Dark Horse (Pt. 1)

April 11, 2019:

Katsumi has decided she, along with Caitlin Fairchild, are due for a girls' night out. Nadia Van Dyne and Stephanie Brown are invited, and the latter also makes it!



NPCs: None.

Mentions: The Wasp


Mood Music: Dark Horse - Katy Perry

Fade In…

Night has fallen over New York City, the star-studded sky cloudless and calm. Down below, the traffic can be heard from all areas - the thrum of life in an ultramodern setting. A boat pulls in to the city harbor and begins to unload cargo containers. A small shadow darts unnoticed behind a forest of legs.

Deeper in the city, a taxi cab pulls up outside of Caitlin's apartment. Under instruction, the driver honks his horn a couple times. Twenty minutes prior, Katsumi had texted Caitlin with the following:

'Put on something hot! No arguing! >:3'

The backseat passenger window of the cab rolls down, and Katsumi leans out. "Caaaiit!," she yells at the building. A few dogs bark in response from a nearby alley.


Cait steps out of her apartment, already wincing at the yelling. "Golly, Katsumi," she hisses. "I have a phone. Text me! You're gonna wake the goshdarn neighbors up and then I'll get a bunch of nasty notes about late-night visitors." She gets closer and walks under the walkway lights to the cab. 'Hot' for Caitlin is a pretty floral skirt, just above her knees, and a demisleeved white blouse with all of TWO buttons undone. A light dusting of makeup, some small earrings that are certainly clip-ons, and a little spaghetti strap purse. She gets into the cab, making the shocks groan and creak. "You're lucky my raid group called it off tonight. We were gonna run An'Quraq classic style," she tells Katsumi. "Where are we going? Out for a drink or something?"


"Oh s&@*, really," asks Katsumi with interest as she scoots in the chair to make additional room. "I didn't know you were a gamer. Holding out on me! You caught that my entrance music is frm a game, didn't you? I like the retro stuff, especially when it gets a touch-up and remaster. Like Bloody Knuckle- er, Streets of Rage? I think that's what you call it here. That one's my jam."

Katsumi is all about excited rambling tonight, all without answering poor Caitlin's question. The driver seems to know where they're going, however. He'd pulled out and hit the road already. He has the flat expression of a man who's had an over-abundance of Oshiro for a little while.

Speaking of, the girl is wearing something that is somehow a blend of chic and punky, including her ever-present choker centered with coin and shin-high leather boots. But covering her torso and most of her legs is a slim-fitted, sleek crimson dress with a slant cut from the mid-thigh to knee. A couple gold bracelets dangle from her left wrist as well.


"I'm sorry!" Caitlin apologizes, looking chagrined. "You never asked and I didn't wanna be rude. Yeah, I'm super into gaming. I don't have time for it much anymore— work and life and stuff— but I still do my warcraft stuff regularly. It's a fun way to unwind and I get to play a skinny little elf mage who can throw fireballs at people who anger her. It's all very cathartic," she giggles.

"I love your dress, though. It's really pretty," she compliments Katsumi. It's given another appraising once over. "I give up, I can't figure out where we're going. I hope I'm dressed okay. My closet's mostly full of business attire and church clothes. I don't go out much."


"Church clothes?," asks Katsumi with an animated tilt of her head. For whatever reason, she didn't seem to expect that. But she breezes along. "Thanks! Surprised I can clean up kind'a nice?" She turns her frame to profile and pops her shoulder coquettishly while she looks it over.

And then the excitable Katsumi flits to the next topic. "There's this thing in Japan that we're pretty big on. And I've been really all.. eyeehh," she vocalizes, twirling her hands about her head. Translation: all up in her own headspace. "So when I found out about these places HERE, in New York, I had to go! And drag you with me. I sent word to Nadia, too, but I dunno if she'll do it."

Once again, no direct answer is given. The driver eyeshifts to the rearview, regarding Caitlin with some measure of sympathy.


"Every Sunday, and I volunteer during the week," Caitlin tells Katsumi, nodding. "It's the Church of the Sacred Heart on 23rd." She leaves it at that. Faith's a private matter, and she doesn't seem like the sort to foist her views on Katsumi uninvited.

She does look uneasy, though, and is betrayed by fingers tugging through the neatly coiled tumbles of red hair on her shoulder. "I, uh… Kat, you know, I really *don't* get out much," she hesitates. "I like staying at home and reading books and building stuff. I hope you're not taking me somewhere too crazy, I get really uncomfortable in crowds." Particularly crowds of people of a wholly indeterminate nature who will somehow help Katsumi's mental state!


Katsumi Oshiro tilts her head again, in the opposite direction, as Caitlin explains. She offers no judgment; only an almost feline gesture of curiosity. And just like that, she lets the focus switch to something else. That is, Caitlin's potential uncomfortability.

A wicked, metaphorically fangy smile curls the corners of the girl's lips. Her eyes narrow. Her head cants. "You'll be fine," says the mischievous Kat.

The cab pulls over. Katsumi squeaks, "We're here!," and scrambles out.

It doesn't look like much on the outside. A simple doorway surrounded in neon lights. Pop music can be heard coming from the interior, but something seems off about it somehow. A sign rests nearby at ground level with a very simple message:


Katsumi waits patiently for Caitlin, eager to attempt grabbing her by the wrist and leading her inside. The interior is rather populated, one wall dominated by by a long bar counter, with numerous tables set up around the floor. It's dark, but cozy and a little crazy. But most importantly, it has someone standing atop a short stage with a microphone attempting to hit the high notes of Journey. He's kind'a close. He's getting there. But the patrons are into it, anyway.


Caitlin offers token resistance, eyes widening as they plunge into the club. "Oh my gosh, is this karaoke?" she asks, dismay in her tone. "I don't— I can't sing! I don't think I can sing," she frets. "I sing in my church choir but that's *different*, it's a bunch of soccer moms mumbling through hymnals. I can't do this sort of music!"

Still she's not hitting the brakes, and lets Katsumi be the tow barge that hauls Caitlin's significant mass along. At least she's in wedge heels instead of stilettos, or there might be some seriously traumatized feet in the crowd.


Katsumi Oshiro giggles brightly at Caitlin's dismay, because that's the kind of person she is. But at last, she attempts to push Caitlin into a chair midway through the seating options. "Caitlin, sweetie," begins the Japanese girl as she leans forward, planting her palms upon the table. "Everyone here sucks at singing."

"Hey," grunts a nearby patron.

"Especially you!," retorts Katsumi. The man grumps and turns back around. "No one cares! Everyone's just here for a laugh, to take a load off, to chill out! And between you and me? We both could use some of that."

Her head tilts again, offering the redhead an innocently sweet, if oddly sincere and hopeful smile. "At least give it a shot with me?"


"Oh, golly," Caitlin frets, but nods at Katsumi. "Okay. But if I get up there and get nervous and I sound dreadful, I blame you," she says, fretting her lip with concern on her face.

She puts her purse in her lap and sits sort of primly. Knees together, good posture, watching the show. It's the sort of thing that makes her stand out among the party people even worse than her size and presence alone would. Poor girl.


Katsumi Oshiro fishes out her phone from a smart little black purse and turns it on, pleased smile on her face. "Ahhh, hey! They do food here! See?," she turns the screen around to show Caitlin her search results. Tacos, nachos, wings, appetizers, quesadillas.. there's a definite Mexican theme present. But Katsumi seems cheerful enough at the prospect. "I'm good food!" She sets the phone down. "What do you like? Do you- ah, nevermind! I'll guess!"

A veritable whirlwind of motion, Katsumi dashes off for the bar counter with her purse, her cellphone left behind. Before the screen autolocks, or if Caitlin happens to be thumbing about at it, it buzzes! Seems she has an email preview on display!


"Ooh, tacos! I'll take tacos! And quesadillas!" Caitlin reaches into her purse and passes Katsumi two twenties. "Ten tacos, four quesadillas, and then some nachos, why not? Oh, and a soda. Thanks!"

Katsumi's phone buzzes and Caitlin glances down at it, then looks after Katsumi. Some people would probably sneak a peek. Caitlin turns the phone upside down, hits the 'lock' button, and rests her hand atop it right where Katsumi left it. When Kat comes back, Caitlin smiles up at her and offers her the phone with both hands, immediately. "You got a text, but I didn't read it," she promises.


Katsumi Oshiro totally flounced away without Caitlin's money!

It takes a minute, but Katsumi returns with a pleased smile on her face. She's immediately paused by Caitlin's summation what happened in her absence and barks a laugh. "That sounds sketchy A-F, you know that, right?" Katsumi, however, doesn't seem to mind. She swipes up the phone and pokes at it while absently mentioning, "They're gonna bring the stuff over when it's done."

Her eyes scan the screen dutifully.

Her smile breaks. It's brief, and the smile is put on over it again. Her eyes have lost a bit of their sparkle, though. She puts the phone on the table, facedown, and stares for a couple seconds at her hand. Then she nods to herself.

Abruptly, Katsumi turns to the barcounter. "Hey! Change mine to a, a sake bomb!" Looking back to Caitlin, she gives a thin smile. "See if they can do sake right here, y'know?"


Caitlin blinks at Katsumi. "I.. but I didn't," she says, sounding confused. Maybe even a little hurt. It's pretty clear that Caitlin might be physically incapable of duplicity, let alone a straight-faced lie. "It'd be rude."

She follows Katsumi's face, the rise and fall of emotion, then tilts her head towards the girl to get her attention. "Is everything okay?" she asks, tentatively. "I'll make sure you get home if you just want to drink. I don't drink," she explains, touching her sternum briefly. "So I make a preeeetty good wingman! Wingwoman. Wingman?" She wrinkles the upturn of her small nose. "Is that gender neutral?"



Katsumi's head cants towards Caitlin, conspiratorial.

"You planning on getting me laid tonight, sweetie?"

She takes in a deep breath as she leans back, straightening her spine and rolling back her shoulders. Poised. "That message," she begins, "was an e-mail! Letting me know I'm fired. Because I didn't take the plane home, and I've been missing. So, 'thanks for about four years of stunning audiences, now get out.'" She puts on a hollow smile. "Knew it was coming. So at least it's done with, right?"

A server comes by with a ridiculous amount of food, one Coke, and one pint glass of beer with a pair of chopsticks balancing a shotglass of sake overtop, all handled expertly. Katsumi quickly sits down opposite of Caitlin. "Tonight'll be fun," she says determinedly. She glances to the alcohol, then back to the redhead.


Caitlin turns a searing shade of scarlet at the suggestion. "I-I'm just trying to make sure you get home safely!" she stammers, eyes wide. She titters, nervously. "I don't judge you, I mean, if you need me to take a cab home if you, uh, hook up with someone, or whatever," she tells Katsumi. "I just worry about my friends, is all."

She does eye the sake, though, and then looks at Katsumi with a little more worry in her voice. "Just, uh… y'know. Take it slow. If you want to go get drunk somewhere safe, I know some places out in the boonies where we can blow steam off and no one will get hurt," she offers.


When Caitlin mentions worrying about her friends, Katsumi's expression softens with a more sincere smile. She doesn't explain why, nor draw any attention to it - but it's there. It quickly changes to a determined frown at the suggestion of taking things elsewhere. "N-no. We're here. We're gonna make dorks of ourselves, and I'm gonna have what America thinks is sake!"

She raises a fist as if to strike the table, then seems to think better of it. She instead delicately lifts the glass from the chopsticks, removes said sticks, then tips the shotglass' contents into the pint. Shotglass is put aside, and Katsumi lifts the pint to begin imbibing.

Perhaps to Caitlin's credulous concerns, it's a rather healthy swig the girl takes from the alcohol. And once she plants the pint back down to the table, it's with a breathy, extended exhale, eyes wide and glassy. "Haah.. okay.. which of us is going first?," she asks abruptly. As an afterthought, she thumbs towards the stage over her shoulder.


"First? Uh-huh," Caitlin says, wagging her head back and forth negatively. "If I go first, I'm gonna cry, and if I go second, I'm gonna be all alone. We're gonna do this together," she tells Katsumi, and slings her purse crossways across her chest. Eyes go blank, flickering in the air. A sharp eye might catch a little glimmer of light in her contact lenses. "Oh, hey! Stephanie's off work and is in the area. I just invited her," she tells Katsumi. "Let's do a power trio thing," she suggests. "I bet Stephanie can sing. She's good at a lot of stuff," Caitlin offers. "Can you play any musical intruments or anything?" she asks, stalling for a minute or two for Stephanie to show up and save her. Or, hold her hand while they plunge right into it as a group!


Girl's Night. Karoke bar. Stephanie almost didn't want to be here, but that tiny voice in her head reminded her that she needed to do something OTHER than the hero thing or she'd end up dead, either from a super villain or stress. It wsa likely that stress would win out if she kept things a pace. So, without RSVPing, Stephanie walks into the bar, shows her ID at the door to get in, and makes her way to the table with Caitlin and Katsumi.

I bet Steph can sing! Wait. What?
She's good at a lot of things. Umm.. no?

"You stalled," the blonde accuses the giner, frame seeming relaxed and calm. Her fingers are curled lightly at her side, unmoving and tense.


"Ah! She made it!," Katsumi's eyes widen. And then she's back to taking a swig of her pint. Her eyes never leave the two as Stephanie approaches, however. And at the end, the full pint is down to a third of its contents. She brings the glass to the table and exhales another hissing breath in recoil. A sophisticated drinker might catch these as signs that Katsumi DOES NOT DRINK.

"Um, if you wanna do a trio or something, sure, I guess!," she nods agreeably. "Or you two could do a thing! You need that insurance of someone being in the audience who has your back! And you know I can work a crowd!"


"I did," Caitlin confirms, and hugs Stephanie. She's given a quick, flashing look of concern. The tension's not missed, even as dense as Caitlin can be a times. She knows Stephanie's 'tense' tells.

"Please don't make me do this alone, I'm gonna freak out if I do, I know it." And then, as if grabbing her courage by the throat, she reaches for hands and starts marching determinedly up on stage to pick a song with her friends in tow!

"Uh… okay, how about a Disney song? I know those super well," she says, timidly paging through the binder.


"Yes, I did," says Steph, eyes picking out how bad of a drinker Kat is even as she'd being hugged by Caitlin. Stephanie looks up into that concern and just shakes her head lightly: Not now. The moment passes into Stephanie cutting Caitlin a little smile.

"You? freak out? Nah…" she's strating to argue, wanting to side step away so Cait can go karoke by herself when suddenly HAND GRABBED! Hand PULLED! AH! Caitlin has tugged Stephanie along in her wake.

"Umm.. Disney? Ah, sure? Just… I'm vetoing Frozen and Little Mermaid," she says, leaving Caitlin to thumb through the book. Please, please, don't say Hercules. Stephanie is NOT a Meg. Honest!


Katsumi Oshiro smiles impishly as she raises the pint again. As she starts to take another draw, her hand is grabbed! She's yanked! Tugged! The girl bubbles into the beer in surprised protest, before winding up just taking the pint with her upstairs. The glass is held between both hands like a raccoon, eyes shifting awkwardly aside to Caitlin. "I- I don't know Disney!"

She starts to lift the glass, then suddenly shoots Stephanie a dirty look.

"No way, Frozen's got that great song!" She would've totally picked the Frozen song. Not that she knows Disney. Please don't see through the tough girl street cred'. Tough girls who beat people up don't watch Disney. And they certainly don't feel like belting a cartoony defiant protest song in light of an e-mail she'd gotten mere minutes ago.

No, ma'am.

"Um, whatever you pick's fine!"


"Frozen's got that overplay over rated song, you mean," Stephanie fires back at Kat, with the heat of this is not a serious argument and so it's amusing and a great way to let out a bit of anxiety.


"You're just mad 'cuz you can't hit the high notes!," fires back Katsumi. She even leans a little more towards Stephanie in the exchange!


"Who said I can't hit the high notes? I just said it's overrated!" Stephanie returns fire, one hand coming up into a fist.


"Me'n my pint!," argues Katsumi. After a beat, she turns the glass to down the remainder of the contents in one long, agonizing chug. She cringes, a shudder running through her frame, before she turns back to Stephanie. "Me'n my pint glass!"


"Got it." Caitlin jabs a forefinger against the binder and the DJ cues it up. Microphones are distributed to the other girls, and she stands between them as if taking some reassurance from the shelter their presence offers. Eyes wide, nervous, she takes a slow steadying breath to try and calm her nerves.

The title starts to scroll as the music swells. 'How Far I'll Go' from Moana! Caitlin definitely looks gunshy, so it'll be up to the other two girls to give her a nudge in the right direction.


Katsumi Oshiro is ready to keep the banter with Stephanie, finding it somehow cathartic. Welcoming, even. Familiar, like a warm hug to most people. Only it's arguing in a manner beyond what's reasonable for the topic. Katsumi is, after all, a professional wrestler.

Caitlin seems to have made her choice, however! Katsumi leaves Stephanie alone in favor of looking at the screen. Moana.

"Oh crap." Katsumi blinks owlishly. "I never saw that one."

She's about to talk-sing her way through a rough experience.


"What your pint?" Stephanie asks of Kat, not understanding. The arguement is the perfect distraction and before the blonde is aware of what was happening, ther ewas a microphone in her hand and she was shoved up onto the stage. She swallows as the opening bars start, heart pounding as Caitlin starts, timid and gunshy… much like the main character started. It works.

As Kat starts in, and the part of the song that swells and is meant to be uplifting and empowering grows closer, Stephanie draws a breath to steady herself. What comes out of her mouth next is a product of too many long drives, and a You Tube watch history filled with this and other songs along with vocal coaching videos.

Yup. Stephanie can sing. She's not a professional, but she's better than the average lay person in a karoke bar.

And, she's used to the spotlight, to performing, putting on a bright smile and engaging the audience. Cheerleading and hosting a You Tube Channel for the win.


Caitlin starts singing. Timidly, at first. She doesn't have great pitch, but she's not tone-deaf, thank god. With Stephanie's enthusiasm and confidence, she starts getting into it more and more. Her mouth moves a little stiffly until the refrain is joined and then she begins getting into it a bit more. A questioning gaze is directed to Katsumi, trying to encourage *her* to jump into the song more readily. Surely she's heard it at least once!


She hasn't! Not even once!

As it turns out, in the grand scheme of wallflowers, the one who winds up the most timid and embarrassed is the one used to being on television in skimpy clothes. Her eyes uplid apologetically as she tries to follow their pitch, but woefully a step behind and always playing catch-up. God, this is awful. But she's riding it out. Not so much for herself, but for Caitlin, at least. Stephanie, she's apparently got some pipes! She doesn't need the support!

Nonetheless, Katsumi is desperate for it to end.


As the song comes to an end, it's not amazing enough to have gotten the bar behind them, but it wasn't so terrible that the ladies got boo'd. Stephanie is all too happy to hand over the mic and make her way off the stage.

"God, Cait. The things I do for you," she grouses without actual weight to her words.


Caitlin's almost the first off the stage, elated and embarassed all at once. "Oh gosh, I sounded so bad," she says, mortified. "This is why I stick with the cello, I can practice at home without an audience. I'm so glad you two were there with me, I never could have done it alone." She impulsively hugs Katsumi, then. "And thanks for pushing me into doing this! I've never done karaoke night!" she confesses.


Katsumi Oshiro is, meanwhile, terribly embarrassed! Her own showing was beyond awful! The song was WORSE because of her involvement! And just as she's slinking off the stage, she's snatched into a hug! "Eep!," she squeaks. And it came out as a perfectly phoneticized 'eep', too. "Y-you're welcome! This won't be the only time! But I've gotta fix this!"

Once she's released, she staggers back a step. "You two talk! Have fun! Make a dent in those tacos!" She diverts to the song list, determined and hurried, hoping to set something up before the next person approaches. "Ah- hey!," she shouts at the bar counter. "Three vodka shots over there!"


WIth nothing to add, Stephanie follows Caitlin to the table, eyes tracking over as she heads back for more karoke.

"She's… a nice girl. I've got… a few possible places. One in Midtown, one closer to the Bronx. Not sure which is best for her. The northmost one will need… some descaling of security. The other… I'm going to have to redo the ownership…" Stephanie says at Caitlin, loud enough to be heard by her but soft enough for it not to really carry. "Of course, I could just use some of the organization's funding and secure her one without history…."


The shots show up and Caitlin wrinkles her nose at them. One's handed to Stephanie, one's put in place where Katsumi would sit.

Caitlin eyes the third, then discreetly sets it on a nearby table. Hey, all gone, whoops. Good instincts— Kat might try to 'salvage' the wasted liquor if Caitlin demures!

"I talked to Nadia," Caitlin tells Stephanie, in those same low tones. She uplifts a finger, eyes dancing rapidly. Either she's having a seizure or she's communing with her personal AI assistant. Stephanie's private Bat-line dings with an alert of a new message. Caitlin nods slightly at Stephanie. "That'll clear some things up. But I think it's safe to put her up in the tower, one way or another. We can figure out the rest later."

She eyes the liquor, then the wrestler, then looks back at Stephanie. "I'm kinda worried. I hope we can help her. She's real depressed."


Katsumi Oshiro is blissfully unaware of the things being said at the table. But she does seem to find what she was looking for. The selection is communicated, and the girl hops up onto the stage. Her head turns aside and she thumps a fist against her chest, letting out a rough, alcohol-induced cough. She clears her throat and hooks the microphone on its stand, apparently not wanting it free-standing.

The screen displays: DARK HORSE. Katy Perry.

As the music kicks on, Katsumi wraps her fingers around the microphone and shuts her eyes, hips swaying to the slow, unusual opening strains.


Vodka? Seriously? Stephanie pulls in a breath but for the moment seems content to wait for Kat to return to drink WITH her.

"I'm sure you can, if anyone can, Cait. I haven't had a moment to look over your roster yet, but I know the kind of people you tend toward, the kind of heart they have," Stephanie says, making it sound like she's not including herself in that list and that's fine with her. "You'll find the way to reach her, just like tonight," she says nodding a chin toward the stage.


Caitlin smiles at Stephanie. "They're all good people. I tried to avoid people with a reputation for lining their own pockets or who tend to use lethal methods first and ask questions later. I think— I'm hoping it'll be a good crew. I'm a little nervous," she admits. "I've never been *the* leader before. I've always had a mentor or something. I'm… feeling a little overwhelmed," she confesses, quietly. Because Stephanie's one of the few people she can really confide her vulnerability to.


Meanwhile on stage, the song proper begins and Katsumi sets the background. With a level of self-certainty absent in the song prior, Katsumi leans into the microphone to begin the breathy lyrics; her own voice is naturally a little higher pitched than Perry's, but crystal clear and textured in a confident, relaxed purr. The sway of the song sees the girl physically following suit, loose and relaxed, but controlled. As the song enters the first pre-chorus, her gaze half-lids into what could best be described as bedroom eyes. The actual chorus sees a smooth crescendo of energy, tilting the microphone away between vocals.

Following the chorus and during the R&B beat, the girl pops the microphone off it's stand, nodding in rhythm. She's already ready for the second half.

In short, the girl has had some obvious training, and the performance is about go up another notch.


Fingers toy with the rim of that shotglass, blue-green eyes watching at the song begins properly. Her head tilts as the clear tones of the girl's voice drift about. It's so far from the William Shatner moment of the previous song that it is certainly arresting.

"Stay the course, trust your heart, and be yourself," Stephanie replies, turning to look over at her friend. Pink glossed lips curl into a soft smile. It's not the overly bright smile of the cheerleader. It's not the coy, sly smirk of the vigilante. It's gentle and warm.

"And it's okay to feel overwhelmed. Having been led by someone who's more or less emotionally constipated, knowing that my leader feels and works through that very human condition is… I think it'll be nice."

Stephanie returns her gaze to the stage, watching those bedroom eyes. One hand comes up to cup the side of her mouth, and with a volume that only comes from knowing how to project over a hollering crowd at a football game, Stephanie woooo's for Kat.


"You sound like a fortune cookie," Caitlin says, and sticks her tongue out at Stephanie. "And please, *you* can't call me your leader. You've been doing this precisely as long as I have," she accuses Stephanie. "You can … you can be my super critical left-hand lady!" she proposes. "With all the snarkniess and stuff. So when you back my play on something, everyone's going 'oh wow, Sp- Stephanie's got Caitlin's back, you KNOW this just got real'," she proposes.

Katsumi hits some of those high, uluating notes, and Caitlin joins Steph's applause. "Wow, she is *good*!" she marvels.


The 'wooo' and applause is caught by the on-stage performer, and Katsumi shoots a smile and wink in the girls' direction. And then the second verse begins, with the added benefit of a cordless microphone not affixed to stand. The beginning is a coquettish affair of offering the room a profile while using a bare shoulder and silky black hair to frame her eyes. She half-turns as she continues, offering the other shoulder, before starting to move along the stage.

Perhaps inspired by the alcohol intake, or perhaps in spite of it, Katsumi all but floats down from the stage to delicately step out amidst the patrons. Without losing the breathy quality of voice, nor the sly, sultry hooding of her gaze, she drifts and twirls gracefully between seated groups. A few deliberate shoulder-touches here and there along the way, she appears between Stephanie and Caitlin. Crouching between the girls and tilting the microphone, she invites them to join in on the pre-chorus.

Just as smoothly as she followed the pre-chorus to crouch with her party, the moment it's going into the chorus proper, Katsumi is back to her full-height and nimbly skipping backwards towards the stage, pointing out at the crowd while she sings. The level of surefootedness and nimble agility she displays in her seemingly blind retreat towards the stage may seem remarkable to the casual onlooker. Stephanie and Caitlin may be able to tell that it's something a little beyond human at play.


/Sp-/ A blonde brow quirked in mute warning. That Caitlin slides right off it returns the gentle smile to Stephanie's face just in time for Kat to prance her way to the table and offer the microphone. A light hint of pink touches her cheeks as she obliges and sings a little. The difference between 'followed along with some YouTube tutorials while driving' and 'actually had real lessons' is now much more obvious and telling. Stephanie is not really bothered by this at all. The blush is slow to fade even if Kat is not, nimbly making her way back tot he stage. Stephanie glances at Caitlin with a tiny smile, before turning back to the stage.


Caitlin freezes, and her singing consists of some strangled grunts through a near-clenched jaw. She really doesn't have any idea how to sing, let alone get past her fears and self-consciousness. When Katsumi leaves, she sags in relief and leans on Stephanie (morally, not literally).

"She's, uh… she's really getting into it," Caitlin observes, eying Katsumi. "I don't know how much she had to drink. Just like, one of those bottles of Japanese beer. Sake?" she says, shrugging at Steph. "I don't know alcohol." She also apparently doesn't know how *strong* sake can be.


Now perched atop the stage again, the karaoke version of the song mercifully skips the labored 'rap' segment of the song and goes right back into R&B-esque pre-chorus. Katsumi clutches the microphone in both hands and adopts a languid hip-roll. But as the crescendo builds again, her eyes drift shut, letting the style slip more into soul than pop. And when the final chorus is in full swing, she's seamlessly shifting into a full power stance, left hand holding the microphone and right hand raised to belt the ending.

The song has an extremely abrupt ending.

And then Katsumi is reholstering the microphone on its stand and skipping energetically off the stage to rejoin the table with Caitlin and Stephanie… only to find one shot of vodka.

"Hey, I ordered three!" She quickly notes the shotglass in front of Stephanie, giggles, and raises a hand to the counter. "Two more, over here!" In no time, the shot present and before her is downed. She cringes and gags, eyes screwing shut, before blinking to refocus on the others present.


Caitlin leans around a hacking Katsumi and shakes her head minutely at the waitress. The woman nods slightly, understanding, and promptly finds a bunch of other tables that need her attention before she can even come around to get their order.

Meanwhile, three tall glasses full of icewater are delivered, and Caitlin sips hers through a small black straw.

"You're a really good singer, Katsumi," Caitlin tells the girl enviously. "Where'd you learn to sing like that?"


Stephanie watches Caitlin derail the extra shots, the smirk appearing. She expects push back from Kat and so waits to see how that plays out. All as she sips at her own water. She can act the DD, you know. Should she tell them this? No, not yet anyway. No need to instigate Kat's drinking just yet.


Katsumi Oshiro takes the icewater and pops the straw into her mouth. There's a little suckling, and she recoils again, annoyed. "I said vodka!," she calls to the hapless waitress.

Her attention diverts to Caitlin, gaze a little glassy. "Thanks!," she chirps. "Before I got my shot at professional wrestling, music was basically my life. The people who adopted me totally pushed me at it, and I loved it, don't get me wrong. Went into college for it. I can play some different instruments, too. And mix tunes. Balance boards. All that stuff," she says, her focus a little off-kilter. "And I love it!," she repeats. "But it's not wrestling. Wrestling's my heart."

Her smile dims.

"Vodka, already!"


"Sounds like you could definitely make a career in music," Caitlin tells Katsumi, a little timorously. "I mean you can sing, you can play instruments—" a thought occurs to her.

"Golly, you know, I've been wanting to get better at the cello," she says. "Maybe we could all get together and practice sometime. I think I could find an upright bass I could pluck at, I'm not as good at that but it'll probably sound better than my cell would for the rock songs. Right?"


"How about some more water first?" Stephanie suggests to Kat with a tiny frown, brows pulling up. Caitlin's suggestion of music isn't touched. Sounds like a lovely team builder, but she's not going to suggest that or hint that. She's not part of the team while in her civies, after all.


With some trepidation, the waitress delivers the three shots. Katsumi receives Stephanie's suggestion with a defiant uptilt of her chin. "Don't feel like water." She quickly diverts to Caitlin and the mention of doing music together, and her expression lifts with a bright giggle. "Sure! Sounds hot. But, ah- my instruments are still in Japan. ALL my things are still in Japan." She blinks. "Oh my god, am I moving to America..?"

She looks at the water on the table, then the shots arranged on the table. She takes the first shot to down it. Even as her face cringes, she grabs and downs the second.


A hand rests on Katsumi's wrist before she can down the shot. Caitlin gives the girl a very earnest look. "Katsumi, I think another drink would be a very bad idea," Caitlin tells the girl. "In fact it's probably not a bad idea if we get out of here."

She glances around, then leans towards Katsumi. "It's a very loud, very public place, full of a lot of very fragile civilians," she says, voice a little lower and for their ears only. "Maybe we should go find somewhere else to finish drinking. Okay?" Upstate New York, maybe. The Catskills. Antarctica.


Stephanie stays out of this one, falling back into the 'just a civilian, please ignore me' role. She doesn't even move to drink from her water, or even look over at Kat. This is between the supers.


Katsumi Oshiro finds her wrist beset and looks up at Caitlin. Her cheeks are rosy, but not so much due to embarrassment. The smile has completely vanished by now, and she looks like she's sincerely considering it. She looks down at the shots, then back up at Caitlin.


She withdraws her hand and look askance to Stephanie, sympathetic that she's sitting through this. Then back to Caitlin. "I don't wanna waste the shots. They're expensive. Right? Nine bucks is expensive for a shot, right?" She looks down at the glasses, then to the blonde, then redhead.


Caitlin's face twists. On the one hand, Katsumi's probably short on funds. But on the other hand— she resonates to the drinks getting wasted.

When Katsumi looks away, Caitlin gathers the shots up and offers them to an adjacent table, shrugging apologetically. They don't seem to mind, and she turns back to look at Katsumi. "It's a lot less than what it'd cost you for a night in the drunk tank," she tells her friend, with a quiet and steadfast tone. "And then getting deported tomorrow in shackles for being unregistered and in violation of your visa *and* international law. Trust me on this. It's time to get you somewhere to sleep it off," she says, and rises up to her feet with a look that suggests she's not going to take any argumetns on the topic.


Katsumi Oshiro blanches when her shots are given away! "Ahn-! My drinks!" But they're gone. The other patrons have already downed them.

The Japanese girl deflates as she looks at Caitlin. Her head sinks. "Okay. Alright. Fine. Guess we're done," she mutters.

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