicated she was used to this exact motion.​
 
Sam signaled after one of her employees, a younger man with curly blonde hair and brown eyes that appraised Nat with a quick once-over before responding to his boss’s beckon. Though Nat had given him an amiable smile at his approach it didn’t survive the way he had been measured. The opinion of some gym employee wasn’t high on Nat’s priorities, but he was getting quite sick of being called a kid and, worse, being treated like one. It was bad enough from strangers, but Sam had seen him as the Wolf and still dismissed him. A hard “tsk” sound clicked between his teeth as Sam made for the ring.



”Thanks, Kyle. I’ll be sure to give your boss back in one piece.” Maybe it was unfair of Nat to take his ire out on Sam’s employee, and his churlish response might have only cemented the stranger’s impression of his youth. It didn’t matter, though. The mask he had worn into the building was only meant to be temporary anyway, with every intention of tossing it aside once the path was set.



Nat stepped through the ring’s ropes gracefully, if not with the practiced ease that Sam had displayed. He might have often played up his youth and the expectation of bumbling coordination, but he had no intention of doing so here. Even if his goal wasn’t to win there was an underlying challenge that had yet to be spoken. Sam had considered him a child from the moment they met. His eyes met hers across the ring, nothing of his usual cheeriness left amongst the fire that burned beneath.



”I have never been trained in sport martial arts, Sam, so I apologize in advance if I break any rules.” Or anything else. He wasn’t really looking to hurt Sam, she was his friend after all. A point clearly needed to be made, though. He readied himself, knees bending slightly as he half turned so that his right side was facing his opponent. ”Are we waiting for a bell or something?”
 

Sam smiled wolfishly at Nat’s eagerness to fight her, at the fire in his eyes. She started moving, bobbing back and forth, rocking on her feet as she prepared her first strike. Nat saying he wasn’t trained in “sport” martial arts felt significant. In fact, that probably meant he had some kind of training, maybe training meant to help him focus his mind more so than his body. She looked at his stance and then she moved.

She kept her speed, as promised, at the upper end of “human”. She wouldn’t use her speed against him, or her strength. She was slow enough for someone with actual experience, actual speed, to dodge. Still, most people couldn’t keep up with her quick barrage of attacks and feints. She moved quickly and feinted with her right, as though about to throw a hook, but then dropped low and swung her left toward Nat’s stomach.

Unless he was fast enough, which he very well could be, this would wind him and likely take him down unless he recovered quickly. She was used to people not knowing what they were signing up for. Nat had seen her fight, though, and he knew better. He knew what he was in for. And she had a feeling he wasn’t going down without a good fight.

And nothing else would make her more happy than to put him on his ass.​
 
Sam’s feral grin served as well as a starting bell, a preceptor to the burst of movement from the other side of the ring. She closed the distance between them with a few practiced steps, her familiarity with the ring evident in her steady, determined stare that bored into her opponent. Nat imagined that stare, that firry will was likely enough to cow the majority of her challengers, a battle won before any blows had even been thrown. As her right fist whistled through the air toward him Nat’s own grin met hers as he pivoted.



Stepping back with his left foot, the would-be blow from Sam’s right hook would have passed well in front if him had it not been a feint. Sam was fast and experienced, and despite the obvious differences for a split second Nat felt as though he were facing the familiarity of his grandfather. Their speed and stature were similar, and though Sam had the benefit of youth to fuel her movements Nat was accustomed to the wise, canny maneuvering his grandfather would bring to bear against him.



The true blow was countered, a twisting of Nat’s torso deflecting Sam’s left fist to glance off of the tensed muscles at his side as he snatched at her wrist with practiced ease. His fingers dug into the tendons there, pressed against pressure points to weaken her grip as his body twisted again. A wrench of the arm he had caught and a twist of his body to bring his left knee around, driving with perhaps a measure of withdrawn force for the center of Sam’s chest. The momentum of the attempted strike was enough to wind Sam as she had tried to wind him, and at the expected moment of impact his grip on her wrist would release. If she dodged away he would be able to use that same momentum to also put distance between them.



As far as first exchanges went Nat was more excited, and more challenged, than he had expected to be already.
 

He countered her first move in a clean exchange that made her smile, even as the knee came rocketing toward her. She let her hand go slack as he pushed on her pressure point, And at the last moment, right before he released her hand, she bent herself backward, letting the knee graze her stomach and chest as she leaned out of the way of it. With her newly freed hand, she dropped down, catching herself and then pushing herself back to her feet.

He had moved away from her, getting some distance between them. So far, he was already doing better than most people in their gym had, and that was attracting eyes. More eyes than had already been on them, anyway. Kyle was watching with a slightly surprised look from the front desk. He looked down at his watch, as though checking the time, then back up at the two of them in the ring. In a loud voice, he called out, “Fifteen seconds!”

She cracked her neck to the side, the joint forcibly realigning as she dropped back into a stance. This time, however, she didn’t charge straight in. She waited, crouched with her arms raised and loose, ready to strike or to move or to defend. She took the first strike, but now it was time to wait and bait him up. So she shifted her weight back and forth on her feet, preparing herself to move when he darted in.​
 
It was difficult for Nat to gauge Sam’s skill, though he was impressed as she moved fluidly out of the way of his knee. Most of his experience was against men, particularly his own grandfather, and though he had been taught that women’s bodies had certain advantages over the male form he had never seen it first hand. The way Sam crouched, her center of gravity brought even closer to the raised floor of the ring, gave her a more narrow pivot than he was used to. Her speed was considerable, and though Nat knew she could move even faster he found himself appreciating the technical skill she displayed.



Perhaps this wasn’t going to be as easy as he had thought.



His original purpose was lost in the moment, the familiarity of a challenging match clearing Nat’s mind of his suspicions so that he could focus solely on his opponent. Somewhere behind him, presumably from the counter where they had left him, Kyle’s voice called out. Nat barely heard it, unwavering gaze fixed on his fellow vigilante as he launched himself toward her. It was his turn to act offensively, and he came in with a low sweep of his leg as a feint.



Expecting Sam to dodge the first move, Nat followed with an open palmed strike toward her chest again. In real combat he would have gone for more precise blows to the neck or head to put his opponent down as quickly as possible, but during sparring he had always erred toward the larger mass of the torso. Midway through his strike, though, his consciousness broke through the focus of combat and he realized that he was facing a woman. His strike was pulled, slowed in the moment as a slight flush that had nothing to do with exertion rose to his cheeks.



He couldn’t hit her there, especially not with an open hand.
 

Sam tracked Nat’s movements as he moved in on her. He was quick, but not as nimble or as fluid as she was. She managed to dodge his first move, the low sweep of the legs, with ease. But that felt off. That felt too easy. And just as she was thinking it, she saw the hand coming straight at her. If it hit, it would have sent her flying back into the ropes. Sam was easy to knock around if you got a good hit in on her.

Instead, he pulled the strike, stopping it. She saw it flash in his eyes, saw the flush rise to his cheeks. At that moment, she smiled, feral and brilliant, and she went in for the kill. She landed from her jump and immediately spun, lifting her leg up high enough to hit Nat right in the chin. He was leaning forward, just enough for her to catch his head with the side of her foot.

A knock like that to the chin had the potential to take him down, especially with her strength and speed. She made sure to pull the kick, just enough to maintain realistic human levels of strength. As she swung, she called out, “Should have gone for the hit, Nat. Don’t give mercy because your opponent is a woman.”
 
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