Worn Down But Not Out

September 27, 2018:

Caitlin, Conner, and Cassie interact in the Titan's Tower and plot some strategy.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

The night is in the indeterminate but decidedly 'late' stage by the time Superboy returns to the Titans Tower, wearier than he had been after the first go-round. …. which is logical, really.

Taco fuel works wonders, but there are indefinite demonic hordes to accomodate even the heartiest helpings. True to his word, Kon barely took time to shower and power nap before he was back on the town: saving people, hitting baddies, hero stuff!

Alone, or maybe with a teammate or two in tow, the Teen of Steel did his best to prove worthy of his stripes, refreshing the myriad of cuts and scrapes he's collecting fighting mystic beasties— along with a couple real nice, deep claw-stabs where one of said beasties tried to get at (and pull out!!) something important.

Sighing with a mix of fatigue and relief as he enters the hab level through the balcony, Superboy dumps -another- branded, iconic black t-shirt into the damn trash, and kicks the lights to a dim, inoffensive level to his eyes, mumbling something to himself.


Caitlin is multitasking.

On some deep psychological level, Caitlin has a certain programmed compulsion to prepare food. She can't help it. Combine that with an insatiable metabolism and an over-active engineer's brain, and as often as not she's preparing food while working on something else.

She's showered and changed fairly recently— never pass up a chance to get a shower, right?— and is wearing the matte grey bodysuit that replaces her usual green leotard.

A hovering blue AR display flickers an image of New York over the kitchen island, and she reaches through a translucent Empire State building for some baking powder to add into the mixing bowl.

"Hmm." She glances at the overlay, tapping a finger at a red dot near Stark Tower. "Okay, I think we're onto something with that linear regression," Caitlin says to no one in particular. "Re-map all known incursion points with a time-stamp and let's start from scratch."

The lights come on and Caitlin looks around, then catches Superboy's approach. "Hey Conn—" she blinks. "Hey! What happened? You're bleeding!" she tells him. Captain Obvious, here. Caitlin sets aside her mixing bowl and moves to one of the (many) emergency aid kits that Someone (Robin) insisted on installing all over the building.

In retrospect, it was a good call. She pulls it off the wall and hustles over to Superboy. "Yikes, did a /demon/ do that?" she asks in dismay.


The moment some smart ass demon lands a hit on Superboy, Cassandra Sandsmark feels her blood boil, and something else whisper in her head along with the almost-blinding rage that comes with watching the usually nigh-invulnerable man bleed.

As another plating of t he Silent Armor suddenly sprouts on her forearm, the whole thing taking on a subtly more threatening visage, Wonder Girl just slams her golden boot through the demon in question as she comes flying from above, sinking into the pavement with the thing.

It is easy to forget Conner is vulnerable to magic, and these things… are pretty unnatural.

"We need to leave, Superboy!"

Cassandra is holding the Silent Armor back when she stares at the half-Kryptonian. He is going to argue with her. Easy solution. "I am don't know for how long I can't take this fight. We need a break. Lets take the people we got and get them out the island."

As Cassandra lands with Kon, she eyes Caitlin as the woman goes straight to the medkits. Wonder Girl eyes the wounds on her friend and feels a pang of guilty. Gods damn it. "I'm sorry I didn't get to that demon earlier, Kon." She says that all too seriously, before masking it with a smile and a nudge to his shoulder, winking at the man.

"So, Caitlin, what is up for dinner?!"

The Silent Armor is already urging her to go back in there. Kill them all. Bathe in their blood. Use them to get to HIM. "I need to relax a little…," she exhales, trying ot shake off the feeling.


There's no outward sign that Superboy realizes Wonder Girl is disengaging more for his sake than her own— but he's not stupid. Just likes to act it. He's used to being the impervious one, or at least near the top of that scale, and she's not wrong to assume he'll just keep pushing until he has no other choice. It's a bad habit.

"Not like there weren't a half-dozen other clear and present problems." Kon's not inclined to let Cassie take responsibillity for his own injuries. The concern from Cait is waved off, probably predictably, as he paces further into the living room.

"They can get through— but I can take a licking anyway. And I heal fast." At least, he will in the morning, flying up towards the sun. The cuts and scratches he collected on his way in earlier that afternoon are scabbed over or entirely closed, fading quicker than most could hope for.

"Nothing to worry about." Kon reassures with a wink, despite looking like he lost a fight with an angry, mutant rosebush. The nonchalance fades a bit as his eyes pan to Cassie, who's already pacing like she's missing something to smoosh, a subtle ghost of a frown settling over his pensive features.


"You're /leaking/," Caitlin tells Conner, moving to intercept him. She gives him a level look, though she doesn't physically stop him aside from that 'don't argue with me' stare. "At least let's patch up the bigger holes, okay?"

She pulls a pair of palm-sized adhesive bandages out of the medical kit, eying the larger of the injuries, and waggles a finger at Conner. "It'll take five seconds, tops," she scolds him.

At Cassie's question, Caitlin tilts her head back towards the kitchen. "Fresh banana bread in the oven and I made up spaghetti earlier," she tells Cassie. "I wanted to just grab some sleep but I got a brainwave about those portals and wanted to chase it down before I forgot it. I /think/ I'm getting pretty close to an algorithim that'll predict more or less where they're opening next— at least within a reasonable distance and timeframe, anyway. But I can't pin down the last variables and get it more accurate than it is."


Cassandra knows in her bones that these portals, that these demons, are not something you can beat with science. That is like trying to douse a fire by seeding the atmosphere to make the liquid substance precipitate in the clouds. They overcomplicate things and in the end just miss the point altogether.

It is called water. Water beats fire.

Demons are not of this world. They are brought here.

BUT… Caitlin loves her science, and Cassandra, well, she is an archeologist*. She knows that even if Caitlin isn't on the money, she might get a breakthrough on some other area. That is why she nods, "That is great, Cait! Don't blow a fuse over it, though." And when she is BEHIND her friend, the blonde turns to Kon to shake her head, teasingly.

She's totally wrong.

Cassandra touches the over and the flashes of the warmth of their demonic foes strikes her brain. It makes her vacilate a little, her hand shivering, before the blonde forces herself to get the god damn bread! "YUM! This smells amazing, Cait… Kon? Want some?" She will get something for herself, and Conner, if he wants some. She won't force the boy to eat. He is not a baby, and one Caitsitter is enough anyways!

Taking a seat by the couch, Wonder Girl's armor remains on her. It doesn't shapeshift back into her clothes. That is unusual. Still, the blonde picks up the controller and puts on some NatGeo or other sort of 'travelling around the world' channel. Probably something with animals, that makes even grumpy Cassie smile a little to her self.

"Aww… we need a pet." Did she even realize she said that out loud?


"You're not the boss of me." Conner teases, entirely without conviction, dropping onto the edge of a couch and keeping it clean thanks to TACTILE TELEKINESIS. He's cooperative, and Caitlin isn't wrong— Kon is hurting more than he lets on, even if he'll be up for a fight again tomorrow.

It shows in the subtle wince here and there, conveyed as much in body language as the occasional quirk of his face, or a catch of breath. "Have you considered /anti/portal guns?" Superboy snarks drily, wise when someone is dressing one's wounds. "I'm grabbing a bigass plate of spaghetti momentarily; with all the parm." He can taste it now, and a grin returns to his face as he scans to Cait's.

"Almost forgot how big a perk your cooking is." Especially with that metabolism, and compulsive personality! Cassie's words seem to summon an alabaster blur from Kon's room way up the hall— far enough into the excess space that he can comfortably blast his music— who barrels up onto the couch, into the blonde's lap… then across it.

This leaves a super-wagging tail repeatedly whapping at Wonder Girl's face as the dog greets Conner with licks and nuzzles, forcing between Superboy and Caitlin whilst suspended between couches. Sure, Krypto heard them come in— but he was still napping, unlike his foolish, headstrong, very-unwise charge.


The ginger-haired Titan flashes a grateful smile at Cassie. "Thanks Cass," she says. "And take as much as you want, there's plenty for everyone," she adds, as Cassie digs into the bread. It's someone's homemade recipe, for sure, heavy on butter and flavor.

Caitlin's not a medic but like every other Titan, she's done her share of field medicine. Conner gets a splash of sanitizing gel in every wound, and then she slaps a big rapid-clotting bandage over the worst of them. She works as diligently as possible, fretting her lip apologetically when Conner winces— but she doesn't quit until he's relatively patched up.

With perfect timing, too, because Krypto blasts into Conner's lap! "Krypto! Hi boy! Whossa good boy?" Caitlin grabs Krypto's face and promptly rubs both of his ears, making the stupid noises everyone makes at dogs.

She fondly ruffles Krypto for a good ten seconds, her mood visibly improving, then glances at the time. "Oh, shoot, I need to get some sleep," she says, dismayed. "Can one of you pull the bread out the oven when the timer goes off? Thanks so much!" She gives Krypto one last pat and heads towarsd her room, yawning and rubbing her eyes sleepily.


Cassandra puts a lot on herself. She lets all kinds of pressure get to her while carefully keeping the Silent Armor under control, like a woman ignoring the holes on her boat to keep the shark at bay. As such, a lot of what happens to her, mentally, often goes unnoticed by the tough firebrand.

Case in point, the Silent Armor receeding and turning into her stay at home PJs once Krypto is all over her. Wonder Girl is smiling, and laughing, her arms around the super mutt as she kisses the dog on the temple.

"OH GODS! I didn't know you were back, Krypto! You didn't even come see meeee!" She laughs and feels much better, the dog's strength easy for her to handle as she squeezes him a little. Cassandra wouldn't call herself a cuddler, but in times liek this, she would find some trouble arguing against such accusations!

"Did he come back with you, Kon?"

She eyes him with that wide smile, her cheek glistening with Kryptospittle, as the dog licks her face. "Missed the little guy! He even looks bigger now!" She eyes the dog, then, "When the city is not full of demons anymore, I'll SO walk or fly you every day! Promise! Gonna take you to Themyscira to show you off to the girls!"

And she grins, talking to Krypto, "Your owner can come too, if he promises to behave!"


"Kryptoooo." Sure, Kon's been palling around with the super-canine, but he's just as happy as anyone to see the boy again; maybe happier. Superboy grins, scritches Krypto's neck and chest, and then rump as he flips around after greeting Conner and Caitlin to lick excitedly at Cassie in turn! "You bet, Cait." Superboy agrees readily.

"He diverted to Smallville, allegedly for Ma, probably for the sausages." A cynical side-eye is cast at the dog, who casts it right back, canting his head with a low whine. "Probably for both." Kon corrects, and Krypto thumps Cassie's face with his nose, sharing in the joy of her relaxation. Truth be told, the warrior on four legs kinda knows the feeling.

"But he's fast— and too stubborn to stay the hell away when there's a demonic invasion going on." Another, lower chirp sounds. "How you holding up, Cass?" Rather than continue into the kitchen for the spaghetti on his mind before, he settles back down on the couch next to Cassie, making room for Krypto to nestle in and happily lap-pillow.

"Bart's alright, you know that right?" He might be partly trying to convince himself— but there's veracity to what follows as well, and Conner knows it. "That dude's seen some shit. Might be the hardest we've got to take down." Except when he fucks up. Bart does enjoy that, too.


How you holding up, cass?

The question does get Cassandra off guard. Not many people just straight up ask her that, her usual 'Get The Fuck Out' shield always working Wonders (tm) when it comes to not talking about her feelings. She looks at Conner with a smile slapped on her face, as if there is a lot going on behind her eyes before she finally answers.


The smile lessens some, but it is still genuine when she eyes Krypto and caresses the dog under his ears, bunching his face, "You are going to get ALL the sausages! I am going to spoil you SO much!"

As she noses Krypto, Cassie has a moment to think, before she continues, fully realizing her answer from before is kind of a weak one. "I feel like I could and should be doing way more. Bart is gone, Tim is a pile of nerves, Cait and Vic are working overtime… I think the only person I am not disappointing most of times is Kori."

She doesn't sound sad. She is grimly matter-of-fact about it. "People expect better things than me when they hear the name 'Wonder Girl'. I should be helping Tim with the team, but I was away until recently. I should be helping Vic and Cait with their research, I just… feel… like I am being held back. I don't know why."

But she kind of does. The Silent Armor could make her stronger and faster, if only she relaxed a little. Cassandra was never the type to rein herself in. "Sorry, this is all… very lame. I just wish I could be more like Diana, or at least Donna. They always know what to say. What to do. I just get really mad and I want to punch something really hard."

And she noses Krypto, "But never you. Not you, no sir!"


Somehow, thorns never keep Superboy out of anything. It's also possible he's missing Fuck Off vibes all over the place, but hey— ignorance is bliss. The initial, dual-syllable answer just gets a nod, and a touch of patience. Krypto gets belly rubs.

"Tim's expertly trained at being a bundle of nerves." Kon observes without malice, in fact a certain ring of fondness to what might seem on the surface like simple snark. He's not wrong. "Kori's only disappointed if someone's mean— it's a low bar."

Which isn't really his point, and the course is quickly corrected, "Caitlin and Cyborg are too smart to look down on the rest of us over it. But…." Superboy draws a slow, heavy sigh. "I know what you mean. At least you're like— your own person. It explains differences, strengths and flaws. You're too stubborn not to have your own way of doing things."

There's some irony to preceding what follows with that incisive observation, "I'm Superman's -clone-, and if anything, I'm way farther off the mark than you are. They don't come more Amazon Warrior Princess." Kon grins largely out one corner of his mouth and reaches out slowly to brush a blonde lock from Cassie's face, "Even if you are still short." It's even less serious than his note on Tim 'Stressbat' Drake. These things are all relative.


…. so is he, by that measure.


Cassandra smiles, hand on Krypto, treading fingers along his fur, when Kon talks about Tim's neurosis. There is never any nastiness coming from Superboy, one of his greatest qualities in Cassandra's book. Even when teasing his friends, there is nothing but appreciation for them.

The compliment, however, is taken with a subtle squint of eyes, and that same gaze follows the hand that brushes a golden lock of hair from her face. Cassie stares at Kon, her eyes hard to figure out as she just looks into his for that moment.

"You are pretty bold, I hope people tell you that. Often."

She grins some, a faint blush coloring her features, before Wonder Girl mulls over something. "You know how Castor and Pollux were twins, born from the same mom but from different parents, a mortal and god?" She is not going to get into the ALLEDGED swan-action her own father got on with Leda, their mother. Don't ask. Her father is the Beast Boy of Olympus and that is all there is to know.

"Castor was often thought to be the inferior one, and Pollux was the real deal. Heroic and powerful. Castor died protecting his brother. When push comes to shove, Superman may be all the rage, but I know you would go down for any of us. You are our… heart. For -sure- not the brains!" Cassandra teases with a bright smile, eyes cast down to look at Krypto for a moment.

"We all need you a lot. And you are pretty irreplaceable."

Which means Kon is unique. But Cassandra is getting sappy enough. She blew her quota already!

"So, enough feeltalk?!" She changes channels to something else. Probably a fight.


"Sometimes angrily." Conner observes, of his alleged boldness. There's a momentary reverie to the statement— sometimes it's amusing, sometimes it's disheartening. Either way, it doesn't hold his attention for long. That focus shifts back to Cassie's eyes, and a renewed smile along with a note of laughter.

"Sometimes like /that/." With or without blush. The rest of the explanation draws a bit more serious consideration from the Kryptonian clone, and another quiet chuckle.

"Yea." He would. "Thing is— so would Superman." Maybe they can both be the real deal. That would be ideal, right? "But yea, I let some of the other great minds on the team focus on that stuff, so they don't feel superfluous." He pulls out the big words to prove just how smart he is, and it almost seems familiar on his tongue. Someone spends a fair bit of time being the bruiser; they both know it's more comfortable.

Enough heart to heart? "For now…" Kon concedes with a lingering grin, stretching out and pushing Krypto into a new position with only minor grumbling. There's a space next to them that seems almost consciously left for Cassie. "Maybe."


Cassandra does seem completely SHOCKED that Kon would comment on her blushing, but that remains unspoken and unfurthered, so that for the many aeons that are yet to come know nothing of what happened tonight in the Tower of the Titans!

"Superman would. But because he would do that to anyone. Do you think Superman can talk me out of punching someone? Or Tim into relaxing some? Or Vic out of his lab? Do you really think Superman wouldn't be a total misfit for us?" Cassandra snaps her fingers, "You are home, Kon. You just need to realize that."

Cassandra has. She has for a while now.

"The farm, Krypton, all that stuff? That is like… Themyscira, for me. It is -nice-… but it ain't here." She smiles at the man again, and turns towards the television, to watch the fight that is on. It does take maybe fifteen minutes of nothing but silence for Cassandra to finally move over to the two of them.

"Don't flatter yourself," she comments PRE-EMPTIVELY before she teases, "I'm here for Super Furball over here!" And hey. That is only half a lie!

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