The Beach Gives Me Mixed Feelings

November 01, 2014:

Shortly after the end of the demon invasion of New York, Conner, Caitlin and Cassie spend some time on a beach. (early timestamp to keep floating until Inferno plot resolves)

A sunny beach slightly adjacent to Themyscira

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Caitlin snorts at Cassie's story. "Gosh, right?" she agrees. "I mean, I was kinda torn. On the one hand, I wanted to see what it could do. On the other hand— well, I didn't have to get out my toolkit to take it apart after you were done with it," she tells Conner, flashing a white-toothed grin at him.

"I think I kept one of the eyepieces for my trophy shelf," she muses, and then flickers her eyes down to the cards in play. She moves her lips while she thinks, adding up numbers, and nods at Conner. "Hit," she remarks. "Thanks for teaching me this game, guys. I never learned how to play cards."

She's wearing a bikini as well in (naturally) emerald green. It's a fairly modest cut, and like Cassie she has a sarong she wears wrapped around her waist and sunglasses on her face. At Cassandra's question, Caitlin glances at Conner and lifts a shoulder, seeming to indicate it's not verboten as a topic of conversation with her.

"I don't have all the specifics," Caitlin admits, lowering her cards and forgetting to hide them. She lays with her legs out to the side, propped up by a hand near her hip, and frets the inside of her cheek in thought. "I think I'm biologically only ten or eleven. I got a … I guess you could call them 'induced memories'. And they're all … like, they feel -real- to me. I still remember my family house in Iowa and my daddy picking me up and throwing me in the air. And I did a 'real' year of high school, before I went to Columbia," she reminds Cassie. "I was really immature and scared of everyone, though. Asthma, allergies, no real social skills." She frowns. "It kinda comes through in bits and pieces. I think there was a woman in the facility where I was born who tried… I'unno. Tried to make us— me— a little more… human, I guess?" she hazards.

"But the rest of it, your guess is as good as mine. I know my daddy was pretty clever but he wasn't a scientist or anything. And I can't imagine why someone would come up with a super-soldier program and go 'Hey, let's also make this one really smart'. Y'know?"

*

It would be easy and accurate to say it's a good time to get-away to the world's most exclusive beach— but let's be real. When /isn't/ that true? Especially when one happens to be solar powered, it's just wise decision making. Krypto indeed bounds enthusiastically along the surf, where Superboy recently left him, though there's no moisture to speak of from the swimming, even on the red-and-blue trunks. You all know why!

"And if I break it, we don't have to find /out/ what it does." Kon taps the referenced super-smart noggin, and hits Cassie with a flourish, the card dancing in his fingers as if with a will of its own as its turned over before her, a formidable Queen. Superboy winces, entirely sincerely, waggling daring brows at Caitlin.

"Man. They skipped all the happy family time with me and went for the info dump." Along with all the random media scientists decided he should know about to execute the social etiquette shit he was 'taught' in mother-tube. "Came out of the oven about like I am now." A little less buff. A shittier haircut. We don't talk about the fade.

"Smart money is I'll age like the big guy." Which is to say, decidedly gradually. Kon's clearly okay with that, at least right now. He hasnt had time for it to show its sucky side.

Superboy snorts lightly at Cait's punctuating words, though. "Man, your super-brain is -way- more impressive than -my- super-brain and you don't get that?" One dark brow arches over his own bright blue eyes, and Kon shakes his head.

"It's efficient, just for the surface benefits. You make a one-man army, you don't want a jarhead, you want someone who can create and execute complex solutions out of nowhere, and improvise with whatever tech or threat or obstacle they run into. Being able to punch through a bulkhead is good; being smart enough to realize the walls next to the security door are crap is better." It's just science.

*

The flourish of cards gets Cassandra smiling, even if she hides it behind a non-challant mask of someone that tries to look like she isn't easily impressed.

A Queen!

"Oh, motherfu-" Instantly that angelic visage sours and Cassie frowns, that all-too-common face of someone who has a temper. Thankfully, Caitlin not only stops to share her story but she ALSO shows her cards. This round is void now!

"It is so… strange to look at you both knowing what I do. You are some of the best people I know, and you were raised to be… super soldiers. Diana was born from clay. It makes me wonder what makes people… bad. It really messes with my head sometimes!"

Mostly because Cassandra isn't sure wher she falls in tha spectrum. Not only that, but she gets decidedly more contemplative as Kon talks about aging. Cassandra is burning fast, thanks to the Silent Armor. She smiles, still.

"I am pretty sure the future is safe with you guys to protect it," she offers, meaning more than it seems at first.

"Phillipus always told me that a warrior's most valuable weapon is a sharp mind. If I were to invest some fat stacks on a super soldier, I would expect them to be -great- at fighting!" She grins, and adds, "I mean. If I were good at spending money." Which she is not.

"How do you guys feel about that, by the way?" She picks Caitlin's way better hand, and the other cards, and starts shuffling like it AINT A THING, since Caitlin showed hers. "I never met my dad, and my mom… did her best, but I wouldn't say she is…"

She pauses.

"I mean. I am sure she is proud of me, but maybe she shouldn't. Parents are complicated. They can really get in your head." Where is she going with this? Cassandra isn't sure. This is getting too personal for her. "If you could pick another thing to do, a profession or hobby that not… being a Titan! What would you do, if you had no powers?"

She starts giving cards, resetting that terrible botch.

*

Caitlin sits up and pulls her feet in, arms resting on her knees. "I'd be head of R&D at Stark Enterprises," she says, with just the /faintest/ hint of smug satisfaction. "Which, y'know— give me a few months. Mr. Stark has been super excited for some of my designs." She sticks her tongue out at Conner's rebuke. "Okay, fair," she concedes. "I was thinking more in terms of situational evaluation. A smart monkey is going to eventually figure out she's in a cage, and then you can't help but start trying to pick the lock, y'know? I don't need a high IQ to know how to smash through walls," she points out.

She rests her chin on her forearms, thinking about Cassie's more serious question. "I… I mean, that's the weird thing. I don't /feel/ like a soldier. The skills, those are all programmed. There's no memory to 'em, though. I don't remember learning how to shoot a gun, I just /do/ it."

"I— I think a lot of it was just… guesswork," she says, hugging her knees to her. "It was my br— my sponsors," she says, catching herself. "Friends of my dad's. They had all this data but it was so disjointed. I think they did the best they could. Bits and pieces from a bunch of different people and media sources. Clipping together a life for me. I remember watching a lot of PBS," she says, with a small, inward smile. "And WWE Smackdown. I think it just depended on who had the remote control during the data dump. But…" she brushes a stray tendril of hair back from her face, looking out towards the ocean. "Like I said, I think that one woman wanted to do more than just give me tools for a cover identity. I'unno who she is. Probably the closest thing I'll ever have to a mom," she remarks. Her voice gets a little stiff and she swallows, going silent for a moment behind those glasses.

She looks back to Cassie, then. "How about you? How'd you find out about your family connections?" she inquires, waving a vague hand towards the distant city and the implied gods overlooking it.

*

"People go on about 'staying together for the kids' and 'blood being thicker than water' but that shit actually means the opposite of modern use." Where some people's walls slip and they let personal details slip, a lot of Kon is an open book. What isn't? The Kryptoclone is a -lot- smarter than he usually lets on. … or clouds with impulsiveness.

"Bonds are about who bleeds for you, who'll go to the wall for you, who /believes/ in you. When I came out of the tank, busted clean of the people who wanted me as a weapon, I was pretty sure that was nobody." Probably why he was so desperate to -become- Superman.

"I've got family I chose, and family that chose me. Anybody isn't that for you, they're not family— doesn't matter what their DNA says." There's a slightly too vehement shake of Conner's head and momentary pursing of lips in the pause before he notes, "Same thing with good and evil. Nobody's good, nobody's evil." At least when it comes to the general sentience of critters like 'humanity' or 'kryptonians'.

"Shitheads are just a lot better at justifying the choice to be self-serving abusive and all-around asshats." It's a slippery slope— Superman knows it, Batman knows it, Kon-El pays more attention to his elders than he lets on. When they're not being morons. It's funny, all of that is a lot easier for the Teen of Steel than the whole hypothetical civilian life thing.

Kon struggles with it— and visibly. He lounges back into the sand, casts his gaze out over the ocean, and flips the red metal, blue-lensed shades down over his eyes as he considers, "I was born for this, y'know?" It has a bluster to it, but also an honesty. Purpose was never the hard part, the 'S' has plenty of purpose. "I'd probably just stay here, and surf, and smoke, and…" Superboy trails off with a decidedly mischievious grin.

*

They have memories, but a lot of it wasn't lived. Cassandra narrows her eyes. Caitlin and Conner both are so different than herself, but it is something she easily forgets when they are together. There is something to be said about the sinister efficiency of the programs that made them, but…

This is what friendship is about. Not feeling like a weirdo.

"You love that job so much I am almost jealous," says Cassie, teasing Caitlin about her Stark Enterprises job. She is happy for the woman, even if working indoors in a lab is the blonde's idea of hell. Cassandra kneels and leans against Caitlin to kiss the woman's temple, hugging her. It is a gentle, but far more friendly gesture than Cassandra usually does. Caitlin for sure would appreciate a mom.

Conner gets a look, as he goes on about his feelings and thoughts.

Cassandra smiles, not bothering to hide it too much. The genuine way he just speaks his mind is unlike Cassandra. She keeps her fears and insecurities close to her chest.

"The Cocky Program in your lab must have been top notch because damn! 'I was born for this, y'know?' Can someone be more full of themselves?!" Wonder Girl throws her shirt at Kon, shaking her head and narrowing her eyes at Kon's unspoken words. She stares at the boy to make sure he knows she got what he meant, and looks at Caitlin. She ponders.

"Diana told me. And then my mom confirmed. It is honestly… kinda… weird. My father isn't the guiding type. He… he kinda just had me. I'm just another one on a big list of consequences. It is weird, I'm like a living reminder that my mom was into one night stands once. Argh!" Cassie's nose wrinkles, and she shakes her head, dissipating the image.

"ENOUGH ABOUT THIS," she declares, shivering.

"I guess all of us are… super weird. I wonder if Superman and the other big ones had to deal with these things. They seem to have their heads figured out."

*

Caitlin feels Cassie hugging her and a smile blooms across her face at the offer of reassurance. "I /love/ my job," she confirms. "It's everything I ever wanted to do professionally."

She giggles reflexively when Cass kisses her temple and awkwardly reaches around to hug her back, bumping her head against Cassie's cheekbone. Thunk.

Like they said. Friends are the people who Show Up when you need them to.

She tsks reflexively when Conner starts cursing, but at least keeps it mostly to herself. It's a very Midwestern sort of mannerism. "I think the whole phrase is "the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb," Caitlin points out with a hesitant sort of meticulousness. "But it means what you said. It's about who stands up with you when you need them."

Conner's sly innuendo, of course, goes sailing right past her.

"I… y'know, I think everyone's got 'something' they 're dealing with, Cass," Caitlin reminds her friend. "Batman" she actually glances over her shoulder as if expecting him to loom out of nowhere! "I mean, he runs around Gotham fighting superhumans with his bare fists. I thought he was some kinda weird vampire until I met Red Robin. Ninjas are almost scarier than vampires," she mutters. "Carol's got her ghosts, too. Superman was the sole survivor of Krypton," she says, nodding at Conner. "Golly, I can't think of a single person in a cape who doesn't have some kind of severe personality dysfunction or is a trauma case. Diana? Maybe?" she says, hedging.

*

It's funny, and not lost on Superboy, that in many ways Cait conducts herself in a motherly matter with the Titans. Embracing that absence, that alleged deficiency turned to a strength, providing the care that was lacking herself. It's industrious, symbolic of what they all are— survivors.

By and large, survivors of things, numerous things, that no one would be rightly expected to survive. If this aspect of personality is a mirror, clearly what is lacking in Kon-El's childhood is smartassery. Then again, the Kryptonian bioweapon is perhaps just a little more quiet about what he brings to the table than Cassie gives him credit for!

"Y'prefer made for this?" Superboy shrugs, "I was being literal, not egotistical. Mostly." The lopsided grin stays easily in place. He nods along in agreement with Cait, they're all -really- weird. Probably even Di. "It takes a spark of madness."

But all the while? Kon /locks/ eyes with Cassie for just as long as she decides to focus that narrow-eyed oh-so-legitimately disapproving he-doesn't-suspect-a-thing look so rudely at him, even flipping the shades up for the duration. The grin doesn't fade, either— he stands by the statement wordlessly.

Even as he finger-guns Cait for her incredible levels of meticulous correctness.

*

"Not Diana."

Because Diana is perfect in Cassandra's eyes. She is the woman Cassie would like to be, someday, with a lot of luck, and she pressures herself for falling short of those lofty standards. But it shows on Cassandra's face that there is a lot of love for her mentor. Respect and love.

"I guess it takes a special kind of crazy to do these things. To be honest… I never really wanted this. I mean. I was always searching for -something- but when it found me… I guess I was… it felt natural. If felt like the right thing to do." She smiles genuinely at that, and not the smug 'I WAS BORN FOR THIS TOO, KON' sort of dispute-smirk.

Cassie seems like she took a while to find peace with that, for whatever reason.

And then she eyes Conner, and arm still around Caitlin, as she is easily drawn into a staredown contest. That smug competition smirk grows, and she tilts her head, ready to verbally spar with her friend, even if always in that… too intense way she and Superboy are known to do.

"What makes you think you would be up to snuff with -anyone- on this island?"

She cannot help herself. She just neeeeeds to butt heads with Kon sometimes, even if there is a very entertained smile on her lips, that glint in her eyes that of a woman efficiently teased and goaded into a dare.

Things are decidedly weird as Cassandra remains close to Caitlin, her arm around the ginger. It takes a few moments of perfectly awkward silence for Wonder Girl to unlatch from her friend and stand.

"We should swim for a bit!" And she offers Fairchild her hand. "Before Kon does something he -will- regret." Still smiling, still entertained, but eternally teasing.

*

Caitlin flashes a grateful smile at Conner. Behind his brazen self-assurance there's a note of sympathy and camraderie that she can appreciate, and she reaches over to give Conner's hand a quick squeeze of thanks for the things he leaves unsaid.

Finding him staring at Cassie, though, she blinks and turns her head to Wonder Girl. Then back at Conner. Then the Silence gets Awkward enough to penetrate even Caitlin's dense hide, and she pinks just a hair and coughs into her hand before pointedly finding something Very Fascinating to look at way out in the middle of an empty beach.

"Huh? O-oh, okay," Caitlin says, standing. "I, uh…I can't swim very well," she admits, a bit off kilter as she extracts a new subtext from Cassie and Conner's stare-off. But mercifully, the sun's beating down on her fair skin already so a little embarassed blush goes un-noticed. "But I'll come splash around in the water a bit. I'll sink in the deeper stuff." She undoes her sarong and tosses it aside, along with her sunglasses, and lets Cassie pull her into the clear blue waters of Themyscira's beaches.

"Hey, have you seen Polemusa around anywhere?" Knee deep, Caitlin feigns nonchalance, splashing the cooling water onto her arms. "I, uh, wanted to say hi. While I'm here on the island. If that's okay. If it's not, that's cool," she adds, hastily.

*

If Kon is staggered by the sudden 'hostility', it certainly doesn't show in the whip-quick, "You're right, I might need training, and practice." A year or two ago? He probably would have stammered something stupid. But now he's a /world traveler/. Something.

"But!" Both thumbs jerk to indicate his chest, decidedly sans S just now, "/Superman/." he reminds Cassie evenly, without letting a hint of nonchalant bluster slip into the dead serious rebuttal. He doesn't give up the staring contest for anything, either— some tests of might are /important/. "Swimming is a survival skill." He advises Cait nonetheless, an undertone of inappropriate amusement leaking into the fair advice for likely obvious reasons.

"You should practice." He has the good grace not to laugh out loud, even as he winks to Cassie during an opportune moment as she carts Cait to the seaside, where they are immediately joined by a soaking wet, bouncing white dog.

Do something he'll regret? Kon was already on his feet at the mention of the swim-plan. "Wouldn't be the first time; sure won't be the last." He observes with a devil-may-care snerk, and a halo firmly in place as he skips like a hurtled stone off the surf with an enthused call.

*

Cassie hoists Caitlin up and lets the other woman stand, smiling at Fairchild. She pulls and leads the way at the water, even after eyeing Kon for one last time and giving the man a wink back. Of course she is not going to let him have the 'last word', so to speak!

"If you can't swim very well, this is the day we change it, because I just happen to be -the best swimmer- you'll meet today." Kon can fly. No way he learned how to swim. Why would he!? As Krypto comes rushing, Cassie drops to her knees to hug the doggo, smiling and talking in that baby voice.

"Except for you. You are a total badass! Yes you are!"

She LOVES this dog!

While she herds Cait towards the sea, Cassandra eyes the Kryptonian clone as he gets ready to join them. "Polemusa? Mmm. I would guess she is! It is very rare for them to leave, and if you want to visit, I am sure they would let you. In fact, I am pretty sure they would -love you- here. Tell you what: after we are done with that robot clean up, I'll bring you back here, to introduce you to the Amazons officially!"*

Only then stops, by the shore, "Oh, I knew you wouldn't disappoint me! I mean, if you are going to visit Themyscira, we need to have at LEAST three diplomatic incidents to report at Tim!" She laughs, and when Kon comes, Cassandra turns to the water, hands on Caitlin's, pulling her in!

  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: That promise is conveninently delayed until Cassandra may make good on her word, after the Titans release NYC of its curse in the thrilling conclusion of… Titans: Inferno!

*

Cassie hoists Caitlin up and lets the other woman stand, smiling at Fairchild. She pulls and leads the way at the water, even after eyeing Kon for one last time and giving the man a wink back. Of course she is not going to let him have the 'last word', so to speak!

"If you can't swim very well, this is the day we change it, because I just happen to be -the best swimmer- you'll meet today." Kon can fly. No way he learned how to swim. Why would he!? As Krypto comes rushing, Cassie drops to her knees to hug the doggo, smiling and talking in that baby voice.

"Except for you. You are a total badass! Yes you are!"

She LOVES this dog!

While she herds Cait towards the sea, Cassandra eyes the Kryptonian clone as he gets ready to join them. "Polemusa? Mmm. I would guess she is! It is very rare for them to leave, and if you want to visit, you have been here a bunch! It isn't like they are going to stop you now, or on my account. I mean… you are more their speed than I am!"

Little known fact: Amazons do not like metal, which is a total bummer for everyone involved. Cassandra suspects Artemis probably does, but needs to keep the appearances.

Only then stops, by the shore, "Oh, I knew you wouldn't disappoint me! I mean, if you are going to visit Themyscira, we need to have at LEAST three diplomatic incidents to report at Tim, or he won't believe we were here at all!" She laughs, and when Kon comes, Cassandra turns to the water, hands on Caitlin's, pulling her in!

*

Caitlin loves dogs, and Krypto is best doggo. And she's right there with Cassie when the fluffy canine gallomphs through the water towards them, throwing up a bow wave of water like a courser. She kneels and hugs Krypto, showering him with affection. "PUPPERS! Whossa best puppers?" Caitlin croons, and for a solid twenty seconds Krypto gets the ear rubbing of a lifetime.

She shakes her head at Cassie's offer, laughing merrily. "No, I mean— I'm too dense to tread water. I don't have any buoyancy," she clarifies. "I weigh like… almost three times what you do. So it's either splashing in the shallows, or doing a speedboat impression."

She follows Cassie into the water, holding hands, and kicks a little splash at her with a laugh. "And are you kidding? You're like, -THE- Amazon," Caitlin tells Cassie. "You've got the divine heritage, Diana's mentoring you— and you know WAY more about history and culture of the island than I do," she reminds Cassie.

She glances at Conner, and tugs gently on Cassie's wrists to pull her a bit closer, turning her head away so her lips aren't easily read. "Uh… do you, um, need me to make myself scarce for a bit?" she inquires in a low murmur, hesitantly. "I brought…" she clears her throat, trying to look nonchalant. "I mean, uh, I promised Pol th— Polemusa, that I'd bring— I mean, I can go into the city for a bit," she suggests. She's pretty clearly uncertain of the protocol here, but the sense of being a Third Wheel looms over her.

*

While the Kryptonian powerset is pretty sweet in the world, knowing how to swim is just what Superboy said it was— a survival skill! It's a pity Caitlin sinks, and you better believe he's kicked himself for missing that and -will- remember in a crisis— if he's paying attention.

The point is: Kon totally knows how to swim, and even enjoys it, augmenting it with his powers but equally riding the waves and diving out towards the sandbar. It's almost enough to draw his mind from the decidedly non-threatening tension of the moment, and into the natural beauty of this silly blue marble. Of course, they're gushing over Krypto the whole time, and hard to ignore anyway!

Superboy can't help but smile as Cait tells Cassie basically -exactly- what he told her the other night. Some people just need it hammered into their thick, thick skulls. Kon, meanwhile, drifts lazily on the surf until a breaker carries him swiftly in towards the shore, depositing him on his back in the shallows as he totally acts like he couldn't hear the whispering.

*

You're like, -THE- Amazon

Cassandra looks at Caitlin and takes a deep breath. She can't really argue with these people, so the blonde just strikes a Wonder Woman pose, jokingly. Fake it until you make it! She tries not to dwell in this, and she doesn't, because soon after Wonder Girl is brought close to Cait to talk about…

Oh. My. Gods.

Cassandra looks mortified. She can be straightforward and unashamed, unapologeticaly passionate and very easy to approach about these things. WHEN SHE IS NOT THE ONE BEING PUT IN A SPOT! Almost immediately she lets out a scoff, and looks away. She looks completely unlike Cassandra.

Wonder Girl might even be blushing.

"Cait, what… what the hell, man," she whispers. DAMN she misses the OTHER Titans right now. She would give her world to go check on Vic's science projects right now. "I mean. No. We are… good. Okay? Argh. Look, you don't need to go anywhere! You are -good- where you are. I want you here."

Cassandra is frowning. She built up her shield again. Just in time for Mr. Hoverhotness to approach them. Cassandra isn't smiling anymore, though.

"-What?-"

She is not this blushing damsel. Last time she was it was a damned DISASTER. She needs to control herself better! Cassandra berates herself as she goes into the water. Nowhere to run but the sea. Great. She always wanted to dive around here anyways.

*

Oops.

Caitlin blinks in shock as Cassier quietly berates her in that tone of seething embarassment. She can't even quite muster a response, her mouth forming an 'oh' without any sound emerging. Struggling to process the contrast between 'I want you here' and Cassie dropping her hands, turning, and doing her best submarine impression to get away from it. Caitlin grabs the braid of her thick red hair and tugs it through her grip a few times, stress furrows appearing between her brows.

Caitlin looks a little confused and wounded, but marshals her emotions and blows them away with a consternated sigh. She sits down in the shallows instead. Propped up with her hands behind her, she starts a mental count of how long Cassie's submerged.

"Hey, Conner?" she says, hailing Superboy as he paddles past. "Can I ask you a question?" she says, hesitatingly.

"You were gone quite a while. What, uh… what prompted you to come back to the Titans?"

*

Blink. Blink. Kon looks over to Caitlin as Cassie stalks past him into the surf, and then back out to Wonder Girl, furrowing his brow. He may have caught more of all that than he was strictly supposed to, but it doesn't leave him less momentarily clueless!

There's a helpless shrug as Cassie tosses herself into the ocean, and Krypto pauses to lick Superboy's face thrice before bounding after her, the best swimmers here. "That girl is con-flic-ted." Superboy intones in murmur of his own, the levity once more drifting in to cover the legitimate concern; and awareness he's not exactly uninvolved. He sits up as the surf surges back out, momentarily eyeing a foot burrowing in the wet sand.

"Should be obvious, no?" Cait has that big, beautiful brain— and after a fashion, Kon just finished explaining it. A year ago, he might have left it there. He might have appended a 'What? You liked me gone?' Now, Conner resolutely picks himself up, standing straight, apart from cracking his neck soundly, once, and just adds. "You're family." More than friends. More complicated than allies.

An apologetic finger is held up to Caitlin, the universal sign for 'this might take a minute', and then Kon is airborne. It's rather reflexive, almost effortless to get farther out to sea than Cassie and Krypto are, and drop himself into the water ahead of them, moving to close the distance. "Hey. What's wrong?" No teasing, no apprehension, he offers up a steadying hand. Krypto tries once to climb up his back and perch on Superboy's head, ending in a profound sploosh.

*

Conner is coming.

DAMN IT.

Cassandra remains with a certain hardness to her features that does indeed make her look more Amazonian, so to speak. It makes her look more mature, stronger, but not quite like herself, when all the layers are peeled. She lets very little of that playful inexperience and innocent courage out when like this.

She just looks how she was before the Titans. Angry and guarded.

Of course that Kon dropping the teasing to level with her has Cassandra's lips thinning in a line. It does makes everything harder. Even she remains close to Krypto (<3) and Conner, there is a real sense of unease, like she could just bolt at any time now.

It would be easier to simply tell Conner to back off. He would too. He is great like that. They are all great. Maybe she should run.

But Cassandra doesn't really run away from things. She just leans and, with a gauntlet of the Silent Armor visible in her hand, she cups Kon's face to kiss him. It is far more vacilating than she would have wanted, but it is most certainly a kiss, her soft lips caressing his in that sunset, single-panel fashion.

"This can't be a thing."

She whispers so with a heavy heart, her blue eyes drifting towards the golden platings of her gauntlet, briefly, before she swims away. She answered the question, but the rest is best left unsaid. She does swim towards Caitlin, however, approaching the redhead and hugging her tight.

"You are a great friend, Cait. I'm just a dummy."

Cassandra's arms squeeze the other woman, before she lets go, and starts moving towards the edge of the beach, where the stairs towards the city are.

*

Hooooooh boy. Caitlin holds as still as possible, willing herself to vanish into the seafoam. When she doesn't, she gives the sea a spiteful glare. She absolutely doesn't watch with total enthrallment, heart in her throat, as Cassie and Conner share their moment.

Because that would be rude.

After she gets done not-watching, she sees Cassie swimming towards the beach and she gets to her feet, calf-deep in the lapping water. Reflexively she returns Cassie's hug, glancing from Cassie to Conner to Cassie again as Wonder Girl mumbles her apologies. Her jaw sets.

"Hey."

Caitlin curls her fingers around Cassie's forearm as she slips past. Her fingers remain loose, not clamping down, but there's something of the 'irresitable force' in her balance and strength. She pulls Cassie in a half-circle before she can get too far, facing her head on.

"Listen," she begins. Her tone is blunt. A little stern, even. Six months on a boat with Asgardian sailors taught her how to put that hard edge in her voice when needed. "You're a great friend too, Cass. And you are -not- dumb. Don't call yourself that. Okay?" She says it in a tone that makes it more statement than question. She glances back at Conner, then looks at Cassie.

"Look, I— I know I'm not exactly the expert here on this… stuff," she says, her tone softening. She touches Cassie's Grecian cheekbone, patting it with a gentle affection to take the sting from her words. "Romantic… things. But I can tell that you're bailing premptively," she says. Her hand drops. She still speaks in a low murmur. "I do know this: 'don't quit on a project until you see it fly at least once'." She shrugs. "It might crash and burn, and it might not."

She looks at the city, then at Cassie. "But isn't it worth it to at least give it a chance?"

*

It's both expected and entirely not, the whole sequence. The tender approach— that was pretty even odds in Kon's estimation with 'slug him' or 'tell him to back off.' It's certainly a preferable outcome, at least for that one, singular moment.

His own hand is light on the gauntleted touch, the other rests at Cassie's waist, and the unsteady kiss is returned more stably, met gently and evenly matched. The words draw at first a somewhat puzzled stare, and then as Wonder Girl withdraws, a somewhat less steady nod.

There's more than a few questions on the tip of his tongue, but in the end, Conner decides to keep them; for now. A slight cant comes to his head as he floats and watches Cassie swim away, but for all the lingering confusion and new questions— it's still a relief compared to the moments before, so there's that.

Kon doesn't press for answers of one kind or another just this minute, and when Caitlin decides to engage flightmode Cassie anew? He even has the wisdom to stay butted out, even if he's not entirely sure which of them Wonder Girl would rather deal with— aside from neither— at the moment! There's a pensive air to the concerned furrow still half-present on Superboy's features, both puzzling things out for himself… and worried about what's weighing Cassie. "Right?" he comments, glancing aside at Krypto, who was in fact looking at Superboy quizzically already.

*

You're a great friend too, Cass. And you are -not- dumb. Don't call yourself that. Okay?

Cassandra knows she would die for her friends. These are her family, and if she was going to be very honest with herself, Wonder Girl suspects she would protect them from Diana herself if it ever came to it. She will die a Titan.

But there is a smile she gives Caitlin, something that is quite hard to piece together, but carries a certain knowing sadness with it. She listens, and the touch to her face does make Cassandra soften her expression some.

"It wouldn't really be fair to anyone. Especially not Kon."

She catches Caitlin's hand on hers and kisses her friend's knuckles with a resigned smile. Cassandra pauses a moment, thinking her next words carefully, before parting her lips… and closing them.

What she needs from Caitlin, the other woman will do regardless, and a certain half-Kryptonian OR his doggo need to hear Cassandra asking for it. As is she simply taps Caitlin on the shoulder and half-turns to wave a 'so long' at Kon before she goes on her way.

This is the right thing to do!

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