Science and Art

May 13, 2019:

Katsumi has settled into the Titans Tower, and Caitlin comes in for a jam session. They discuss the nature of music and Caitlin's boo.

Titans Tower - Katsumi's Room

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The habitation level of the Titans Tower is quiet, all but for the soft music emanating from a room left open.

"Don't go changin', to try to please me. You never let me down before.. mm-mm-hmm~.."

The room in question, for those in the know, has recently been claimed by one of the team's newest members, Katsumi Oshiro. Her and her odd cat have been settling in a bit more since an awkward start, and if the sounds coming from the room are any indication now, things are looking up.

Recently, Nadia helped Katsumi move most of her belongings all the way from Metropolis to the Tower - in tiny form. Once resizing to a more normal scope, some hard choices had to be made concerning what could stay and what had to go into storage. Katsumi didn't live in anything approaching an impressive or even middle-class apartment in Japan, but it was certainly more than the dormitory here would accommodate. But nevertheless, the room is looking distinctly more Oshiro.

"Don't imagine.. you're too familiar. And I don't see you~ anymore…"

The decor is very modest, save for some music and professional wrestling posters on the walls. The floor is kept sensibly clear, and a wide flatscreen television is set against the wall. A few gaming consoles are neatly stacked at its base. A smart, tidy little futon rests against the wall, replacing the standard bed for what most might assume is a better economy of space. Naturally, there's a new dresser present, and no doubt more clothing has found its way into the closet. At the far end of the dorm, however, is a technological nest of sorts. With a high-end desktop computer serving as the focal point, top notch recording and audio engineering gear is arranged about it, including a couple cameras, microphones, pop filters, mixers, and headsets. A variety of instruments are also surround the seating space, including an electronic drumset, violin, and a trio of guitars - acoustic, bass, and a deep blue electric.

"I~ would not leave you… in times of trouble. We never could've come this far.. mm-mm-hm~.."

But the instrument that is currently seeing use is the full electronic keyboard. With a relaxed smile on her face, Katsumi's nimble fingers gracefully stroking the early notes of Billy Joel.

"I took the good times. I'll take the bad times~.. I'll take you just the way you are~"

*

"Knock knock." The door's a little open and Caitlin sticks her head into Katsumi's room. The melody floating from the woman's dorm certainly gives the Tower a lively atmosphere— lived-in, rather than merely occupied.

There's a lull in the music and Caitlin clears her throat. "Knock knock!" she adds, and reaches waaaay over to tap Katsumi's shoulder with something. It proves to be a horsehair instrument bow, a little resin clinging to the strands. She flashes a grin at Katsumi and walks into the room with a cello neck in her left hand. Compared to Caitlin's stature, it almost looks like a slightly oversized viola. "Glad to see you got the least of the stuff moved in." In a pink hoodie and grey calf-length leggings, Caitlin is the picture of relaxed fashion and casual attire. "I thought we could practice a bit, I'm still having a little trouble with that, uh, that bridge in that Schubert piece you gave me, Sonata… D? Arpeg—" She tries to read the name of the sheet music again. "Doggone it, Italian is so weird," she mutters. "Anyway, up for a little jam session?"

*

Katsumi Oshiro is in the midst of drawing out the most iconic nine notes of the song's bridge when Caitlin announces her presence. And despite the surprise, it seems neither jarring nor unwelcome by the much-smaller Japanese girl. She offers a bright, inviting smile, then shoots the bow a critical look. Then quickly back to Caitlin. "No shoes~," she helpfully reminds. Though from her particular angle, she can't even see if Caitlin is wearing any at the moment. Still, it bears mentioning. Katsumi is still very Japanese, despite her easy integration to American culture.

"And it's 'arpeggio'," the foreign girl purrs. "Italian's weird, yeah." All the while, her fingers continue to dance along the keys, carrying on the song even without her vocals.

The request, however, gets a brighter grin. "Hey, sure. Yeah. Make yourself comfortable, but like be careful. Americans use way taller chairs than what I've got." And what she has are two simple, low wicker chairs. They may or may not supprt Caitlin.

*

Caitlin pauses one step in, backs up, and thoughtfully kicks off her low, ankle-baring denim Keds. They're put neatly near the door by Katsumi's shoes with Caitlin's typical fussy sense of tidiness and she only then proceeds into the room. The two chairs are given a *very* suspicious look, so just to be safe Caitlin elects to sit on the edge of Katsumi's futon. Very, very carefully. It creaks a little protest, but holds, and she relaxes her shoulders when it doens't just snap under her.

"Sheesh, we really need to standardize some of the furniture in here," she mutters to herself. "Bolt it to load-bearing equipment."

She settles the cello between her knees and draws the bow across the strings. All in tune, fortunately. "I haven't made it past the first movement much yet. Can you lead me in on…" Her eyes go a little out of focus as her AI scrolls through the music in her AR headset. "Let's start on the fifth page, where it starts doing that 'doodly toodly doo' bit and then see how it goes?" She sets bow to string and waits for Katsumi to play her in.

*

Katsumi Oshiro audibly inhales when her bed creaks, frame tensing. But when it seems to settle, she lets the held breath go. "Okay." Her fingers cease the rolling melody at hand, and she murmurs a facetious, "Raincheck, Billy."

Katsumi's own attire is simple, if a bit more modest than the usual. A white t-shirt clings to her torso, sporting a pink feline head that's just, just shy of copyright infringement with Napster. A pair of black cotton short shorts hugs her hips and rear, ending with her feet capped in fuzzy pink socks.

The girl takes a moment to consider, then shakes her head and moves into the corner of some still-bundled belongings. Sifting through them, she produces the arpeggione sonata sheets. She lifts a couple prongs on the back of her keyboard as a music stand, sets them nice and evenly, then begins. The touches on the keyboard are light, meant to complement and guide, not assume the lead. Feathery, quick, but at the same time effortless - or so is the illusion. And when it gets to the cello, she turns her head to give a telling glance over her shoulder towards Caitlin.

*

Caitlin's head is nodding in time with the subtle ticking of a metronome. Katsumi's sense of rhythm is much more developed than the redhead's. Caitlin sets bow to string, lightly scraping, and once Katsumi leads her in she nods twice and starts into the first movement. It's a light and airy piece, a little whimsical despite evoking the plaintive melodies of pre-war Poland at times.

She plays with a crisp technical precision, eyes staring blankly into space to keep up with the flickering lights in her contact lenses. She gets most of the way through the movement with little trouble but one tricky bit of scaling seizes her fingers up and by the time she untwists them, Katsumi's left her hopelessly behind. The bow scrapes against the strings and she exhales wearily. "Doggone it, I just— I can do it *slow*, but once we uptempo it all just comes off the stinkin' rails," she complains. She purses her lips with a hard set of her jaw and goes through it with a careful deliberation. Perfect technical execution, each note crisp and clear, but she's lacking the refinement of practice that creates necessary economy of motion.

*

Katsumi Oshiro giggles softly, despite Caitlin's apparent frustration. "Just keep practicing it slow. Then gradually pick up the pace. Then don't let yourself do it slow anymore. You'll get it!" Turning more directly to the redhead, Katsumi's hands set against her backside, bowing her elbows outwards in a gawky, yet somehow chill posture. "Wanna know a performance secret?"

An eyebrow perks enticingly.

*

Caitlin pauses mid-note, and her eyes narrow a little suspiciously at Katsumi. The bow scrapes away, tip aimed at the floor, and she points the adjustment rod at Katsumi. It's weirdly like she's wielding the bow like a sparring sword and is considerate enough not to aim the point at her friend.

"If it's 'think of the audience naked', that's a wildly inappropriate thing to tell a teammate," she says, adopting a tone so severe that it moves itself into wry humor. "Also, it doesn't work. I tried it at a Stark Expo event and it made me even *more* nervous. Nervouser? Either way, I almost horked into a potted plant backstage."

*

"Oh, psh, no, if you all haven't done that already, I just don't get Americans," Katsumi scoffs breezily. Is she being serious? Is she joking? She doesn't linger on it long enough to be clear!

"No, the performance secret? Don't stop. If you screw up, keep goin'. Nine times out've ten, the audience has no f@^$ing clue what it's supposed to sound like, and thanks to people like Mariah Carey, the ones who do know are just gonna think you're 'making it your own'. So fake that s@$#, sweetie!"

Katsumi gives a bright giggle and tilts her head slightly to the side.

*

Caitlin makes a reflexive face at the profanity, but no mention is made otherwise. "Yeah… okay," she says, wearily. "I just hate that little bit. It does that… bit where it wants two fast tremeolos and then up and down three octaves, and…" She exhales air up from her lower lip, blasting her bangs around, and shakes her head.

"Okay, 'nuff whining, I'll get it," she promises Katsumi. Caitlin flexes her back and shoulders to shake out some tension and reinforce a proper posture before setting bow to strings again and once Katsumi leads them in, she starts playing once more. They get through the first movement with only a few hiccoughs from Caitlin's side. "See, this middle bit, this is *way *easier," Caitlin tells Katsumi. "These just feel like scales practices." She furrows her brow and focuses on the middle distance, tongue peeking out the side of her mouth as she follows along her digital sheet music again.

*

"Pft, whaddaya want, Twinkle-Twinkle? If it were easy, they'd call it Mrs. Fairchild, know what I mean?!," Katsumi teases in that typical, horrific Katsumi fashion.

Even as she speaks, Katsumi's fingers begin gently rolling along the keys in that slow, deliberate lead-in. Perhaps a bit slower than necessary, an attempt to give Caitlin more opportunity to prepare. "Just focus now," she coos. "Focus and PLAY. Music's awesome, because it's science AND art. So don't forget to PLAY."

*

"Huh?" The jibe sails completely over Caitlin's head and Katsumi's given a blank look. She just shakes her head and plunges on, trying to keep up with Katsumi. The slower tempo definitely helps her out and her motions become a bit less hurried.

"I've been using my simulator every night," she assures Katsumi. "/And/ practicing, so it's not all just…" She makes a vaguely loopy gesture near her head during a piano bit, and then jumps back in. "I think it's helping. At least, I mean I'm not like, playing four hours a day. Between work and stuff—" she breaks off to focus on the bridge again, and then when the second movement concludes she nods decisively and sets her bow aside. "How am I getting *hand cramps*?" she demands of Katsumi, flexing her fingers. "I figured with all the time I spend on a computer, it wouldn't be this bad." At least there's no risk of practice blisters.

*

Katsumi Oshiro watches Caitlin more than the sheet music, offering the latter quick, furtive glances to pre-read upcoming measures. She's familiar enough with the piece, it seems. Not enough to do it all without sheets, but enough to ghost her way through it. At least on the piano part.

When Caitlin sets the bow aside, Katsumi bookends her part with a gentle flourish - then turns to face her again. "Are you havin' fun?," she asks. There's no trick to the question, no tease. It's a direct, honest, and simple question.

*

Caitlin starts to speak, thinks better of it, and closes her mouth. Her brow furrows.

"I'm… I'm not sure yet," she admits. Heels drum against the floor in agitation. "I feel like I should be a lot better at this. I can do differential equations in my head. Why am I having such a hard time with learning the stupid doggone cello?" she asks, scowling. "I get all the musical chord progression stuff but I can't keep it in my head *and* play the music at the same time."

*

Katsumi Oshiro exhales a puff of air, tousling some wispy silken bangs hanging in her face before she makes her way around her musical nest to the futon. She starts to turn to sit, then seems to reconsider. The sound of the furniture creaking is loud in her memory, so maybe adding her own weight to the mix wouldn't be wise. Instead, she just stands next to the redhulk.

"That's the problem," she says, voice considerably softer than before. If one were to disassociate the voice from its source, it might even sound sweet. "In order to be good at anything, you've gotta first love sucking at it. You could practice until you're the next Amazonian Yanni, but you're gonna make stupid mistakes and hate yourself, and eventually hate the music, if it isn't already in your heart."

She bumps her still-human-strength fist lightly at Caitlin's shoulder. It's still daytime yet.

"Be okay with sucking. Lean into it. Practice, but do it because you love it. Not because it's trendy, or makes sense, or whatever."

"You can't force art. Then you get that ugly-a$$ $#@^ty modern art garbage. I wanna hear YOUR Sistine Chapel. Not Michelangelo's. Even IF he was the best turtle."

*

"I don't know who Yanni is," Caitlin confesses. "But I don't wanna… I don't know, I don't wanna be *great* or anything. I just want to be 'okay' at it." She pushes her hair back from her face. It's gone curly again of late and a hairband barely holds the bulk of it aligned with her spine. "I read all these…. I mean, everyone you read about in history books plays an instrument. /Something/. And I'm getting better. This just isn't coming easy for me, and I feel like it *should* and it's just super frustrating. Fighting's easy. Calculus and engineering, super easy. I can do this, I just don't want to stuck listening to this Yanni character and envying them."

She glances up at Keiko. "I'm sure she's a great musician though," she adds, hastily.

*

"Oh, F#^@ no, you did NOT just call that gorgeous man a lady," Katsumi balks in faux-outrage. "He's a Greek-or-something-I-don't-know musician who's done like SO MUCH CRAP since I think before I was even born, and all his stuff is super dramatic and my god, what I wouldn't give to hear him do something live in person!"

The girl moves so quickly, so suddenly, to her desktop computer that she's nearly left behind a cartoony Katsumi-shaped dustcloud where she was standing a moment ago.

While she's tapping away at the keys and mousing over something, she talks, "Practice makes everyone better at everything. These are facts. But you're good at predictable science junk, formulas and whatever. But I already told ya, music is science AND art. It's gotta be in you! You've gotta be able to play just for the fun of it! Just because you love making something out've nothing! And you can totally do that, Caitlin!"

Click. Click.

"You have to just be okay with not being amazing yet! Let yourself ENJOY what you're doing!"

Scrooooll, click.

Volume is adjusted.

"Okay, now listen to this. I'm gonna shut up, you just listen. Connect with it. Close your eyes if you've gotta, just.. just be in the moment. Okay?"

Click.

Music begins playing; The Rain Must Fall, by Yanni.

*

"I-I—" Caitlin's stammered protests are overriden by Katsumi's passionate ire, and she closes her mouth to attend Katsumi's lesson. She starts to shift and work a response up but then the music's playing. Her eyes close dutifully and she nods along with the music for a few minutes. Her eyes open, thoughtful, and focus on the ceiling.

"It's… y'know it kind of reminds me of some of the music that I heard on Themyscira. I mean, that's when I wanted to realy learn how to play, was a while back, they were all doing music, and 'Musa—" Caitlin coughs. "Er, anyway, I thought she'd like it if we could play together, and I've always liked how the cello sounded, so…" She frets her lip, thinking, and then makes a few gestures in the air that indicate she's working with her AI suite.

She sets a cell phone down and a little holo display starts throwing notes on screen. It's a simplistic rendering in the extreme, of course, and Caitlin starts playing along with a halting uncertainty that's more than tempered by a clear preference for the lyrical nature of Themysciran composition.

*

As the music plays, Katsumi is silent. Her pert rear is pushed out, upper-half angled forward to fold her arms along the back of her computer chair, with her cheek resting over them. Her wide, expressive, exotic magenta eyes have taken a dreamy quality~…

Passions run pretty hot for Miss Oshiro.

Caitlin begins speaking again, and Katsumi straightens her posture to cancel Youtube's autoplay. Grudgingly. It was about to do another one, see. She can get to that later. For now, she turns to the redhead.

"You're trying to learn music to impress some chick, huh?," Katsumi asks bluntly. Her hands plant to her hips just above her rear once more, elbows bowing outwards. It's becoming a near-default posture today. She doesn't know Themysciran music. Like, even remotely. Any qualities thereof are lost on her. But Katsumi does seem to have something else in mind. "Think I can help. Get up and come'ere."

Turning once more, Katsumi turns to her computer and pulls up a simple little program; a tuner.

*

"Polemusa," Caitlin says. Just a little crisply, maybe, though by Fairchild's standards her words could barely chill the air. "We're… I mean, she's amazing. She's also my first serious girlfriend. First serious anything. Ever. I don't want her to get bored with me," she admits, squirming once in unease.

"Anyway, what's this, autotuner? Why do I need autotuner?" she asks, confused. Eyes widen in horror. "Oh no, am I *that* bad?" she asks in dismay. "I've been practicing, honest!"

*

"Autotuner?! What are you, T-Payne? No, shut up! It's just a tuner! And it's tweaked to be reeaal sensitive."

Indeed, as Katsumi speaks, the needle is visibly jumping between different note qualities.

"I remember you explaining your girlfriend earlier over awkward spaghetti, don't worry about it. But I have a question for you! Can you whistle?"

*

"Of course I can," Caitlin says, and puts her fingers to her lips. A sharp 'chirp' bounces off the walls, rising swiftly beyond the range of human hearing. It's also loud as hell. "So… I mean, talk me through this," she tells Kastumi, making a 'and go on' gesture. "If this will help, I'll totally give it a try. Is it gonna tell me if I'm out of pitch, or what?"

*

"Eek!," squeaks Katsumi at the sudden shrill noise next to her ear. She leans back from Caitlin and fixes her with a cross look. "Melodically, duh! You know, like normal people? You're not hailing a taxi or picking up trim at a construction yard!"

The Japanese girl steps back to give Caitlin a little more room to move in front of the desktop.

"You wanna impress this girl? You think music's gonna do it? Whistle something. Something you think sounds pretty. The tuner's gonna tell you what the notes are. You write'em down, you make the sheet music, you play it for'er. Baby's first song!"

*

"Wha— nuh-uh, no no no," Caitlin says hastily. "I'm not there yet! I'm not any—" She purses her lips and tries to whistle. It comes out pretty raspily and awkward, and after a few puff-cheeked attempts she manages to get a hoarse sound or two out of it.

"Look, I'll… I'll try," she says, making it a hasty promise. "I will. For now I just want to get good enough not to suck out loud in front of her." Her smiles returns, a little bashfully lopsided, and she tilts her head to blink her lashes at Katsumi. "If I *do* get good, we'll totally… I don't know. Start a band or something," she giggles. "Piano and a cello, what else would we even need? A guitar? Someone playing the triangle?"

*

"Mn. Needs more cowbell." Katsumi feels like she just aged herself by a decade. Woof. Nevertheless, who cares? Dated references are still references!

"Look, you don't have to figure out what you want it to sound like right now. Obviously. But I'm just trying to show you there's an option. And not to get all warm'n squishy with you, but if someone wanted to impress ME? That's what they should do. If I wanted to hear Bach, I'd put on Bach. If I wanted to see the Mona Lisa, I'd go look at what Da Vinci did. But if someone wanted to really show me what I mean to'em? They'd show me THEIR heart."

Her head tilts slightly. "Know what I mean, Big Red?"

*

"I guess," Caitlin says, dubiously. "But I've only been playing cello for lik…." She counts on her fingers. "Six months?" she hazards. "And I'm kind of doing it without any help, no one on any of the teams actually plays the cello. I asked Strange for some tips about stringed instruments."

Lips twitch in a smile and she stands up, then carefully sets the cello on its side on the futon. "I really do appreciate the advise, Kat, I know I'm…" she pushes hair behind her ear, head ducking nervously. "I know I'm still fumbling through this. With Polemusa, I mean," she clarifies. "I'll try and remember what you said."

*

"I play the tiny cello," Katsumi posits and twists at the hips to thumb towards the violin. "I doubt they work quite the same way. I dunno." She always thought the cello was like the stringed instrument version of the tuba. You know - nerd instruments. But for once, she doesn't vocalize that sentiment.

"And I'm here to kind've help, if you need it. If you get over yourself and decide to try to make something unique for'er." The Japanese girl offers up a toothy grin.

At this point, a certain calico feline pads into the room. "Miss Fairchild," he greets in that typical deep, darkly-refined British.

*

"Oh look, it's Garfield. Hi, Garfield," Caitlin tells the cat. She still doesn't entirely trust Katsumi's spirit-guide, but… well, she's at least relatively polite and not being totally snarky at him.

She shoots a gimlet side-eye at Katsumi. "Hey, I made her a *really* pretty Christmas present this year," she says. "Just because I'm bad at music does't mean I have no creativity. I'm an /ace/ with modelling software and a sintering laser." She stoops and picks up her cello, and it's tucked under her arm. "Anyway, dinner's at six still, if you're hungry? I'm thinking of making more of those stuffed pork rolls, everyone seems to like 'em."

*

The cat pauses and lifts his head to train his naturally irritable expression on Caitlin. It's nothing personal - just the way he was made. Literally.

"A third name? I already have a name. Why must I endure so many names?," he puzzles.

Katsumi's expression drops, sympathetic somehow towards both creatures. Ultimately, her gaze lands on Caitlin. "He's- he's like a super racist grandpa. He doesn't get jokes," she excuses.

The calico hops up onto the bed to have a seat, apparently no longer fussed about any of it.

"If music is her jam, then you should play into it. Stop giving yourself an out. Gotta pull that throttle, Red. Pump the gas a little. Shoot a little fire out of that exhaust. No stunt person ever makes the jump if they second-guess themselves on the ramp!" Is this a mixed metaphor? Katsumi isn't really sure. Food is an easier topic to follow.

"Anyway, pork sounds good. I'm gonna try to get a costume made up soon, too!," she suddenly diverts, with the apparent attention span of a squirrel. "Is there like a guy I need to talk to about it?"

*

"Oh, duh," Caitlin says, backpedaling two steps. "Yeah, you'll need to get a hold of the logistics crew at the League. You can use our in-house requisition system, just flag it for League review attention and then they'll allocate some fabric for it. I think…" She wiggles a finger at Katsumi, thinking. "You can probably make unstable molecules work for you, but if you find your outfit's getting wrecked, I have some of my HexFlex material left from my last outfit build. I'd just need a few days to program the assembly code and get the colors right."

*

With a bright, excited smile, Katsumi reports, "None of that made any GODd##635 sense, but okay!"

She's just thrilled to work out an image. That was so much fun when she really got momentum as a professional wrestler that it's nearly painful. And not because of the elbowdrops.

"Use the in-house thing to talk to the people and tell'em how I wanna look! Roger!"

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