What's Happening to Me? (Pt. 1)

April 02, 2019:

Caitlin attends the international wrestling event not only as a spectator, but as Katsumi's guest! She even gets to have a direct role in the action! But as the evening goes on, things take an alarming turn…



NPCs: Vance Delaney



Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Audiences are starting to gather around the arena in Brooklyn for a sold out show. The gates have only just opened to let people file in and find their seating. It's an open air arena, and while not as colossal as some of the bigger names out there, boasts a gargantuan seating capacity. According to the ticket sellers, there shouldn't be a vacant seat to be found. And though the mainstay of the audience is certainly American, a good number of true diehard fans from other countries represented in tonight's event have come out to support their national competitors (and to simply take in the ambitious spectacle, itself).

Four internal hallways are open to the public. Two lead to different parking lots, while one is dedicated to snacks and concessions, and the last to actual, more substantial food items. It's the latter that sees the occasional crew member from the show peek in, usually to grab something and spirit away. Everyone on staff and crew is easily distinguished by their Backstage Pass lanyards, and anyone not sporting them is gently turned away by burly security personnel. But there should be an exception noted. Just a bit ago, Katsumi Oshiro, one of the headliners from Japan, was having a word with the security. It went something like this:

Katsumi: "Okay, there is this tall girl who looks like she could bench press Mars. She looks like this." She proceeds to show a picture of the redheaded Justice Leaguer.

Security: "Is that Caitlin Fairchild?"

Katsumi: "Yes! She's allowed backstage."

Security: "What? Why?"

Katsumi: "Because she's a &#$damn superhero and I &#$damn said so!"

Security: "Okay, okay!"

Katsumi doesn't diplomacy.

Which brings us to the present. Katsumi is still wearing her street clothes consisting of a loose white button-up with sleeves rolled to the elbows and pleated knee-length black skirt. If she added a tie, it would look somewhat reminiscent of a schoolgirl uniform. In its stead, she's wearing her typical black choker centered with golden coin and appears to be talking to another from her country - a man in a business suit.

"We understand there was a situation at the gym today?," he asks. "Is everything alright?"

Katsumi responds with a stout nod. "All good here! I think New York's just a weird-ass place."

"..Right. Well, that's good. But why are you wearing contacts? You know you need to clear changes like that with us," the man continues.

Katsumi looks genuinely confused by this. "What?" She bears zero fatigue or wear in comparison to yesterday's embarrassing frailty. Rather, this evening, she seems to be downright effervescent. But the girl's eyes have gone from green to completely, undeniably magenta, without so much of a trace of the previous color.

"Hey!," a voice cuts in further down the hall. The man looks like he has more to say, but apparently has a metaphorical fire to put out. So he leaves Katsumi there, confused.


"Hey!" Another voice, but from the opposite direction. When Katsumi turns, Caitlin waves at the woman, beaming a smile. She's dressed a lot like she was the other day. Pale blue keds, jeans with cuffs around her calves, blue zippered hoodie. The hoodie has a distinct but subtle Justice League seal over her left breast, and her hair's once again jammed up under a low-brimmed ballcap to help hide her identity. A little. She still stands out, even with her slouching posture. A VIP pass dangles from her neck on a lanyard.

"This pass is amazing!" Caitlin tells Katsumi, holding it up for examination as she gets closer to the wrestler. "It's all-access! I thought I was just gonna get a tour or something, I showed up and they were, like, 'hey, she gets the run of the place'," she explains. "I really appreciate it." She flashes another beaming smile and then glances over her shoulder to make sure no one's in immediate earshot.

"Did you, uh, get enough sleep? Are you feeling better?" she asks, with a note of more somber concern in her voice. "I bet it was your blood sugar, I get really, really crabby if I miss a meal," she confesses.


Snapped out of her confusion, the girl turns to spot Caitlin. In an instant, she's giving an excited open-mouthed smile, arms raised. "Ahh! You're here!," she greets, the enthusiasm clear in her voice. As the lanyard is shown off, she gives a bright giggle. "I told'em what's up. Gotta keep these b#&@$es in line! So no tour for you. You get to hang out, meet people, do all the things! And you're an #&*hole!"

Suddenly, Katsumi is swat-pummeling at Caitlin's arm. Naturally there's zero force behind it.

"You didn't tell me what you are!? I have to learn it from some dingus in an elevator!? Jerk!" Despite the mini-rant, it should be clear that Katsumi isn't remotely displeased. She's only giving the redhead a hard time for being discreet.


Caitlin dutifully rolls with the punches, and winces. More at Katsumi's casual foul mouth than anything else. And she doesn't want Katsumi to hurt herself (it's a real problem!).

"Tell you what I am?" Caitlin looks thoroughly befuddled at Katsumi's sudden aggression. "I don't understand." She seems quite insincere, like it doesn't occur to her that she's anything but a typical average girl. Who is also a ginger giant. And a giant wrestling nerd.

"But seriously— are you okay?" she asks again. "You had me really worried, like your anemic or diabetic or something," she presses again. "I'd go tell your coach to keep the white towel handy, except I don't know where I'd find her. And I don't know what your coach looks like. Or if you have a coach. … Or if that's even a thing," she concedes.

"But if you *do* go down in the ring, gotta make it look, like, *awesome*, right? Faint dramatically or something," she suggests, trying for levity.


"I don't have the diabeetus!"

Several wrestlers and crewmen pause what they're doing to stare at Katsumi.

The girl eyeshifts. "Well, I don't!"

They go back to their prepwork.

Katsumi clears her throat daintily, cheeks faintly tinged pink. Her arms fold over her modest bust with her head canted a bit low, not giving Caitlin a direct line of sigh to her face. "I'm fine. Really, I am. I slept like the dead, woke up with like twenty minutes before training, and I've never felt better. Training got interrupted by a girl smashing through the window, but everything's fine." Her head lifts again, settling those bright, inhumanly-colored eyes on Caitlin's. There's a small smile playing on her lips. It's subtle, but it's there; appreciative. "Promise."

Her eyes suddenly narrow, and the small smile widens into that impish grin. "And I'm not going down! You should know better!"

"Heeeyy," slides in a taller, well-dressed man. "I heard there was a thing that happened at the gym- oh my sweet lord, you're Caitlin Fairchild." His gaze has completely fixed on the redhead. Even he has to look upwards a bit to examine her face. "You two actually know each other? That wasn't just a publicity shot for the show?" Suddenly, he's thrusting a hand out to Caitlin for a shake. "The name's Vance Delaney, I put this little event together."


Caitlin looks relieved, and returns Katsumi's smile with one of her own. "Okay, just as—" She's cut off when Vance interjects himself into the conversation, and blinks at him in surprise. She looks down at the outthrust hand and shakes it cautiously, trying to regain her aplomb.

"I— yessir, that's me," she tells him, and takes the hand with a polite shake that she puts very little effort into. "I really hope I'm not being a bother here," she says, fervently. "Ms. Oshiro was so nice to me, letting me get a selfie. I'm a *huge* wrestling fan," she admits. "We talked and she invited me to come see the show. I tried to sneak in," she says, touching her hat. Realizing she's still wearing it, she removes the headgear and shakes her hair loose with a wrinkled nose. "But they asked for my ID to pick up the pass. This show's really about the wrestlers, they're the stars. I'm just a lucky fan."


Vance just beams a radiant smile as she talks, nodding politely and fully engaged. "Wow! You're exactly the way they say you are. Personally, it's a real honor to meet you, and professionally, I am thrilled that you came to the show! And you're a huge wrestling fan?" His head turns slightly, eyes narrowing. Wheels are turning.

"Iiii'm gonna go suit up," drawls Katsumi as she starts to back away from the two.

"Right, right," says a distracted Vance.

"She's into girls, Vance!," shouts Katsumi before disappearing into a locker room.

Vance freezes, eyes wide. He takes a breath, then offers soberly, "Well, that was horrific." His hands stuff into his pockets. "But I'm having an idea. Everyone loves you. You're Caitlin Fairchild. You love wrestling. Let me ask you something - how do you feel about being a special guest referee? Just one match!"


Caitlin looks embarassed as well, more on Vance's behalf after Katsumi's baiting aside. She tries to reassure him with a flashing smile. "It's okay. I've kind of heard all the jokes at this point," the redhead assures the promoter. She stalls for a second, trying to think through his request. "I… referee? I don't know," she says, hesitating automatically. She furrows her brow and looks at something on the floor a few feet away, tugging her hair through her palm with an absent-minded sort of expression.

"Gosh, I… I mean I can't do it as a *League* member," she stresses. "But if it's just me, and you don't advertise nothin' or try to get me to sell anything, I'd do it."

A thought occurs to her and she beams at Vance. "I'll do it if you make my appearance a charitable donation thing to the League's Youth Aid program. Whatever you guys feel is reasonable," she offers.

She clears her throat, looking a little uncertain. "I mean, if that's okay with you. I don't do this a lot," she confesses. "I drive my boss nuts. She says I'm not allowed to handle negotiations anymore."


Vance patiently watches Caitlin process the proposal, brow furrowing with the caveats she presents. Seems he had ideas to make use of her League affiliation. But no good promoter doesn't know how to work around obstacles or negotiate, and Vance did manage to put a multinational wrestling promotion together.

"Alright, I hear you, I understand. You're worried the League'll look bad if you're mishandled. Totally get it. Your work, the League's work, comes first." He nods. "But let me spin this at you. You, Caitlin Fairchild, darling of the Justice League, are a professional wrestling enthusiast. You come out to the biggest event to hit Brooklyn since crispy-crust pizza. But you see Katsumi's match - and believe me, Katsumi is gonna do what Katsumi does - and she gets away with it with our in-house referee."

His head tips towards her. Here's the pitch.

"But not on YOUR watch! Her next match, you're gonna make sure is a clean one. No screwing around, no bullying the referee, because it's Caitlin Fairchild, and Fairchild doesn't let injustice fly! All you have to do is be you. You know how to count pins, submissions, and passouts, right? Rope breaks and all that?"


"I, uh."

Caitlin looks a little bewildered by his snappy line of patter. "I mean, yeah, I know how to do that stuff, it's… I mean, Mr. Vance, I'm not a teenager," she reminds him. "I know how much of this is scripted. I don't know how good of an *actress* I am," she concedes, apologetically. "I mean if you just want someone to count stuff, sure, I can do that. Are there like rehearsals or anything I need to go to?" Wary uncertainty wars with excitement as the proposition dawns on her— she's gonna be in a wrestling ring!


Vance laughs goodnaturedly and shakes his head. "No! You don't need to be an actress! That's the beauty of it! You just be you! Trust the girls in the ring, they'll do the heavy lifting. And when it's time to count the pin, you'll know. Just keep it nice and slow. Don't rush. And if you need to pull Katsumi off the other girl if she's doing something illegal or wrong, just do it! They're good enough to roll with whatever you give'em."

His posture straightens a little more and his hands lift, as if to physically frame what he's about to say.

"I can't touch the proceeds of the event. That's already contractually dedicated. But if you do this for me, I will personally sign over half of my paycheck to whatever foundation you choose. And since you're you, I know you can whip my ass if I squelch on it."


Caitlin tugs her hair again with a scowl, thinking it through. She's been in New York long enough to know that these 'deals' usually end up with her being the sucker. But after thinking it through, she clearly can't come up with any reasonable objections.

Plus— wrestling!!!

"Well, gosh, okay! Count me in!" she says, offering a polite handshake to Vance along with a beaming smile. "I'm real excited to get to hang out in the ring for a bit. I've been watching wrestling all my life," she tells him. "This is a real dream come true."


Vance flashes that brilliant smile of his and eagerly takes her hand for a shake. If he can actually budge her hand, that is.

"Amazing! This crowd isn't gonna know what hit'em! And don't worry, the Justice League will be treated with great respect. And yourself! Maybe not by Katsumi, but, well, you know what she's like. Right?"

As if on cue, the locker room door opens.

"And we'll take real good care of you. Let me get a look at your ticket real fast so I know where to point a camera. We need to see you in the audience before you step up as a referee," he explains.

Katsumi emerges in her wrestling gear, a sporty and fashionable two-piece affair in shiny blue sapphire with gold trim, showing off the girl's toned midsection, arms, and thighs. But the cant of her head is low, and she looks distracted as she shuts the door behind her.


Caitlin really *doesn't* know what Katsumi is like, but lets that aside from Vance go past. She digs in her hoodie and shows her ticket pass obligingly to Vance. "Okay, no problem!" she tells him. "I'm really excited!"

At that moment Katsumi walks up at Caitlin catches her out of the corner of her eye. "Katsumi! I've got great news!" she tells the wrestler, and claps her hands twice in enthusiastic excitement. "Vance just invited me to be a special guest referee. Isn't that awesome?" she says, looking delighted.


Vance's attention is redirected behind him to the Japanese girl, then once again to Caitlin. "I'll let you talk it over with her. I have some arrangements to make!" He hurries away. Performances wouldn't be performance without hectic last-minute changes!

Katsumi's head lifts sharply to look at Caitlin. Her expression is blank at first, but when the words process, the corners of her lips raise in a genuine smile. "That's awesome! Like the whole night? Or someone's match? Is it the main event? Oh my god, did they tell you the main event? They haven't even told ME the main event." Which probably means she isn't in it, she realizes. But she doesn't share that. "Does someone get to &#*@ing chop a superhero!?"


Caitlin hesitates. She's not a duplicitous person by nature… but it seems like a relatively innocuous bit of fibbing and it'd be a fun surprise to bust into the ring for Katsumi's big bout. What could it hurt?

"He didn't say," she assures her. "And I'm pretty sure they wouldn't let an amateur like me in the ring for something *really* important. I bet it'll be for one of those, uh, y'know, the demo matches. I haggled him and said he had to donate to charity if I was gonna do it," she says, with a proud expression. "So it'll be for a good cause, and there'll be some fun and stuff."

Her face goes serious. "But, uh, if you hear anything, please sort of let people know— don't hit me." The sweet-faced expression crumples. "I feel just awful about it and I try to shy away from them but sometimes I'm not fast enough, and it's a really good way to break a knuckle or something. Everyone's so darn fragile," she sighs.


"I, ah.. hanh..," Katsumi ponders, the last word meant to be a 'huh' but more colored by her Japanese accent than before. "I'll spread the word around? You don't chop down a tree with your bare hands, right?" Her head tilts faintly aside.

And then we're back to bright giggles. "But s&#@, look at you, shaking down the boss man! Didn't think you were #&$^ing GANGSTER, Cait! Damn!," she teases. "So what're you gonna do now? The show's starting soon. Are you in the audience or back here?"


Caitlin pinks at the cursing again, but Katsumi's boisterous enthusiasm for the situation offsets her reaction to the language. "I didn't really *shake* him down," she says, modestly. "I wouldn't feel right showing up here as a cape and being paid for it. We've got League rules about compensation," she says. "It's a union thing."

"I'm not…I think I'm in the audience," she says, looking at her ticket again. "Yeah. I'm gonna head down there, I'll be on the lookout for you."

Impulsively, she suddenly hugs Katsumi. "Good luck, okay?" she tells her. "Hit all your marks and make it look good, huh?" she nudges her.


Katsumi Oshiro lets out a girly squeak at the sudden hug, CLEARLY not used to that. Her body tenses, muscles rigid until it's ended and she wobbles slightly. Her cheeks have taken a faint rouge dusting. "I- I need to see someone about a thing, but then I'm gonna be out there to beat wholesale ass. Don't worry. And don't talk about it like that, damn!" She's starting to relax again. "You take away all the magic."

Her chin uptilts in a dramatically playful display of haughtiness as she moves past the redhead to go about her extremely vague business, leaving Caitlin to join the audience.


The stadium is absolutely packed with excited bodies, the air a cacophony of voices. To start the show, Vance Delaney made his way to the ring to announce their special twist on the evening: a tournament! To find who the best wrestler is, and from which country represented they hail! The arena erupts into a new fervor of varied patriotism (and maybe a couple turncoats in the mix), and in short order, the evening is underway!

The open air nature of the arena has been a mixed bag, but one that's been mostly beneficial. On the one hand, it's well-ventilated with a broad opening to the cloudy sky, and the persistent vestiges of daylight are supplemental to the powerful arena lights. But everyone knows that soon, those arena lights will be nearly the only thing clearly seen amidst an ocean of blackened silhouetted with glowsticks and posterboards. The action in the ring has been predictably top-notch. One of the girl's from Japan's team has been eliminated, along with two from the American roster in a tag team bout. Britain and Australia have just wrapped up a match, which leaves just one country that hasn't had a crack yet: Russia.

Sure enough, the announcer calls for Svetlana Sukkub - a flirty, slender femme fatale. She fingerwaves to the audience before entering the ring and her music fades.

The next song that begins pumping is quite different - heavy on the synth with a hard, uptempo beat. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j6QeDhHYDbo ) Laserlights in blue and purple begin firing off at either side of the entry ramp in sync with the music.

"And introducing!," begins the announcer. "Representing Japan by way of Osaka! Her opponent! The Punk Princess herself! KATSUMI! OOOOSHIROOO!"

The girl steps out onto the platform to the roar of the audience - a rather mixed reception. Half the audience has no idea who she is, and therefore is simply happy to see her. The other half is booing! Though she doesn't acknowledge it in either direction, it's certainly feeding her energy as she stands there, right fist raised, head bobbing and the heel of her boot tapping to her entrance music. A cocky smirk plays on her face, her eyes glued to the girl in the ring. The fist lowers to point her out, and she affects a sweet smile as it tilts into an upturned thumb. The gesture promptly rotates into a thumbs-down, the sweet smile replaced with a taunting out-poked tongue, clearly not taking her seriously.

Katsumi is suddenly in motion with a perky skip, her hands raised with palms outturned in careless acknowledgment to the audience at either side of the aisle. She grabs onto the middle rope and hops up onto the ring apron, spinning around to face the audience. In that brief moment, her eyes scan the section before her in search of Caitlin… but she can't linger. Her arms drape the top rope, and with a coy smile and wink, arches back to roll smoothly over the cable and onto the ring proper.

The referee ushers her into her corner to 'inspect' her for foreign objects, but her head tilts again to glance out over the audience.


Caitlin's in her seat and giddy with excitement. It's been quite a show so far, with the usual drama and pageantry. Perhaps a bit more streamlined than American wrestling, which so often includes a lot of sordid liasions and shocking social offenses. Here it's mostly some jingoism, though a few have worked in story lines of lust and betrayal and illict hookups. The tete a tete between two luchadores and one of the Finnish team was fairly well received.

She's got her hat back on and a bucket of popcorn between her knees. She doesn't even stand out all that much— Vance had moved her to better seats in the front rows, and she's wedged in between the peacoking promoters in their finery and celebrities trying to remain relatively incognito. Hats, t-shirts, and aviator glasses abound.

"WOO! GO OSHIRO!" she bellows at Kitsune's entrance, and her applause alone is almost loud enough to be heard among the crowd at large.


Ah! There she is!

Katsumi's eyes widen and a grin curls the corner of her lips, but she tries to keep it vague. It's exciting to have someone actually cheering for you in earnest. A rarity, really! And Caitlin's someone who knows the kind of crap Katsumi pulls, being a big fan and all, right? Yet she's cheering anyway. Why, it warms the dark little cockles of her heart, but that subtle grin is all she can allow herself to give. The actual appreciative smile she's feeling, she has to keep to herself.

But the referee signals them to move in, and the bell sounds off. Time to go to work.

The match starts off fairly basic, the two locking up and jockeying for control. There are a few technical spots of finesse, wherein Svetlana demonstrates her superior slipperiness, flipping and tumbling out of the various jointlocks Katsumi introduces. That is, until she blasts a knee into her opponent's midsection to take the wind out of her sails. Additional strikes showcasing Katsumi's hand-to-hand repertoire follows, leading to the first pin attempt. It didn't make it past a one-count.

The match continues as a fast-paced back and forth, with Svetlana finding ways to flip and tumble out of Katsumi's harder-hitting setups, and Katsumi taking a few hard counters and landing stunned. There's a pin attempt against her that manages to get a two-count. Svetlana lifts Katsumi to her feet and attempts a hard spinning backhand - an uraken - only for Katsumi to duck it, lock her arms around her middle, and snap her into a quick bridging suplex. Though the pin doesn't go all the way, Svetlana still appears dazed! And Katsumi shoves the girl against the bottom rope, pushing her chest against her back to 'choke' her against the cable.

Naturally, this against the rules. The referee begins fussing at Katsumi, who seems to bear in harder against the girl! She steals a look in Caitlin's direction as the cameras also wheel around to focus on the redhead!


The lights and cameras follow and Caitlin gets to her feet. Overhead, the announcer's voice comes on. "Ladies and gentlemen, Oshiro's clearly too much for our referee!" the speaker proclaims. "We didn't want to do this, but welcome the Justice League's own Caitlin Fairchild as our special guest referee!" Caitlin unzips her hoodie, revealing a referee's tee-shirt. It's almost too small for her, not that anyone in the crowd's complaining, and when the cheers start up she flexes for people once or twice. The crowd goes wild and she heads towards the ring with a nervous, enthusiastic grin and a light step.

She and the other referee separate the two women and Caitlin steps aside. But then a microphone's clipped to her collar, and from the expectant looks, people prompt her to say something.

"Oh, uh. Uh. Hi! Yes, I'm Caitlin Fairchild," she tells everyone. "But it's not about me tonight. I'm just here to raise money for the League Youth Outreach program. I hope you all give generously after the match is over."

She looks to the two women. "Uh, good clean match, no gouging, no biting, no spitting," she reminds them. "First to a three count wins."

There's a pregnant pause and she remembers what to do. "Oh, right." She sticks hand between the women then sharply pulls her fist back. "Fight!" She scampers out of the way so the two of them can face off again.


The referee had begun his count to disqualify Katsumi. "One! Two! Break it up! Three! Four! I mean it!"

Just as Katsumi is about to disengage, the announcer makes his statement. And Katsumi is absolutely floored. No longer leaning on Svetlana, the Punk Princess is sitting on her knees in a confused stupor. The Russian girl is still draped against the rope, looking fatigued. The referee looks completely lost. But the moment Caitlin reveals her striped shirt, he decides to roll with it; an angry glare at Katsumi later, and the in-house official is storming out of the ring.

Katsumi paws her hands through her silky hair, pulling it back out of her face to watch Caitlin enter the ring. And the closer she gets, the more she's trying not to laugh. Not in mockery, but in disbelief. "Did you just interrupt my #^&@ing match!?," she shouts up at the redhead, the roar of the audience too loud to pick up on the powerful bemusement behind her voice. She feels like she's been pranked! And Caitlin! She said she didn't know which match! That's twice she's held out on her! But for the audience's benefit, she turns back out to the crowd and holds her arms to either side, palms upturned in a universal 'Can you believe this crap?'

And she's promptly back to pouncing Svetlana and choking her against the rope. That is, until Caitlin pulls her off of her to reset the two fighters. It's almost comical how effortlessly Caitlin manages the feat, and Katsumi looks very much like a chastised, sulky feline, shoulders hunched and lips in moue. Svetlana takes a moment to pull herself up to her feet using the ropes.

The signal to fight is given, and Svetlana closes in - only for a sudden eyegouge from Katsumi in clear defiance of the new referee! The Russian girl recoils with a shriek, covering her eyes protectively! Why, it was almost a dare to the referee to say something about it!


Caitlin grabs Katsumi's wrist and lifts her hand. Arm. Whole body. The wrestler's dangling six inches off the ground with no visible effort from the towering redhead. "No! Bad! I mean, uh… illegal eyegouge! No more of that, or you're taking penalty points!" she admonishes the wrestler.

She glances around and covers her mike. "Sorry, lemme know if I'm hurting you," she mutters, and walks the girl to the other side of the ring before setting her down again. "Last warning!" she admonishes Kat, which is at least the twelfth such warning given to Kat alone during the tournament so far. No one takes them seriously.

"Okay, ready? Ready? Go!" she says, and does the fist-chopping motion again. She seems to be getting into her role as a referee!


Katsumi Oshiro is promptly lifted and is dangling. The girl's eyes are ENORMOUS. And that's not faking. Katsumi had no idea contextually how strong Caitlin was, and though she's wrestled some serious powerhouses before, none have been able to just deadlift her like this. It's startling, and if she's being honest, kind of scary. And there's no hiding that. Katsumi is staring at Caitlin even after she's been hefted, wafting in the breeze. She's placed in the corner, and she leans there against it, dazed and trying to wrap her head around that sense of helplessness.

Svetlana, meanwhile, seems to be making a full recovery! She nods quickly at Caitlin, signaling she's fine. And when the signal to continue fighting is given, she barrels forward, leans low, and blasts her shoulder into Katsumi's midsection in a spear. From there, she'll back off and let the punkette drop to the mat, grab her wrist, and drag her to the center of the ring.

After ensuring she's on her back, the Russian 'succubus' quickly climbs the nearest turnbuckle, her figure silhouettes in the vibrant colors of the sunset. She leaps, arcs in a clean backwards flip, and brings her midsection down across Katsumi's in a shooting star press. Katsumi spasms beneath her before lying flat, and the audience erupts into cheer at the apparent, inevitable victory for the Russian!

Katsumi lies limp, head turned aside, eyes shut and lips parted as she waits for the telltale beats of Caitlin's hand against the mat and praying she doesn't pull a fast count. She needs to be able to break the pin before that three-count, but only just barely! That said, she knows that impact should've hurt worse - both the spear and the splash. But it's not registered nearly as painful as she expected. For now, she's willing to believe her opponent is even lighter weight than her slim frame would suggest!


The entire mat vibrates and bounces as Caitlin dramatically throws herself sideways to press her chin to the floor and watch the pin from up close. If it were anything like a real bout, Svetlana might have lost her grip on Katsumi enitrely. As it is, both women are jostled pretty severely and it takes some cooperation to keep on script.

"No pin! No pin!" she yells at Svetlana. The Russian puts more into it and rolls Katsumi dramatically onto her shoulderblades and Caitlin's hand bangs on the canvas like a drum. "One!" It's a good, dramatic one-and-a-half count. "Two!"

She raises her hand for the final call. "Thr—!"



Katsumi breaks from the pin just barely, but with remarkable ease, she realizes. It was as if she wasn't being held at all! But a breakout is all it is, and she's back to lying on the mat, clearly letting the audience know she's hurting after that impact.

Svetlana sits up on her knees and looks to Caitlin, her eyebrows raised, and she pantomimes slapping the mat three times in succession. She doesn't look outraged, mind you; Svetlana is the good, cooperative one. But she's asking for clarification! What's the ref's call?


"No pin!" Caitlin's hands cut through the air twice, but she backs up two paces. There's no rule against laying on the ground, and there's no rule about pinning a downed opponent! If Svetlana goes for the pin again, will Katsumi be able to break free with the same move?!

Caitlin circles to where she can see Katsumi's face and gives her a worried look, checking to see if she's milking for the camera or actually injured. If she is, it's easy enough to call the fight… a big hit like Svetlana's is the sort of thing that's *expected* to end pro bouts, after all!


Katsumi Oshiro would be impressed with Caitlin's ability to read match flow! She really is a huge fan of the sport! But goodness no, not when the event is as big and important as this one. Katsumi ate a finisher and 'barely' kicked out, earning the awe of the audience for her determination to stay in the fight! But with Caitlin's experience in seeing actual trauma, pain, and injury, she should be able to tell that Katsumi isn't genuinely hurt. She's roughed up and her skin has taken a light glisten under the arena lights from sweat, but she's alright.

Svetlana just nods at the ruling and leans down to collect the Japanese girl. Arms around her waist, the Russian hauls her shorter opponent to her feet, who luls a little in a daze - only to let out a pained shriek when those arms cinch tighter in a bearhug! Katsumi's back arches, eyes squeezed shut, and each apparent redoubling of the pressure around her waist earns another pained cry!

The audience begins a chant: "Tap! Tap! Tap!"


Caitlin circles warily. "No pin! No pin!" she shouts again, un-necessarily. Svetlana's not going for a pin, she's taking a submission hold. The lissome redhead sets a good grip on Kat and turns the screws down on the Japanese wrestler, straining mightily.

"Fight!" she tells Kat. "I will, uh, I will TKO you if you can't fight!" she warns her. "Break free or you're disqualified!" she barks. Knees bent a little, arms out— Caitlin looks like she's playing goalie, darting around the two struggling wrestlers.


"W— wha-!?," Katsumi asks while the Russian clamps on her. She tries to gently redirect Caitlin to ask the right question as the chant continues amidst the increasingly shadowed audience. "I won't tap..!" She shakes her head vehemently. Svetlana makes a showing of tightening on her, and Katsumi obligingly cries out again.

She's a little worried Caitlin might call the match early, though! She can't really milk a submission hold if that happens! Worse yet, she'll be technically eliminated from the event! So, arms trembling, Katsumi brings herself to lean forward against her aggressor. The arms wrap around her waist over her arms in return. Her head tilts, pressing brow to brow with her, teeth bared and clenched. Suddenly, the hold is reversed as Katsumi hefts the girl off her feet in a torquing motion, bringing her down against the mat in a belly-to-belly suplex reversal! It's a signature suplex Caitlin might recognize as a fan: the "Shutdown."

The bearhug is instantly released upon impact, and the Russian lies stunned on the mat with limbs splayed. Katsumi lifts to a knee, panting softly, and looks back to Caitlin briefly. She shoots her a quick wink; perhaps to let her know everything's fine? Perhaps simply having fun with having Caitlin there in the ring? Or perhaps in a sort of taunt to a zealous no-nonsense referee heroine, for the audience's benefit? Either way, she looks back out at the audience and raises her hands to make a rolling gesture, signaling something impressive to come.


"No pin! Knockdown! Can you get up?" Caitlin hovers over Svetlana, hunkered down but not touching her. It's a dramatic medical checkout and Caitlin seems focused on her, trying her best to add to the drama. "You have to get up! You have to get up!" She starts counting dramatically. "Ten! Nine! Eight!" she says, perhaps a bit slowly— giving Svetlana time to recover? Even possibly … giving her *more* time than is fair?!


Svetlana occasionally twitches with a cough from the impact to the mat, but she's otherwise dutifully down. Katsumi, however, blinks and looks behind her shoulder. "Hey! This isn't a last woman standing match! This isn't boxing! Quit that!," she fusses, her voice loud enough to be picked up on Caitlin's microphone. Not overly-loud, but just enough to be heard in the audience. And there's some sincerity to her voice. If Caitlin goes and counts a knockout or something, Katsumi won't have time enough to really milk a finisher! She's not unsympathetic to Caitlin's fish-out-of-water situation, though! And in fact, she can add to the hype here! As she lifts to her feet, she adds, "Don't you dare let her off easy! She's gonna take the Mic Drop!"

The fans in the audience who are rooting for the 'goodguy' by comparison boo the announcement. The spectators who are just loving the wild violence redouble their cheer at the anticipation of her finisher.

Hopeful that Caitlin won't continue a knockout count, Katsumi turns to climb the nearby turnbuckle - the very perch from which she was splashed not long ago. Hunkered down upon the top ropes, Katsumi takes a couple breaths to steady herself - though she's finding it isn't necessary. She feels in even better condition now than she did when she took the splash earlier! Her head turns to smile out at the audience, though she can no longer see them. It's a sea of glowsticks and mostly-invisible poster boards. The sky is naught but a rapidly-dimming gray, stars starting to appear above. But that audience is positively glittering with camera flash.

Katsumi could live up there, soaking in that feeling. But as she lifts to her full height, easily balanced on the cables, she realizes the only thing she savors more than this kind of perch is splashing a prone opponent. But only after Caitlin has cleared her landing zone does Katsumi give the 'trademarked' signal of her finisher. She holds her arm out, perpendicular to the mat and fingers curled, then dramatically opens her hand, pantomiming the drop of a microphone.

And then the girl is airborne. Her lithe body is curled into a ball as she ascends, only for her limbs to whip back, pulling her abdomen taut for impact across Svetlana's midsection in a frog splash. And should that connect without interference, Svetlana will curl around Katsumi's waist in recoil before lying flat against the mat again beneath her, face tight with what Caitlin may be able to successfully identify as pain. Katsumi, meanwhile, will reach back to hook the girl's leg against her ribs. "Count it, 'hero'!," she snerks.

But ideally Caitlin won't count too fast. The audience is on the edge of their seat, calling for the Russian to rally. Can she!?


Caitlin turns and squares up with Katsumi, bellowing loudly in her direction and pointing emphatically at the corner ring. "Back up! Back up! I'm the referee here!" she admonishes Kat. The crowd loves it, some booing Cait's professionalism, others applauding it. "Fair fight, or no fight!"

She goes back to counting down loudly, but stays well clear of Svetlana. She obviously doesn't miss Katsumi's big sppech or prep, though, despite her back being turned. The big redhead falls backwards in apparent shock when Katsumi does her giant bodyslam and lands heavily on her rear. She scrambles to her hands and knees again and starts slamming a palm on the mat. "One! Two!" the brawner ginger announces and stares close at the shoulderblades pinned to the mat.


Katsumi Oshiro nods with each hard strike against the mat, her hair bouncing with each motion. God, it's exhilarating. She loves this sport. Especially when she gets to be in this position. Even if frog splashes tends to leave everyone involved with aching abs, herself included. Except.. not this time? She still feels perfectly fine. Better than fine, in fact. She feels like she could do this all night. Roughed up and sweaty as she is, the girl presses in a little tighter over the Russian, asserting her dominant position.

Suddenly, Svetlana twists towards Caitlin and throws an arm up to raise a shoulder off the mat just before the third count!

"Ahn!" Katsumi shifts onto her knees, a look of shock and disbelief on her face. Then it turns to a look of irritation for Caitlin. She smacks a hand against her open palm three times in rapid succession. "Can you maybe learn to count!?," she fusses. "One-two-three! How the hell hard is it!?"

And while Katsumi banters with the referee - secretly hoping she'll banter back, loving the fire she got back from her moments ago - Svetlana is rolling over onto her front and shakily gathering herself to hands and knees.


"No pin!" Caitlin barks, and sits back on her knees. She scowls thunderously at the girl, which the crowd absolutely eats up. "Don't tell me how to do my job! I will have you removed from this ring!" she yells. She's not a great actress so it sounds a little pompous and overdelivered, but the crowd likes that she's getting so into the role. She rocks smoothly to her feet and backs up two paces, hands assertively on her hips, and stares challengingly at Katsumi— even as Svetlana starts to stand up and regain her aplomb!


"I CAN'T tell you how to do your job, because your job is sucking!," Katsumi banters back in freeflow. She's going to have so many giggles after this match.

But Svetlana has suddenly snatched a fistful of Katsumi's hair to pull her up to her feet, the Japanese girl squeaking in protest! "R-ref'! Do something!," she panics, hands swatting at the wrist of the offending hand. Of course Katsumi would immediately rely on Caitlin to do her duty and intervene when it's on HER behalf! And it's not lost on the audience.


"That's it! One more outburst and you are OUT of the ring!" Caitlin tells Katsumi, thunderously.

And then Svetlana surges forward and grabs Katsumi's hair, and Caitlin waves her hands twice to signal she's not intervening. "Your feet are moving, no penalty!" she declares, and hustles dramatically to frame the big fight. The two women grapple dramatically, and the crowd goes wild for the brutal tete a tete.

Caitlin looks excited, but quite calm herself. The motion and heat of the lights barely seems to be bothing her, though she's not exactly doing backflips off the ropes herself.


"Wahh!," Katsumi yelps as Svetlana pulls the girl in closer to her. Her knee thrusts upwards to nail the Punk Princess in the midsection, seeming to take the fight out of her! She walks her back against the ropes, then pivots and whips her in the opposite direction! As Katsumi races to the other side of the ring, Svetlana presses herself into the ropes and launches forward!

The two race towards each other, and Svetlana lashes out with a clothesline! Katsumi suddenly ducks to run past! The two hit their opposite ropes - with the cables stretching considerably harder against Katsumi's back - and launch forward again, like horseless jousters.

Katsumi is blazingly fast this time. She clears the span of the ring in the blink of an eye, barely giving Svetlana two steps out. She's hopped into the air in a curled ball, and boots thrust out to nail her opponent in the chest with a dropkick.

And that's when things take a turn.

The impact earns a savage grunt from Svetlana, who's blasted off her feet. Her back hits the ropes with such force that they snap off the turnbuckles. She continues flying back until she lands in the audience, passing the ten feet of protected outside-of-ring barrier. Startled cries rise from the shadowy audience, and it's unclear what's happening amidst the commotion. But for those close enough to tell, Svetlana is unresponsive and very likely hurt.

Katsumi could immediately tell something was wrong after the feel of her boots against chest. She's on her feet instantly, and her first impulse is to race to the side of the ring, concern unmistakably written on her face. It takes a camera passing her field of vision before her wherewithal returns, and she forces herself to turn away from the growing commotion and raise her arms to the audience, replacing the worry on her face with a smirk and cool confidence.

Meanwhile, security and the ringside medic are rushing to find and extract the Russian girl.


Caitlin vaults the rails so smoothly it's like they're invisible. A running start, a touch to
the ring, and she just flies over them after the girl. "Sorry! Sorry sorry sorry!" she says as she makes a beeline for the injured Russian. She stablizes the woman, talking to her in low, urgent tones and checking her eyes. "Back up! Make room!" she snaps at the gawking bystanders, her voice carrying an uncharacteristic snap and determination. People back well up and the medics have a clear path to get Svetlana out of there. The crowd breaks into applause as she's wheeled out— some of them seem to sense that this isn't part of the show.

Vance comes scurrying up for a quick confab with Caitlin. She seems inclined to surrender the role to him, but their short and urgent conversation seems to reassure her. Vance squeezes her arm; she nods reassuringly and heads back to the ring.

She reaches for Katsumi's wrist, standing alongside her. "Winner, by technical knockout— The Punk Princess!" Caitlin says, and holds Katsumi's wrist over her head. The crowd explodes into thunderous approbation.


It's a genuine struggle to not look back over and fret over what's happening. The Russian girl is completely unresponsive - alive, but in bad shape. And Vance is doing what he does best with damage control. Wrapping things up and ending them on a positive note is the way you move things forward. Katsumi knows this. She also knows that she's horrified of what just happened. Watching her opponent be wheeled out makes her heart sink. That is NOT what she intended. How did that even happen? Was it the ring? Was it that bad? It was holding up just fine earlier. It-

She's derailed as Caitlin takes her wrist and holds it aloft. A superhero is raising her arm in victory. God, why couldn't this have happened with the way the match was supposed to end!? It's so bittersweet now, and fear for the girl's well-being is practically all she can think about! But she plasters on that cocky smirk of hers, nodding to the audience. She doesn't so much as look at Caitlin. She's the referee, after all, and she totally didn't help her out earlier. This is a fair and just outcome. Nothing more! Her image is at least intact, she hopes.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we're going to take a few minutes to fix the ring! And then we're back on schedule! Complimentary snacks are available for the inconvenience!," announces Vance with that brilliant smile of his.

To the tune of her entrance music, Katsumi tugs away from Caitlin and hops down from the ring. She makes her way up the ramp, eyes closed, hands raised with palms outturned, and hips set to sashay as she leaves. Ever the Punk Princess.

The moment she's backstage and away from the audience and cameras, she's rushing to the medical team. "Ohmygod, is she okay!? What happened?! Is she hurt!?"

The medics aren't giving her any direct answers, however, and the Russian representatives look furious.


Caitlin isn't far behind Katsumi, and where the Russians are giving the girl baleful looks, they're less willing to cross the towering redhead. She does have sort of a grim set to her jaw, giving her an authority that goes beyond even the knockoff referee's tee she's still wearing.

"Okay, look, I heard that hit," she tells the medic, finally. "It sounded like a cracked rib at least. I just wanna know if you're taking her for a chest brace or an EKG for her heart. Okay?"

The medic sighs heavily, slumping under Caitlin's stare. "Both," he says, finally. "She's definitely got a cracked few ribs but her heart rate's a little erratic. I'll…" He glances at Kat, then at Caitlin. "I'll let *you* know what's up. If she says it's OK," he adds.

Caitlin turns to Katsumi and gently (but irrevocably) tugs the girl to a quiet corner to talk. She uplifts a palm at Kat to apologize for manhandling her and steps a pace away, hugging her stomach. "What the heck happened?" she asks, looking bewildered. "You hit her like a doggone freight train!"


Being deliberately passed for information hurts, and Katsumi shows it. "I- I didn't-..," is all she manages to get out. In the back of her mind, she knows that somehow she did cause this. In some bizarre way, she hit the girl with so much force that she broke the ring. And her ribs. Maybe worse.

Her arms wrap defensively around herself, quiet for all of five seconds before she's being nabbed. Caitlin may find that it's considerably harder to tug Katsumi than it was pulling her into a hug before the show. Certainly not insurmountable, but likely something she would detect through that physical contact. Katsumi's bright magenta eyes lift to Caitlin's face. "I- I don't know! It was harder than it should've been! Maybe the ring was broke!" She's floundering.

"Where is she!?," demands a Japanese male voice. A couple members of the Russian team point him in the direction Caitlin tugged her away, and he storms after them. "Oshiro! What happened!?"

The girl places her palms to her cheeks, rubbing over them in stress. "I don't know!"

"You! You were there, what happened?," he asks, redirecting his focus onto Caitlin.

"Show accident," Caitlin assures Katsumi's coach, speaking with a firm tone of conviction. "I saw the whole thing. Svetlana was on her front foot and moving into it instead of moving backwards. I think she just got the timing wrong. Fortunately, Katsumi isn't hurt," Caitlin says, resting a gentle hand on the Japanese girls' shoulder. "I think we should all be thankful for that," she adds, and flashes Katsumi a reassuring smile.


Coach? Oh no. It would've been so much better if that's what he was. As it happens, the man she's talking to is the general manager of the NWF - Katsumi's home federation. And he doesn't look remotely satisfied with this explanation beyond a level of polite deferrence. The look he slants to Katsumi tells her that they're far from finished going over this. Caitlin can no doubt feel her tensing up under her hand.

His steely gaze returns to Caitlin. "Thank you for your assessment, Miss Fairchild." He turns his attention directly to Katsumi. "Meet me in Mr. Delaney's office in three minutes."

Katsumi gives a tiny, stiff nod. He leaves. Her eyes start to water.

"Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod," she whispers to herself, moving her palms from her cheeks to her eyes. "He said I was okay! I'm obviously not okay! What the #^&@ is happening to me!?"


Priorities: Caitlin hugs Katsumi, because the girl looks like she desperately needs a hug.

Cait's also a good hugger. The redhead's got that sense of being stalwart and unflappable, like if the sky itself was falling she could hold it up for a while. "It's okay," she says, as reassuringly as possible. "It was an accident. These things happen," she reminds Katsumi, and provides some nonverbal, soothing support until Kat can get her trembling fear under control.

"Wh-who said you were okay?" she asks, holding Katsumi's triceps and looking down at the woman. "Is something going on?" She hesitates, reading the fear and uncertainty in Katsumi's face. "Look, like… I get it. I really do. I've dealt with… stuff… surprising me," she says, delicately edging around the issue. "If you wanna talk, I'll listen."


The hug was a little too much for Katsumi. She's still not used to it, but physical affirmations and affection is so utterly foreign to her that it hits her like a lightning bolt now. The tears spill over, and Katsumi keeps her face fervently hidden in her hands, desperately not wanting to be seen like this.

Caitlin pulls her back, holding her to look at her, and Katsumi's hands lower from her face. She hurriedly wipes at her cheeks before looking back up at her. "The medic! He cleared me! L-look at me! Look!," she says, growing more emphatic by the moment. "My eyes are not this color! It got me worried, so I went to see the medic! And he cleared me! But I'm not okay! I hit her so hard!"


Caitlin tilts Katsumi's face towards the light and moves to touch cheek and brow, trying to get a better look at the new color. She shakes her head in frustration and looks at the manager's door, still cracked expectantly, and looks at Katsumi. "Listen, I saw it. You weren't trying to lay her out," she assures Kat. "But accidents happen. After your manager's done, *text* me, okay?" she tells her. "Like I said, I know a bit about this. Lemme help you. Okay?"


Katsumi Oshiro obligingly lets Caitlin manipulate her face however she wishes, no doubt able to see the fear still behind those bright magentas. They furtively glance aside towards the office, then back to Caitlin. She's at a complete loss. "O-okay. I will." The eyes start to tear up again. "If you know anything about it, that's- that'll help. Thanks."

There's no biting teases from her. She's too twisted up internally for it, and much too appreciative of the gentility with which she's being treated.

"I'll just go.. see.. what they wanna do.."


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