Good Clean Fun

August 06, 2015:

After the alien fungus-animaled zombie horde has been dealt with (A Fungus Among Us), Caitlin and Carol chat a bit while they are cleaning themselves up.

Hazmat Cleanup Tent - Hart Island - New York City

Hart's Island at the western end of Long Island Sound is technically in New York City. On that island there are over a hundred acres of graves. Burials began here during the American Civil War, and turned to mass graves for the poor, and forgotten. The Potter's Field here is the largest tax-funded cemetery in the world with countless unknown, indigent, and lost souls buried by the thousands. Indeed, more than one million corpses lie in these fields- unknown, and barely marked.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

"Ew. Ew. Ew." Caitlin keeps repeating that monosyllabic expression of disgust as she stands tensed and arms outspread, as if not wanting to touch any part of herself with any other part of herself. Covered in liberal amounts of effluvia and river muck, five minutes of swimming in the scummy shores of the island and then being attacked by exploding sulphur zombies would probably even leave Swamp Thing feeling unwashed. She moves with that stiff-bodied step in swift hustles once the HAZMAT teams show up, growing more and more disgusted with her condition as it starts drying on her. Looking a bit like Swamp Thing herself, she fairly leaps into the HAZMAT tent the moment they give her the go-ahead, stripping out of her leotard and throwing it into a green biohazard disposal bag provided. At least under her outfit she was somewhat cleaner, if not still covered in grimy swampwater; the contrast of a mud-crusted face, hands, and legs contrasted with her pale skin, which was on the ruddy side of ginger pale. Kicking her boots off, too, and silently thanking the fates she could get them in bulk, she reaches up and turns on one of the bead-blaster strength showerheads and gets under it, not even waiting for the water to start to warm up.

"Hey, can, um, someone bring in some soap?" she calls after a moment, turning on another showerhead and aiming it so she can use two at once. "…no offense, guys, but can you find a /girl/ to bring in some soap?"


"Roger and wilco. One female personnel with soap." comes the droll comment as an equally scum-covered Captain Marvel comes strolling into the showers. She wasn't quite in as much of a hurry as Caitlin, because she has been through this entirely too many times to get so very worked up over it all.

Carol isn't used to looking /up/ at anyone, but she looks up at Caitlin, the redhead towering almost - if not quite - half a foot over her own, even when they're both in bare feet. The blonde tucks a bar of soap into one of Caitlin's hands, one still in her own, and steps under a showerhead even as a cascading golden glow goes from head down to toes, taking her scum-covered costume with it.

"Ahhhh. OK. That's better, even if it is still chilly." the blonde comments as she starts scrubbing with that soap, an industrial loufa, and intent. There just has to be human - OK, OK, mostly human - skin under there somewhere. "Nice plan, by the way, with the drainage system for water distribution. Good thing I don't need to breathe, much. New York Harbor would give an Atlantean a death wish."


Caitlin is entirely too grossed out to be self-conscious for the moment; she takes the soap with a 'thanks' and starts attacking herself with what looks like a brillo pad. It probably is a brillo pad. Given that she's not so much as bruised from their activities on the island, it seems little discomfort for her. She does indeed tower over Carol, and while her signature leotard is fairly formfitting, when she's undressed the serious muscle the girl carries with no real effort makes her look even bigger.

After a solid thirty seconds of gargling the water to get the nasty taste out of her mouth, she starts attacking her hair with both hands and no regard for future styling, peering surrepitously over her shoulder at Carol- trying not to be unfriendly, but also trying not to get caught staring at her hero. Realizing she's showering with Captain Marvel (friggin' Captain Marvel omg) and that she's potentially staring, she immediately goes two shades closer to the color of her hair from nose to toes and turns the water temperature down to something cooler.

"…oh, uh, thanks," she stammers, finally realizing Carol said something to her, and staring furiously at the tent wall under her showerhead. "It was just hydraulics," she says after a moment, her voice quite a bit softer than her booming alto had been on the battlefield. "Y'know, 'x' pounds of water over surface area 'y', applied with 'z' force, with a displacement…" she bites her words off with an audible click of her teeth and scrubs her hair /even harder/. "But, um, it wouldn't have worked if you weren't there," she says, lamely.


"I know it was hydraulics." Carol comments, still scrubbing, working her way down to her toes before she worries with her hair. "I'm a pilot, I have to know hydraulics. But I wouldn't have come up with that. That's creative problem-solving. Being smart, and fluid enough to /use/ those smarts in a crisis to solve the problem." Yes. That was a solid compliment, from Captain Marvel. So friggin' deal. Yo.

Carol shows no signs of being self-conscious; frankly, she doesn't even seem aware of any reason to be, or notice any staring from the other woman. "Wow. Jess would have my head, if she knew I was treating my hair like this." Carol comments, soaping up and then scrubbing through her mass of golden hair, made a bit darker with water, and even darker with plain old scum. "Jan would probably disown me." She crinkles a smile at that, clearly amused. "But we used to do it all the time, when we were in-country. Shampoo was like liquid gold. Soap was cheap, easy, and a lot more portable."

"You know, we've run into each other a few times, now. Mind if I ask? How'd you end up with a case of the supers?" Captain Marvel inquires, curiously. Some folks get touchy about it, but Carol has always been pretty calm and easy with it. Why get worked up? It just is.


Caitlin buries her face in the spray of showerwater to hide any expression of preening at the compliment, but there's not enough water in the world to hide her blushing. Captain Marvel is quite a bit more mainstream than she is; at best, Caitlin's a 'regional' sort of hero. Not being able to fly to the rescue can do that to a girl.

"Uhh…. no one's really sure," Caitlin admits, with all the awkward social grace she has, not quite looking at Carol. "I was in a lab one day and this… guy? I don't even know who he was- he jumped me and tried to haul me into this backroom we didn't even know was in the building. I screamed and a bunch of people tried to help, and one friggin' moron got his camera out to, I guess… film it? and then…" she gestures vaguely at her bodacious self. "I used to weigh like, a buck-ten, on a good day. And I had really bad vision, so like, cokebottle glasses. Then something in me sort of snapped when he threatened to shoot my friends, and I suddenly had these Hulkhands and flippers for feet," she says, with a bit of self-remonstration. "I threw him out a window, and an hour later, everyone on YouTube saw me explode out of my cargo pants and saw a glamour shot of me in my undies."

"No one really knows why, or how," she admits, her hand absently running through her hair and her eyes thoughtful. "I have some weird genetic abnormalities, but I'm not a mutant, so… whoknows?"

Realizing she's babbling, her eyes come dartingly alert and she clears her throat, glancing at Carol. "So, uh, like, I know your 'official' bio," she says, "I mean, anyone who's anyone knows it," she amends, trying to ameliorate her panicked sense of sounding like a serial stalker. "But, y'know, with you, how was it? The powers. Getting them. Getting the powers," she says, stammering.


"Awww. That had to suck. Sorry." Carol offers in gentle commiseration to Caitlin; Carol at least missed out on sudden snap pics of a questionable nature, thanks in no small part to the fact that she didn't grow that much. It helps that she also got her powers from a super-science magical wish machine, and 'suddenly being naked' wasn't part of the wish. But anyway. "Well, congrats for the genetic lotto, regardless. You definitely use what you've got to your best advantage, and everyone else's." And Carol respects that. A lot.

All Caitlin needs to go from regional to international is a backer with teleport tech. Or jet aircraft. Just ask Batman. Carol knows all about the wonders of rapid transit. "Truth is? It was amazing. Still is. I'm a pilot by trade." Pilot. Soldier. Spy. Writer. Editor. But ANYWAY! Carol's career confusion is not at issue here, damnit! "So, suddenly I could fly without a rocket strapped to my ass. It's awesome, and I love it." Only complaint she's ever had is what this has done to her dating life. But her dating wasn't going so well before, either. Such is life.

"What about you?" Carol asks, turning her face up and letting the water stream down her body as she slicks her hands through her hair, banishing the soap suds. "If someone handed you a magic reset button, would you take it?"


Caitlin was listening with the careful attention of a hero-worshipper when Carol asks her that probing question, and at that she looks down and away, turning back to the showerhead and ducking again to get her hair under it (showerhead regulation height has never worked for her).

"…yeah," she admits, quietly. Too ashamed to face Carol, but clearly working from a deep core of sincere inner honesty. "It's… sometimes it's a blast. Being able to throw bad guys across town," she admits, a bit grudgingly. "But I hate the rest of it. I've been sued like, five times now. I was a grad student when this…" she says, gesturing vaguely, "happened, so most of my 'normal' friends bailed on me. It's hard to be a friend to someone if you're making her boyfriend stare at the freakasaurus every time you hang out," she mutters. "I can't find clothes that fit, everyone stares at me all the time, and it seems like the only attention I ever get on the news is when some jerkface blows my uniform off of me with a grenade or something. Then it's 'redheaded freak nude in Gotham, tonight at eleven'," she says, with a tone of bitter self recrimination.


Carol's hand lays lightly on Caitlin's shoulder, a violation of the mutual bather's code of conduct. But she doesn't tug at Caitlin to turn her around; she just makes contact.

"You're not going to believe me when I say this." Carol starts. "And I get that, and I don't blame you. Wish it were another way, but it's not. But, see, I need to say it. And I hope some part of you hears it, whether or not you ever believe it. You. Are not. A freak. Saurus, or otherwise. You are a damned gorgeous woman, inside and out. Your whole blasted life turned into a crapburger sandwich. But instead of hiding, or deciding to take it out on others, you still go out there damned near every day and try to use what happenstance gave you to help other people. And that makes you amazing."

Carol's hand lifts from Caitlin's shoulder, and Carol turns around to finish rinsing off. "Besides. No one /makes/ the asshat stare at you, instead of his avowed girlfriend. That's nothing but low class, no brains, and ruled by male hormones. And she won't believe it, but she's better off without him, if that's the way he is."


Though Caitlin's got the size on her side, Carol's got the benefits of charisma, confidence, and maturity; she's easily fifteen years Caitlin's senior, and it shows in the way the two women approach the problem. It's obvious that despite her tremendous strength, Caitlin's very much not in control of her insecurities. She tries to twist away a bit, but is held in place more by Carol's force of personality than any strength, and just stares at the floor with downcast eyes. It's very obvious she wants to be able to agree with Carol; it's just as obvious she's keeping herself from being able to do it sincerely. When Carol calls her amazing, though, she starts and goes to look at her hero with wide eyes-

-but Carol's already turned away to finish showering, and Caitlin is just sitting there agog and barely processing her words.

"I… th-thanks," she stammers, finally, fidgeting a bit in place as if unsure of what to do with herself. She hugs her arms across her stomach and turns back into the showerhead spray, letting the (finally) hot water finish scouring her skin clean. "Daddy was from Iowa," she tells Carol after a minute. "I used to spend summers there and we used to go to the Methodist church every Sunday. The moms there made a big thing about wearing hats and long sleeves," she says, shrugging with a bit of conflicted shame- it's hard to reconcile the tri-city area's Bohemian dress codes with a more traditional shame-based upbringing. Probably explains why her superhero outfit is relatively conservative, all things considered, though.


Of course, Caitlin is saying this to Carol, whose current costume covers EVERYTHING. It's all relative. Carol steps out of the spray, turning it off, and then grabs a towel and starts buffing down. But she keeps chatting; apparently this is normal in her world. "You're welcome." she offers, considering the redhead a bit.

"My Dad tried his best to be a good man, in south Boston. He was a good man. But he wasn't a great dad for a proud, capable, up-and-coming daughter. He decided my brother was the one to pay for college for. Pretty much told me to get out and get an Em-Ar-Ess degree. So I flipped him the bird, and enlisted on my eighteenth in the Air Force. I mustanged my way into college, and made my way to officer." The blonde shugs. "Believe me. I've had more than enough people in my life telling me how I was supposed to act, dress, and 'comport myself.'"

Carol lifts the towel over her head and starts working on that mane of hair. "Going out on my own like that, it changed me. I struggle a bit, now and then. Everyone does: man, woman, in the middle, doesn't matter. But I decided to be my own woman, and to damned Hell with anyone who didn't like it. I made myself the best damned jet jockey around, because I knew that was the only way I'd earn any respect. I know how to dress the way they wanted. But I didn't generally give a damn. Still don't." Hence why Carol is more comfortable in beat-up old USAF sweats, cut-off sleeves, legs, collar and all, than she is in high-falutin' fashionista dresses. And that's considering Janet van Dyne is one of her best friends.

"For me, God is the clear blue sky, and the face of the heavens at night." Carol offers, gently. Oh, she believes. But you won't find her in the pew on Sunday.


Caitlin's clearly stymied by Carol's eloquence, listening with a rapt expression that she tries to hide by looking nonchalantly at the far wall. The words resonate with her, clearly, and she seems awed by Carol's effortless, towering self-confidence, hanging on to every word.

Following Carol's lead when she kills the water, she twists the faucet ducts shut and picks up her own towels. She immediately tries to wrap one around her chest, but the regulation towels aren't made for someone her size. Trying to hide a bit of embarassment she wraps one around her waist for good measure, until she's mostly decent in her eyes, and picks up a third towel and gets to work drying her hair out. She listens raptly as Carol speaks, nodding without realizing it. With the look of a girl who never really learned how to do it properly, she scrubs at her hair vigorously and it *poofs* out in giant, frizzy red curls.

"I couldn't ever join the military," she tells Carol, shaking her head admiringly. "Daddy was a Marine and he was really proud of it, but it just sounds … really scary. I'm not sure I could have kept up with the drill instructors," she admits. "Having someone screaming in your face because your socks are folded wrong-" she shudders.

"He'd have really liked you. My daddy, I mean," she tells Carol. "He wasn't scared of anything, either," she adds, smiling a bit- it dimples her cheeks and gives her features an incredibly affable and appealing look.


"Well, good. I'm glad he'd approve. Maybe then he'd approve of me trying my best to help his little girl. Who maybe isn't so little anymore. On the outside, anyway." Carol offers, with a wink and a smile. She too dries her hair until it kooshes out in a puffball of frizz.

"Hope you'll pardon me for cheating. Do you have clean clothes nearby? Or should I go get you something?" Carol asks, as that golden shimmer reappears, replacing momentary nudity with the aforementioned well-worn grey USAF sweats and some crosstrainers.

"For the record: DIs in the Air Force aren't nearly as bad as those in the Army or the Marines. Then again, Air Force folks aren't expected to be front-line grunts and infantry. We fly, or maintain, jets. Doesn't mean our DIs are patsies, but they don't just go in for screaming til you whimper." Carol admits. She's bad-ass, but her DIs aren't why.


Caitlin's eyes go wide at the shimmer of gold. "Woooooah," she says, turning into a gushing fangirl again. "That is /so cool/."

She glances down at herself in the towels, then blinks a few times, trying to remembering. "I… wait, yeah! I think I did, this time," she says brightly, sounding infinitely relieved. "I left a little bag around the corner- like, on this side of the bridge, but…" she takes a few seconds to tell Carol where she's 'totally sure' she left the satchel with her change of clothes in it.

"I can't really afford a real hero costume," she admits. "Mine's just mostly Nomex and flame-retardent material. I get them in bulk but I have to cut the legs off or I can't fit into them at all," she explains. "I go through 'em like tissue paper, too. Cheap stitching, I guess," she says with a shrug. "I finally figured out to start packing at least a spare pair of shorts and a sports bra out with me anywhere I go so I'm not streaking over the rooftops trying to get home without being on YouTube again."


Carol can't help but grin at the thought of poor Caitlin having to streak over rooftops to get home; before she learned the insta-change trick, she had a few close calls herself. "Quite a show you must have put on." she comments, wryly. "OK. You stay here. I'll be right back with your bag."

That said, Carol lifts off, and flies out of the tent, heading for the shattered bridge. Now here's hoping dear old Manhunter's explosive entrance didn't incinerate the bag and scatter the clothes thither and yon. And that they aren't now covered in muck and mire from the soaking and explosioning of an island full of sulphurous zombies.

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