What's Happening to Me? (Pt. 2)

April 02, 2019:

Following the show, Katsumi texts Caitlin to tell her how the meeting went. Spoiler alert: It didn't go well. Caitlin insisted she come to her apartment, eat, and talk it out.

Caitlin's Apartment in Queens


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…


Caitlin works in her kitchen with a practiced sort of domestic efficiency. She does love to cook, and is even wearing a brightly tropical-flowered apron over her jeans and hoodie while she does it. Reaction to her culinary pastimes is usually firmly in the camps of 'that makes sense' or 'what the eff'. Because she does take her food prep seriously.

Her condo in Queens is not lavishly appointed but it's very well set up. It looks very new, as if recently remodelled. Granite countertops, stainless fixtures and appliances, hardwood, lots of soft lighting and an amazing view from her top-floor balcony. The lights of Manhattan twinkle in the middle distance, and some classic rock blares from a speaker in the corner of her kitchen. Two wine bottles are set out and neither are opened; Caitlin's drinking from an open can of soda and dancing with a bobbing step to the rhythm of the music as she boils the noodles, browns the meat, and with her third set of hands deftly chops and dices the vegetables that'll go into the sauce.


There's a sudden knock on the door! It's hard. MUCH harder than a normal knock. There's a little commotion that follows outside.

Just on the other side of the door, Katsumi is staring at her fist in bewilderment. She didn't mean to knock that loudly. It just happened. And she thought she was being LIGHT with it! Her eyes lift again to inspect the door closely for any damage - which may give the peephole an amusing fish-eye lens view of her button nose.

The girl is back to wearing her schoolgirl-esque outfit of breezy button-up with rolled sleeves, mid-thigh skirt, and coin choker. Slung over her shoulder is a black duffelbag with hot pink piping and kanji.


Caitlin walks over and undoes the door latch to let Katsumi in. "Katsumi! I'm glad you made it okay!" *Wham*— another big hug from the ginger, and it ends up with Katsumi deposited inside the apartment's threshold. A sharp eye would note the door's heavily reinforced steel and the security system is some high-tech electronics that goes way beyond a conventional New York double-deadbolt.

She offers to set the duffel bag aside and beckons Katsumi into the apartment. "C'mon, sit down and relax a bit," she beckons. "Are you thirsty? I've got soda, juice, fresh water, and both kinds of wine— red and white," she says. She furrows her brow. "My friend might have left some liquor here, but I don't know what it is, or if it's any good," she confesses.

She goes back to the range, stirring sizzling meat and noodles and checking on the simmering red sauce. The entire kitchen smells delightfully of Italian cooking and pregnant with delicious spices.


This time, Caitlin won't be the only one hugging. Katsumi latches onto her immediately in response - and this may be the first time Caitlin gets to experience a portion of Katsumi's burgeoning superhuman strength. Though with the awareness that she's hitting things much harder than she means, Katsumi is trying to be gentle. But even with Caitlin's incredible durability, she's likely been hugged by unpowered people. She may yet be able to feel the difference.

Either way, Katsumi is deposited in the room. She gives no resistance to anything Caitlin offers, and passes along the duffelbag. It's lightweight - it contains only the girl's wardrobe. A few outfits, her ring gear, shoes. Almost in a daze, she ambles further into the apartment. The smells are foreign, but she's instantly realizing the last time she ate was before training. Around noon. Her insides feel like they're twisting. Don't worry, it's a good thing.

Spotting some available seating, the Japanese girl plops down. She's listening to Caitlin, she really is. But she can't hear her; not really. Just like the insane security and reinforcing applied to her front door went unnoticed. Her elbows set to her knees and her face tilts into her hands. She's silent, and it isn't until Caitlin finishes or really listens that she might pick up on the occasional sniff. The weight of her world breaking isn't one she's handling well, but she's trying to keep it to herself.


The meal's at a point for 'sit and simmer', so Caitlin wipes her hands on a cloth napkin and heads around the kitchen island to sit next to Katsumi. It's an awkward settling on the sofa for a moment, then she rests a hand on Kat's shoulderblade and rubs a gentle half-circle. "It's okay," she tells her. "Get it out of your system. I've got gelato if spaghetti doesn't hit the spot," she promises Katsumi. "I always feel better after some salty carbs, personally," she says, trying for levity. "I know you're on a training diet so you don't have to eat anything you don't want to. Red sauce and burger patties are delicious, yeah?" She reaches for a tissue box on the little end table and offers a tissue to Katsumi, along with the whole box if needed. "Do you want to talk about it? Or just eat some food and try to get it off your mind until you've got a fully belly?"


Katsumi Oshiro can't speak yet. She knows if she tries, she'll turn into a mess. She can't do that. It's bad enough someone is seeing her like this, but it'd be even worse alone and hopeless. So for a while, Katsumi just listens to Caitlin and tries to mask what is increasingly obvious sobs. While carefully keeping her hands over her face, her fingers wiggle a little before finding the offered tissue to desperately wipe at her face.

Finally, she speaks. Her voice is higher pitched and strained with the threat to fall back into sobbing, but she gets it out: "What's wrong with me?" She's not talking about her crying. She's talking about something else. Between the bizarre strength and her eyes changing color, she knows there's something going on.


"I— I don't know, honey," Caitlin says, looking sympathetic but a little unsettled. She's good for a shoulder to cry on but this is turning into the sort of problem she usually hands off to someone who's more mature. Carol, or Diana. Or even Karen. This is Adulting 401 and the sort of problem solving she's not good at.

A quick look around the apartment suggests no cavalry's coming, though. Caitlin's on her own. "I… lemme show you something," she says, getting to her feet. She moves to a wall liberally covered in framed photographs and takes one down, then retursn and kneels down in front of Katsumi so their heads are more on level. It's offered to Katsumi. The frame reveals a handsome, dark-skinned man in his mid-twenties with a brilliantly white-toothed grin mugging for the camera. Under his left arm is a tiny little redhead with an explosive frizz of red hair and bottlelens glasses, smiling shyly and trying to hide. "That's me," she says, tapping the picture. "Before all this happened. I was in college when my whole…" she gesturs at her self. "Happened. Overnight," she explains. "I kinda know something about changes, is what I'm trying to say," she tells Katsumi. "I don't know all what's going on with you but I saw that hit," she says, trying to be diplomatic. "She wasn't leaning back enough, but you hit her waaay harder than you *should* have been able to." She stresses 'able'. "Not like you were moving. Is there.. something going on? You want to talk about?"


Katsumi Oshiro makes an unhappy noise at the notion that she's going to have to free her face from her palms. When she's pretty sure Caitlin is distracted, she spares a hand to repeatedly nab tissues from the box. She furiously wipes at her face and nose, then turns aside to discreetly blow her nose. Self-conscious isn't something people would normally consider the Punk Princess, but in this situation? And over something gross like that? Yeah, she's feeling exposed.

The bundle is wadded up, and she turns her face up to Caitlin as she returns with the camera. Bleary eyes scan the photo, her brow knit at first. As Caitlin begins explaining, those eyes widen substantially.

"Haah.. whaaat?"

She looks at Caitlin, then the picture, then Caitlin again.

"What.. what the Hell.."

The revelation has managed to put the tiniest of smiles on her face, though. Alas, it's short-lived. But the look that replaces it is no longer one of crushing sadness, but concern and confusion.

"I hit her SO HARD. She didn't do anything wrong. I mean, she couldn't lean back. I was on her way faster than I should've been. She barely left the ropes! Do you-.." She pauses, glancing again to the picture, then back up to Caitlin. "..do you think I'm gonna get huge like you?"

There's no judgment in the question. Katsumi couldn't possibly be more genuinely curious.


"I hope not. There's only like, one tailor in the area who makes clothes for someone my size, and I keep her really busy," Caitlin says. She tries for a serious face but her brimming smile is impossible to suppress in her attempt to cheer Katsumi up.

"That's what I'm saying, though. I've gotten really good at wrestling and fighting. I spar all the time. I've seen like… some really strong women throw kicks like that. It shouldn't have hurt her like that, not with how you were moving. Not unless you were throwing a kick a *lot* harder than you should be able to."

She pushes red hair behind her ear. "Um… have you ever talked to someone about about metahumans? Looked into it?"


"Meta.. human..?," asks Katsumi, squinting those expressive eyes up at her. "I'm Japanese, big'un. Help me out." Katsumi's grasp of English is top-notch, thanks in part to obsessive over-achieving parents, her love of music, and her career as a sports entertainer. But some things, rare as they are, trip her up. For her, 'meta' is a gaming reference.

Katsumi leans back, nudging her skirt out a little more over her lap.


"Oh, gosh. I'm sorry." Caitlin gets to her feet to tend the meal, cooking with a mindless attention while focusing on the conversaiton with Katsumi. "Yeah, it's a sort of a blanket term for people who aren't baseline homo sapien anymore," she clarifies. "Mutants are their own thing, that's chromosomal, of course. But you've got people like, oh, Carol Danvers, who has alien DNA. Or me, I'm not really baseline human anymore, 'cause I've got chromosomal markings for excessive muscle development," she clarifies. "I'm an engineer, not a biologist, so I don't like… 'get' it, but that's the long and short. You might maybe have something going on that way," she explains. "You're turning into something more than human. Super-human, even."


Katsumi Oshiro twists over onto her knees to continue watching Caitlin as she moves back to the range, until she's holding onto the back of the couch. Caitlin has her undivided attention now, putting this situation in an entirely new light. Katsumi doesn't know how to even take it - until she drops a certain word.

Eyes widen again with a gasp. Her slender hands raise to her mouth, expression horrified.

"Y-you don't think I'm a MUTANT, do you!?"


"I didn't say 'mutant', and don't say it like it's a bad word," Caitlin tells Katsumi, a bit tartly. She clacks tongs at the woman. "Some of my best friends are mutants."

"I'm saying that you're going through some extreme physical changes," she says. "You just now hugged me hard enough it'd hurt someone else. You kicked that girl midair like you were going twice as fast as you meant to. I'm— I'm just saying, don't rule it out, okay? These things sneak up on people. Do you have a family history of extraordinary people? Someone who survived a war improbably?" she suggests.

Noodles are dished, meat's ladled onto them, and then a liberal amount of sauce is poured. Salad's served as well, and a large bowl is offered to Katsumi and Caitlin invites her to sit at the island. Caitlin loads up a massive bowl for herself, and moves to sit down with her soda nearby to start eating dinner.


Katsumi Oshiro looks confused at the chastisement, and then startled at the admission that some of her friends are mutants. She doesn't know how to process that. Mutants are terrorists! They attack people! Believe in subjugating humanity! Killers! Her gaze falters from Caitlin to the floor, troubled. "They.. REALLY?," she asks, looking back up to Caitlin in disbelief.

But the subject seems to be changing. Katsumi will be keeping that bit of information in the back of her mind, though. "I, ah.. I was abandoned as a baby. When I was a teenager, I was adopted." After a moment, she mutters, "That didn't last either, but whatever."


Caitlin eats her spaghetti with a fork and spoon, like some crazed monster of tidiness. "I'm adopted, too," she admits, quietly. "My dad died when I was a baby," she explains. "So I get it."

"Look I'm not a doctor. I'm just saying maybe there's a third option between 'temporary insanity' and 'totally forgetting how to fight'," she tells Katsumi. "You're just doing a lot of little weird things that sounds like someone going through some body changes. THat's scary for anyone, let alone a person getting hurt. I threw a guy through a wall when I went all floppapotamus," she says, gesturing deprecatingly at herself again. "One week I was ninety pounds with boots on, six weeks later I tipped two-fifty and I was squat-clearing Volkswagons."


The inhumanly-magenta almond eyes refocus on Caitlin and her eyebrows raise. Suddenly, there's a smile. And then a bright, helpless giggle. Her face tips forward to bury against the backrest she's still leaning into. She shakes her head, effectively nuzzling into the padding. "Floppapotamus. God, you're such a dork.."

Her head tilts to peek her eyes back over to Caitlin. "Okay. Um," her eyes shift sidelong briefly, then back to the redhead, "thanks. For.. y'know.." Her fingers wiggle, attempting to indicate the food she's not yet ventured to join. She's not used to showing genuine gratitude, but she's trying.

The girl extracts herself from the seat to move to the island. "I'm not.. this isn't something I normally do. Usually I've p&#*ed someone off by now…"


Caitlin looks up at Katsumi, mid-bite, puzzlement on her features. "What. Eating?" she says, around a mouthful of noodles. They're *slurped* up and she covers her mouth politely, pardoning herself with a murmur.

"I— look I don't know all what's going on with you," Caitlin admits. "I'm guessing. I might be miles off base. I *do* know that everything's easier to deal with when you've got a full belly," she says. She beckons again. "C'mon, come eat. If you don't want nooodles, say the word. I've got a ton of food here, I can make quite a bit. Or order pizza if that's your thing," she suggests. "Whatever you want. Just don't let fear make you miss a meal, you'll just feel ten times worse tomorrow," she says, as if quoting some bedrock-deep axiom.


"No, that's not what-," Katsumi cuts herself off with a blink. Why is she trying to insist on this? Caitlin just gave her an out! She's taking it. She'll just content herself with being appreciative in a quiet, possibly overlooked way.

She hurries to a seat and perches. A fork is raised, her manipulation of the utensil a little awkward, but she gets it under control quickly. The prongs are poked into the noodles and twisted, gathering them up. It smells heavenly, and the longer it takes the process, the more hungry Katsumi is feeling. Even still, she murmurs to Caitlin, "It's freaky to think about me having superpowers, though." She shoots her a grin before finally trying the food.


"There are some perks," Caitlin admits, grinning back at Katsumi. She seems happy that Kat is cheering up. "Uh, let's see. Downsides: clothing sucks to shop for, I need titanium inserts in my high heels and furniture, and I eat more than most Olympians. Plus side: bulletproof, I don't have to pay for a gym membership, *and* you meet the coolest people."

She turns and points at the wall covered in photos. Some of them are digital prints, animations, and others are classic printed images. "There, that's Carol Danvers— Captain Marvel. Power Girl, she's a good friend. That's me, Pepper Potts, and Tony Stark signing my hiring contract at Stark Industries. There's me and my girlfriend with Wonder Woman," she says, gesturing at a pair of Mediterranean beauties bracketing a very sun-tanned Caitlin. "I was on vacation in Greece for a few months. That one's from the Titans barbeque— my besties Spoiler and Wonder Girl— and then you can see me in the back of the annual League member photo, over there."


Katsumi Oshiro's head turns with a rather undignified collection of noodles hanging from her mouth, cheeks puffed out in squirrel fashion. But she works on that while Caitlin explains each picture. One or two of them, she's heard of. But most of them have been literally so far removed from her world that she has very little frame of reference. Stark, she gets - sort of. She's heard and seen the brand more than she knows anything about the person. Wonder Woman, she kind of thinks she knows. But the others? Not so much.

There's a little slurp to finish the bundle in her mouth, and she looks back to Caitlin. "S&#*, I could be bulletproof? How do you test for something like that? Just T-pose in front of a gangster and tell'em to go for it?" It's probably a joke, which is certainly a good sign. "And, level with me. Your friends with mutants? Why? You're one of the goodguys. They're.. you know. Bad."


"Oh crap, I am *so* rude," Caitlin says, smacking her forehead. She gets up, goes to the kitchen side, and comes back with a pair of chopsticks retrieved from a drawer. "Golly. I don't know why it didn't occur to me," she apologizes, and hands them to Katsumi.

"Listen, you're thinking of all that anti-mutant propaganda. Being a mutant's like… being Japanese. Or black. Or gay. It's nothing about where you're from or the choices you make. You can't *choose* to be a mutant. There… are some people who are really violent," she concedes. "But they're not entirely in the wrong. THere are bad people who want to hurt mutants. I've had things thrown at me and been run out of restaurants, and not even the buffets!" she protests.

"So like there's a lot of hype that makes the community look bad. Most mutants are just… people. Trying to get by, day to day, like everyone else."


A lopsided grin finds Katsumi's face when chopsticks are presented to her. She takes them with a completely facetious, "Racist," chide at her. But the fork is certainly put aside in favor of the chopsticks, which Katsumi manipulated with artistic ease. But while Caitlin explains, she only pokes the tips around the noodles.

"All I've heard'n seen are them doing things to kill people. Or talking about how humans are inferior and all that. If you know some good ones, I'll try to not be a total b#&* to any I meet. I'll give'em a fair shake."

At last, she's swirling up the noodles.

"So, if I'm gonna wind up like you… am I gonna get a costume?" Her eyes lift across to Caitlin again with a wide, impish grin. She's definitely warming up to the idea, hard as it still is to wrap her head around.


Cailtin laughs, and holds a hand up. "Let's… not get ahead of ourselves. Maybe you're just going through a growth spurt," she says, teasing Katsumi gently. "But if you are getting some metahuman talents then… and you decide you want to try the superheroing thing, you'll definitely need a costume. I did it for nine months in surplus military jumpsuits and a sports bra. I had so many wardrobe malfunctions," she mutters, face pinking with sincere mortification as she looks skywards. "Fortunately a good friend got me hooked up with a proper uniform and it doesn't get destroyed nearly as often now."


Katsumi Oshiro recoils at the notion that she could just be hitting a growth spurt. "Ah! Was that a height joke!?," she demands. She snaps the tips of the chopsticks in her direction admonishingly. "Jerk!" And there is zero venom behind any of it.

"What'm I gonna do about my career, though?," she asks, letting the levity drift back into reality. The sticks weave their way into the spaghetti again. "I gave up everything to chase my dream. I mean that, too. Everything. I gave up university, I lost my family… if the general manager decides to can me, that's it. If I go back to Japan tomorrow, that could just… be it."


"Literally everyone I talk to has a height joke. I get to make one once a year," Caitlin mutters, looking embarassed at being chastised.

She sighs at Katsumi's concerns. "On… on *that*, I don't know what to do. I don't know anything about visas or immigration. And I know a lot of sports teams have rules against metahumans."

She bites her cheek. "Listen, I do have one angle. The Titans," she says. "I can't make any promises though," she hurries to add. "But we've got a vacancy in the Tower. You obivously know how to fight. It's not just a place to crash," she points out. "Titans train hard. Harder than anything you've done. And it's a lot of really scary, high-risk actions. International travel. Space monsters. Magic dragons sending demonic armies to invade New York."

"But *if* you have meta powers… and if you want to do something constructive with them… maybe we can help."


Katsumi Oshiro exhales a breezy sigh against the spaghetti, crestfallen. "I can't give it up. It's in my blood. It's who I am. Does that- does that make sense? Does America get that phrase?" Her head lifts to look across to Caitlin. "I need the ring. If this is a, a permanent thing, I can control it. I can learn to. I HAVE to."

She looks back down to the spaghetti, swirls a few noodles, then SHARPLY looks back to Caitlin. "Wait, what the f#&* are you saying?," she asks, agog. "Are you talking, like.. superhero s@^&? For reals?"


"Language, please," Caitlin murmurs at Katsumi. It's less rebuke than mild scolding, and she doesn't press for a retraction. "I get it. But I'm— look, I *love* wrestling. But it's pageantry. It's theater. There are a lot of ways you can do that, you can get into acting, you can do drama or performances with the Shakespeare in the Park people… but you can't fight supervillains as a wrestler. You don't get to save *lives*. That's really the best I can offer," she says, reluctantly. "I can only guarantee a lot of hard work and danger. The rest would be up to you."


It isn't the mild scolding that does it. But the chopsticks are lowered slowly until they just rest at the side of the dish, Katsumi staring hard at her.

She slips from the chair to stand, frame rigid.

"Is that what you think it is? That's all? That we just… just decide we're gonna do it one day, and bam, it's done? Do you have any idea how much training goes into it? Yeah, I've pulled my punches, but you're outt'a your D*#@ mind if you think I couldn't beat ass! And it's not just because I'm in shape! Off the top of my head, I know six ways to dislocate bones from a standing position! We're FIGHTERS, not f@&*ing CLOWNS, Caitlin! Gladiators! You don't have to get that, but miss me with that looking-down-your-nose at what I do crap."


"Please stop swearing, and please don't yell at me." Caitlin speaks very mildly and politely. Perhaps it'd be easier if she screamed and bellowed, but it's just not in the big redhead's nature to bully people. "You know what I meant, and I'm not wrong. I didn't say it was easy or harmless. I said that the point of being in a ring is putting on a good *show*, not hurting each other. If someone *does* get hurt, then you've gone off -script, and things are going wrong?"

She makes that last statement into a gently guiding question, brows rising a little. "I don't look down at anyone. I mean," she amends, "figuratively. I was the youngest member of the League for a real long time. And I was doing the vigilante thing completely solo before *that*. I've been getting my butt kicked by Wonder Woman, twice a day, every day, for three years. I finally won a fight against one of the Amazons and it blew my mind. I know what hard training is and I didn't say your workouts were anything other than that."


Katsumi Oshiro practically growls, "You told me to do SHAKESPEARE. You definitely don't get the point of what I do."

She steps back from the chair, clearly irritated. Her apetite is gone, and the wear and tear of the day is adding on again. Though to be fair, she never reacts well to perceived disrespect to her profession. Her voice is tight, the frustration building into her throat and threatening to turn into more. "I told you I gave up everything to do it. You say you're also an engineer. And you want me to believe I can't do this? Screw you so hard, Caitlin." But at least she isn't swearing? At the same time, she's looking for the duffelbag that was taken from her before.


"Kat" Caitlin blinks when she's suddenly told to screw off, looking wounded. Deeply so. "I didn't I mean that you can *entertain* people anywhere," she says, desperately. "You can make them happy or sad or scared. You maybe even can still do wrestling. /I/ wanted to wrestle. I still do," she implores Katsumi. "And I can't because— because I know I don't have that talent for entertainment. But I get to help people! Isn't that a fair trade?"


Katsumi Oshiro finds her duffelbag and leans down to grab the strap. She stands with a sniff and pauses, letting Caitlin speak. A part of her is hoping she'll say something to fix it.

Her head lowers for a moment, and she then turns around to Caitlin. "Try to hear what I'm saying. This. Cost. Me. Everything. My FAMILY. I don't have anyone, because I made a choice to go after what I wanted most. You getting it? This isn't freaking Shakespeare. This isn't a sitcom. This is different. It's my life. It's who I am. That might be a fair trade for you, but I already paid for it with everything I've got."

"So no. It's not pageantry. It's not Shakespeare. You think I'm up there ACTING for those people? No, what they see is what they get. Haven't you noticed that?"


"I don't *know* you!" Caitlin says, frustration finally cracking her voice. She gets to her feet and walks ponderously towards Katsumi, with heavy but balanced footfalls. "I don't know anything about you besides what's on your wiki page!"

She stands in front of Katsumi, hands on hips, and scowls down at her. "We've met *exactly twice*. I'm doing the best I can to try and help you out of a — a crap situation. Pardon my language!" she bristles. "And you're angry at me because you think I'm disrespecting you? Your profession? I'm trying to *help* you," she tells Katsumi. "But if I'm not doing a good enough job, then— then just go! I can only do what I can do, and berating me over it isn't going to just *fix* things for you!"


That was really it; that Katsumi felt disrespected and misunderstood at a vulnerable time. In the moment, it's hard to sort her feelings. All she knows is that she's frustrated, hurt, and scared. Figuring out why, much less being able to turn it in a productive direction, seems like an insurmountable task.

As Caitlin approaches, Katsumi steels her spine and glares up at her, her own eyes glassy and expression tense and defiant, lips a thin line. She doesn't really have much of a comeback, though. In the end, her frustration and need to self-comfort will only let her make one choice.

"Well," begins the Japanese girl in a voice not daring to lift above a quaking whisper, "good thing I'm not gonna be your problem anymore."

Nope. Time to get out and find somewhere to hide.

Katsumi turns quickly for the door in hopes of leaving.


Caitlin doesn't move to stop Katsumi. "Please, don't go," she says quietly. Arms folded across her stomach. Looking hurt and more than anything else, worried. "It's dangerous out there. And you'll be just as miserable anywhere else and you'll be a lot more alone."

She steps back two paces. "But I'm not gonna stop you if you really want to leave. I'm just trying to help."


Katsumi Oshiro has every intention to storm out. She's frustrated, hurt, and drained, and the only way she can think of to get relief is to just get away. She manages to get a couple steps to the doorway before Caitlin asks her to please not go. She pauses, not expecting that. Why would she say that? Somehow the difference between a demand and a request is significant enough to hitch her progress. She doesn't turn around as she explains her reasoning, but her slender hand lifts to set upon the doorframe.

Those inhumanly magenta eyes downcast. It IS dangerous out there. She hadn't told her about it, but she ran into a psychopath before texting her tonight - someone who admitted to killing people, homeless, and armed with a nailbat. If she weren't in a more populated location, there's no telling how that encounter could've gone. And she knows the forecast in her immediate future is, indeed, miserable. What is she running to? And it sounds like Katsumi's frustration has hurt Caitlin. That's not new. But she doesn't like that. It's too familiar.

She murmurs something under her breath in Japanese. Then:

"I'm being a b#&*@, huh?"

Katsumi turns her head to cast a sullen look back at the redhead over her shoulder.

"I'm- it's- ugh, excuses. You really haven't been anything but nice to me. My f#&*ing stress isn't on you. You cooked and you showed me stuff, and- I'm sorry."

She inches back from the door to gingerly ease it shut again.


Late-ish for any normal person is actually kind of early for a batling. Stephanie, underarmor on under her street clothes and her kit safely hidden under the books in her backpack, makes her way up to her friend's apartment for a single hour of girl time before heading out to see to the city and maybe kick crim ein the face a few times. These anti-mutant rallies were wearing on her.

She made her way down the hallway toward Caitlin's apartment, hand lifted to knock when it opens and a woman she doesn' tknow is standing there listening to someone inside. It was training that had Stephanie side stepping into a shadow…. She is not eavesdropping. Honest.

Of course, as the woman is moving to shut the door, Steph steps forward more boldly now, eyes trying to track inside to find Caitlin.

"Caitlin?" Stephanie calls out, voice carrying a note of concern.


"It's fine," Caitlin tells Katsumi, with automatic reassurance. When Katsumi flickers a guilty look, Caitlin tries to disarm her with a smile that's a little on the playful side. "Maybe just a little," she whispers conspiratorially, and holds thumb and forefinger just apart in front of her. "C'mon, at least finish your dinner. If you still wanna hustle out of here afterwards, you can do so with a fully belly." Caitlin's big on doing things after a meal, the monster, and she's beckoning Katsumi inside when there's a voice hailing her.

She blinks and brushes past Katsumi, opening the door fully and peeking around the corner. "Stephanie?" she inquires and looks down the hall to see the blonde loitering in the shadows. "Stephanie!" Caitlins' tone sounds delighted, and she throws the door open wide. "Oh my gosh! You sneak, I didn't hear you come up!" She scolds Stephanie and then scoots forward to hug her carefully (still wearing a colorfully tropical floral apron with some spaghetti sauce spattering it).

She looks behind her at Katsumi. "Katsumi Ochiro, this is my bestie, Stephanie Brown," she explains, politely making the introdutions. "Kat's, um… Kat's going through a little personal crisis, Stephanie," Cait tells her friend, trying to be delicate. But then a thought occurs to her and she look to Katsumi. "Listen, Stephanie's actually a lot smarter than I am," she tells the wrestler. "She's done some paralegal stuff and she knows a lot more about law and whatever. Plus you can trust her. Maybe she should join us," she suggests. "You can trust her implicitly, I promise."


Katsumi Oshiro gives Caitlin a small, appreciative smile at her agreement on her behavior. Perhaps odd, but that's what Katsumi is like. She responds well to jabs, verbal and otherwise. And moreover, seeing Caitlin take a shot at her is encouraging. She didn't hurt her too badly. She still feels guilty, granted, but there's some hope that she didn't destroy things in her frustration. "Well, it'd be a shame to waste it, right..?," she offers up, voice small with remnants of caution.

Then the atmosphere changes completely. Katsumi smoothly weaves aside to clear the doorway, and she simply watches expectantly. And assuming Stephanie enters, she's met with an atypically modest smile, her hands linking behind her back. "Heya."

She glances to Caitlin with a blink. "Don't make me sound lame!," she chastises, sans real venom. But then she's looking back to Stephanie, eyebrows raised. "Really? Paralegal like.. lawyer s#&*? You don't look old enough for that. Shouldn't you have like a hundred more wrinkles'n crows' feet?" Another glance to Caitlin, then back to Stephanie. "I'm not gonna tell Big Red who she can and can't have in'er home. And, uh.." Her narrow shoulders hunch. "I don't mind. Really."


/You sneak!/ Stephanie's eyes widen a hair's breath: Not in front of a civilian, Caitlin! Hugged, Stephanie patpats the taller ginger before checking the front of her shirt in case there was any transfer of sauce. Upon introductions, Stephanie looks up from her chest and gives a soft, if wary, little smile. There's a faint dusting of pink on her cheeks as Caitlin gushes over what she's capable of and that she can be trusted. Blue-green eyes cut toward Caitlin for a heartbeat before flicking back to Kat. Stephanie steps forward to extend a hand in greeting.

"It's a pleasure to meet you. Yes. Lawyer things. I'm still studying though," she admits, unwilling to lay bare that she's retaking a class, again. How the scholarship is still holding, only Wayne knows.

"While this might be Caitlin's home, if there's a topical you're in the middle of discussin that you don't want me to hear, I can show myself out. I was just stopping by to say hi before I slipped off for the night," Stephanie replies, eyes cutting toward Caitlin as she uses that code for her night job.


"It's okay, it's fine," Caitlin soothes, and somehow everyone finds themselves bustled back over to the kitchen island and seated again. It's not so much magic as an irresistable force, more Caitlin's bustling, fussy domesticity over her physically maneuvering people.

Who's gonna be rude enough to turn down her cooking, right?

Stephanie's dished up a big bowl of spaghetti and salad, offered a drink of her choice, and the trio settle back down to eat.

"Oh hey, Stephanie, before I forget— Polemusa's coming to New York to pull duty at the Themysciran Embassy for a few months," she says, pinking on her ears and looking pleased as punch. "I got a missive from her today and she'll be on the next boat. Do you wanna do dinner with us next week?" She uses fork and spoon to handle her spaghetti. Mindless chatter, sincere enough of course, but clearly trying to break up any awkward tension so Katsumi feels more familiar with Stephanie before confiding her woes in her.


Katsumi Oshiro doesn't require much coralling to get back to food, and her dish is easily distinguished by its half-eaten condition. Well, and the chopsticks. Katsumi was eating spaghetti with chopsticks. And if that counts as a novel thing to witness, buckle up: she's at it again.

The smalltalk is appreciated, and Katsumi is quiet - a rarity in itself - so the two can converse. She feels like she owes her that much, after being so damn needy with her tonight. So while she's fine with going over what her situation is, she's holding her silence.

The chopsticks expertly coil a clump of spaghetti noodles before popping it into her mouth, cheeks chipmunking out.


Bustled. There are few people in this world that canget Stephanie moving to sit at a way too large portion of home cooked deliciousness. One is a grandfatherly figure whose cookie recipe Stephanie is STILL trying to unravel. Bowl set before her, Stephanie regards it and the portion with slightly wide eyes. There's no way she'll be able to eat all of it and if she tried, patrol in two hours was going to suck so badly. Espeically if she had to kick someone's teeth in. Stephanie's gaze lifts as Caitlin talks of her girlfriend.

"Really?" Stephanie asks, a small smile gracing her face. "That's wonderful. Sure… Just… let me know what day and time? As soon as you can? You know my schedule…. gets stupid fast. I… I've been out of touch for ages, studying and things," she says agreeing tentatively to a dinner date with her friend and her friend's entanglement. And all the while, with her apparent focus and attention on Caitlin, Stephanie is watching Kat out of the corner of her eyes. The chopstick use is noted and filed away as Stephanie collects only a fork. A smaller mouthful than either of the other two ladies is brought up to her mouth.


"Totes, I'll text you as soon as I talk to Diana and ask about the work schedule," Caitlin promises Stephanie. "I know you're super busy. But I mean I don't exactly see the Amazons going out clubbing on their nights out. So I'm sure we can play it by ear if we have to," she tells the blonde.

"Listen, I've… talked to you about the Titans a little," Caitlin reminds Stephanie. Cough cough. "I don't remember my bylaws and rules and stuff very well, and Red Robin wrote— well, he writes like a lawyer," she concedes, furrowing her brow. "But I do know there's some stuff in there about visas and work relocation. Katsumi's dealing with some personal stuff and I think… well, she needs to look into it more, but the Titans might be a good solution for her, uh, current situation." So smooth, Caitlin. "Maybe you can kick that around and see if there's an angle that might keep her stateside for a while? Her visitor's visa isn't going to be good for more than a few weeks, if I remember right."


Chew, chew, swallow. Katsumi blinks owlishly.

"You said we can trust'er, right?," asks Katsumi to Caitlin. Without really waiting for a response, she redirects her attention to Stephanie. "It's nothing that you won't find on Youtube, I think. Um, tonight I dropkicked a girl way harder than possible. Like, CRAZY hard. And my eyes have changed color."

She points the chopsticks up at the bright, expressive magentas.

"These beauties used to be green. Now they're, like, demon eyes or something." Not that they're slitty. Only the color has changed. It IS a drastic change, though. "Caitlin thinks I might be a 'meta'human. But my general manager is expecting me on a plane tomorrow morning to go back to Japan. I was only supposed to be here for one event." After a beat, she begins swirling the noodles again. She adds, "I'm a wrestler, by the way. Professional wrestler. I don't know if that helps ya any."


Stephanie nods, agreeing to the texting of schedules and trying to plan something sometime. She chews her small mouthful, perking up and growin gmore serious as Caitling lays it out there. Of course, she starts with Robin and a comment about the Boy Wonder writing like a lawyer. Stephanie somehow manages NOT to snort. Of course Tim write like a lawyer. They were both pre-law. He dropped out. Stephanie persisted. Something she never really lorded over him. Out of all the things she could have, that was not one of them. Stephanie swallows and drinks some of the water Caitling gave her to clear her mouth to speak, and to compose herself so as not to given away the fact that she KNOWS Robin. A tiny nod is given to acknowledge what's being said. When Kat chimes in, Stephanie looks over.

"It explains why you were drop kicking people and no one seems overly upset," she comments to the purple eyed girl before glancing at Caitlin.

"I'd have to look over those sections. If this Red Robin wrote it up properly, the addition of someone into that organization could be listed as 'work' and could qualify for work visa extensions. Admittedly, not exactly my area of expertise, but I don't mind taking a look."


"With my life," Caitlin tells Katsumi, without hesitation, at Katsumi's question of Stephanie's trustworthiness.

"It might be nothing," Caitlin allows of Katsumi's self-assessment. "But it's kind of tracking with the stuff I've seen before? Sudden pigment changes, increased physical capability, changes in mood and hunger and whatnot." She shrugs a blocky shoulder at the two women and finishes her bowl (second?!) of spaghetti, and goes back for refills. She's not wolfing it down but Caitlin does power through her food fast.

"I can send over the stuff on some of the other non-residents we've had on the team, I know I can trust you with it," Caitlin tells Stephanie. Playing into the lie a bit more. "You can see how we've handled it. But I mean—" she laughs, and snorts, and laughs again. "We've had space aliens in the Titans. It can't be *totally* insurmountable, right?"


Katsumi Oshiro suddenly looks at Caitlin again, curious. Mood change? She just thought she was being kind of pissy. She'd say it's understandable, but she'd also grudgingly admit that she's biased. Is she going to be irritable and short with people as a natural course? Like, more than normal? She doesn't like that. That's a scary thought. She already does a fantastic job isolating herself. But rather than let her mind go down that route, she instead focuses on the other part.

"This is just how I eat! You burn so much in the ring!," she announces. "Wrestling's a freaking sweaty job."

She coils the remainder of her noodles with the chopsticks, then looks back to Stephanie. "Anyway, Caitlin's been stupid-nice to me, and I've been a hyper-sensitive butt. So you have a good, um, friend. And.. uh, thanks. For looking into it. Really." The coiling of noodles becomes a listless, distracted endeavor. "I don't know if I'd ever get answers to what's going on with me in Japan, or if I'd just be totally on my own. But here, I can at least say I have SOMEONE trying to help. Even if I'm not makin' it easy."


/With my life./ Stephanie cuts her eyes away, cheeks blushing pink in a way that reveals the hint of freckles. She tucks a tiny bit of noodles into her mouth at this, embarassed as ever by this. It makes it easy not to comment about metas and their powers. She's supposed to be an uninformed civilian, after all! Instead, Stephanie nods to Caitlin when she returns with bowl number 17 of spaghetti.

"Sure. I'll come pick up the data. It sounds like something we don't want to risk getting hacked during transmission," says the paranoid batling, soft pink lips curling up faintly. "I'm sure there's a way. I'll find it," Stephanie promises, eyes flicking to Kat. There's a coy smirk on her lips suddenly, but the blonde human says nothing about how the other two are eating. She knows that a few more bites is all she'll be able to manage before a patrol. Already, she's planning to slide her bowl toward Caitlin.

"I'm not sure what Japan's stance is on potential metas and supers, but at a guess, you could end up either hunted by the government or employed by the government. Neither sound completely pleasant. I recommend from a purely non-legal standpoint that you skip your flight and just lay low. WIth Cait or maybe the Justice League?" Stephanie asks, turning to look back at her teammate at that. If any group knows anything about space alien work visas…. Stephanie is probably better off just using her JL access and pulling things from there.


Caitlin's finger hooks the edge of Stephanie's bowl the second she sets her fork down against the rim, and she sliiides it over to scoop it into her own bowl while Stephanie's talking. Close friends, indeed! She focuses on Stephanie's words, nodding along as she finishes up the mixed bag of food.

She hesitates, a sure sign that she's trying not to say something untrue or mean, at Stephanie's invitation. "I.. I don't exactly have a good setup for long-term guests," she hedges, squirming. The open door to her second bedroom reveals a couch that barely looks big enough for a person to sleep on, facing a large array of computers and electronics equipment. "The office is kind of full of projects and my living room's not super comfortable." She glances at Stephanie pointedly when Katsumi is looking elsewhere, eyes flaring a bit. Also, y'know. The whole 'girlfriend visiting' thing might factor in there.

"I can ask about the Lakehouse, though. Oh! And I've got friends in upstate New York," she says. "It's about an hour from the city but they do a lot to help people get settled. It's a private academy," she tells Katsumi. "They do everything from preteens up to doctoral work."

She furrows her brow, thinking. "I've got Jen Walters in my phone, I can call her. She might do a consult, though I don't think she does immigration law," Caitlin remarks, mulling her options over.

"Gosh. Carol, maybe? That's about everyone I can think of offhand."


Katsumi Oshiro's eyes widen at the idea of potentially being an illegal alien. "Is that- is that okay?" Her eyes dart to Caitlin, then back to Stephanie. "I think you're right about what they'd do. Superpowered people aren't so common a thing where I'm from. Or they don't get the same kind of publicity. Just mutants, and the things they get into." She looks down at the remaining coil of spaghetti, then pops it into her mouth - only to nearly choke on it.

"The JL? You mean the JUSTICE LEAGUE? You really think they'd have someone like me?" That seems like such a prestigious group! She's a little starstruck by it.

And then there's a super awkward bomb dropped. Katsumi's eyes flit to Caitlin, then down at the vacant bowl, self-conscious. She's imposing. In her wallowing in her situation, she hadn't even considered that she might be intruding. "H-hey, it's cool, I'm good on my own. Nerd like you'd cramp my style anyway," she plays off, shooting a side-eyed glance again to Caitlin with a teasing smile.


Stephanie glances back at Kat, grinning lightly as the girl seems starstruck about the Justice League. Bowl taken, Stephanie drinks more of her water, leaving the red head to the meal.

"I dont know. I don't make the rules there. But if Cait can see this is mentioned to someone there then maybe that's an avenue worth exploring," Stephanie suggests, meeting Catilin's 'omg my place is not the best for house guests!!!' look with a quirked brow look of her own: 'calm yourself , Iago'. A mental note is made to Spoil this whole thing.

"We'll find you a place, or we'll find you someone who can find you a place," Steaphanie says to Kat.


Caitlin laughs. She can't help it. Katsumi's words sound… eerily familiar. Her eyes track to one of the picture frames on the wall, a crop-haired Caitlin in a worn old army jumpsuit getting a selfie with Carol Danvers. And another one not far away— her first official photo as a member of the Justice League, beaming fit to bust at the camera and proudly sporting a sleek purple catsuit.

"It took me a year to get into the League," Caitlin reassures Katsumi. "But if you work hard, keep your nose clean, show some dedication— who knows?"

She starts tidying up the bowls and dishes, eating with one hand while she works. Caitlin's got few flaws, but a fussy sort of neatness is one of them. Her apartment's immaculate composition reflects that mentality.

"But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Look—" She tugs her hair through a palm, a sure sign that she's a bit stressed. "How about you sleep here tonight. One night isn't a big deal and I have blankets and the sofa folds out," she tells Katsumi. "That way you're not hanging out at a grody hotel by yourself. And I can make you some breakfast in the morning, too."

"But for now I think, avoid your manager and duck those flights. You can be here on a tourist visa for a few days, or even a week or two, with no trouble. I've gone to Europe that way. So… let's just play it by ear."

She smiles at the two women. "Anyone want dessert?"


Katsumi Oshiro knows she wouldn't be alone in the hotel. She's sharing a room with the other girl on the Japanese team. The problem is, she now knows the others on the team are AFRAID of her. And being around that would only exacerbate feeling miserable, and force her to focus on her crumbling career and life's passion. But she's gonna keep playing it cool! She has to!

"Pfsh, I could get in! I'm awesome," she gloats airily. Though she does have a fairly high opinion of herself in terms of performance, in this moment, it's more an attempt at levity. "And I think I can hang out. For one night!" As if she's in a position to be choosy. But at least the matter seems settled.

And somewhere on the Pacific Ocean, an uber-woolly calico cat skulks in the shadows of a cargo ship sailing west.

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