Bitch Please
Katherine Hana Li spin_kick_snap
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The Li Family Apartment, Koreatown, Los Angeles, Tuesday Evening
Kathy had been lying to her family for a long time. Lying about the island ("It's perfectly normal!"), lying about her friends ("Of course you'd approve of them!"), and lying about her activities ("Nothing planned for the evening but more studying!") Since she'd come back home to fight zombies, she'd only been lying more. First that she was home because it was Spring Break back at school and she hadn't wanted to go on the trip. Then that the dorms were being fumigated, which was why Raven had come out to stay with them over the weekend (and played up the potential gratitude of Raven's wealthy adopted parents). And finally, more lies to cover up all the times she was out as Banzai: studying at the library or tutoring students for the upcoming SATs, anything that could be a plausible reason to get her out of the house for hours at a time.

But those excuses wouldn't work anymore. Not with a national quarantine and a newly announced martial law. Supposedly the police would be enforcing a curfew, so she wouldn't have a reason to be out even if her parents had been inclined to let her out. From the minute that the zombies--rather, the ex-humans--had been officially confirmed, her parents' grip had been tighter and tighter on her neck. And it was time to put a stop to it.

So after asking Raven to entertain Sarah for a few, she met with her parents in the living room to come clean about everything. Well...okay. Maybe not everything. Stuff about the island, about Anders, and Dante, about Portalocity's terrifying message--those secrets she was still going to keep. But about her secret life as a superhero, about being Banzai, that needed to come out.

Kathy hadn't expected this conversation to be easy. And it wasn't. But she hadn't expected it to be difficult in this way. What was the huge issue? Were they upset their oldest daughter was some kind of mutant? That she’d been risking her life and fighting crime since sophomore year of high school? That she’d lied to them?

No. Of course not. They had...different concerns.

Were her parents for real?


Mrs. Li
“You can’t be Banzai!” cried her mom. “Banzai is a boy. It was in the paper.”

Kathy
“Yeah, I know," Kathy groaned. "It helps hide my identity.”

Mr. Li
“That name,” her father shouted. “How could you pick a Japanese name for yourself? You’re Korean!”

Kathy
This had been going on for twenty minutes and they were still focusing on the smallest, most bullshit of details.

“It’s a word. It’s just a word!”

Mr. Li
“Your great-grandfather died fighting the Japanese!" Her dad got up, storming around the living room. "He died at the hands of people who used that word as a battle cry, and now you use it like some sort of badge of honor! They broke your grandfather's leg so badly he lost it at the knee! And he was a child!”

Mrs. Li
Her mother was still perched on the couch, hands fluttering around her face like broken birds. “But how could anyone think you were a man? My beautiful girl!”

Kathy
“I wear a mask, Mom. And let’s face it, Sarah got the …she got your figure. She’s fourteen and she’s bigger than me.”

Wait, no. They were getting off-track. Hell, they'd never gotten onto the track in the first place. She pinched the bridge of her nose, eyes closed in frustration.

"Could we please focus here?" she asked. "Yes, I go by Banzai. Yes, the media has mistaken me for a boy." The heroes had become more visible in the past few days, showing up in newspapers and on TV and no one yet had picked up that Banzai was in fact a girl. It was galling, but Kathy kept reminding herself there were more important things to focus on. "But there's, like, this whole bigger picture you're ignoring right now!"

Mr. Li
"We are not ignoring it," her father said, drawing himself up with great dignity. "There is simply no point in discussing it. This foolishness is at an end. You're done."

Kathy
"What?" Kathy asked sharply, jaw dropping open. She shot to her feet, not bothering to stifle the little bounce that accompanied fast movements. "You can't do that!"

Mrs. Li
"Katherine, he is your father," her mother reminded. "If he says that you are done running around pretending to be a hero, then you are. He is your father and you will respect him."

Kathy
"It's Kathy," she mumbled, hating the way her parents always called her by her full name more than ever. Then, louder, she snapped, "I'm not pretending to be a hero. I am one! I've been one for two years! And you simply can't expect me to turn my back on millions of innocent civilians that need my help! I know how to fight the exes!"

Mr. Li
"The so-called ex-humans are not under discussion right now." Mr. Li was still clinging to the stubborn belief that this was all some kind of terrorist plot or something. Zombies, even in a world that had superheroes sprouting like mushrooms, was just a shade too far. "I will not have a member of this family running around like a lunatic and calling herself a superhero. We are a respectable line and I won't stand for it!"

Kathy
"Oh?" Kathy asked. She cleared the distance between them with a single bounce, moving from the couch to stand in front of him, almost in his face.. "That's what you're worried about? Respectability?" She sneered the word. "What's not respectable, huh? Is it the bouncing, maybe?"

She performed a couple of jumps around the room, maneuvering to keep from bumping into anything or knocking anything over. Accidentally breaking some of the bric-a-brac would just undermine her point. Accidentally hitting that damn living room table might leave her with a broken leg. That thing was heavy and sharp.

"The rainbows?" she demanded. "The gi? The fact that I'm doing some good in the world? Do tell me what part of this is not respectable."

Mr. Li
"That name--"

Kathy
"It's just a damn word!"

Mr. Li
"It's the symbol of Japanese military aggression!"

Kathy
"It is not!" Kathy threw her arms in the air, frustrated beyond the telling of it. "Look, I'm sorry that Grandpa was orphaned so young. I'm sorry that he lost a leg at the same time, and I'm sorry that his disability made your life so hard growing up. But the war was over seventy years ago. Holding onto a grudge against an entire nation of people isn't just stupid, it's racist. And I'm tired of bowing down to it!"

She was ranting now, about things that were only tangentially related to being Banzai, but it just felt so good to open up. "You want to know why I called myself Banzai? In part because I knew it would piss you off! Because I'm tired of having to pretend that my friends don't actually exist because they're a race you don't like! Because Ringo, Alluka, Minako, Kira, and Ezra deserve better than being some dirty little secret because you're a damn bigot!"

Mrs. Li
"Katherine Hana Li!" Kathy had never heard her mother sound so appalled and the woman had practically raised that to an art form over the years. "I have no idea what has gotten into you, but I will not stand for it! Apologize to your father at once and then go to your room while we decide what kind of punishment is suitable for this kind of behavior!"

Kathy
Except now Kathy was on a roll, words spilling out of her like a torrent. All the thoughts and feelings she'd kept locked away came spilling out and she couldn't stop it. Honestly, she wasn't sure she wanted to.

"It's Kathy, Mom, and no, that's not what's going to happen," Kathy said. "I'll be going to my room, but only to change into my gi. And then I'm going to walk out the front door, my head high, and I'm going to go fight to keep people safe. Keep them alive."

Honestly, if they'd been afraid for her safety, worried that she could get hurt or worse, Kathy would have understood. But that their concerns were so small and petty, it really drove home just what kind of people they really were.

She would always love them. They were her parents. But she finally felt free to let herself dislike them.

"And you can't stop me."

Mr. Li
"You are my daughter!" Her father roared. "You will do as you're told!"

Kathy
"Yes I am!" Kathy agreed, turning to head for the door. "Your daughter! Not your dog, not your slave, not your possession! I am my own person with my own choices! And I'm not going to pretend to be happy while you trample all over me and make me feel ashamed for taking up space. I know who I am now, Mom, Dad. Banzai is who I am. And you can't take that away from me. I won't let you."

Mr. Li
"Katherine, don't you dare turn your back on me! This conversation is not over!"

Kathy
"It's Kathy," she said, glancing over her shoulder at her parents.. "And yes this conversation is. You can accept my decision or not. That's on you. But I'm still going out there tonight. And tomorrow night. I'm still going to fight to keep this family safe. Your time as tyrant is over, Dad. Deal with it."

And then she walked out of the living room, leaving her parents blustering behind her. Her dad shouted her name several times but she kept walking. His heavy footsteps followed her for a few steps, then there was a dull thump and a stream of foul Korean curses--Kathy's guess was that he's whacked his leg on that damn table, probably hard enough to bruise down to the bone. He was lucky he hadn't fractured it, the way that table was built.

Not that it mattered. Not that she even paused. For the first time in her life, Kathy was ignoring him. It wasn't the blistering 'Fuck off' Dante had been rooting for, but damn, it still felt good.

Still, she didn't have time to gloat over it. She had a city to protect.


[Some lines of dialogue lifted directly from Chapter 13, "Luckiest Girl in the World," from Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines. NFB, post: closed, but OOC is always appreciated.]

soniaroadsqueen

2016-04-20 12:19 pm (UTC) (Link)

I don't see why Kathy didn't tell them earlier. Look how adult the whole conversation was! Just think about it: she could have gotten disowned years ago!