Categories > Cartoons > M.A.S.K. > First Impressions

Just a Girl

by Clutch 0 reviews

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and for Matt Trakker, those first impressions are going to be vital if he's going to form MASK!

Category: M.A.S.K. - Rating: PG - Genres: Action/Adventure - Published: 2007-01-20 - Updated: 2007-01-20 - 1101 words

Disclaimer: All characters belong to Kenner and a bunch of animation studios. All I own is the situation, plot and backstory.

Author Note: First Impressions is a collection of one-shot vignettes which fit into my MASK universe at various different points. Each installment is a complete story. Each installment will say where, in the universe, it fits.

Story Note: This is a one-shot vignette which fits into my MASK universe four months after What it Takes /and just before the start of Estranged./

With many thanks to Nessa and Liz for editing, feedback and patient hand holding.

Just a Girl

The punch bag swung violently in response to his efforts; his chest heaved from exertion. It wasn't enough. It was never enough.

Matt sighed, leaning forwards and stilling the bag's jerky motion.

Why couldn't it, just once, be enough to muffle the ache in his heart?

Alex and Hondo both thought he was punishing himself for Sarah's death, and maybe he was. But mostly he was just scrabbling for something, anything, that might take away the pain. Even for just a little while.

He thought that Buddy understood, which felt odd, considering how young Buddy was in most respects. Except that it wasn't odd at all; Buddy had been through much the same thing four months earlier with Vanessa's defection to VENOM. The only difference was that Vanessa was still alive.

Buddy had the hope that maybe, someday, Vanessa would wake up to what she was doing.

Matt clenched his fist and drew it back, preparing to assault the punch bag once more.

"You know, you've been in here every day for the last four months and pounded that poor, defenceless bag into the ground," observed a voice lightly. "Maybe you need some new opposition."

Frozen, poised to strike, Matt looked around for the speaker, and found her: A tall, almost willowy brunette woman a little younger than himself, dressed in workout clothes and wearing a curious expression on her face, who was standing just behind him. He thought he might have seen her around before, since he'd started coming to the gym.

Seeing she had his attention, she added, "My normal sparring partner's blown me off today and you look like you could use some real opposition. So how about it?"

Slowly, Matt lowered his arm. "I don't---" he began.

The woman smiled warmly. "C'mon," she cajoled. "It's gotta be better than hitting that thing again."

"You're not going to leave me alone until I say yes," Matt judged.


Matt sighed. "Who put you up to this?"

The woman's smile was replaced by a frown. "No-one," she answered. "My sparring partner's blown me off and I thought you could use a change." She shrugged. "If you're really that bothered, though, forget about it."

She started to turn away, and Matt immediately felt awkward. Why had he assumed Alex or Hondo had put her up to it? "Maybe a change would do me good."

She stopped and turned back to him, smile back in place. "Well, all right then." She stuck out her hand. "I'm Gloria."

"Matt," he answered, shaking her hand.

"Good to meet you, Matt," Gloria answered, leading him towards the sparring practice area. "Local?"

"Born and bred." Matt grinned. "You?"

"Grad Student," she replied. "Though I'm thinking about staying on when I finish. It's a nice place."

Matt smiled. That had been the way Sarah had always described Boulder: A nice place. Strangely, that thought didn't hurt as much as he'd expected. "Yeah," he agreed. "It is."

They reached the practice matting and conversation was shelved in favour of warm up stretches. Matt wondered when he'd last sparred with anyone, much less someone so much smaller than him. As much as he knew size wasn't always an issue in martial arts, he did have to hope that Gloria knew what she was doing.

"Ready?" Gloria asked.

"Any time," Matt replied, coming to stand opposite her on the mat.

"Well all right." She grinned and bowed.

Matt matched her gesture and then waited for her to make the first move.

That move came barely a moment later. All the warning Matt got was a minuscule shift in Gloria's balance, then she lashed out with a kick designed to separate his head from his shoulders. He managed to block the kick, but she followed up with a rapid succession of punches, driving him backwards.

"You're holding back," Gloria observed, disengaging.

Matt blinked. Had he been?

"Don't think that 'cause I'm a woman I can't kick your butt," she continued. "So don't think you have to hold back."

Matt smiled. "All right."

This time, he was the one to begin. He feinted a punch to Gloria's left and when she moved to block that, he twisted into a superkick to her right.

"Better," she approved, even as she ducked out of the way. "But not good enough."

And before Matt could reply, she went onto the attack and it was all Matt could do to keep most of her blows at bay. Once more he found himself being driven back, towards the edge of the matting.

In desperation, he looked for a hole in Gloria's defences. There had to be one; even the best of defences had some way through. He felt the edge of the mat through the soles of his feet and in that instant, he thought he saw a way to retaliate.

Matt aimed a punch...

...and found himself cart wheeling through the air as Gloria grabbed his wrist and threw him as if he was just an overgrown rag doll. He landed, with a winding thud, on the mat.

"I'm outta practice," he mumbled.

Gloria leaned over him, a slightly guilty expression on her face. "Are you OK?"

Matt smiled sheepishly. "Only a little ego damage." He rolled back to his feet. "Could be worse."

"Well, if you ever want to get back into practice, I'm here most days." Gloria smiled. "If you think your ego can cope with being thrown by a woman again."

Matt found himself chuckling. "Oh, I think it can cope with another few shots. It would be good to get back in training."

"Well OK, then." Gloria crossed to where she'd left her things. "See you tomorrow?"

"Count on it."

Matt watched her leave. For the first time in four months, he actually felt a sense of purpose again. Alex and Hondo had been right; meeting Gloria had proved that. It was time to stop punishing himself and get on with the business of living and of making Miles Mayhem pay.
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