Officially, Bakeneko

May 16, 2019:

Katsumi debuts the new costume to Caitlin! And then they talk about Caitlin's self-image. Spoiler: Women don't like being called fat.

Titans Tower - Mud Room

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

*

It's been a couple days since Katsumi and Caitlin spoke about costuming. But it's finally been completed. Durable material, meant to withstand punishment and provide some modicum of protection - sort of - against slashes, pokes, and elements. This is likely more for the benefit of daytime use and certainly wouldn't be tougher than Katsumi's natural physiology at night. But regardless! It's here! It's ready! And Katsumi has the Mud Room occupied and set up.

With a full-sized, four-cornered wrestling ring.

And a bunch of 'NPC' fans filling the stadium.

Full titantron and everything.

Someone's ben having fun.

However, our story begins not with Katsumi, but with the calico trotting through the tower on a mission. And when he finally spots his quarry, he announces his presence in typical imperious manner: "Miss Fairchild, Oshiro-san requests your presence."

*

Caitlin rolls her head sideways and narrows her eyes a little at the cat walking into her room. Sure, the door's open, but she still doesn't have to *like* it. "Thanks, Garfield," she says with the minimal politeness required. She sets her phone aside and pushes off her bed, and glances at the clock.

"Oh, crud, it's after four already?" she says, dismayed. "Okay. Please tell her I'm coming down, I just need to change into gym clothes."

Caitlin closes the door behind the feline spirit and unzips her thin grey hoodie so she can change into a summertime costume choice: midriff baring sports top, shorts, and her heavy knee-high boots with shinguards. All in green and grey, with a little purple trim for balance. She retrives her workout bag and with a hopstep starts towards the elevator, tugging her athletic compression sleeves into place.

Why the sleeves? Because they look cool.

The door to the mudroom opens and Caitlin steps inside, whipping her hair up into a ponytail. "Hey, Kat, sorry I'm what the heckin' what?" Her eyes go wide and she stops just inside the door, taken aback by the sound of screaming audience members and the .. big… ring in the middle of the simulator area.

"…Katsumi?" Caitlin asks cautiously, and steps into the arena.

*

The feline sighs in indignance at the usage of his third acrued name. "I hate Thursdays…," as he exits the room.

The entrance to the Mud Room has been conveniently styled to serve as one of the entrances to the ring, a ramp spreading out before Caitlin leading right down to the squared circle itself. And as Caitlin steps forward, a pair of pyros fire off at either side of her. On the titantron, it displays… well, whatever found footage of Caitlin Katsumi could scrounge up between Youtube and any home videos that she may have snagged from around the Tower. It's a little awkward, but still fun.

A heavy metal tune begins playing over the speakers, and the 'audience' is all a-buzz. Katsumi's voice suddenly superimposes over the noise: "Making her way to the ring! From.. somewhere.. probably in New York! Weighing in at mhmmlamummuh pounds! Caitlin! Fairchild!" Katsumi doesn't know what she weighs, and doesn't really want to know.

In the control deck, the punkette puts the microphone back in its place and grins at the calico. "Wait for the okay, alright?"

"This is ridiculous."

"Atta' boy."

Katsumi sneaks out of the control deck, following a 'backstage' path to a separate entrance. Herukage pushes a button on the control deck and adjusts a slider with grim severity. The music on the speakers changes to an electronica flavor with a synth beat and clear dance-inspired rhythm; light, fun, and distinctly Katsumi. (See: https://akuparagames.bandcamp.com/track/citrik-xs-night-remix) Blue and purple laserlights begin firing off at either side of the ramp in sync with the throb of the music, and a pair of spotlights converge at the top, ready for her appearance.

"And her partner!," announces a very different, very male voice. It isn't Herukage, but rather a sample taken from a previous match, "From Osaka, Japan! Weighing in at 124 lbs.! The Punk Princess! Katsumi! Oshirooo!"

The girl steps out, wearing a distinctly unique ensemble of midriff bearing off-the-shoulder top, brief-style bottoms, leggings, boots, eyemask, and her typical black choker centered in golden coin. She's also wearing a bright, even radiant smile, magenta eyes sparkling like gems as she raises her right fist to an unreal audience - though more for Caitlin's benefit. She then begins towards the ring in a perky skipping trot, ready to grab the top rope and neatly vault herself up and over to land in the ring.

"Heyo~!"

*

Caitlin's eyes get wider at the pyrotechnics. Nothing like some explosive detonations happening with no warning! She yelps in surprise but then, there's a big booming Katsumi voice thundering around, and the crowd going wild, and Caitlin suddenly realizes what this is. She laughs, despite herself, and covers her mouth modestly in a manner that totally fails to conceal her amusement. She watches herself on the Titan-o-Tron, and winces and covers her eyes with a forced chuckle as a few … more disatrous sort of wardrobe malfunctions from her early days are seen. At least nothing terribly revealing is shared.

Katsumi blasts into the area, flexing and signalling the crowd, and Caitlin bounces on her feet and cheers as loudly as anyone in the 'audience'. She breaks into a long stride, jogs the last two steps, and vaults the ten-foot ring barriers with no visible effort. "Brat!" she chides Katsumi, still laughing. "Where did you even *find* those videos? Golly, it's a supercut of my worst fashion disasters," she snorts, and laughs again.

Katsumi's given an admiring once-over. "It's cute, but uh… aren't you worried it's a little revealing? You don't have any core coverage or anything," she points out. Meanwhile, Caitlin's exposed abdominals look like they might be *actual* armor plating, but that's perhaps not a great comparison.

*

"Nah! I'm used to fighting in this much or /less/, remember?," Katsumi replies. "I don't wanna junk up my momentum! Besides, I'm bulletproof!" More or less. Bullets hurt, and enough of them could cause real injury, but for the most part? She's confident. Wearing something like this seems to just emphasize it, or draw it out of her.

Standing in front of Caitlin, Katsumi's arms stretch wide to either side. She kicks into a single slow, showcasing twirl, balancing neatly on her left boot. When she stops, her left fist props to cocked hip, and she sets the V-for-victory sideways across her already-masked eyes. "You love it. Don't lie," she smiles.

*

Caitlin tries to grimace, but it comes out with an unsupressible wink. Her hand waggles back and forth in the air. "It's really cute, Kat," she says, unable to even feign meanness for that long. Her hand drops and she laughs, head shaking. "No, really, it is. The black and purple, it's a *great* look. Everyone's gonna remember it," she assures her friend.

"And it's better than some of my old costumes," Caitlin says, wryly. She glances at the giant screen, then gestures at it wryly with a thumb as Video_Caitlin rips out of an old surplus Army coverall. "I used to buy those in bulk."

She steps closer to Katsumi and her hands lift in a lazy sparring posture. She shuffles closer and swings her palms at the air near Katsumi's hands. "Didja pick a codename yet? You gotta do it really early, if you wait too long then no one will start using it." She makes a face. "Or they make up their own nicknames for you, and then you're just stuck using your own name as a 'least embarassing' option."

*

Katsumi Oshiro quickly assumes a grappling stance to mirror Caitlin, but with considerably more energy and attention. The outfit particularly emphasizes the girl's curves and physical muscletone, lest any forget even without superpowers, she's an athlete. Legs are squared, fingers splayed and raised at the ready, and eyes still brilliantly shiny with excitement. Caitlin may have faked out a swipe for her hands, but Katsumi pounces forward in an effort to grapple with the redhead!

Unfortunately, it's still daytime. It's regular human Katsumi doing the pouncing. Nothing will come of this.

Nevertheless, her hands go for Caitlin's shoulder and collar for a classic lock-up start, and the smile never leaves her face. "You could still name yourself! I'll smack anyone who calls ya something else!," she chirps. "And I HAVE given that some thought. While I was in Gotham, I did some street fighting to get by. And the guy who started doing my promotions wanted me to go by a different name."

The images on the titantron have since ended in favor of a 'camera' view of the two in the ring. The audience continues to cheer them on.

"And by that time, I accepted that I'm different.. but I'm not bad..!"

*

Caitlin provides token resistance, and lets Katsumi get the crosslock in. She sways back and forth and steps around, not quite dragging Katsumi with her but forcing the other woman to stay on-point for her balance.

"I'm good with Fairchild, don't worry. No reason to try and mess with it now," Caitlin laughs. She pushes back and forth with Katsumi a few steps, then when she senses Katsumi trying to out-muscle her she drops smoothly forward in a lunge to try and catch Katsumi's leg and push over her center of resistance.

"So what is it? Kawaii-Girl?" Caitlin teases, still balanced on one knee and keeping her guard up. She duckwalks smoothly up to a low crouch again, a move she no doubt learned from the earliest experts of Greek martial arts— the Amazons. "Or should we save that for a *great* pop band name? 'The Singing Titans' just isn't really grabbing me," she admits.

*

Katsumi Oshiro is surprised she seems to be pushing Caitlin at all. She was starting to resign herself to gnawing on the redhead. But suddenly, it all seems to turn moot as she's brought down to the mat! "Oomf!" The girl lands in a sprawl and quickly lifts onto her elbows, staring back at Caitlin. "Hah! What!? No way. And the 'Singing Titans' sounds like a Majora's Mask reference!"

Seeing Caitlin back off, she kicks her legs up and smoothly transitions into a backroll, right up to her full height. Without missing a beat, she trots backwards to stretch the ropes against her back, then lunges forward in a charge! As she approaches Caitlin, she hops into the air and twists sidelong, aiming to collide her torso against Caitlin's in a running crossbody press! Were Caitlin normal, this would likely bear her down to the mat beneath her. Here and now? Who knows?

*

"Doesn't it?"

Caitlin blinks when Katsumi backs up and then the other woman comes flying at her. She takes a half step backwards and rolls her weight over her heels so when Katsumi hits with a two-hundred-odd pound weight deficit, she's already on the verge of going down.

Caitlin braces Katsumi for the fall (because landing *on* Caitlin's not all that more fun than being landed on *by* her), and then lets the wrestling expert bounce a solid five feet into the air as the mat flexes under them both.

"You know that move *only* works in the ring, right? Because if you try that against Dr. Doom or something, I *will* laugh at you," she tells Katsumi, and rolls her head back so she can look up at Kat from an inverted position.

*

Katsumi Oshiro lets out a squeak when the reverb from the drop is more than she'd expected. She lands on all fours, looking down at Caitlin from between her arms. She then crinkles her nose. "Oh shut up, when I'm super strong, I can do all kinds of things!"

Without further warning, the girl drops her bare abs across Caitlin's own bare stomach and arches against her, bracing her elbows against the mat. Her head turns to look back towards her face.

"Pin!"

Beat.

"I forgot to add a ref'."

Her eyes shift sidelong, the button nose crinkling again. "Honor system!" Despite that, she doesn't seem keen on counting a pinfall just yet anyway. "The name! I'm Bakeneko. Monster, but not evil. Also a cat."

*

Caitlin leans forward and without any aplomb, overhooks Katsumi's neck and the back of her knee. "Over we go!" she cheers, and rolls sideways to stand Katsumi up on her neck and shoulder with an arm and leg pinned.

"Bakeneko? Oh! I get it! Like, Neko-Chan, right?" Caitlin says, and thus expends the limit of her knowledge of Japanese pop culture. "What's 'bake' mean?"

She rolls through the hold and lets Katsumi up, and kneels back on her armored shinguards with her palms resting on her bare thighs. "Like, 'warrior' or something? You've gotta be careful, you can really get into trouble with those names that don't translate well into English. Onishobi Ingelosi sounds really awesome until someone screws up the translation of 'apprentice sorcerer of the song of night' and you get called 'Tadpole Angel Kid'. True story," she adds immediately, and wags an index finger in Katsumi's direction.

*

Katsumi Oshiro is rolled over rather easily, given her comparative slight weight and not supernatural strength. "Yeek!" She ends up in a somewhat typical, near matchbook-style pin, tangled with Caitlin. Her free leg kicks around in the air, likely to no avail.

"N-no! Maybe? Aahh!" Her leg kicks about.

She's released, and Katsumi lands flat on her back in a supine, spreadeagle sprawl, her arms out to either side. It seems it's her turn to stare upside-down at Caitlin from the ring mat.

"It means 'change'. Like, transformation. Like what I do from daytime to nighttime. A bakeneko is a 'change-cat'. It was a normal cat that was changed into something more."

*

"Oh, I gotcha," Caitlin says, and nods encouragingly. "Change-Cat. I like it!" she approves, and smiles sunnily at Katsumi. She rests her knuckles between her knees and leans forward, then without much effort starts rotating to a handstand balanced on her fists on the mat.

"Bake-Neko," Caitlin says. Close on the pronunciation, and she's making an effort to get it right.

"I've been meaning to ask, the whole lunar cycle thing— any luck asking about a way to get around that?" Caitlin inquires, and moves to a one-armed handstand. "Maybe Dr. Strange would know, he's pretty smart," she points out. "Or we could… I don't know. Blast you with lunar reflective solar radiation? Don't say that around Nadia, she'll whip a particle accelerator out of her pocket and zap you into another reality," she warns her friend.

*

Katsumi Oshiro isn't going to grade her on enunciation. Americans have those barbarian tongues, after all! Nevermind Katsumi's own lilt of an accent. Still, it gets a bemused grin from her.

Caitlin's handstand, however, gets a raised eyebrow. She can't just tee her up and not expect her to go for it. It's too tempting. Too inviting. Caitlin remembers she's dealing with a professional wrestler, right?

Suddenly, the punkette is on her feet again, standing behind Caitlin. Her arms lash out to grab around the redhead's midsection, effectively turning the show-off handstand into a piledriver position.

"What're you talking about?," she asks. "Trying to.. stop my power cycle? Make me totally normal again?"

And with that, she pushes forward to teeter the balance of the handstand, but with only the intent to fake out the piledriver. Rather than spike Caitlin against her head on the mat, Katsumi would be landing only on her knees before turning her loose and letting her drop however she likes on the mat.

*

Caitlin arrests her fall with a hand pressing to the mat, bounces off the mat hard enough to make it bounce Katsumi like a trampoline, and she rolls smoothly a high kneeling position again. "I'm not trying to make you normal— and don't be using words like 'normal', either," Caitlin scolds Katsumi. "You're *perfectly* normal. I mean, aside from being a staistical outlier as a meta," she acknowledges a moment later.

"I'm saying that you're gonna be pulling a lot of graveyard shifts for response duty if you're only active at night. I'd like to figure out what makes your powers tic so we can juice you during the day. Somehow." She swings stiffened arms lazily back and forth, clapping them in front of her like a bored seal.

*

Aw, Caitlin didn't sell! Katsumi gives her a disappointed moue before just stepping back from her towards the center of the ring. "Blech. I'm not some weak-willed crybaby. I've NEVER been normal," she replies. "And it's not something to be ashamed of, being different. I've always liked being different. Different's interesting. Fun. Keeps attention. And in a case like this, means I can actually DO something about superpowered criminals. Normal people can't."

The notion that she could have these powers during the day as well, however, is an interesting thought. Perma-Super-Kat. How interesting! "Maybe? We could try some stuff, I guess."

*

Caitlin thinks about this, then sighs. "Wow, now the only thing I can think of is asking Nadia where I can get a wavelength filter to blast you with artificial lunar radiation," she says, and shrugs helplessly before sitting back on her heels.

"Do you know any more about the magical curse thing yet? Is it— like, I don't even know. We have no data. Is it the radiation? Are you reacting to a mystical fore attuned to the moon? Like— what happens if we put you on a jet that's staying under the moon's path indefinitely, are you still on a twelve-hour clock or can we keep you permanently in power-up mode?"

*

"I'unno!," offers Katsumi.

After a beat, she backs up to the ropes again. The ropes stretch across her back, and she races forward again! This time, she dives low with her right arm extended, aimed to catch her around the collar in a diving clothesline. Once again, geared to bring her down to the mat. Were she superpowered. Just have to see if Caitlin decides to sell! Or if she's unbalanced enough for the impact to bring her down, at least.

"You could simply ask me," replies the calico's voice over the PA. In the control deck, he releases the transmit button and resumes sitting neatly upon a stool.

*

"Hurk!" Caitlin lets Katsumi clothesline her and falls straight backwards, pinning her back to the mat with her ankles awkwarldy splayed out behind. She's more flexible than she looks, or at least more than someone with her kind of muscle mass has any right to be.

She reaches back and then abruptly bridges her lower back out, coming up *off* the mat and twisting violently. She ends up laying across Katsumi's chest with an arm tied up and her leg tucked into Katsumi's ribs in a good (if utterly redundant) side control mount.

She looks up at the spirit as the calico speaks to her, then glances down at Katsumi and back up at the cat. "Okay, I'll bite," she allows. "What's with the moontime power thing? Is there any way to, um, simulate it in a pinch?" she inquires of the creature.

*

Katsumi Oshiro was ready to pull Caitlin's legs down to lie across her again for a pin, only to find the bigger gal springing into the air like a wild salmon. Her eyes widen, and she's suddenly borne down to the mat, Caitlin lying across her torso, bosom smooshed beneath her. "Mnf!" Her legs squirm and wriggle around beneath the girl, attempting to burrow her way beneath Caitlin's torso inch by inch.

"The Yokai Soul," begins the kami, "is a part of the Lord Protector of the Night. A shred of his divinity. It growls and hungers in the night and sleeps through the day. It is tied to the nature of Makai-no-Yomorinushi; god of yokai. Yokai are things that lurk in the dark, or were once what humans would call normal, and have since changed into something more. Darkness and change is the very nature of yokai."

"It is not a tumor, it is not a parasite. It is an essence immaterial, attuned to the forces that bind and interweave the very tapestries of existence. It is divine. Mere shadows will not awaken the beast. Artificial, man-made counterfeits to the dark of night will most likely fail. I would be surprised to see any success."

*

"Ah-hah! But you didn't say it's *impossible*, either," Caitlin accuses the kami. She's really making Katsumi work for it here, and doesn't let up a pound of pressure unless the girl starts trying to use better technique rather than bulling through Caitlin's guard on muscle and enthusiasm alone.

"Okay, so it's sleeping. Maybe we can't make it, like, stay awake, but we could try to— I don't know. Startle it or something?" she asks Katsumi. "Even for a short term, it'd give you a boost in a pinch. Question is," she grunts, quickly shifting her legs to foil up one of Kat's attempts to kick-out— "is it an external or internal stimuli? I'm not a pharmacologist and I don't care what Nadia says, she's not one either. I don't want to just dose you with endorphins and hope you come out the other end with your froot loops all in place."

*

"It may be possible. Your sciences are strange. But it is unlikely, as this is not science. No sooner could you manufacture a soul," calmly replies the calico.

Better technique? Katsumi has a girl more than three times her weight lying on her. She may be able to heft Caitlin from a controlled position, but prone? In a dead lift? Or manipulate her against her will like this? It's not likely to happen. And when Caitlin redoubles the pin, Katsumi gives a dismayed grunt! "Oh my god, why are you so faaat?!"

*

Caitlin starts to respond to the calico, but then Katsumi calls her 'fat' and the redhead gives the petite teen a *look*. She bounces off Katsumi's belly, lightly, just once, though once is arguably one time too many. "Hey, when I first got started? I couldn't squat ten tons," Caitlin tells Katsumi, and rolls away to kneel back on her heels again. "This is a hundred percent a dedicated workout routine." She flexes her bare arms, making her triceps and shoulders pop into deeper relief. "I've gained about seventy-five pounds since I joined the League. I need all that muscle mass, that's how come I can still out-squat everyone except like… Diana, or the Kryptonians. Or Carol."

*

Katsumi Oshiro is not a teen! She hasn't been a teenager for four years! She does look young, however, so it's understandable as a mistake.

"Guaahhsofat," groans Katsumi when Caitlin mushes her into the mat. If she expected the sassy spitfire to offer anything else, she still hasn't figured her out yet!

Suddenly, the weight is relieved, and Katsumi rolls over onto all fours. "Oh, shut up," she chides as she catches her breath again. "You're not g#@damn Saitama. You didn't do so many situps you got superpowers. You had the powers first! So lecture me when I get the powers and STILL can't roll ya off of me!" She lifts herself up to her full height and twists one way, then the other at the waist as if to loosen up her joints. "Anyway, you shouldn't be so defensive. You think I think you're actually fat?"

*

Caitlin shifts awkwardly at Katsumi's words. The crack about Caitlin's superpowers clearly stings a little (becuase it's true, and Caitlin never did a situp in her life before they manifested). But the casual question meets a serious expression, and Caitlin ducks her gaze to the mat and shrugs unevenly.

"I mean, it's cool. I've … come to terms with it," she mumbles. "You know. Carol and Pepper— Pepper a lot, really— they helped me shop for outfits that they say work for me. So, I'm OK with it. Really," she says, with a forced sort of smile.

*

Katsumi Oshiro blinks owlishly at Caitlin's demeanor shift. Her head tilts forward, her lips parting into a small 'o' of confusion.

"Wait, what? What the actual f@^#? Caitlin! Doofus! You're not fat! The f@^#'s the matter with you?" She moves closer and reaches out to butt her fist against the redhead's midsection. "You know that! You wouldn't go around showing it off if you didn't!"

*

Caitlin bends her stomach away from Katsumi's fist and gently arrests her forearm with a palm on the wrestler's bicep. It's not done to be cruel— she's clearly and immediately worried about Katsumi breaking her wrist carelessly.

She rises smoothly to her feet and lets Katsumi's arm go. "Yes, I *know*," she says, her tone a little… peeved, of all things. "My body fat's at a statistically normal level. It's how I /feel/, Katsumi," she tries to explain. "I have to buy my high heels with titanium inserts and I've broken more chairs with my butt than you have in the ring. It's … awkward," she says, lips pressing into a line, and crosses her arms defensively over her stomache. "Barda's always off-world, Kori's super skinny and pretty, and Sif hangs out with Asgardians all day so she looks normal to them. You gotta find a space alien to find anyone as big as I am around here."

*

Katsumi Oshiro looks momentarily annoyed at the hand-touch. She wasn't throwing hard punches or anything! If she were just weird about being touched, she'd get it. But she was worried about her hurting herself! But bumping with a fist!

The hand drops to her side, while the other props at her hip. "You're the one who chose to put on seventy pounds," she reminds. "So sure, maybe it's awkward! But aren't you dating someone? There's a lot've normal-looking people out there who AREN'T. Like me."

*

Caitlin doesn't know what to say to that, and probes her cheek with her tongue before staring down at her (to her) oversized boots. "Yeah. Well… anyway, I should get back to cooking dinner," Caitlin says. Her voice is flat, lacking much emotion, and she moves to step around Katsumi. "Glad the costume's working for you. Lemme know if you need that heavier fabric." She starts towards the door, still hugging her stomach and moving with a quickening step that's arrested only for a moment as she retrieves her gym bag.

*

Katsumi Oshiro squints at Caitlin as she moves around her, at a loss. She can't fathom what the big deal is, and her efforts to fix whatever weirdness has occured seems to have backfired! Her hands raise in a broad, helpless shrug behind her back. She wants to say something, but there's a fear that she might exacerbate things.

And when Caitlin leaves, there's the soft *hss* of the PA coming alive again. "Women do not like being called fat."

"OHMYGODSHUTUP!"

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