Mall Crawl

April 15, 2016:

Kara and Caitlin catch up at the mall. Just two totally normal girls here, nothing to see…

//New York Mall //

It's a mall, and not a super expensive one.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Superman, Carol Danvers

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's a lovely, mid-spring day in Metropolis. The skies are clear, the sun is shining, and there's a light breeze creating the perfect temperature to be outside. So, naturally, it's the perfect weather for shopping at the Cain Street Mall. Which is what Kara is doing right now, dressed in skinny blue jeans and a pink 'Captain America' shield logo t-shirt. 'Because the Super Shield would have been too obvious', she told the red-haired amazon joining her for the shopping trip. Kara's smiling and relaxed, feeling happy to spend some time with her friend Caitlyn Fairchild. She's drinking from a cup of mall lemonade as she goes about window-shopping with Caitlyn. "So, how have things been with you? Sorry that school and the job have been keeping me so busy."

"Mm— it's been… okay," Caitlin says, hedging a bit. Clearly, she's torn between being honest with Kara, and obviously not being terribly comfortable discussing something with her. She's even been a bit… off, one might say.

Still, she's in relatively high spirits. Caitlin's default mode is 'chipper', anyway. Wearing low wedges, she's a full foot taller than the blonde next to her and periodically slows her strides so Kara doesn't have to cheat to keep up. The hemline of her dress is approaching the flirty side, particularly with her long-legged steps. "Work's been preeeeetty good. Dr. Richards tends to keep like, crazy stupid hours, so Sue comes in periodically just to send everyone home. One night we were, um, researching some new applications for a polymerized graphene surface, and she forgot to check the clock, and it was like four AM before any of us realized we'd been there all night."

Kara snickers a bit. "That's good that you have something you ove and get involved so much in. But yeah, 4 am is a scooch much." She smiles and holds her fingers together. And it is obvious that Caitlyn has something on her mind that's bothering her. Looking at a pair of heeled booties in the display window, Kara points them out to Caitlyn. "Those are kind of cute. Maybe not for wearing on the job, but nice for a night out." The blonde turns to her friend, cocking her head slightly, and still smiling. "but somehow, I don't think you've got stylish outfits on the mind right now. What's up?"

Caitlin's superpowers are pretty rad, admittedly, but she lies like a cheap rug. She admires the shoes right along with Kara, but winces at the question and tries to look away nonchalantly. She catches her reflection in the mirror, and she's turning a brilliant shade of beet red.

"I… I guess I can tell you," she concedes, after wrestling with it for a moment. She glances around, then grabs Kara's hand and tugs her towards a nearb bench next to a long planter, and settles down onto the bench. It creaks alarmingly, but holds, and she tucks her knees close and waits for Kara to sit down next to her.

"I can't tell you everything about it, because there's some family stuff," she begins. "But my brother, he— um." She swallows, patting the air as she tries to get the words to start. "He and I— I mean, he's my adopted brother, right, so it's complicated, but— it turns out… I'm not really, um… I…" She rubs her face with one hand, wincing. "Oh god, it sounds too crazy to say out loud," she confesses in a mumble.

Kara sits down next to Caitlin and smiles comfortingly. As the red head starts to falter, Kar puts an arm around her friend's shoulders, hugging her. "Hey, it's okay. You can talk to me about anything. And I get how complicated family can be. I mean, your talking to someone who was supposed to follow her baby cousin to a new home, go lost for 30 some years, only to arrive and find him all grown up. Just tell me what you feel you can, okay?"

Caitlin rubs her face with both hands, takes a deep breath, and thbbrrtbts all her air in her lungs out. "Okay. Okay. So, uh… Okay. It turns out that… my dad isn't really… my dad. And I don't have a mom. There was some crazy government thing back in the nineties. And I'm basically like, a clone. Of my dad. I mean, not a -clone-, the exact term is a 'genetic restructuring construct', but… yeah, so I'm not really, uh… y'know." She gestures fitfully at herself. "Human, or nothin'."

"Hey," Kara says as she reaches under Caitlin's chin and lifts the girl's head up. "You stop that right now. You are a person. It doesn't matter if you're a clone, an alien, a cyborg, a magical construct or whatever. You are still a good person. And you're my friend. I know it's a major revalation in your life, and I'm not trying to belittle the shock you're feeling. But no matter what, I'm going to stand with you and help you cope." Kara looks directly at Caitlin and smiles wide. "And there's nothing wrong with being a clone. All the clones I know are awesome heroes, and that's you to a 't'."

Caitlin's right on the edge of being a bit emotional, but Kara's soothing reassurance seems to check incipient tears and she smiles instead at her friend. "Thanks," she tells Kara. "I know. I mean, I know, I know you're right, and Carol's right, and Peanut is right. I just… it was a bit of a shock, you know?"

She frets at her lower lip and slouches against the back of the bench, heels splayed awkwardly apart. "I guess it doesn't really have to change anything. It's just messing with me. Like, a lot. Which, yeah, I know, it -shouldn't-," Caitlin agrees, with an expressive roll of her eyes. "It's kinda surreal. I guess I should be use to surreal by now."

Kara hugs Caitlin again. "It doesn't change who you are at heart. It may change how you look at things a bit but not who you are." Kara sits back for a bit, letting her words sink in. She's also considering something, judging by the look on her face. "Hey, you know what'll take your mind off all this? I've got someone that you should meet."

"I guess." Caitlin takes a second to comport herself, tugging the hem of her skirt downwards self-consciously. She blinks, processing Kara's words, and turns to look at the blonde girl. "Huh? Who?" she inquires, pulling her hair back from her face. She takes a second and adjusts the black hairband holding her wealth of orange hair back, giving Kara a curious expression. "I'm bad at meeting new people. It's all nerd jokes and awkward references to Game of Thrones and Firefly."

"Well, she's not all that much herself," Kara says with a smile. "She's kind of shy, quiet. Tries not to get noticed, really. She's pretty nerdy herself, and she likes learning new things and watching new shows and movies. She doesn't have many friends, but she treasures the ones that she does have. Sometimes, it takes a bit for her to get fully comfortable with new friends, though. But I'm pretty sure you're really gonna like her." Still smiling, Kara holds out her hand to Caitlin. "Her name's Kara Kent."

Cait sits up properly, giving Kara a quizzical look. Obligingly, she takes Kara's hands, not sure what's happening but clearly all on board. Caitlin's eyes get big and round, and she squeezes Kara's hands back enthusiastically. "Oh, cool! Is she another cousin?" she inquires, drumming her heels on the ground. "That's awesome! But your name is Kara. Is she also Kara? Does she go by Carol? No, wait, that won't work, we know a Carol. Um, how about—" she gestures with both hands. "'Karina!'"

Kara's lipstwist into a smile. Then snorts. Then giggles and snorts. She's laughing as she leans in and hugs Caitlin. "Cait…Kara Kent is my civilian name, you goofball." She laughs some more, giving Caitlin another squeeze, then sits back again. "So, yeah…when I'm not on the job, I'm Kara Kent, college student."

"Oh. Oh!" Caitlin blinks, hugging Kara. And blinks some more. Then she peers at Kara, and abruptly splays her palms across her face.

"OH. Oh my god. I'm sorry. I'm sorry," she groans, tittering just a little. She peeks up at Kara from between splayed fingers. "I'm sorry. I can't believe— wow. Yeah, I mean that makes WAY more sense," she tells Kara. "Sorry. Cool! Okay, I'll… try not to mess that up," Caitlin assures the blonde girl. She drops her hands into her lap and rolls her eyes skywards in supplication. "Man, I suck. Okay. Kara Kent. Kara Kent," Caitlin repeats, mentally stapling the words in place. "Cool! Wait, where did you enroll in school?"

"Metropolis University, of course." Kara is still bemused some by Caitlin's enthusiasm. "And, I know you won't mess things up. I trust you. You're my friend and…it's time. You're a great hero and a great friend. And…" Here, Kara tightens her lips and looks down at the floor. "I miss having a friend that knows. I miss not having any friends that can just hang out with me whenever. I miss not having a friend that I don't have to hide every aspect of my life from." She looks back at Caitlin and smiles happily. "So yeah, I choose you."

Caitlin starts to hug her knees reflexively, giving Kara a look of wide-eyed sympathy. She gets her feet halfway up and remembers she's in a skirt, then colors and tries to cross her legs gracefully, and then can't quite keep her balance and drops her feet firmly on the ground instead.

"Kal- your cousin's prett cool, but he's, um… y'know." She makes a vague gesture. "If he didn't have those biceps, he'd probably be in the Glee club," Caitlin points out, wryly. She wraps her hand around Kara's upper arm and pulls her in for a hug, resting her chin on Kara's head. "It's okay. You've got me, I've got you, so we'll look out for each other," she tells Kara. It's a horribly awkward sort of hug, but it's mostly enthusiasm and sincerity, so points for trying. "I mean, you and Carol are the only ones who know about my whole, uh, thing," she tells Kara. "So I guess we're even?"

"It's not about being even," Kara replies. "It's about trust and deserving to have a life filled with friends. It's about not having to have any aspect of you life lived alone." Another big hug that lasts, then Kara relxes. "So," she says after a pause. "What else is going on?" Kara gets a sly look in her eyes. "Any cute guys on the Avengers to ell me about?"

Caitlin titters a bit self-consciously, leaning against Kara with a laugh. Fortunately, Kara's one of the few beings who can support Caitlin's mass. "Oh! Well— hmm. Not really, I mean, aside from Captain Beefcake," Caitlin confesses. "I mean, Captain America." She clears her throat pointedly. "Shift's kind of cute but I mean— he's a bit weird. Julia's all 'Ooh, he's so dangerous', and I'm thinking 'You know, that's just not my thing at all'." She rolls her shoulders up and down in a shrug. "It's kinda funny though. Julia has spider-powers, Bobbi is crazy good at fighting, and I'm a floppapotamus with funny colored hair. So we've got Cap with Boobs, Spidey with Boobs, and I'm Hulk with Boobs.

"

Kara smirks at Caitlin, twisting the corner of her lip up. "So….I guess that makes me Superman with boobs?" She waits for the inevitable, hurried retraction from Caitlin before laughing. "I'm just joking. But don't sell yourself short. You're not a floppapotamus. Sure, you may not have the agility of Julia or Bobbi, but they don't have your strength. If there's one thing you need, it's more self confidence. Don't compare yourself to anyone; just focus on being the best Caitlin you can be."

"I'd say yes, but I've met Karen," Caitlin tells Kara with a mischievous look.

She listens to Kara's reassurances, then smiles— rolling her eyes at herself again— and nods agreement. "Right. Sorry," she apologizes. "I didn't mean it like that. Really, it was just a funny moment when the three of us were in the field and I think it was Bobbi who pointed out out. Probably because me and Bruce are the only ones who can chuck tanks around," she giggles. "Oh! You gotta meet Julia's daughter Rachel, next time I'm babysitting. Aaaahamagaaaaad," she expresses in a long exhalation of air. "She's adorable. She's like, three, and literally too cute for words."

"Way to make a girl feel self-conscious," Kara responds with a mock pout to the burn. "But yeah, all children are cute when they're that young. And I'm sure it doesn't help that she thinks everything you do is like totally awesome." Kara gives Caitlin another quick hug then stands up. "So, let's get back to looking at clothes we can't afford. Then, we can head back to my apartment for some X-Box?"

"Karen makes everyone feel self-conscious," Caitlin protests. "And I'll eat my words if we can find any shoes that fit me in a regular women's clothing store," she adds. "If you think you've got it bad, I hear the company that makes my bras supplies high-tensile material to NASA. At least your underwear isn't repurposed space shuttle components."

She gets to her feet and shoulders her little sling purse, then beams enthusiastically at Kara's suggestion. "Sure thing. Also, can we eat? I'm starving." Because Caitlin's -always- starving. She links arms with Kara and the two of them set off, wandering the mall with no particular purpose in mind other than to enjoy their mutual company.

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