April 27, 2019:

Katsumi is attempting to sneak back out of the Titans Tower when Caitlin spots her. They have it out concerning whether or not Katsumi belongs. In the end, Katsumi doesn't think Caitlin gets it…


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

Something Caitlin missed the most during the Titan hiatus was the communal dinners.

Family time, really. A group of friends sitting at a table. The Justice League is too impersonal at times with hundreds of support staff around.

The Titans, with their appetites, are usually a most receptive audience.

So Wednesday night is pizza. Well, Caitlin's take on pizza. Fresh hand-rolled dough, homemade tomato sauce, butcher-wrapped meats. A rack of four industrial ovens makes the epic task of preparing team meals a lot more manageable, and one third of the kitchens' counterspace is given over to the task. Caitlin's working with her hands to prep the food and interacting with a holodisplay over the other island. She moves a few containers of sauce aside and starts kneading out another roll of dough. Olive leggings, grey hoodie, and a salmon pink apron of all things. Her hair's back in a ponytail and flour dusts her hands, nose, and one cheekbone. "I still don't like how that fluid dynamic looks," she tells the simualtion. "Move the secondary baffles back four millimeters, increase their dimensions by ten percent, and run the simulation again," she prompts.


Just earlier this morning (read: roughly 4:30 a.m. or so?), Katsumi returned from nearly a week of absence from the Tower, following a physical altercation with Spoiler. Spoiler had attempted to tamper with the surveilance equipment after the fight to erase records of it having happened, however. On the same day, a small shrine had been constructed in the corner of the common area on a low shelf - topped with an assortment of odds and ends that look like a whole lot of nothing from most angles, but when viewed just right, reveals a monstrous humanoid face. And today, Katsumi's return was announced with a hoverbike parking outside and bringing a more severely injured Spoiler to the medical staff.

Katsumi spent a long time debating what to do once Spoiler was taken off her hands. But it was Ami who lured her back into the Tower, at least for a while. She went back into the room she'd been using and discovered all of her things were still there. She considered changing out of her street fighting gear - a gray and black crossback sportsbra, black conforming yoga pants, combat boots, and fingerless fighting gloves - but opted out of it. If she was going to hit the road again, she may as well be comfortable. It wasn't subtle, but when was she ever?

At last, the door to Katsumi's would-be room opens, and the girl emerges with her black duffel with pink trim slung over her shoulder, head down and attempting to make her way for the stairs without being noticed. The excessively woolly calico isn't more than a couple feet behind her.



Caitlin rests her palms on the countertop, hesitation and concern warring on her fine features. The holograph is waved away with a dismissive flicker of a gesture at the floating wireframe and her shoulders roll to her ears with the lean.

She swallows. There's a fine point between fighting to keep someone around and letting them find their own path, and it's clear Caitlin's unsure where this particular situation is at. "Listen, uh… before you head off, c'mon have some dinner," she says, avoiding the issue for a moment. "Everything seems a bit better when you've got a full belly, if you ask me." Without waiting for confirmation, she reaches into an oven and pulls out a steaming hot pizza rack and sets it on the counter to cut apart with a pizza cutter.


Katsumi Oshiro tenses upon hearing her name, and freezes mid-step. The calico does as well, but is the first to act afterwards. He pads closer to her heel and tips his head back to look at the Japanese girl. And, following suit, he speaks in Japanese: <Remember. You are not like them.> He then turns to pad off towards the corner of the room, fully expecting this situation to take a minute.

Katsumi, meanwhile, breathes a soft sigh and turns around to move into the kitchen. "You said that before," she murmurs to the redhead on approach. The pizza is given a glance, but she can't think about food right now. The self-awareness, the self-consciousness, is too heavy. "Why do you want me around? Is it just to throw me in jail? Can't I just go and we forget about what happened? I brought'er back, I didn't do this to'er."

She is, of course, referring to the fight with Spoiler, which resulted in the batling's injury, and bringing her back from Gotham in even worse condition.


Caitlin presses fingertips to her forehead. Lips press into a consternated line and she sighs wearily.

"Golly. Kats, I…. I don't know," she admits. "I don't know what I'm doing here. This?" She gestures vaguely around her. "This is the first time I've been in charge here. I've always been the oldest, or the most senior, but like… Robin ran things like a rail station when he got this going. And for a while it was Kori, or Donna. I'm not… I don't know how to just grab your arm and twist it and make you stay, and I can't logically sort out the whys and reasons for it."

She transfers pizza to a plate and slides it to Katsumi's position. Utensils and napkins follow and she stands with arms uncomfortably folded over her belly. "I don't know if you *should* stay. I just know my gut says that… that you need us and we need you. It's rough going now, but it's not going to get any easier for you on the road trying to do a solo act. Believe me, it gets really … lonely."


Katsumi Oshiro blinks owlishly at Caitlin's response. Those bright magentas dip to the pizza again, but quickly snap back up to Caitlin, confused.

"I don't-.. what? Caitlin, I could've killed her! I nearly put'er through the wall! I dunno why she was coming at me the way she was, but I'm not good for you people! I'm not, like, heroic! I wreck things. That's what I do."

She shifts the duffel on her shoulder, fidgeting.

"It's always been that way. And if you keep me around, it's gonna happen again. Because I'm not like you. I don't fit in with… people." She shoots a glance to the feline, who is currently sitting on a pillow before the little shrine. "He was right about me from the start." She looks back to Caitlin. "I'm a monster."


"Yeah. You … you really screwed up," Caitlin agrees. "And she did, too. I don't know what's going on with you two. Maybe you need a counselor, or she does. Or you two need … team counseling. I'm not a psychiatrist," she says, begging a little forgiveness as she improvises.

"I do know that if… if you *see* yourself as a monster, you *think* of yourself as a monster, and then you start *acting* like a monster and you hate yourself even more." She scowls suddenly at the calico, a sincerely angry expression that looks quite out of place on her normally compassionate features.

"But I also know that of the voices around you right now— the Titans, me, anyone else— the only person who seems to keep insisting you're a monster is the one person who is very *last* qualified to decide who gets to be 'human'," she points out, acidly. "I think we should trust our own species to tell us the definition of 'human' versus 'monster'."


Katsumi Oshiro sighs softly. "You don't understand. This is who I am. It's what I've always done. The thing that makes people good, or able to get along with people? I don't have it. It's broke." She follows the point to the calico, who is minding his own beeswax - or at least disinterested in the goings on - then looks back to Caitlin. "He's the only one that's given me any kind've reason why I'm like this. And given what I'm..," she pauses, lifting her hands to regard her palms, "..what I've BECOME, I dunno. I've always wrecked things. I just never had a word for why before."

One hand drops again, the other moving to support the duffel on her shoulder.

"I hate that I do it. And I've tried to.. not.. do it. But it never changes. And if I do it with you people, how long before I get called a, a supervillain or some s#^@?"


"How long if you go solo?" Caitlin counters.

"Katsumi I— I know how easy it is to make mistakes. Big, world-shattering mistakes. That can get people killed, even. But the difference is that when you're with a group of people, you're *trying* to get better. You're *trying* to improve. Others are holding you accountable."

"If you go off on your own, there's no one trying to help you meet your own standards. It's just you and the cat and the cat telling you to stop trying to be human because it's just easier to be lazy and violent and not think of yourself as people."

A thought occurs to her. "If I were a bad person and wanted to turn someone into a monster, I'd keep telling them they're not really human. Because I don't think you'd ever stop thinking of yourself as a human— you'd just stop thinking of everyone *else* as being human."


"If I go solo? Same as before I joined you guys, probably. Cait, this is just who I am. I'm Katsumi, destroyer of relationships. I can't have friends. That's been true ever since I was young, okay?" There's a little exasperation in her voice as she feels she's not being understood. "This isn't me just being lazy. I've tried walking on eggshells. I really have! It doesn't last. I screw up and hurt people. It causes fights. Like with that Spoiler girl. And now that I'm.. like.. lethal, without even trying to be, I can't do that. I don't wanna hurt you people."

She looks again to the disinterested calico.

"You think the cat's evil? Is that it? That he's, like, manipulating me?"


"I think that *it* isn't human," Caitlin corrects pointedly. "I think that if you want…I don't know. Tactical advice, or knowledge, or magical wisdom, go talk to a spirit animal. If you're really worried about being human, come talk to a human."

Frustration washes over her features. "Katsumi I don't know how to help you here. Do you want to stay and think you're … what, not worthy of it? No one thinks they're up for this job, and the ones who *do* are even worse."

She flicks frustrated fingers into the air. "Help me here. Do you want to stay? Can I do anything to *help* you if you stay?"


"Cait," says Katsumi as she looks back to her. "I know I'm a human being. Or mostly. At least partially. I'm not saying I'm a literal f#^@ing goblin. Come on."

The duffelbag is transferred from one shoulder to the other, Caitlin's frustration exacerbating her own.

"It's not even the 'job' I'm talking about! It's who I am, as a person! I'm trying to tell you that I'm not like you! I'm not like Spoiler! I'm not like Nadia! I don't get along with people! It's not fixable! It's just what you get with me! I wanted this to work, and all the weird gods know you've been patient with me, but look what happened! I hurt one of your team-buddies!"

Finally, the calico hops down from the cushion and pads over to the two.


"Do you think you're the only one with problems?!" Caitlin's temper finally cracks and she slaps a palm against the countertop. Perhaps harder than she meant to— the noise is like a thunderclap. At least she didn't break it, but even Caitlin looks alarmed at her uncharacteristic outburst.

"Golly Katsumi, I just— I almost want to just swat you with a spoon or something!" she says, irascibly. She presses on, undeterred. "I'm so mad at you and Spoiler I can't see straight. She's going out of her way to push your buttons, and you're going out of your way to *let* her do it. She's doing it because Batman's got those darned kids twisted around themselves seeing boogeymen in every shadow and stranger, and you're letting her do it because you think she's proving that you're as bad as you think you are?"

"I can't believe *I'm* the one saying this, but is it remotely possible you two are just both acting *very immature* here?" she asks, spreading her hands in stony appeal to Katsumi.


Katsumi Oshiro jumps at the hand slapping the counter. But that jump pales in comparison to the feline's backwards vertical jaunt into the air in surprise, as cats tend to do when startled. Quite undignified for something like him, and terribly hilarious, given his dour default expression and absurd level of woolliness.

It has had the side-effect of cutting Katsumi loose of the eggshells she'd already been trying to stand on, however. Surprise! "I- what!?," balks Katsumi. "I kicked her ass because she wouldn't get out of my f#^@ing face! Even when I warned'er to back off! When she tried to throw me, that s#^@ was ON!," she retorts, angry. "Am I supposed to just let someone who's supposed to be my friend be an ultra-b#^@ all in my face?!"


"Yes!" Caitlin says, goggling. "My gosh, did it not occur to you that you could cripple her for life if you sneeze too hard?" she asks. She looks astonished.

"This— this is what I've been trying to help you understand," she tells Katsumi, begging the woman's attention. "You're *bulletproof*. You're already in the 'every weightlifting medal' category and growing stronger every day. What's Spoiler going to do with a *stick* and some harsh language?"

"We— we don't get to lose our tempers. We have to stand there and smile and nod and put up with mean language and deal with the little beestings because if we lose control it's not a 'golly I'm sorry, I'll send you a fruit basket at home'. It'll be you in prison getting letters about how hard it is to rebuild a crushed spine."

She lets a pregnant pause drive her words home, then turns and busies herself pushing food in and out of the ovens. Dinner is being served, albeit with some savage temper taken out on it. Roll that dough, beat it up!

"Spoiler's being a butt and if I knew where that doggone ninja was, I'd tan her hide with a spoon," she grumbles, darkly. "And she's gonna tell me it's all perfectly justified and how it's very necessary and it's not her fault. Well, *one* of you has to be the bigger person," she tells Katsumi, and wags a heavy granite rolling pin at her like it's a pencil. "So who's gonna stand up and show she's more mature first? Are you gonna let her upstage you and show that she's really the more mature one?"

Caitlin huffs angrily, her ire abated, and sets her shoulders to start rolling the dough out. The motions are still rather aggressive.


The calico has begun snickering, now that his fur isn't on end.

"Well, I'M SORRY!," barks Katsumi. Caitlin's ire might have abated, but Katsumi's is still in full swing, unsatisfied. "I don't beat up toddlers! And I was TRYING to hold back, but I'm not taking s@^# from people who're supposed to be my friend when I don't even know what I did to p@$ her off! I didn't MEAN to hurt her! If the problem is me standing up for myself, get f@$#ing bent, Caitlin! I'm gonna get better control over my strength, but I'm no one's b@$#&!"

Hands are balled into fists at this point.

"If you wanna find her? Check medical. I hauled her ass in all the way from Gotham after SAVING her! Twice!" Well, maybe twice. She might have had the first situation covered. "What more do you want from me!?"


"I just want you to *try*!" Caitlin's voice is quite calm in comparison to Katsumi's outburst, meeting aggression with neither resistance nor acceptance. "I just want you to make mistakes, get up, dust yourself off, and *keep* trying."

She sighs wearilyr and her head hangs. "I'm not going to force you to stay, Katsumi. If you hate it here then you *shouldn't* stay. If you only want to leave because of Spoiler, then you shouldn't *go*. You two should sit down and work it out and find a way to co-exist. No one has any more right to be here than anyone else."

"I guess— I guess I just want you to be honest with me," she concludes, finally. "If you really hate it here and want to go because you genuinely think that this is a bad fit, then fine. Go. But if even a *bit* of you thinks you might be jumping on the knife a little premptively— a *little*— because deep down you just don't think you're worthy of a little love and friendship and camraderie— then I think you ought to at least give us a fair shake."


Katsumi Oshiro is silent for a few seconds, then breathes a tense sigh and drops her gaze to the floor underfoot. "I AM trying. Or I was," she says, tone subdued, drained. "I didn't hate it here. I just-.. I don't want to hurt you people."

Her eyes lift again to Caitlin. "You be honest. Look at me. Do you really think I belong here? That I fit in?"

The calico hops up onto a stool beside the island, jade gaze trained curiously on Caitlin.


Caitlin just stares at Katsumi. "I— I can't tell if you're trying to be funny or not," she hedges, uncertainly. "Or if you're baiting me."

She fiddles with the holocomputer and brings up a group photo of the last iteration of the Titans, with herself bookending the group on the left side.

"Cassie's dad is Zeus." She points at a grinning blonde. "Raven's dad is a demon."

"Kori's an alien princess, Bart's from the future, Zatanna's a sorceress, Spider-Man's a *huuuuge* nerd, Silk was literally, LITERALLY raised in an underground bunker. For gosh sake, I'm— I'm a flipping *clone* of my dead dad," Caitlin tells Katsumi. "Superboy and I bonded over being educated by AI in a virtual environment."

She flicks the picture over to Spoiler and Robin standing shoulder to shoulder. "They're the two most 'normal' members of the group, and they run around Gotham at night with no superpowers at all, fighting the criminally deranged."

"If there's a 'normal', it's *not* here at the Tower."


Katsumi Oshiro blinks at first, not understanding Caitlin's incredulity. And then the photos and information roll by, and she believes she gets what's being said. And it seems to not set well with her as her expression darkens.

"Okay, all of that is a f#^&-ton of weird to get through, but who the Hell cares? Where you're from, what your powers are, if you're an alien, or all that crap, does any of it matter? I'm talking about ME." She juts her free thumb towards her chest. "The ass@^&$ who hurts anyone she gets close to. Got jack to do with my powers, parents, ANYTHING. It's just who Katsumi is. And I can't imagine any team, or.. sorority.. frat.. whatever this is.. could benefit from something like that."


"That's the point! None of it matters. No one's special because nothing here is *special* or exceptional or weird," Caitlin explains. She pushes her hair back from her face and shakes her head, tense. "Look, I'm… I can't keep doing this with you. I've made it real clear I want you to stay, but I can't make you get over this feeling you have that you aren't worth anything to anyone. I don't know what you can do for the team. I don't know what anyone can do for the team. Some people have amazing superpowers and they are completely worthless in a fight," Caitlin tells Katsumi.

"You don't yet know what you can do for a team. That doesn't make you worthless. It just makes you inexperienced. And the only thing that can help with that is staying with a team and learning by trial and error."

She looks at Katsumi, then turns away and returns to setting dinner out. "Anyway, I'm… I've got to get dinner out. I'm gonna call people down in a minute and then go eat in my room, I guess. I hope you're still here when I get done, but if you're not, then… well, you know where to find me." Caitlin picks up a pizza from the counter, gives Katsumi a look of mixed uncertainty, empathy, and worry, and pushes Kat's plate towards her another inch. "Anyway, enjoy dinner."

She gathers some napkins and plods towards her room to disappear behind the *swoosh* of the pneumatic door locking behind her.


Katsumi Oshiro seems to tense at what seems to be surrender, and what follows just draws a deeper frown from her. She stands there in silence, staring down at the pizza, not looking back at Caitlin as she leaves.

But the calico is looking at Caitlin.

And when the door shuts, he looks back up at Katsumi. "She does not understand. But you already knew that."

Katsumi exhales quietly. "…Yeah."

Herukage hops down from his stool. "Well. Eat if you are going to. I will be waiting." And he disappears down the stairwell.

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