Wait, you're WHO?!

December 04, 2016:

Caitlin gets a job offer from Karen Starr, and finds out someone's big secret.

Metropolis, Starr Labs

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Carol Danvers, Diana, Supergirl

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Caitlin Fairchild's new life does afford her a few advantages. One: The apartment in Metropolis is SO much closer to literally everything. As nice as the League Lakehouse was, it was still a drive to the business sector. Two: The Baxter Building is in the same commercial area as Starr Labs. Three: Reed Richards periodically needs things from Starr Labs!

Four: Caitlin's got no problem making those little milk runs!

Still, with her Mighty Beetle in the shop (again), Cait's trip requires two short hops on a crowded subway and a walk of a few blocks. She's not terribly concerned with the biting coastal chill in the air, wearing grey leggings under a miniskirt, along with a green knit beanie over her flamingingly orange hair, a puffy ski vest, and calf-high soft boots.

Up the elevators, and Caitlin mumbles a flimsy pretext at Karen's secretary about needing to ask the bosslady something specific. Admitted past the security, Caitlin's (very heavy) step grows long and she knocks twice on Karen's door, then peeks in with a wide smile.

"Hi Karen! How's it going?" the giant ginger inquires with an overwhelming amount of good cheer. "'s this a bad time?"

Karen's been having a busy day on the business front. With being at Starr, she's making her normal attempt to not-look-Power-Girl. Her hair is pulled back, her attire is obviously business chic rather than white bodysuit, and she's currently reading through a sheaf of legal paperwork. She looks up. "Caitlyn! Hey there. How's it going?"

"Good!" Caitlin's hair, on the other hand, is barely held back by a single black headband, with neat bangs scraping her brow. When she removes the beanie and fluffs it a bit to shake out the hat hair, it hangs to her mid-shoulders like an explosion of orange firecrackers.

"Dr. Richards sent me over to collect the new collimeters he ordered," she says, moving towards a sofa and sitting on it carefully, knees together and back straight. It's not just prim propriety— she's visibly making sure the furniture won't collapse under her weight. "So, I thought I'd stop in and say hello. So— hello!"

Karen can't help but look amused as the hairsplosion happens. "I swear, your hair defies containment." She moves, standing. The sofa, for what it's worth, is sturdy. Karen's not exactly a lightweight herself. "An order from us?" She thought she would have noticed that. But then, this Stark Industries deal has been eating up her attention.

"I'm using extra conditioner," Caitlin frowns, trying to find a reflective surface to look into. "Kara keeps telling me I should try straightening it, but that feels like more work than it's worth."

"No, from /us/," Caitlin corrects Karen, smiling apologetically. "I passed the buck when Dr. Richards asked me to cheeseboard up some emitter and refractors and pass them back through an optical relay net. I argued it'd be more cost effective and safer to outsource it to your team. I was right! I got—" she digs in her purse, and flashes a gift cerficate at Karen for fifty dollars to Outback Steakhouse. "A free lunch for doing it." She holds the certificatie over her nose, eyes peeking over it. "Freeee fooooood," she whispers, dramatically.

Karen's holding paperwork with LOTS of zeroes on it for the money getting thrown around. All the zeroes. A fifty dollar certificate is…cute. But then, Caitlyn's being kind of adorbs for a 6'4" amazon anyway. "It's not too hard, really. Just get a straightening iron, run it through. But then, you're talking to the queen of hair practicality here." Karen's blonde locks are definitely low-maintenance. "I…" She stops. "When DID I eat last? I don't remember. Which is probably not a good idea."

"Want to go with me?" Caitlin offers Karen. "I haven't eaten in… I don't know, three or four hours," she admits. "I'm getting pretty peckish, and I won't get either of my dinners until I go work out at the League tonight," she explains. "I think they'll do a free blooming onion for me, I've got my League card with me and everything," she explain. "We can share it?"

Caitlin, sharing food? From anyone else, that'd be the equivalent of offering up a kidney.

"We don't need to share, silly. You keep it. It'll be my treat. I can write it off as a business lunch. "Meeting with staff from Dr. Richards." Karen suggests. "And it'll get my nose out of these papers a bit."

"Groovy."

And with that, it's a short ride to Outback, and once they're settled, Caitlin flashes her League ID and inquires about the bloomin' onion. As a celebratory 'thank you', the managers bustles out and offers to comp the entire meal. Pinking visibly, Caitlin has to almost make a fight out of it before the manager relents.

It's a good thing he does, because Caitlin proceeds to order a twenty ounce steak, a milkshake, fries, vegetable platter, a cola, creamy mashed potatoes, onion rings, the seafood bisque, and a salad covered in liberal amounts of bacon, dressing, and all the fixin's.

"That'll do me for a snack for a bit," she says, digging for her certificate. "What're you gonna have?" She reaches for the bloomin' onion and breaks off a few bits to put on her own appetizer plate— pre-emptively taking half the bread, too, so Karen doesn't get shorted.

Karen looks amused. "I have no IDEA where you put all that. I mean, six-four or not, how does your stomach HOLD all that??" She ordered a simple baked potato, sirloin, broccoli. Steak dinner 101. "So, aside from eating your body mass every day, what've you been up to?"

"I don't eat my body mass every day," Caitlin says, turning pink across her nose, and making a few freckles come to life. "I eat about …ten percent of it," she says. More onions vanish from the plate. By a conservative estimate, that's at least eighteen pounds of food a day.

"Well— I moved into Metropolis," she says, tearing up bread and slathering it in butter. "My friend needed a roommate so she invited me to rent her spare room. It's great. WAY better than living in Gotham," she admits. "Or even the Lakehouse. The League gets some weird guests sometimes."

"Aside from that, not a terribly lot," Caitlin admits. "Dr. Richards is kind of in one of his 'total work focus' modes so we're all puttering around the lab cleaning and working on pet projects until he crawls back out of the lab and gives us some direction. Which, I mean— is kinda nice, because I'm sure we'll have a 100 hour deadline crunch any day now," she says, with an eloquent eyeroll.

"So, let's see…you're doing days with Dr. Richards, and nights with the League?" She asks. "That's a hell of a schedule to try and keep up with."

Caitlin wiggles her shoulders at Karen. "Dr. Richards is just … distracted. Sue keeps track of stuff— I get half days if I'm on monitor duty, and I get bunch of paid sick days and all the unpaid sick time I need. So if it's one of those ugly 2 AM callouts, I can skip work without too much trouble."

Her salad arrives and she starts cutting the wedge into manageable chunks. "Rent's expensive in Metropolis," she says, wryly. "And I've got student loans— and my food bill is most of my pay, even with the League feeding me twice a day and the head cook sending leftovers home with me at night." She makes a wry face.

Karen frowns at that. "The League should be paying you enough that you don't have to moonlight. I mean, for god's sake, it's not like they don't have the funding. Is the work at the Baxter Building something you WANT to do? Or something you HAVE to do?"

"Pay?" Caitlin blinks. "I— huh. No one mentioned that," she admits. "I just figured— well, gosh," she says, voice dropping thoughtfully. "I guess I never thought about it. I figured… I don't know, like I know Carol gets her pension, and I figured… Superman.. had…" she turns pink, muttering. "Kryptonian 401k, I dunno," she says, before giggling at her own lack of awareness.

"But I'm a really new member. Maybe that's it." She considers Karen's question, then looks across the table and shrugs uneasily. "I mean, I don't know. I've been moonlighting as a hero since my senior year of college. I guess— I guess part of me still thinks of myself as an engineer, not a, y'know, hero," she says. "I like the work well enough, though. And I /would/ like to save up enough for grad school," she adds. "I mean, who knows if I'll be a League member forever? A fallback career seems smart."

Karen facepalms. "Oh, good lord. We'll get it all straightened out. I promise. You should not have to be trying to juggle all this, not all at once." Her head throbs just THINKING about all the juggling that Caitlyn must be doing. "All right. We'll get things squared away with the League. I promise. Stupid bureaucracy." Her legendary temper is starting to burn hot. "And if Richards isn't covering your continuing education costs…and he should be…you can come work for Starrware instead."

Caitlin stares blankly at Karen. "Er, I appreciate you wanting to help, but I really think I might get in trouble bringing in a non-League friend," Caitlin tells Karen, apologetically. "Particularly if I'm asking for money. It's okay! I'll talk to Diana or somethin—"

She blinks. "Wait, what? You want to hire me?" she tells Karen. "I— wow, Karen, I mean— are you sure? I'm an electrical engineer, not a computer engineer," she reminds the woman, clearly struggling to look after Karen's best interests. "Actuators and stuff, I'm great on, but I'm… I mean, I don't know much about computer architecture."

"Starrware is R&D, not just software, Caitlyn." Karen tells her. "Believe me, I spent the early half of the day cutting a deal with Stark Industries. We're going to be providing some medical scanning technology for a joint venture. Word just hasn't hit the press yet, because stock prices are going to skyrocket. I'm more worried about you not driving yourself crazy." She does need her secret identity, but trying to keep it from her friends is just going to be more stress than it's worth. "And…seriously? I mean, I'm not even doing the glasses." She puts her hands to either side of her face, pulling her hair back so as to frame just her face.

Caitlin whistles. Granted, at her income bracket, stocks might as well be investments in hot dog securities, but she at least understands the value of a major tech surge to Karen's income bracket.

"I mean, wow, I'd love to work for you. -If- you've got a job you need me for," Caitlin says, with a bit more backbone in her voice than normal. "Daddy taught me to work an honest day for an honest wage. I don't want to be folding origami airplanes."

The food arrives and she is momentarily distracted as the two waiters show up to offload Caitlin's first course, and she tucks a napkin across her lap and starts attacking the food with a will. Super-strength must equate to super chewing powers, because she just dives right in.

"I noticed! You've got contacts in. You have such /blue/ eyes," Caitlin says. "But I think the glasses give you a sophisticated look, too."

Well, super-awareness is not one of her talents.

"I'm not going to have you folding airplanes. I can use someone with your talents. And..oh, for the love of god." Karen facepalms again. "Think League, Caitlyn. White bodysuit. Red cape." Isn't /she/ supposed to be the blonde here?

"Power Girl? What about her?" Caitlin says instantly, looking around excitedly. Leave it to Caitlin to be able to identify any given superhero by a color scheme. "Ooh, is she here? She's /awesome/, I mean, I've met her and—"

She trails off as it dawns on her what Karen's driving at, eyes going as big as saucers and as green as grass. Immediately, Caitlin turns a bright, almost luminous shade of pink from her forehead to her collarbone, and with a groaaaaaaan slides down into the booth, hauling down her beanie's brim to try and hide her face from view. "Oh jiminy crickets," she whines, covering her face with both hands. "Cheese and crackers. How did— oh man. Oh geeze, I am so dumb. Don't look at me," she mumbles. "I'm just going to see if I can sink into the earth and die."

Karen laughs a little. "It's okay. That's why they call it a /secret/ identity. But I don't think I need to keep that from my friends." She'll reach out to try to pluck the beanie off Caitlyn's head. "But I think we can get more solved without that in the way right now."

"Mrrrgh." Caitlin offers a token resistance, but it's her favorite hat— she relents and Karen plucks the garment away. She peeks out between the fingers covering her face, and at least offers an abashed smile. "I bet you ten bucks Kara has been sniggering behind my back everytime I mentioned you in the same breath with yourself," Caitlin mutters. "That skinny little blonde … hussy," she huffs. "I'll show /her/, makin' me look dumb."

It's hard for Caitlin to really stay upset— even in play— and she sits up after a beat, the lure of hot food doing as much to pull her from her embarassment as anything else.

"Wow. I mean, it's weird, y'know? The glasses, the hair thing, I mean, that totally makes you look like a different person. I don't know how you do it."

She blinks, frowning. "Now I'm trying to figure out if Superman's secretly my building manager," she says, before laughing merrily.

"I doubt it. He's busy. And leave Kara be. I have a soft spot in my heart for Karas." Karen says, amused. "Honestly, it's probably just covering up the boobs. That's where most people are looking, anyhow." She chuckles, laying the hat on the table. "And what kind of conversations have you been having that both Karen Starr and Power Girl came up in?" she asks, amused.

"Kara's a butt, and the worst roommate in the history of roommates," Caitlin says, with vast insincerity. "/And/ she's short." Considering the two of them are thick as thieves off and on duty, it's obviously good natured jibes.

"Urf. And yes, the coverings help," she admits, with a lot of sympathy. Caitlin and Karen are built more alike than almost anyone else on the planet.

"I was talkin' to Carol about you, actually," Caitlin says. She's polite about not talking with a full mouth, but she never actually /stops/ eating. And she's demolished most of the steak and is steadily making inroads on the carbs. "I mean— she asked, y'know, when I was training, who I wanted t' be like," and here, Caitlin turns pink again, but an innate sense of honest forces her to drive on. "And I mean, Diana's perfect, and Carol's totally my hero— and you're /you/. Doubly awesome, now," she amends, "because Carol told me I should drop off an application with you anyway, 'cause we had a pay hiatus two months ago and I almost didn't make rent."

Karen can't help it, she HAS to throw this wrench into the gears, just to watch Caitlyn's brain go sproing. "And she's me." She looks amused. It's /technically/ true, from certain points of view. "Oh, good god. Stop by Starrware HR after we get done eating here. I'll get you hired and cut you an advance on your first check. You should NOT be pennypinching like this."

"That's gonna take some getting used to," Caitlin admits. "I kept calling Kara by her first name while we were on duty— took me two weeks to get that straight," she sighs. "I'll— just, let me know if I slip up," she says, worry for her friend's security overriding any self-concern.

"If— I mean, I really, really appreciate it, Karen," Caitlin says, smiling. "I don't wanna sound ungracious. Reed's been amazing but I can't keep bumming rent money off Kara if he forgets to balance his books again. And… maybe a change of pace would be nice, huh? Oh! I'll need to get my patent stuff to legal, right?" she asks Karen, moving on to her milkshake. There's no food left. Where did she /put/ it?! Super-strong abs can only go so far! "I've only got five patents, but Reed's using one of them, and I'm sure he'll want me to do an NDA and liability release before I can go. I think— I mean, two weeks, that's normal notice, right? Is— is that okay?"

"It'll be fine. Basically, if you see my cleavage, it's Power Girl, PG, or Peej. If you don't, it's Karen." No sense muddying the water further with the "we're both Kara from Krypton" bit. "You can get hired on today at Starrware. That'll at least cover your expenses. You can put in your two weeks there. If you need to talk to legal to look at any NDAs, that's fine, tell 'em I okayed it."

"If you see my cleavage, it's because I've been replaced by a Skrull," Caitlin says, tugging the front of her ski jacket shut— on top of her high-collared, long-sleeve tee. She laughs. "I haven't had too many terrible wardrobe malfunctions lately, but oh man— I was on 3rd and I got attacked by, no joke, a giant squirrel, and I didn't have my unitard on me. I had to walk two blocks in a sports bra and buy a t-shirt at a tourist shack."

"Or you've gotten in a fight. Or a fight happened around you. Or you walked near furniture. Or someone breathed." Because really, Caitlyn's wardrobe malfunctions are the stuff of legend. "You're a genius, Caitlyn. I trust you'll be able to keep it straight." She polishes off the last of her meal.

Caitlin mutters something unintelligible, but there's not much of an argument she can really make against the truth. She finishes her milkshake and beckons the waiter over, fishing for her certificate and some cash to offset the difference. "Okay. I'll stop in at HR, then I'll go give notice at Dr. Richard's, and start getting my experiments there moved to someone else and figure out what paperwork they need from me," she says, moving to depart the booth. She waits for Karen to rise, then hugs her impulsively— and Caitlin's got a bone-cracking hug, even by the standards of the Kryptonian clan. "Thanks, Karen. I feel really silly," she says with an easy laugh, "but in a good way. Thanks for confiding in me, and— thanks for the job."

Wuff. Karen actually FELT that. She's never gotten into a scrap with Caitlyn, and is just as happy she doesn't have to. She's pretty strong. But she'll return the hug with a good ol' superstrong one of her own, by way of proving her claims just in case the conversation wasn't enough. "Not a problem. Like I said, pop down and get it sorted. I have to look through legal's analysis of the Stark Industries deal, and then I can finally rest today."

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