Personally, I Blame Batman
Roleplaying Log: Personally, I Blame Batman
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:

Concerned that he might not be entirely objective when it comes to certain other members of the Titans, Tim puts Cassie in charge of keeping him honest. Of course, because it's Tim, he does this in a very roundabout way.

Other Characters Referenced: Batman, Nightwing, Power Woman, Spider-Man, Starfire, Wonder Woman, Zatanna Zatara
IC Date: March 03, 2019
IC Location: Titans Mall - The Mud Room
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 05 Mar 2019 00:54
Rating & Warnings: Rated T for Titans, also because Cassie hits a cyclops in the beanbag.
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

When it comes to the superhero business, it's important to be ready for anything. Oftentimes, that means training - especially when the leader of your crew has been themselves trained by the big bad Bat. But training people with superpowers is a tricky thing, especially given their breadth and variety. How to really do it? Holograms lack a certain 'oomph', and you'd need some kind of really advanced alien technology to make a room full of angry robots and laser beams.

But fortunately, Tim Drake is a problem solver.

His solution? The Mud Room. The version in the Mall is actually more spacious than the original in Titans Tower, which was disassembled and rebuilt here afer the team's departure from their iconic base of operations due to the impending metahuman registration laws and a falling out with certain elements at STAR Labs. But the principle is the same: The eponymous 'mud' is an artificially created metamorphic silicate based on the abilities of a certain member of Batman's rogue's gallery. In its inert form, it has the texture of wet sand, or maybe cookie dough. But with the Titans' supercomputers controlling it…

The interior of the Mud Room looks like a tropical beach. The simulation is remarkably good, the room's climate control even pumping in some extra humidity and heat, and a light breeze off of the 'ocean'. But of course, there's not much time to consider that, or try to enjoy the simulated beach, because there's also a hulking cyclopean monster, with a big crude club and a loincloth, and he's trying to beat the crap out of Wonder Girl. The simulation's been tuned to her level - to her strength, to her toughness, to her skill - though of course Red Robin (who is lurking somewhere in the 'treetops') - has made a few additional adjustments to help the demigoddess get really motivated.

"Wonder Woman's not even that good of a superhero!" the cyclops taunts, raising its club to strike.

Cassie's greatest concern about this 'Mud Room' would be the name, which is surely a unique concern that Tim hadn't heard before. As an aspiring archaeologist, the only way she could picture it as something threatening would be if it involved, say, skin rejuvination. Cissie tried to sell her on the idea, but she wouldn't try, not even for the sake of getting Conner's attention- But that's a completely different story.

"… Wow." Wonder Girl's eyes half-lid at her foe, though rather than stand toe-to-toe, she's been making an effort to improve in her arial tactics, even if it involves being only several feet off the ground. This is such a cool scenario, and this douche had to go and mess it up with such low hanging fruit. "How immature do you have to be to resort to using such a… juvenile, low-effort.. *basic* attempt to goad me?"

The young heroine shifts in her tactics a bit, and when the club comes swinging down to strike, she drops down to the sandy ground beneath which would, ideally, create a massive sandcloud from the impact. It's almost unusually precise timing on WG's part to be crouching just under the space available between the cyclop's weapon and leg, which she then uses to tighten a fist, then launch herself upward with as much force as she can muster- Another cloud blows outward with the force.

She doesn't aim for the plexus, she doesn't go for the jaw. She instead goes under the loincloth for the junk. Ok. Maybe it worked a little.

In fairness, it wasn't like there was a ton of room to fly anyway - as realistic as that blue sky might look, with its perfectly fluffy clouds, it still only goes up to the height of the mall itself. But with the demigoddess able to add that extra dimension to her fights, it was still something important to work on. Which, of course, is why Red Robin was taking notes.

Between her smaller size and her flying ability, though, Wonder Girl had a distinct advantage of speed over the simulated cyclops, but the evidence of its physical strength - ruined trees, craters of sand in the beach - was obvious. This was a test of the Mud Room, too: How well could it push someone with superhuman strength?

So the club comes down, and a veritable geyser of sand is kicked up as Cassie uses the opportunity to get in close, and then straight up Shoryukens the cyclops in what, if it were a real living breathing creature, would be the mean bean machine.

At his hidden position, Red Robin winces.

The simulation, though, is designed for realism: Breath leaves the mud-golem cyclops in a sharp *whuff*, its one eye rolling back as it doubles over and lists to the side.

"U-uhhh…" the cyclops wheezes. "Power Woman is… Better…!"

It still manages another swing with that club, trying to catch Cassie before she can fly out of reach, but it's mostly desperate strength, now.

'Some people just don't learn'. While it's a saying that Wonder Girl is most certainly familiar with, she still can't help but be shocked by her opponents words right after she so clearly stated that such tactics have no effect on her.

Her brow twitches. Her teeth grit.

On the plus side, Cassie doesn't actually make any attempt to get away and she's right in the path of his swing- If she were a bit more cool in the head, she'd recognize the opportunity to make use of the shield that's strapped to her back, but instead she meets the swing head on during her path to higher ground. While she manages to get under his arm along the way, she does end up wobbling a bit as if she had very briefly lost her balance. "If you like her so much-"

But she can still see her mark and this time she makes an attempt to slug the mighty beast toward the temple, "Start your OWN DAMN FORUM!"

Of course, the Mud Room has safeties.

The virtual intelligence that runs the simulations wouldn't let anyone get killed, that's one of the foundations of its programming. But in an exercise tuned to the level of, say, Wonder Girl, it would be possible for one of the more fragile members of the team to get hurt pretty badly. That's the kind of weight Cassie can feel behind the strike, even if it doesn't have the focused strength that it would if the simulation weren't simulating the cyclops having gotten punched in the junk. It might not bat her off into the trees, but it's no little love tap, either.

Admittedly, neither is what she does to the simulated cyclops, who goes down in a heap once Cassie's fist slams into its temple.

"Hey, pretty good," says a voice from the trees - it's Red Robin. "Though the psychological warfare program might need to be a little more subtle…"

Cassie would be a lot more impressed if she weren't so annoyed, but deep inside she is certainly aware of the force behind such a blow. And it's the same annoyance that keeps her from appreciating just how incredibly Red Robin's simulation work is so is instead feeling a deep sense of satisfaction in executing the real life equivilent of laying down the banhammer.

.. Wait. Now that she thinks about it, why *was* she thinking about banning 'trolls' in such a critical moment? Weird.

"Say what?" Cassie glances to the source of the voice and her cheeks very quickly take a slight shade of red even after she manages a smile, "Oookay, well. I would have thought I'd have been used to that by now but, nope, that's still a little weird, Red." she confesses, though she glances off to the side after, "But yeah, you think? It was *so* obvious what it was trying to do, I was almost insulted that a program would even *have* kindergarden level tactics in there. Like, seriously. 'Wonder Woman isn't even that great'? Heh, seriously what a loser. You'd have to be a serious loser to think something like that would work on an adult."

"Pfft. Whatever."

"Hmm," is all Red Robin has to say about Wonder Girl's resistance to such obvious methods of manipulation. Well, he was the one who used her as a guinea pig for this for exactly that reason… And, of course, picked the opponent so that it would fit. It made more sense for a creature from Greek myth to rag on Wonder Woman than, like, a chupacabra or something. But he was hoping it'd be a bit more… Sophisticated about it.

"Still, how did it feel? Like real combat? I know Spider-Man's been using the Mud Room a bit but I want to make sure it all… Scales properly to people with superpowers. Then we can use it for team training exercises. Work on our group coordination without having to wait for the Mole People to attack New York or something."

Sure, it'll happen sooner or later. But better to be prepared first.

"In the meantime I think I might set it up to run Nico and Zatanna through some obstacle courses…"

Wonder Girl hovers closer toward the tree as she, in blissful unawareness, interprets that 'hmm' as a positive response to the critique of decision to be a chameleon out in broad daylight.

"'Like real combat'? Well, yes, that was the point, righ-" she repeats, and just milliseconds after her brows raise as if a light bulb had suddenly lit. "Oh hey! … Hey, yeah! That actually did feel like I was fighting a really big foe! When I went under his arm- Yes! How in the world did you manage to pull off something like that?? The possibilities… Oh wow, I can actually surprise her with some new tactics!" And just like that she's in a chipper mood as she slaps her palms together under her chin. There's another brief pause though, "Hmn. Now that I think about it, I was so focused on winning and maybe I should have let him hit me just to be sure."

"Anyway an obstacle course? Is there any way I can help with that?"

How did he manage to pull off something like that?

"Math," the vigilante explains. "The system is designed to simulate all sorts of things, recreating them from the information its given and then extrapolating from there. It's a simple neural network that learns and becomes more complicated over time… So the more we use it, the better the simulations become. Part of what it's learning is from us, so it gains a better understanding of how each of us operate, and as we set the training programs to higher difficulties it'll use more and more of that against us. So, for example, if we ran the cyclops simulation again, it would know how to fight you better."

Which is a comforting thought, right? Surely there's no way the Mud Room will ever rise up against them and use its knowledge of their skills and abilities to destroy the Titans.

Right?

At the offer of help, the Red Knight pauses. It's tough to tell exactly what's going on with him, since his eyes are hidden behind the white lenses on his domino mask, but there's an uncharacteristic feeling of indecision there.

"Maybe," he says. That's hot helpful.

"I mean, I'm worried that I might not make… Objective decisions, where Zatanna is concerned. I don't want to go too easy on her, or end up going too hard on her because I'm trying to not go too easy… You know?"

Cassie also notes to herself to try to get a peek the next time Spider-Man's using the area. She lowers one hand, other near her chin as she attempts to take in what she perceives as Batsplaining. "Ahhh, I get it- Now that I think about it, that's also kind of how Alexa works, isn't it? That's an eye-opener!"

Cassie's smile wanes a bit afterward as she isn't really certain where Red Robin's indecision is coming from. Actually, she could probably take a guess and it's enough for the 'maybe' to avoid scrutiny. "I'm not exactly sure I do?" is her response with a twist of her lips. Why would Zatanna specifically be the problem? "I know that 'getting it right the first time' is basically your thing but seeing as this program is essentially self-correcting, isn't that putting unnecessary stress on yourself? Like, more than usual?"

"Kind of," Red Robin agrees with the comparison of the Mud Room's neural network to Alexa. "Just don't try ordering any groceries with it. It might try to actually replicate food, but the 'mud' isn't edible."

Actually he wonders if he shouldn't post a memo about that just in case. Sure, most of them wouldn't try eating it, but Bart…

Well, he can worry about that later.

Right now, he has a more immediately pressing concern to deal with, and also he has to get a little offended at the idea that he puts unnecessary stress on himself. But even as he bristles at that (entirely correct) accusation…

"Er… Well, it's just…" The usual self-assurance and seemingly limitless confidence of Red Robin evaporates entirely. This is pure Tim Drake, putting himself in a situation that's kind of awkward. "Zee and I are kind of… Dating? It's a bit of a secret, though, because she's not dating the mask, she's dating civilian me. So, you know, don't go spreading it around. Please."

Most people wouldn't take almost three months to tell one of their best friends they were dating someone.

But most people aren't Tim Drake.

It's kind of strange how despite how the situation was pretty much a flashing sign made of neon lights, Tim dating would be something that would be remotely real. As such it catches Cassie completely by surprise and it's written all over her face.

Though not with an expression of shock, but the smile on her face not only is in full effect, it's actually much brighter than usual.

She's still stunned into silence though, and both her hands raise to her mouth at first, lower to her chest, then over her mouth again, this time along with her bouncing lightly on the balls of her feet. ".. My lips are totally sealed." she eventually manages to sputter.

"Ohhh my gosh, oh my gosh. Reeeed, I am *so* happy for you! Ugh, now it makes complete sense! OK, ok, I'm calming down, settling down."

She draws in a deep breath, lets it out, but it doesn't work and she reaches to take his arm. "Ok, let's talk about this somewhere else, okay? I mean, I personally think it'll totally be fine? But I'll hear out everything that's on your mind." Ok, sure, maybe she'l be a little bit annoyed to find out this is three month old news but better late than never, right?

The demigoddess' obvious surprise prompts Red Robin's expression to slowly sour. Even if it's the kind of surprise that makes the blonde smile, is it still so shocking that he'd be in a relationship with anyone?

Okay, sure, it's been… Like four years since he's had a girlfriend but come on!!

At least Cassie promises to keep it quiet, but if there's anyone around here that knows the importance of those kinds of secrets as much as he does, it'd be her. Well, and Spider-Man obviously, with his always wearing a full mask and all, but also very definitely Cassandra Sandsmark.

But surprise gives way to obvious excitement, and it's that sort of thing from Cassie that is weirdly infectious, dispelling the vigilante's sourness entirely and instead making him grin, one hand lifting to rub the back of his neck.

"I'm just trying to not make anything around here weird, or undermine Zee's training," he says, and in his moment of distraction his arm is caught. Now, for one thing, his arm is caught by his friend, so he's stuck. For another thing, his arm is caught by a demigoddess who could pop his arm off like an action figure, so he's really stuck.

"Yeah, okay," he says. "I guess this isn't really a great conversation spot."

Cassie did catch on to that slight turn, but thankfully it didn't last very long and, more importantly, wasn't enough to turn him away. That said, the shock isn't about the 'if', but the 'when'- In this case 'when' ending up not being 'after he hangs up the cape' after all.

"Right, right!" Cassie agrees and is perhaps a little too eager to drag him off- In fact she's very well doing that if he doesn't match her pace. "Though, I don't really have any advice about that. Like the obvious thing is 'don't treat her any different' but yeah that's easier said than done. Then again if that's your concern… Does that mean you two haven't actually talked about that yet?"

Before she knows it, the duo reach her room and she practically pushes him inside- Said room is about as one expects: Clean enough. 'A mess' would only be proper if one was responding to Cassie's complete lack of utilizng room space.

There was a time when Tim had thought he would've hung up the cape, by now. He'd never meant for it to be his life, even when he was Robin - to him it was something to do before college, before moving on with a normal life. But for various reasons, that never happened. The deaths of his parents, the loss of Stephanie Brown…

Well, one day, a normal life had stopped being on the table at all.

Winding up in Cassie's room, Tim heaves a bit of a sigh, and reaches up to take off his domino mask. There's no surveillance in the rooms - that would be too creepy even for him - so the odds of the members who don't know his secret identity seeing him like this were low.

"About how it would affect the team thing? No, not really. Things just kinda… Happened, you know? And then we had to figure out if she was dating me, or Red Robin… It would be easier if she had a secret identity too, I guess, but too late for that now. So I've been trying to just not treat her any different, yeah. I don't want anyone getting suspicious."

And it's not like they spend a lot of time in proximity with a bunch of teenagers with various powers and several of whom are pretty nosy, right? So it'll be fine.

It's all fine.

<Pose Tracker> Cassie Sandsmark has posed.
'Things just kinda… Happened'. "Hmn, yeah." Cassie replies with a thoughtful expression. She goes straight to sitting on her bed, leaving Tim the option to join her, sit at her desk or.. Remain standing in the darkest corner of the room.

"But it's because the overall situation is so complex that you two really should, you know, talk it out, right? Personally, I believe you're perfectly capable of being 'objective', but the actual issue is around that area." She waggles her right hand. "Oh, and as for waving off any suspicions, I don't have any problem helping with that!" Though she isn't entirely certain he'll actually need it. It isn't like they're going to suddenly start makeing out in a bathroom or something. … .. Or WILL THEY?

It's probably not surprising that yes, he does remain standing in the darkest corner of the room, at least at first.

There's probably something useful to be gleaned from comparing the different personal rooms of the different Titans: How Zatanna had made hers comparatively cozy, like a witchy nest for her home away from home. How Tim's own room was… Uh, let's go with 'spartan' because that sounds better than 'basically empty'. Cassie's looked like a dorm room, minus maybe a few posters on the walls.

There was a normalcy to it that suited her in ways it might not suit the rest of them, anymore.

"Yeah," he allows, finally moving over to sit at the desk. "I'd like to think I can be objective. But I need you to let me know if I'm not, Cassie. But, uh, don't worry about helping us keep things on the downlow," Tim adds, with a certain urgency. Secret identity or not, Wonder Girl had always been better at sincerity than subterfuge. "Starfire knows. And Nightwing, obviously. Other than that, we just need to act normal."

Besides, it wouldn't be a bathroom. Gross.

Cassie snaps her right hand up in a salute, "Copy that," she replies without the slightest bit of tugging for Red Robin's reasoning. "And sure you can count on me, it wouldn't be a problem."

While there's no hesitance on her end, she also sees it as an opportunity to study how he works a bit more seriously. Following her time with Diana, she's been feeling more serious about training toward a leadership role but has also been hesitant to ask him directly. "Uh.. So, they both already know? What, did you talk to them today too?"

Did you talk to them today too?

Hm.

Awkward.

"Er… No. They found out like… Two months ago…?" Tim at least has the grace to look embarrassed at admitting this. Though even if it wasn't any of his best friends who found out first, Nightwing is his adopted brother, so it's not like it was just some randoms, right? "When Zee and I went on our first date at the Winter Village. They were also on a date there. It's cool though, they're both very chill about it." Well, he's pretty sure Koriand'r finds the whole secret identity thing absurd, but surely as a model she knows the value of keeping relationships private. Right? Maybe? Let's hope.

He pauses.

"And I think we might've been in the gossip pages a little? I mean, in Gotham a Wayne can't sneeze without it making the papers. And Zee's getting famous with her magic… Oh, she's got a new show in Vegas over spring break, maybe she could get tickets for some of you guys," because of course she already got tickets for Tim.

~Boyfriend privileges~

"Anyway, the important thing is that we keep our personal and professional lives separate. So, what about you? How's the training with Wonder Woman?" Fortunately, no, he can't read minds. It's just a coincidence.

'Two months ago…?'

Cassie's expression falls to neutral for a moment, then she squints, followed by a glance upward which easily translates to 'surprise', 'judging annoyance', then 'acceptance' as she at least catches the link between him and Nightwing. Starfire is much less so, which honestly is pretty much a sign that she needs to spend more time with her herself. In the end, though, she can't help but grin due to the sheer cuteness in what sounds like a completel coincidence. "Ooooh."

As for the gossip pages? She hadn't noticed any buzz in her forums, but at the same time there is a lot of traffic to go through. Her eyes do light up though, "That would be awesome! I'd love to go!"

But then the fear of god is struck in her when he brings up Diana, and her heart nearly jumps from her mouth. Her lip twitches, "The.. Training. Uh.. Right.. Right! The training! Gosh would you *look* at the time!" Cassie jumps to her feet, then points her thumb to the shield strapped to her back, "I was supposed to be practicing my stances, which I meant to do during that exercise and I got completely distracted so…"

She fingerguns at him, then sweeps her pointer fingers to the doorway. "I'm going to get on that; thanks for the reminder and I'll catch you later!"

And with that, she is out of there.

Fortunately, a terrible crisis is averted.

Though this leaves Tim wondering if he should talk to some of the others. Does Bart even know about that sort of thing? He's never seemed particularly interested in relationships or anything like that… Would he have to give the speedster The Talk?!

No, this is too horrible to contemplate. Better just let everything happen normally.

The change of topic, however, proves to be an even more dramatic one than Tim had anticipated, as bringing up Diana reminds the blonde that she was supposed to do some training that she ended up not doing, and then Hurricane Cassie is out the door. For a long moment, a slightly bewildered Tim Drake stares at the doorway.

"I could've helped with… Ah, never mind," he says, since he's just talking to himself. He doesn't linger long, of course, putting his domino mask back on before he slips out of the room.

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