Catching Up Over Dinner

March 07, 2017:

Hikari and Caitlin have dinner together… and gossip, of course.

Caitlin's Apartment

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Captain America, Agent Carter, Winter Soldier, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It'd been a few weeks since Caitlin and Hikari had spent any time together. Granted, they were both digital natives, so plenty of texts, Facebook messages, and whatnot— but there's little substitute for human interaction, even among nerdlings of any size or stature.

So Caitlin had invited Ribbon into the Terrible Outside, however briefly, and lured her with promises of hangouts, Netflix, and a home-cooked meal at her apartment.

At Ribbon's knock, Caitlin opens the door and beams down at the fasion designer. "Hikari! I'm so glad you made it!" she says, looking more than pleased. "C'mon in," she beckons. Cait's dressed very casually— calf-length grey leggings and a comfortable hoodie in salmon red, with her hair held back into a messy bun with two pencils and a scunchie. "Dinner's aaaaaaaalmost ready, I need like… -five- minutes to finish," she assures Hikari. "You want a soda, or something? My roommate had to go in to work, but I think she might have left some beer or something in the fridge, if you like," she offers.


Thank goodness for the internet! How did anybody ever get along without it?!

Outside is only terrible if you let it be, Hikari believes, but that's only because she has not had very many experiences of Outside being unquestionably terrible to her - except maybe for the time Paint stabbed and blinded her, or the time the Winter Soldier nearly shot her in the head, or…

…You know what, the Outside IS terrible!!

She's wearing something casual, and no doubt homemade — a long-sleeved shirtdress in dove grey, loosely belted at her middle, with warm pink leggings underneath and a pair of Not Actually Doc Martens. Today's coat is a bubblegum pink leather motorcycle jacket. It's just barely warm enough for travel in this weather, but she rode her scooter here, which means making some allowances in the name of safety.

"Hi, Caitlin!" she beams up at the taller redhead, pink hair (cotton-candy pink, it's different than her jacket or leggings, ugh) up in a ponytail as usual. "Thanks for inviting me over, there's no rush!" Dinner will be ready when it's ready! Though…

As Caitlin shuts the door behind them, Hikari gives some thought to beer. S-should she?! "Um… I'd kinda like to try it, but I'm not quite old enough," she hems a bit, because you really should let your hostess decide if you're going to break the law in her apartment and all.


"Wellllll,…. I promise not to call Batman," Caitlin teases. "I don't drink beer usually, but Kara keeps some around, and a friend of mine gave me some mead to keep at home, so I'll join you." Trying hide How Adult sh feels for having proper beverages around, Caitlin opens one of the two fridges in the apartment and retrieves a bottle of a light beer— almost a wine cooler— for Hikari, and in her other hand, a wax-capped bottle without a lable. She pops the bottlecap off with a thumbnail and hands one bottle to Hikari, then uncorks the mead and takes a sip of it.

"I can't stand alcohol, or at least, I thought I couldn't," Caitlin confesses. "My brother tries to get me to drink crantinis and stuff but— ecch. Mead, though, I like mead," she says.

"Er, anyway, c'mon in, get comfortable, blah blah," she says, with an airy wave. The kitchen does smell good— it looks like food will be ready any minute, and Caitlin invites Hikari to sit at the table. "Here, I'll start dishing stuff up, I think the meat's ready." The table looks brand new, and the chairs don't match— two of them are from a different set entirely, and of the other two, one of them is made of heavily welded steel and clearly built for Caitlin's frame.


"You better not!" Hikari laughs, raising a hand to her mouth. "Otherwise you'll get in trouble too - what is it, aiding in the corruption of a minor?" Even if she's nineteen and thus already at the age of majority. She didn't go to law school, okay.

It's a little strange to see two fridges in one place, but she knows a little bit about how many calories Cait has to put away just to stay healthy. It makes sense that there would be enough room for plenty of food! (She remains blissfully ignorant of the possibility of the other fridge containing Science or maybe a dead body or both.) She accepts the beer bottle and finds herself a seat at the table. Hmmm, would it be rude to ask if Caitlin would like a new set of chairs? She's pretty sure she could talk Tony into making some the next time he's drunk and feeling inventy. But they'd probably have lasers, and maybe that's a bad idea in a kitchen…

She sniffs the neck of the bottle surreptitiously - yeeeep, that smells like beer - and takes an experimental sip. Ugh, it's kinda bitter! Hikari quickly schools her features. "My folks don't keep a lot of liquor in the house, though my dad has some for when business company comes over." What's… a crantini? It sounds like a shellfish D:


"Well— it's just my brother and me. It has been for a while," Caitlin admits. She's a litte evasive. There's a story back there, one she doesn't want to tell. "I'd go over to his apartment for dinner at least twice a week when I was an undergrad. He's… very posh, though, one of those guys with a new car every year and his own bartender, almost," she says, wryly.

She digs in the oven and comes up with a chicken. Two chickens. She promptly cuts a few pieces of breastmeat off, serves Ribbon a dollop of potatoes, and adds some veggies on the side.

"Dig in, I need a few minutes to get my plate," Caitlin urges. She returns to the kitchen and turns off a second oven, with two more birds in it, and then starts effectively stripping every bit of meat she can off the bird on the counter. She takes the entire container of potatoes and all the veggies back to the table, and sets them down near her place.

Ribbon has enough food to feed a pro athlete on her plate, and Caitlin gives her a concerned look. "Is that enough? I'm bad at rationing proportions for other people. Betteer get more food before I dig in," she says, setting the other bowls where Hikari can reach them.


Hikari isn't so insensitive that she misses Caitlin's seeming reluctance to speak more about her family. Maybe Caitlin had a falling-out with them. It's not uncommon, she knows, especially with mutants who end up looking noticeably different than before. Still, she'd have thought that any parents would be happy to have the redhead for a daughter - she's pretty, smart, and healthy, all things that people want in children! Just… kind of really really tall and hungry.

The food comes out and… oh wow. Hikari nearly raises a hand to tell Cait she doesn't need that much, but-! Well, it's too late now. She'll just… yeah. It's a good thing she skipped lunch…

"That's plenty, thanks!" she manages, and silently recalculates the logistics of inviting Caitlin over for dinner at her house. She's still gonna do it, she's just going to have to adjust the recipes! A lot.

"Are you sure…?" she demurs, though the smell of chicken and potatoes and everything is enough to make her mouth water. Despite her resolve to be polite and wait, she ends up taking a big bite of chicken. "Mmmmmm…!"


"Oh gosh, yeah, never wait for me to get my food right," Caitlin says, wryly. "I'm always the last person to get my plate at the cantina and the first one done, anyway. I try to eat as much as I can during the day so people don't have to see me when I'm actually hungry," she admits, pinking a little. Her sturdy chair seems to support her weight well, but the floor beneath creaks just a little.

She eats relatively politely— chewing with mouth closed, using her fork— but she pouts food away with astonishing speed. Deliberate, polite, but astonishing. And relentless.

"I don't cook much anymore, it's really swell having a friend over to make a meal for," she says, with a wide smile. "Mostly I just eat at the cantina. The League's pretty good about keeping me fed and stuff, so I try to swing by there at least twice a day for a meal. I was spending more on food than I was on rent, for a long time— that's when I had a crappy apartment in Gotham, with four flatmates."


"It must be a pain," is all Hikari can really say to that - she doesn't know what it's like to have that kind of metabolism. You always think stuff like 'wow I wish I could eat and eat and not gain weight' but… well, Caitlin got hit with the opposite end of the scale, didn't she? "But if you can't help it, you can't help it!"

Hikari's table manners are pretty good, and she naturally eats slower than Caitlin - so despite the vast difference in the amount of food each girl has, they might even end up finishing around the same time!

Especially since, after noticing her comment about being the first one to finish, Hikari is trying to see if she can manage to pace herself to match Caitlin without the other girl noticing.

Oh no, if Caitlin goes for seconds her efforts will be for nothing!!!

"The League, the League… wait, like the Justice League?" Oh— that's right! "…I can't believe I actually forgot you're a superheroine," Hikari admits, face going almost as pink as her hair. "What's that like?"


Caitlin's obviously caught between a natural shy reticence and beaming pride at her career path. She's an odd duck, up close, someone who's obviously not quite used to the skin she occupies.

"I— well, I mean, don't feel bad," she assures Hikari. "It's… kinda nice, actually. Almost everyone I meet rushes to Google as soon as they hear my name," she explains. "I … well, I never get to be myself first, and then live up to YouTube's judgements later."

She inhales a few more bites of food while she stalls, thinking. "I think it's the best thing ever," she declares, finaly, shrugging. "I wanted to be a superhero since I was little— well, as long as I can remember, anyway," she amends, with a sort of forceful truthfulness. She's a very -honest- person, catching herself in something even Hikari surely wouldn't interpret as a falsehood. "I had posters of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel on my dorm wall. Now I train with them. I do missions with them. I get to help people."

She wiggles a shoulder at her. "I can't think of anything better. Or anything else I'd rather do."


Well, everybody changes their minds about things a lot as kids. For the longest time, Hikari wanted to be Sailor Venus. Then she would have been completely happy with being a magical girl in general, but by the time she was a teenager the likelihood of that was looking pretty slim… so she went into fashion design. It's not quite as good as a flashy transformation sequence and a cute talking mascot, but Hikari still loves it.

She beams encouragingly at Caitlin, because it's nice to see her smile!

…She's not going to spill about the magical girl thing yet though, because Caitlin is the coolest nerd she knows and Hikari thinks she might die if the redhead laughed at her for real.

It doesn't have to make sense!!

"We're lucky then," she nods, leaning forward a bit to rest her elbows on the table, and her chin in her hands. "Doing what we love. I even got a new contract - well, a job offer? Internship?" She… really doesn't know just what exactly she's doing at Stark Industries other than 'babysitting Tony Stark, AKA herding cats'. "I'm working one day a week at Stark Tower! It's not really superheroing, but I kinda feel like an associate," she giggles.


"Ooh!" Caitlin applauds for Ribbon, a small and excited gesture. "That's awesome! I've never worked for Stark Industries, but I know a lot about them— I spent some time working for his dad Howard, at THINK," she explains. "I was a bit of a glorified forklift, which is why I went to work for the Baxter Institute— but Stark, that's really, really cool. Cutting edge technology. How did you get an internship there? What will you be doing?" she asks, spooning more vegetables into her plate.

"Ahaha…!" Hikari's cheeks blush pink at the applause, the designer grinning and letting her eyes drift closed for a moment. "It's just one day a week! But… I think maybe one of my clients might have recommended me?" Normally she wouldn't name anybody who came to her, but… it's not exactly like Captain America has a secret identity. Plus he keeps sending business her way! "I made a few pieces for Steve Rogers," she admits. "I think it was him that recommended me to Obadiah Stane. I just thought I was going in to measure him for a new suit, or to fabricate some bespoke ties or something!"

But it had turned out to be some kind of job interview…! "What even is THINK?" she wonders, and tucks away another mouthful of potato. "And… so far I've been sitting in on Mister Stark's brainstorming and just throwing in my two cents occasionally on the aesthetics of a design."


"THINK is a … hmrm," Caitlin hedges, trying to contemplate her words. "Well, Howard Stark has more money than he knows what to do with. So it's less about making profit than it is about furthur robotics reasearch," she explains. "Stark Junior— Tony— he runs a business. With the types of work Howard funds, and the stuff he donates, I think it's -almost- a charitable institution," she offers. "So all robotics, machine learning, that kind of thing. I worked with Dr. Miyazaki a lot— she was very cool. She was a chemist, and taught me a lot about metallurgical alloys and stuff. But, I kinda felt like THINK wasn't for me. I was an intern and so far down the ladder I was going on coffee runs when I wasn't lifting heavy stuff. Then Reed Richards invited me to come work on his HERBIE project— he liked my work— and I was there for a year, before Karen Starr hired me to work in her labs."

"Wait, how do you know Cap— Steve?" she inquires, blinking. "He's a good friend of mine. I should call him," she mutters, in abset thought.


It all sounds… very complicated, and scientific to boot. "Well, even if THINK didn't work out for you, I'm glad that someone recognized how smart you are! Is it all computer stuff?" She knows that Caitlin does CAD and, uh… and that kind of engineering stuff.

Hikari just sews, okay. ._.;;

"Sometimes I put out little advertisements in Village Voice and stuff like that - usually just in the M-Town paper but I like to branch out sometimes, you know? And one day he just, kind of showed up and asked about having some things made!" And then he grabbed his own pec while explaining where storebought clothes were too tight. "He was really nice to me. He…" Hikari looks at the apartment window for a moment. "He even asked if people were happy living in M-Town, or if it was something more forced. I couldn't believe someone so famous would think about things like that." She leans her cheek against her hand and gives up on the idea of trying to pace herself against Caitlin. "No wonder you're friends with him, you're both sweethearts~" she hums, contentedly.


"Steve is about the nicest guy ever," Catilin says, pinking a bit at the compliment. "I mean he's just swell. He doesn't curse, or drink, or smoke— he always thinks of other people. All the time! Even when you're not recovering from injuries or something. He's just always going out of his way to do little thoughtful things, stuff no one else would even realize. Picking things up for the refridgerator, putting lost items back where they oughta be. I liked working with him a lot."

It's a good thing Hikari quits, because Caitlin indeed starts loading a third plate of food up. "We spent a half a year on a team together, before I went full time with the League. He still does government stuff so I guess there's some conflict of interest, but it was fun while it lasted."

"There are others, though, I mean— Wonder Woman, she looks scary, but she's so nice in person. She's always got the best insight in a problem."

"…Batman, though, I hate being around him," she confesses. "He's super smart but he freaks me out. Like he always knows something you don't."


That… is pretty much exactly the same impression Hikari had gotten of Steve Rogers, only writ large. "He really is, isn't he? I can't say who it was for, or what it was yet…" she demurs, "But he asked me to make something very, very special for someone he knows. I think he's going to give it to them as a special present. I just delivered it to him last week, and he promised he'd tell me how they liked it!" That red dress… she'd slaved over the detailing, for all that it was such a simple design. "Red Shantung silk… I can't wait to show you the photos once it's okay!" she enthuses, face lit up by her love for her work. And let's face it, her love for love.

"Y-you know Wonder Woman too?!" Who doesn't Cait know? "But it makes sense that she would be like that, you know," Hikari muses, tucking a thumb against her chin. "Sometimes when I'm in a tight spot and don't know what my next step should be, I ask myself what she'd do." Lately, that seems to involve having guns shot at her more than usual. It's still a good strategy, even when she's on the verge of having a nervous breakdown.

"And no wonder… he's so scary-looking." He's probably the kind of person who is really nice on the inside, or he wouldn't be a superhero, but… well. HE'S SPOOKY.


Caitlin snorts. "I think I know everyone on the League, at this point. I went around my first few days and got selfies with… uh, everyone," she says, digging for her phone. She unlocks it with a tap of her thumb and brings up the images, and holds it so Hikari can see. Selfie after selfie, with members of the Fantastic Four, Captain Marvel, Sif and Thor, various patriotic superheroes. A lot of selfies are with a tall blonde (obviously Captain Marvel in her civilian garb) and a much more petite blonde girl around Caitlin's age, outside of the League's building.

"The dress sounds really pretty, I'm sure Cap will love it," she smiles at Hikari. "I think I know who it's for— he's got a girlfriend, she's this really awesome, sexy sort of Lady Bond type, if I remember— I can't recall her name, but he's always going on about her," she giggles. "It's kinda cute. Total crush. But I think she's really got it bad for him, too."


"That's so exciting," she beams, leaning closer to look at the photos. Th-that's so many selfies…! She doesn't even recognize some of the other people. "Isn't it… well, kind of intimidating to work around so many famous heroes? I think I'd trip over my own feet the first time I saw Wonder Woman for real," Hikari laments, but it's good-natured.

Of course Cait would realize it's a dress - then again, what else gets made of Shantung silk as a special gift?? (A gift that Captain America would give someone, that is.) "I'm sworn to secrecy, on my honor as a seamstress," she fibs, winking. "I'm so glad he has somebody he likes like that. I was really worried that he would be lonely, this far from when he fell in the ice."

She is also extremely glad that Cap has a girlfriend because the things Spider-Man said about his (b)romance with the Winter Soldier nearly gave her an aneurysm and forever tainted her internet search history.

Hikari may be turning a fairly alarming shade of red as she stares off into space. "…"


"The first time I met Diana, I basically just sat there gibbering like an idiot," Caitlin admits, laughing at herself. She has a moment of idle reflection— what a young goober she was. Only two years ago, even! "I met Captain Marvel during a whole crisis with these frost giants and she sort of took me under her wing. I was at least a little more coherent, but that's because we were punching stuff," she admits. "I've been friends with Carol for a long time now. She's my mentor— taught me a ton about being a hero. That was the first bedroom poster I met. Then Wonder Woman, and Captain America, and … it's just crazy. I used to run an Instagram account with all the best photos of superheroes. Now I am one. It's basically the greatest thing ever."

She chatters on blithely through Ribbon's silence, and then peers at the girl who is staring into space and turning a furious shade of scarlet. "…Hikari? Are you, uh… remember to breathe," she says, gently touching Ribbon's shoulder with a worried expression.


"Geh," Hikari manages, coming back to reality. What did she miss?

She hates you so much, Spider-Man.

"Sorry about that, I remembered… something," she hedges, and intelligently tries to hork down half of her beer in a single pull. It goes spectacularly, in that she does not drown but her eyes start watering from the taste. "M-mmgh…"

The floor can open up and swallow her now. Aaaaaaaany minute now. …Please?

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