Focus by Rhi
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Author's Notes:
Disclaimers: So very much not mine. One of them belongs to Top Cow; the other belongs to Panzer/Davis, or maybe Greg Widen. No moneys made; no infringement intended. Written because I've had a song stuck in my head for days (an alternate version of "Hello," by Poe) and I finally caught up a little further on filing vids… so, in a way? This is Killa's fault: "Comin' Up From Behind" made the hairs on my arm stand up, and made me want to write Pezzini. Written for Crossovers100, Prompt #65 -- Passing. Beta courtesy of Raine; mistakes of course my fault. Let me know where, and I'll fix them.
Rated: G.

Her muscles rolled fluidly under her skin and sweat ran down her spine, along the sides of her ribs, down the nape of her neck. Her mouth tasted of salt and copper. The back of her hand was sticky with blood, but she'd worry later about it later; if the injury was serious, they'd have stopped by now.

Block a fist with a back-fist and take the impact down her arm. Duck and weave just enough to dodge a knife-hand that would have taken her air. Hop over the leg trying to sweep her off-balance; come down, one foot, then the other, in case he spun back again. No thoughts, no worries, nothing in her world but fists, elbows, knees, or feet coming at her. Alone with the rhythm of the spar, following his lead and reacting, changing speed and timing to throw him off. Nothing but this arm curving back, that twist of hips to match the other arm coming forward. Duck and weave, in and under and out, back and around, feet moving as constantly as her hands.

A spin-kick too fast to dodge threw her backwards. She curled around the impact, hit the mat on her back and rolled up over her shoulders, head ducked against her chest while her legs came up with a grunt of effort. She hit ground on her feet, one arm coming up to wipe liquid off her mouth, the other arm spinning up and out against the attack coming for her gut.

Half-seen along the edges of her vision, an opening. Sara snapped a front kick into it reflexively. The impact slammed back up her leg and the whuff of air out of his lung blew across her face; hot as she was, it felt good. Then his hands clamped around her leg and tugged her sideways and down. She landed on top of him, but it didn't do her enough good. Breathless or not, the bastard could wrestle. A couple inches taller, a lot of muscle heavier, vicious and quick as a snake -- she was trying to squirm away as she fell and failing miserably. He rolled on top of her, going for a pin.

Flesh along hers -- hot, sweaty, solidly muscled -- and then the Witchblade tightened around Sara's arm, shifting from a metal and stone bracelet to a fine chain gauntlet in a shower of sparks that would have raised the hairs on her arm if she'd been less sweaty. Instead, the sparks shot along her arm and her hair with a hiss and saline stink of burnt seaweed. She twisted, trying to get free, and met her sparring partner's eyes -- wide, gold now and going black as his pupils dilated with surprise.

Images spun across his eyes, across her eyes: Men fighting with swords and axes and shields, men in kilts and leathers, afoot and on horseback. She watched a priest slit a man's throat and bless himself with the hilt of the dripping blade, saw an enormous figure in black leather and bones bury a sword in her gut and tried to scream with it. A girl with the sun tangled in her hair measured her with a glance that had no intention of being shortchanged; the gaze changed to 'I'll take it' and she was gone again. Sitting on stone, feeding wood into a fire, and watching a man sleep -- tall, darkly tanned, tangled black hair drawn back with a thong, and nightmares creasing an otherwise handsome face as she reached to soothe him back to sleep.

A small, laughing Oriental man whose eyes knew too much even as his hands hammered metal to the beat of his laughter. A dark-skinned man handing over a silver flask with a flash of white teeth, wrapped in a wool blanket, antique musket lying on the snowy ground beside him. A white man, curling brown hair tied back with a ribbon, laughing as he poured tea into mismatched, shell-thin china cups. Ship's wheel wet under her hand as a storm screamed around her and the wind tried to slam her into the helm. Machine guns roaring around her, pounding her down into dirt covered with her own blood as a little girl watched from the shelter of wood crates and carelessly stacked tin sheets.

The images spun faster and faster: art, gold, spices, food, wine, stained glass, tapestries, chess, arguments, fights with guns, with swords, with fists, taste of blood in her mouth, feel of ivory against her palms. Shock of lightning coming to a man's call, screaming down from the sky at her, up from the ground at her, out of water at her, away from the still-falling remains of a building--

Her sometime sparring partner rolled off her and Sara Pezzini shoved away from him, gasping for breath and pulling the Witchblade behind her back rather than let it touch him again. MacLeod -- no first name, but Sara hadn't given hers, either -- recovered first. His eyes flicked across her arm, her face, back to her arm. He took a deep breath and Sara noticed his shirt was almost as damp as hers.

Then MacLeod nodded and rolled up to his feet. "Your knuckle split." To Sara's surprise, he offered her an arm up.

She reached out with the bloody hand, not the one with the bracelet, and nodded to him as he pulled her up. He met her eyes, watchful but not frightened. From what she'd seen, the Witchblade might not be in the top five weirdest things he'd run into. It hadn't healed her yet, oddly enough; bystanders didn't normally stop it.

Their spar was clearly over, and much sooner than she'd wanted; MacLeod was one of the few who could command her full attention in a practice match. Bruises healed better than a hangover, and got her more respect at the station.

He was still watching her from those changeable eyes -- they'd been gold, green, brown, and nearly black at times. It didn't matter what color they were, he seemed to see almost as much as the Witchblade. He might have just had time to learn how to use them, but Sara suspected he'd been born watching everything.

She scrubbed a hand over her mouth and realized her lips were covered with sweat, not blood.

"I'll wear long sleeves next time." MacLeod bowed, eyes on her. He wasn't scared, and Sara finally wondered if the 'Blade had meant for him to be. He'd seen the same things she had -- seen it again, she suspected. Huh.

His bow reminded her of Danny, however, and Sara managed a wry smile. "My fault. I'll wear the long sleeves." She lifted her hand to see how badly it was bleeding and added, "And buy the beer."

"Brandy." MacLeod headed towards the men's locker room, leaving Pezzini to smile at the irritated flashes of light from the red-orange eye of the Witchblade.

So it had been trying to scare him away. Tough. To keep a sparring partner this good, Sara would buy him a brandy and not ask how old he was, or why he kept a Japanese sword in his duffel bag. Hell, for annoying the 'Blade this much, though, she'd buy him a second brandy.

And still not ask any questions.

~ ~ ~ finis ~ ~ ~

Comments, Commentary, & Miscellanea:

All the people in Connor's memories are canonical; names will be provided upon request. Danny Wu was Sara Pezzini's partner in the early episodes of Witchblade. And it seemed too obvious to me that both Sara and Connor would value a sparring partner who can make them work... and doesn't ask inconvenient questions.