"Transcend Apparent Limits"
Their relationship grew
where it had begun:
in the sparring ring.
Cuoio and Chiara were
surprisingly well matched.
A strongwoman could hit
a tough guy and, as long as
they kept it to sparring levels,
not do any damage.
A woman tended to have
more stamina than a man;
a tough guy tended to have
more than an average person;
so that evened out too.
Cuoio loved to watch
Chiara move, but he learned
to pay attention to her as an opponent,
not just a sexy bundle of muscles,
because if he got distracted, then
she wiped the mat with him.
He liked that she did that,
and she didn't go soft on him
just because he was the boss.
Chiara loved to listen to
Cuoio giving orders, but she
learned to keep an ear on the rest
of the team they might have around,
because if she didn't, then they'd
sneak up behind her.
She loved that he was
so good at directing people,
like the fingers of his hand.
They practiced carefully at first,
then with more flair as they learned
what was safe and how to work together.
They discovered that Chiara was
strong enough and accurate enough
to toss Cuoio onto a roof, and he
was nimble enough to land on it
and not fall back off again.
They discovered that Cuoio was
tough enough that he could curl up
and let Chiara jump on top of him,
then strong enough to stand up
and boost her into the air.
Sometimes they sparred with
Duraturo, whose invulnerability
made him safe from both of them
and who was teaching Cuoio
some better boxing moves.
Sometimes they sparred with
Salvo, who was easy to injure
but could regenerate. They
tried not to hurt him anyhow.
Slowly and steadily, they learned
more about each other and themselves,
felt out what they could do or not.
It was like dancing.
It was like lovemaking.
It was a slow flex and flux
of power, exchanged among
all of them, flowing to Cuoio
and then back out again.
They built teamwork,
until Cuoio could call out
partial orders to different people
and they all slotted together as
seamlessly as one mind, one body.
They built trust, until Salvo
could tackle Cuoio at full force,
knowing that Duraturo would get
under them in time to break their fall.
They trusted each other again and again,
until it grew strong enough for them
to transcend apparent limits.
After sparring, when they were all
freshly showered and draped over
smooth wooden lounges in the shade,
it was trust that allowed them to talk
about the difficult things in their lives.
Cuoio spoke of the people he had
loved and lost, how hard that made it
for him to risk caring for anyone else
and why it made him so protective
of his people now, even the ones
who were supposed to protect him.
Chiara described how men
tended to view her as a threat
instead of a sex object, how women
thought of her as unfeminine because
of her strength and her athleticism, and
how she sometimes struggled to balance
those aspects of her personality.
Duraturo mentioned his lack of ambition
and his preference for sparring over
serious fights, which had made him
unpopular with many bosses and
left him insecure with his new one.
Salvo shared his bitter disappointment in
a superpower that could heal only himself,
not others, and how that drove him
to change his Family profession.
It brought them closer together,
wove the bonds better and tighter,
so that nothing could pull them
apart, not even themselves.
It couldn't replace the people that
Cuoio had lost -- nothing could ever
do that -- but it gave him a secure base.
His life was considerably different now than
it had been before, even though Cuoio still
worked more-or-less in the same business,
but most of the changes were good ones.
He would always miss his parents,
along with Galterio and Aniella, but it was
no longer the awful, constant ache it had been.
Cuoio could be content with this.
* * *
"Trust each other again and again. When the trust level gets high enough, people transcend apparent limits, discovering new and awesome abilities of which they were previously unaware."
-- David Armistead
Sparring is a type of practice fighting which spans many combat systems. Read about how to spar and what to seek in a sparring partner. Trust and control are important in ordinary sparring, but utterly crucial in superpowered sparring.
Power exchange is generally thought of in kinky contexts, but actually influences most human relationships. It's also common for people to relax by reversing what they do in their dayjob: many bosses, like Cuoio, enjoy giving control to someone else for intimate occasions.
Teamwork consists of many skills. Learn the traits of a successful team. You build teamwork by doing things together, which is why Cuoio has his people practicing together so much. Learn how to build teamwork.
Trust is an emotion based on confidence in another person's willingness and ability to treat you well. (It's different from reliance, which is based on logic and actions.) It grows out of occasions when vulnerability leads to support instead of manipulation. Here are some ways to build trust.
Here is one of the swimming pools at the Marionette compound where Cuoio lives. Typically the lounges are placed around the pool for a mix of sunny and shady spots.
Emotional intimacy is an essential component of close relationships. You can tell that Cuioio is thinking deep and long, rather than going for a quick fix, because he's building connections from the core out. It doesn't look directly connected to fieldwork, but it is: this depth of intimacy improves trust and teamwork in ways that will eventually allow them to predict each other's actions with near-telepathic accuracy. Explore some conversations that promote intimacy.