Touring Starr Labs

January 08, 2017:

Caitlin Fairchild accepts a delivery at her lab and gives Kelly a tour when she shows up. Much nerdgirling ensues.

Starr Labs, Metropolis


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Cait's elbow deep in a circuit board jig when her phone goes off. Unable to let go of what she's doing, she leans left, leans right, then stretches and *boops* her nose against the 'answer' button.

"Goooo for Caitlin," the ginger remarks, wrinkling her nose as she taps the soldering wire against the heated element under her deft fingers.

"Hi Caitlin, it's Kelly~!" A sing-song voice greets answers against a din of pounding metal. "I've got your airplane all finished. Would you like me to bring it over?"

"Uhh…. yeah, but I'm at work at the moment," Caitlin says into her phone. She growls and mutters at a spurt of smoke, 'pffting' at the wisping gasp in her face. "Myeh! I can meet you later— unless you're near Metropolis? I'm at Starr Labs, I could give you a quick tour of the place?" she asks, a hopeful tone in her voice.

"Sure! I'm only about an hour away… well, depending on road conditions. All-weather tires aren't," the smith of steel replies cheerfully. "I'll just ask for you in the lobby or something?"

"Er… Sure! See you soon!"

Caitlin frowns at her phone and noses over the 'end call' button. "'Only' an hour?" she says, shaking her head.

About an hour later, Caitlin troops down to the lobby at a call from building security, and a delighted grin crosses her face. She's dressed quite differently than before— low, sensible flats, a knee-length white labcoat that is clearly tailored for her, and her hair up in a neat bun at the back of her head. Round spectacles keep slipping down the bridge of her nose, arcs of gold interrupting the green of her eyes.

"Hi Kelly! I'm so glad you made it. How bad was trafffic?" she inquires, signing Kelly in. She beckons her to the elevators, slashing her ID through a scanner to admit them. "C'mon, we're up on 20," she invites, waiting for Kelly to join her.

Despite the season's chill, Kelly attire is still her trademark suit of armor and the smith waves cheerfully even as her pauldrons frost over a little from the sudden change in climate. "Not bad but not great. I did a little sliding but everything got here in one piece." She reaches out an armored hand to pause the scientist on her way to the elevator. "Sure, but do you want to see the airplane first? I've got it on my trailer; it's a little big to just leave in the lobby."

"Yeah, let's go take a look— we can run down to the service level and bring it in through the dock," Caitlin says, beckoning her to the elevator. They get inside and she presses the button. Down they go to the parking garage, and she tries not to stare at Kelly's armor.

"Uh… so were you doing a show, or demonstration or something?" she inquires, watching condensation growing on the armor as it warms up. "The armor… might be a little problematic in the lab, we have to maintain a semi-clean environment."

"Sure!" The smith chirps as she follows and takes a comfortable position in the lift opposite the scientist. Pulling a small cloth out from a compartment on her thigh, she wipes at the moisture that's begun wicking to her plates, then pauses to spare Caitlin a glance. Furtive stares are a gaze she's familiar with. "It's okay, you can keep looking."

"Really it's just comfortable. I custom-fit every single piece, that's why it's so slim and, well, curvy," she traces the distinctly nontraditional and feminine slope of her suit. "Can't I just wear a lab coat too? Besides this tin can doesn't shed hair or skin oil like you do, I'm practically in a hazmat suit already."

"Well— I know how it feels to get stared at," Catilin says, one shoulder rising and falling along with a shy smile. She pushes her round glasses back up into place as they're slipping to the end of her nose. "So, yeah. A quick dusting in case of contaminants, we'll give you a coat and some booties, you'll be good to go."

"And I don't shed. I exfoliate every day."

Caitlin follows Kelly to her trailer, excitement brimming on her features. "Gosh, this is gonna be swell, Kelly. It's for my friend Kit. She's turning ten and she loooooves airplanes— she's a natural with the smaller models. I figured something big would be just the best present for her."

"I got used to it," Kelly dismisses cheerfully as she leads into the garage, her tail tapping against the doorframe of the elevator when she exits before abruptly rolling forward through a front handspring. She peeks back over one shoulder with a hand smartly on one hip. "Besides, you keep giving me an 'ooh that looks cool' stare, not a 'what are you wearing you freak' stare. That's the fun one."

The scientist's excitement might be more than a little contagious as Kelly develops a true bounce in her metal-booted steps by the time she leads Caitlin to her parking space. As curious a thing as the smith herself, it's metal-frame trailer from the scrapyard, plus a couple sheets of plywood floor and a tarp… hitched to a bicycle. A curious circuit of after-market wires and levers lead from the bike handlebars back to the small generator on the trailer, then forward again to a motor mounted on the bicycle's rear axle; it's a jury-rigged motorcycle.

"Oh that's great. I love giving kids gifts! Their eyes always light up real bright when you show them something cool," Kelly chimes as she unfastens the tarp and pulls it aside. "Ta-Da!"

Strapped carefully to the trailer and glistening with virgin metal and fresh paint is a one-sixth model of P-40 Warhawk, accurate down to a caliper scale. Its aluminum body is painted over in classic military off-brown, complete with a toothed maw beneath the single propeller.

Speaking of eyes lighting up, Caitlin's practically glow when the Big Reaveal happens. She giggles breathlessly and claps her hands, trying to suppress a squeal of delight! "Aaaugh! It's perfect! And you /painted/ it!" she says, looking ecstatic. She dashes round the trailer, stooping, peering, craning her neck to examine it all over. "Oh my gosh, this is just— this is PERFECT," she says, playing with an inert wing flap. "And even the little rivets! Kit is going to die, she'll just love it," Caitlin exclaims, brimming with joy. "I can get the avionics installed before her birthday. You really came through," she tells Kelly, grinning ear to ear with beaming delight.

Kelly takes a step back and beams in her suit with her tail making spirited passes behind her back. "Hehehe, are you sure you don't want me to make a second one for you? It took some doing at first but once I figured out how to get all the hollow bits aligned right it just started coming together. I've had a lull in orders too, so more time to work than I expected." Tucking her hands behind her back, she leans over towards Caitlin. "Should I unhook it or do you want to just roll the whole trailer in?"

"Oh, I'll carry it in," Caitlin tells Kelly, shaking her head. She gets out her phone while the last of the tie-downs are removed, dialing a number. "Hey Frank? It's Cait. Can you send down the south elevator with one of the box pallets? Thanks!"

She reaches down and without any particular effort, picks up the airplane carefully by the fuselage and carries it towards the back elevator, where it's deposited on a pallet. "I'll take this home with me tonight," she tells Kelly. "You did a great job. Oh— how much do I owe you, beofre I forget?"

Once she's finished releasing the aircraft, Kelly steps back to let Caitlin take the lead, happy to help but just as happy to follow a couple steps behind. "And you're talking to me about getting stared at. You make that look light," she cracks jovially, giving the scientist's back a friendly bump with her gauntlet. "I bet you look hot in all kinds of outfits, and with a pretty face too. I should be jealous."

The smith thinks for a moment then tumbles forward again and follows along walking on her hands towards the elevator. "Eh… Two hundred and seventy-five. You can just send it to my PayPal," she dismisses as she falls back onto her feet to land in the lift. "Now you said you were going to show me around your lab?" Kelly asks with her hands clanking excitedly in front of her chest.

Caitlin laughs at the praise, pinking a little across the bridge of her nose. "Uh… I don't know about that," she says, clearly flattered. "It's mostly me in a labcoat, y'know?" she says, gesturing vaguely. "Karen— er, Miss Star, my boss, she told me I could show up in hoodies," she says, chatting a bit as if trying to conceal her fluster. "But I figure, y'know… business casual, keep it simple," she adds.

The elevator goes 'ding' and Caitlin picks up the pallet like it was made of cardboard. "Gosh, it's like my first job all over again," she mutters, moving to a loading zone. She puts the plane carefully in a corner, then beckons Kelly to come with her. "So yeah, I'll show you the labs and we can peek in the assembly room and you can see what I'm working on," she offers.

"The lab coat's a good look for you too, but you might want to fix the frame of those glasses," Kelly teases. "A hoodie might make you look like a boxer."
Bending down in preparation to help with the pallet, the smith ends up hanging in surprise as Caitlin shoulders the added weight comfortably. "I got i… okay you got it. Wow, how much time do you spend at a gym?" The word 'lab' is all it takes for the suit to forget her own question as her tail points and she bounces out of the elevator, tucking in close behind Caitlin like a new intern. "Right! Yes, lead on!"

"Twice a day, every day," Caitlin says, beaming. "Once in the morning for weights, then in the evenings for mat practice. When I was broke and living in Gotham, I had a job in an iron factory bending bars. That kept me pretty fit," she says, neglecting to mention the bars weighed about twenty tons, on average. "But there's no substitute for a proper training routine."

She leads Kelly around the office spaces fairly quickly— most of it's prosaic stuff like admin rooms, conferences, and a break room, into which Caitlin ducks.

"I need to get something to eat though, I'm starving. Do you want a soda or something?" Caitlin asks. She digs in the fridge and comes up with a two-liter bottle which smells and looks suspiciously like a chocolate milkshake, and uncaps it before taking a few quick swigs. "I've got some soda, and bottled water, and … seltzer, for /some/ reason," she says. "Y'ever notice no one ever actually /wants/ seltzer?"

"Ooh that sounds neat. Was it Gotham Iron? I bought some beams from them when I reinforced my barn," Kelly chats back, following cheerfully but not showing a great interest in the office space. "Hey! I like seltzer, it's all fizzy and refreshing," she shoots defensively before doing a quick verbal backpedal. "Just… not now, thanks. I've already had my fill; help yourself to lunch, I can wait."

"No, we can walk and talk," Caitlin says, shaking her head. "I snack a lot during the day." She beckons Kelly to the assembly room and opens a door into a locker area. "Here you go— I'll get you a lab coat and some booties, and a cap," Caitlin tells Kelly. "I don't make the rules, I just enforce 'em. Oh, here, Karen said you gotta sign a non-disclosure," Caitlin adds, a beat later. She pulls out her phone again while Kelly garbs herself in the offered clothing, and holds out a stylus and the phone for her, the document loaded. "Nothing superbad— just, y'know, no stealing trade secrets, no cameras, that kind of thing," she says. "Then, off to Wonkaland."

"Oh good," the smith intones, happier to resume her trip, though the fridge with its bottle of seltzer gets a brief forlorn glance as she leaves the room. "You mentioned dusting me off too? Is that like a chemical shower or something?" She asks curiously, pausing with the clothes and stylus presented to her.

Caitlin grins. "You're gonna /hate/ this part," she says, beckoning Kelly along. They walk into an antechamber and the doors shut, and Caitlin screws her eyes shut. "Close your eyes," she advises.

"CLOSE YOUR EYES. DECON IN PROGRESS," booms an electronic voice. Several beeps sound, and then a riot of air blasts at them. There's a huge vacuum suctioning, a surge of UV light, and then the other door swings open, as Caitlin pulls on her own booties and mmakes sure her lab jacket's in order.

The door reveals a brilliantly clean workspace, filled with machinery, manufacturing equipment, and dozens of smaller true 'clean' rooms for doing delicate work on processors that require the workers to be in head-to-toe decon suits.

Caitlin walks slowly with Kelly, giving her time to look around, and says hello to almost every worker as they pass— most give Kelly a friendly if curious look, but seem geninely pleased at Caitlin's earnest, sincere attention.

"Sure, give me just~ a moment…" Taking the labcoat, Kelly sticks her arm through one sleeve before lifting her hand to expose a thin metal cable. While she busies herself slipping on the other half of the coat and stretching the booties around her feet, the cable extends and coils itself around the stylus, then jabs it against the offered phone and pens a crooked and almost-legible signature. With its task done, the cable slithers back up Kelly's bracer and the smith snaps the shoulders of the coat crisply against her armor, making its tail flick out with a sharp *crack*! Of its own accord, the front of the lab coat closes and buttons itself up over her shiny metal exterior. "Ahh, it's been years since I've done that trick, but I've still got it!" Kelly chimes happily before following merrily after Caitlyn again.

"Hehe, I doubt that a lot," she snickers. Turning her head around to look curiously at the decontamination chamber, there's no indication that the smith is actually obeying the computer when decontam begins, but she comes out no more worse for the wear. And then the doors open…

"Ohhh WOW! Ergh, um, ack…!" Stunned happy at the sight of the spotless, buzzing workspace, Kelly is almost immediately the victim of her own excitement - or rather the lack of a tail hole in her labcoat. Knocking around in the back of her coat like a trapped cat, the smith ends up almost immediately tangled beyond the point of walking until she fishes her cable inside her labcoat and silences the appendage… somehow.

"Eheh… sorry about that. Force of habit. I'm not used to having anything on top of armor."

"It is redundantly redundant," Caitlin agrees, smiling reassuringly at the smith. "Also, I don't have a tail, so it never would have occured to me to get you a proper coat!" Her lips curl in a wry moue. "Sorry."

She gives Kelly as long as she likes to walk and dither, though a few times she cautions the smith about getting 'too' close, particularly around irate and irascible engineers who prefer their privacy. And a few rooms are strictly off-limits.

"And here's what I'm working on," Caitlin says, stepping into the last workroom and gesturing proudly. It's an engineer's dream, meticulously laid out and organized to a fault, even in use. She's worse than one of those people who puts tools away when she's done with them— she /cleans/ them first.

"Ooh, sorry about the mess," she says, picking up four lenghts of wire and organizing them by length, then putting a tool back onto a layout mat. "I rushed down." She takes another swig from her bottle, nearly upending it. Inside the container is a series of gimbals, gears, motors, and bars, though the ultimate purpose of it is a mystery, as it's only partially finished.

Once she gets her tail back under control, the metal smith might as well be a kid in a candy shop. Bouncing anything but silently between areas and marveling at the machinery in use as much as the projects themselves. One the bright side at least, she's not fogging up the clean room glass. "Wow so this is what funding can do for you. Holy high hematite heavens there are some nice machines here. I bet two of these clean rooms costs more than my whole shop!"

"Ooh and… uh… where's all your stuff?" The very concept of a 'clean and empty' work area is anathema and strange to the grease-cat, a foreboding omen of what her own workplace might be like. "Oh! But what's this?!" She asks just as quickly, bounding the length of the room in one spirited hop to land near Caitlyn's latest project and peer inquisitively at its innards, around the back, and whatever angle she can.
"Can I touch it?" She asks over her shoulder, the tail of her labcoat fluttering out as stiffly out behind her as if it'd been starched then flash-frozen.

"Can you keep a secret?" Caitlin asks, peering at Kelly. She rolls in her lips, trying to restrain a smile— she looks like a kid who has a secret she oughn't share, but absolutely cannot hide. Hands clasped behind her back, she bounces once on her toes, her flats crinkling against the softer fabric of her booties.

"It's a portable factory unit," she whispers. "Sort of like a 3D printer, but it's an all-purpose fabricator. Take one of these, set it down, and tell it to go to work. It'll produce parts as needed for an entire project— you just feed it a steady supply of powdered alloy and boom, there it goes. You can build an entire laboratory or engineering shop— or forge," she says, eyes dancing.

"No way! You're lying!" Kelly blurts in disbelief before leaning in close to whisper back. "So what is that some kind of crazy sintering machine that prints metals? You must have some crazy lasers in that… but that only sounds like hot forging, it can't cold-work or shape but oooh you could make all kinds of starter pieces out of that. Every kind of mechanism and gear, then just harden it afterwards."

Caitlin goes 'eeeee' and claps her hands rapidly, very, very softly, right in front of her face, dancing back and forth. "I knoooooow and yes I— I can't tell you exactly how it works, but you get the idea!" she says, nodding rapidly as she looks down at Kelly. "It's for fabrication centers that are located in remote areas. One of these, a few hundred pounds of alloy, a power source, and you can bootstrap an entire assembly line, or workshop. No more need for shipping. People can use these tools to make other tools," she explains. "Karen said it's the best idea she's ever seen. This is my last prototype— once it's done, I'm taking it to the Pacific Engineer Summit to show it off."

"Oh that's /so/ /cool/!" Kelly squeals mutedly. "And… … eheh, almost a threat to my livelihood. Good thing it can only do unworked unworked metals and alloys," she admits awkwardly as she scratches her cheek, creating a jarring metal-on-metal scrape.
"Er, sorry. That's really awesome though! I kind of want one. I could make all of the base components and those pesky custom gears and sprockets with it while I do the more fun stuff. How long do you think until you can have production versions, and how much do you think it will cost?"

"Ww-wel" Caitlin's mercifully saved from having to explain how she just invented a replacement for the home machinist as Kelly admits she wants one of the fabricators, relief crossing her features. "Oh! Yeah, that's the best part if you have a 3D render of what you need, or a little experience with CAD software, you can just tell it what to make," Caitlin explains. "I mean, cutting gears by hand is just… I mean, you might as well be cutting horsehairs for paintbrushes," she says, tittering. "This way you can focus on the work that humans do best— assembly, lapping, fitting, and design. I mean, that's kind of the whole point, you know? Simplifying your labor."

"Um… I haven't worked out cost with Karen yet," she says, pinking. "I'm an engineer. Marketing is handling all of that. But— but I tell you what," she says, touching her tongue to her upper lip and looking around a bit guiltily. "I can probably get you one to, uh, 'test' for me as part of our fielding before we go into full production?" she tells Kelly. "As long as you keep it a secret."

*SHHHROING!* Kelly's tail escapes its confine by spearing a hole through the back of her borrowed labcoat and presenting itself as straight as a cell tower behind her. "Really?!" She shouts before realizing her outburst and hastily clamping both hands over her mouth. "Uh… I mean that would be really awesome and I promise I won't tell anyone about it ever. I can even dig it its own cement-lined room with a chute to feed it materials and if its output can connect to a conveyor belt then it can just live alone in a room like a little black box of workshop elves."

"Awk!" Caitlin flinches when the tail whips out of Kelly's coat. " I thought you said that was a stabilizer!" she blurts, as the appendage tries to make contact with low orbit satellites.

She covers her own mouth too, staring at Kelly, then after a beat, laughs.

"I— you seem nice, and you're exactly the kinda person I built this for," Caitlin says, once the giggling stops. "And I want it to see real use. So, yeah, I've got… I'm working on this last one, I'm still having to do it all by hand because production lines aren't in place yet, and it's a lot of fiddly parts."

"Maybe that's what I should call it," Caitlin muses. "'The Workshop'."

"It is I just… kind of formed a few bad habits over the years," the catsmith admits bashfully. "I mean you can't see me smiling so I thought 'well what if I just make the tail wag?' and now it's… just kind of a reflex to make it respond to my emotions, eheh." Reaching behind herself, Kelly pulls her tail back out of its embarrassingly-erect pose and more or less gets it back under control. There's no fitting it back into her coat and the tip of it is far too twitchy to be called anything less than 'barely-contained effervescence', but it's still progress.
"I'd offer to help you put it together but that kind of stomps all over the whole 'trade secrets' idea. You look strong as an ox but I bet I'm nimbler with my hands o/~" Kelly chimes, wiggling her nimble digits.

"I do okay," Caitlin says, pinking again, and trying to ignore the question mark of the twitching, armored tail. "I— I appreciate that but there's a lot of fine electronics in there that I have to get in place," Caitlin says, gesturing vaguely. "Soldering, chip placement, and some parts I have to install in our barometric chamber to avoid humidity contaminating them. But, I'll bring you the kit, and a scanner— that's the other half of it, you can scan broken components into it and it'll fabricate replacements— I'll bring it all by your forge later," she offers, searching Kelly's face vainly for an emotion to go with the bubbly voice.

The smith's sculpted facemask is as expressionless as ever, but at least it was shaped to look human instead of some frightful animal mask. Still, the lack of a moving jaw or eyebrows might be a little disconcerting. "Oh I'm sure you do, I've just had a lot~ of practice - and I cheat a little. I've got another set of gloves with little dampeners to take out the shakes. That's fair though, and besides I don't really know electronics to start with."
"Oh, before I leave though could you get me the working area this needs? I'll want to size the hole right."

"Oh. Um…" Caitlin gesturs. "That's it. Right there." She wiggles a hand over the fabricator. "Three feet by three feet, and it'll elevate on a gantry another foot at a time. Big enough to make weldable sections of pipe, or most tools, or… well, anything. A drum of the alloy material, and a little bit of benchtop for your 3D parts scanner. That's it. Entire thing can be packed out in the back of a small pickup truck," she explains, shrugging.

"Oh good. I didn't know if it needed a lot of space around it for cooing or something," Kelly nods briskly in relief. "That makes it almost trivial; I could almost put the bench on top of it. Still… I need to find the right place for it, hrm…" The metal smith taps her chin in thought then remembers something else. "Oh! And you said it needs powdery metal to work. How powdery are we talking? I've got a macerator but its finest setting is 'bits' not 'dust'."

"That part's proprietary— we'll sell it to you. It's not scrap steel," Caitlin assures Kelly. "I'm working on a way to simplify the refinement process but I haven't quite cracked it yet," she admits. "But cost per pound is really low, reasonably so, I think."

"As long as it's not too expensive, okay," the smith agrees a little more hesitantly. "Scrap steel is my bread and butter. I'm used to stripping the rust myself to save cost but if this thing is as fancy as it sounds that should be okay."
"I'll need to uh, learn CAD software from scratch too. I've never bought computer programs for that; always just used grid paper."

"I'll cover you for the first batch; if you decide to get your own imager down the road, then I'll get you a good price on alloyed materials," Caitlin assures her. She smiles enthusiastically. "But while you're doing the T&E phase, I'll cover the cost of your materials and any maintenance, that kinda thing. So— you're really helping me out with this. And I love the work you did on Kit's plane, I can't wait to see what your productivity is like with a full fabricator!"

The eyes of Kelly's helmet shine like two little stars. "You will!?! Ooooohohohohoooh we're going to find out how many hours that thing can run before it break!" the smith squeals, rubbing her hands together as ideas flood her head. That thing about her tail behaving before? Yeah, it stopped.
"How about I fab you a suit of armor with it? Something thin and decorative from a lighter alloy so you can wear it under your labcoat… oh, or a not-such-a-lighter alloy. You wouldn't notice a little extra weight, would you?"

"Er— I" Caitlin stalls, trying to find a graceful way to respond. "I don't know that I'd, uh, that I'd really need that," she says bashfully, adjusting her glasses again. "I mean, I just don't think I'd… be in a situation where, erm, armor would be… useful," she says, struggling to be delicate. "But I could use oh! I could use a new bedframe!" she says, eyes going wide. "I'm not very good at welding and I know it'd drive me insane if I built one with sloppy welds. I need one smaller than a queen, but bigger than a twin, and really rigid," she says, "and balanced so it sits flat on my floor, with a large footprint. Can you build me one?"

Kelly cocks her head to the side. "Oh a bedframe is child's play. I could have that done tomorrow." Her ear perks at one detail and she giggles furtively. "How rigid is 'really rigid'? You're nowhere near heavy from the perspective of an inch or two of steel."

"Just…. just really rigid," Caitlin says, trying to be nonchalant. "I have, uh… back problems." Very plausible. "And I'm tall, so… Y'know, I hate having to stand /up/ in the morning." Also plausible.

"Anyway, so… y'know, I'll, er, text you dimensions and a mockup, and— I do live in an apartment, so I need to be able to get it through my hallway and front door."

"Easy, I'll split the crossbars and bolt them together so you still get welds going vertical but don't have all the width to worry about," Kelly adjusts off-the-cuff, her tail still twitching. The smith leans in again and whispers slyly with a tickled grin that's all-but audible, "I'll make it strong enough for two or three big strong people to 'jump on the bed' together. Would that be strong enough for you?"

Caitlin seems to take her question as literal— she quirks her mouth to the ceiling and starts mumbling under her breath. "…kilograms… one meter… 4.4… two-thousand… three…." She draws numbers in the air, mumbling.

"About two hundred thousand newtons? Yeah, that'd about do it," she concludes, nodding. "Given a total mass of two hundred and fifty kilograms, on 12 gauge L-bracket steel, that'd work," she says, utterly and profoundly missing the implication in Kelly's mirthful tone.

Kelly laughs. "Oh sure take all my fun out of it and ask for 12-gauge steel up-front. There's a tiny hole in that math though I think," she notes. "Two-fifty kilos would give you… wait, oh two *hundred* thousand Newtons. Okay yeah that's a safe estimate. I don't know what kind of mattress you can find to handle that, but I can make a bedframe for it. If you're in an apartment I'll add some extra legs to spread the load out too, otherwise you might go through the floor with bedframe intact."

"Awesome!" Caitlin chirps, looking pleased. "Sounds like we're on the same page. C'mon, I'll walk you out— It's time to close up anyway, and I need to get to the gym." Caitlin upends her two-liter milkshake— entirely emptied in less than twenty minutes? and tosses it in a container marked 'Recycle'.

She leads Kelly back to the locker rooms and shucks off her coat, revealing a high-waisted pencil skirt and a periwinkle blouse with short sleeves under it. Sitting on a bench, she kicks off her flats and stows them in a backpack and starts tugging on long socks and winter boots. She wasn't kidding about her gym habit, with the sort of serious muscle you only see on girls who are professional athletes.

"I've got a mattress already that I really like, but it way overhangs the bedframe I've got," she explains. "A friend built it out of wood and it creaks like crazy every time I get up and down. Something metal and properly fitted will be a nice relief."

"Alright," Kelly nods as she resumes trailing. "Eheh, thirsty weren't you?" She jokes lightly as they walk. Back out in the locker area, the smith does little more than hold out her arms and step out of her booties as both garments fall to the floor - the front of her coat unbuttoning itself as it drops. Bending down, she folds them and sets them nearby, not quite sure where their final resting place should be.
"A wooden bedframe?" She giggles at the thought. "Yeah, I can improve upon that." The sight of Caitlyn changing draws a wistful sigh from the smith, though she turns her head to look elsewhere quickly.

Caitlin double takes at the jacket dropping, but she frowns in uncertainty— like a trick you just missed at a party, at the corner of your eye. She gets her boots on and stands up, shifting her weight to get them into place, then ties them down quickly and tucks the laces out of sight. The boots are a little incongruous with her business attire, but they at least aren't low hiking apparel.

"That sounds perfect then," she says, getting to her feet. She pulls out her bun and shakes her hair out to the side, then shrugs into a light jacket. "So… I don't mean to pry," she says, hesitantly. "But uh.. the armor. I mean, I know since Iron Man, it's all the rage, and if you… have like a medical reason for it…?" she asks, fretting at her lower lip in an attempt to be sensitive.

"Oh why do I wear it all the time?" Kelly infers casually. "Well there's really kind of a long history to it that started with making machines for myself and then thinking I might try a little crime fighting on the side. If you want I can give you the long version when I show you around my shop, but the short version's just this is a lot more functional and comfortable than clothes. There's more structure to it, it's sturdier in case I take a spill on my bike or something, and it shows off my handiwork; kind of nice being a walking billboard for myself."
"There's some other stuff too but I don't want to freak you out," Kelly adds thoughtfully.

"Maybe when I see your shop," Caitlin says, hastening to reassure Kelly that she's not pressing the issue. "Just— I didn't know if it was a personal thing, or a religious observation, or…. or I didn't know," she admits, a bit lamely. "I've got a few friends who wear masks so, I guess I kinda get it?" she says, smiling.

"Anyway. I've got to lock up and stuff, but I'll walk you to the elevators. And when can I swing by your shop again?" she asks, looking at Kelly's eyes.

Shadowed eyeslits look back, though peering at just the right angle with the overhead lights there might be a brown pair looking back. "Oh! Oh no it's nothing sensitive," the smith assures easily with a wave of her hand. "The mask is for your benefit not mine, and one of these days I'll figure out how to make a moving one that doesn't look like a kabuki theater prop."
"How about after your workout?" the smith of steel offers readily. "I told you there's been a lull in jobs so now that this plane is done I have a little free time. I'll spend some of it studying and on side projects but there's more than enough time to give you a tour too."

"Sure, that works for me," Caitlin says. "I'll swing by your forge tonight then," she tells Kelly. "I need… oh, two hours?" she hazards. "That's my evening session and travel time and a shower. Barring my class tonight running long," she amends.

She leads Kelly to the elevators and smiles at the smith when it goes *ding*. "So I'll see you later, then?" she asks, brushing some ruddy orange hair back from her face.

"So I'll have an hour after I get home to prep for company," Kelly laughs. "Sure! I'll see you then." The smith wraps Caitlyn in a brief but friendly hug before bounding backwards into the elevator and tapping the button for the garage. She offers a friendly wave as well as the doors begin to close.

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