2014-07-09 - Sound Check

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Title: Sound Check

Curious about the venue for the poetry slam, Mamoru goes investigating and drags Mai along. Meet Masato Sanjouin, and several operatic references.


Mamoru Chiba, Mai Tokiha, Nephrite


Ueno Museum District

OOC - IC Date:

9 February 2014 - 7/9/2014

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

He'd gotten a flyer.

This is, for the record, the first time that Mamoru has shown any interest whatsoever in any kind of public social event where a thing is done and participation is encouraged. He's not quite as off the wall about it as Mai is about karaoke-- pretty much Sailor Moon is the only thing Mamoru's THAT enthusiastic about-- but he's at least astronomy-level geeking about it.

He's decided he's going to do this thing, and that he is going to drag his friends, and that he is going to scope out the venue ahead of time for maximum savviness, and the scoping thereof is not something he is planning on doing by himself. Oh no. No. This is something Mai has to suffer.

Mamoru was careful, at least: he made damn sure she didn't have any obligations and then he did what Eri's too nice to do-- presumed on her time. And brought another motorcycle helmet.

As the beautiful machine growls to a halt in front of the art museum, Mamoru shuts it off, stands it up, and pulls his helmet off. Then, and only then, does he hand Mai the poetry slam flier. "It's coming up. I am going to drag you guys with me. It's only fair. And think of it this way: it's not opera. I COULD be dragging you guys to see the Marriage of Figaro."

He starts getting off the bike, eyeing the entrance to the museum. "On the other hand, you'd probably love the Ring Cycle..."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Thanks to several days of long hours, Mai has actually reached the limit of how much she can work at Linden Baum for the week. As such, she actually has a couple of days free of customers, cleaning tables, and disarming vocal breakups. Odds are they'll still be cleaning up chocolate syrup when she does return in a few days, but for now she gets to stop thinking about the diner.

This just leaves everything else on her usual schedule - school, groceries, Mikoto-taming, medical appointments, and keeping in touch with her friends. Most of those are less of a concern for at least a day, though, so when Mamoru inquired politely, she was able to respond that she was, in fact, free.

Which resulted in an invitation she couldn't easily turn down, and a motorcycle ride. Not her first - that honour went to Natsuki Kuga on a dark and Orphan-filled night. This time, however, was with an actual helmet, someone she knew, and no immediate crisis. She actually had time to pay attention to the ride itself...

...but come the arrival, she's ready for a little breathing room, and takes a look at the flier. Motorcycle riders really have to get close, don't they? "Okay, let's see...a poetry slam?" Mai's expression is incredulous, to say the least, and she watches Mamoru's face for a punchline. "I...look, I don't know about Eri, but I don't exactly have much poetry experience-"

She looks at the flier again, trying to figure out what this could possibly be. She's only half-listening as Mamoru starts listing operas...and then the name of the last one sinks in, and her gaze flicks up from the paper to glare at her friend. "...and what, exactly, do you mean by that, Chiba-san?" Mai's arms are folded with a huff.

<Pose Tracker> Nephrite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

Nephrite is nothing if not thorough.

This is most readily apparent in his approach to undercover work. Sure, it would have been all too easy to adopt multiple personas, switching identities and appearances at the drop of a hat. He could simply brainwash those around him into believing they had a long history together. To some extent, he could even use his powers to give himself abilities that he did not naturally have. But such things were not only a waste of magic -- they were crude, painting in the widest strokes possible. And they left far too many loose ends.

This is the primary reason Nephrite maintains his Masato Sanjouin identity in the most mundane ways possible. Though he can teleport, it is much more convincing to drive around in a vehicle like other mortals, lest someone witness an indiscreet use of magic. He takes time out of his day to practice his cello, to look over his orchestral pieces, to strengthen his swinging arm and study physiological aspects of tennis. Though time-consuming, such things immerse him into the mortal mentality, making it all the easier to manipulate them when their time comes. Truthfully, a part of him also enjoys the mundane pursuits, but he does not ever let such trivial things distract him from the mission at hand.

His goal at the museum today is twofold: scope out the venue of the youma hatching that is fast approaching, while improving his knowledge of the verbal art form. He cannot say for that he enjoys the turn the medium has taken since his past life -- what is a poem if it is not epic in scope and set in proper meter? But alas, he is to be a judge of the 'poetry slam' (he /despises/ that term), so he must at least understand the basis of the evolved verse, lest he appear anything less than convincing.

He pulls up to the museum in his crimson-painted Ferrari, stepping out gracefully while handing the keys to a stunned valet for parking. As his unnaturally blue eyes scan the museum's facade, his ears pick up two very relevant words from a few feet away: 'poetry slam.' Curious, he looks over to spot two high school students, flier in hand, seemingly talking about the very event he himself had planned. Excellent.

"One does not need extensive experience to appreciate art," Nephrite says, his voice the usual gravelly kind of purr. "After all, were not some of the greatest artists of antiquity self-taught? Does one need a discerning eye to tell that the night sky is beautiful?" He's lying through his teeth, of course; truly great art, by virtue of its greatness, can only be appreciated by the worthy. But he has to attract people to the event somehow. Though the little poet he infected is set to be the main course, other additions of energy are certainly a great boon for his cause.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The boy, taller than the girl to an absurd degree, absently pops open the back compartment of his motorcycle and jams his helmet in, then reaches to take hers while she looks over the flyer. He straightens up and blinks at her, shutting the compartment again and locking it, then pocketing his keys in his leather jacket.

Because yeah: the guy's motorcycle leathers are bitchin'. Black and white with a little red, as per usual, and altogether too expensive.

"I just mean I think you'd like it-- I'm not saying your life is the story, if that's what you're implying. It's just it's the coolest opera and I think it has some themes you might enjoy and imagery you might identify with," Mamoru explains to Mai, sticking his hands in his jacket pockets. But then there's a guy approaching them and--

~~he stands next to his pony, maybe ten years old, midnight hair all disorderly and long embroidered high-collared coat dusty and rumpled, and his eyes sparkle like the ocean on a calm day. "You're having fun, aren't you?" the kid asks the teenager. "The telescope's pretty amazing, isn't it? You can almost see the castle on the moon! And you can see Mars' city lights!"

The skinny little Crown Prince of Earth, brightly dressed and dark from the sun, finishes currying the grey pony and puts a blanket on her. "Did you get to see the library yet? Let me take you!"

Mamoru listens to the man, ostensibly. In reality, he's staring. It's only a couple seconds, though, and then he clears his throat and looks away. Mai! "Anyway, they're fun to watch, too. People get really into it, and they can make words into music, or into dancing-- it's all energy from the same source. But this guy," he cocks a thumb at Sanjouin, "is right. Truly great art is inclusive as well as genius. Like dirty jokes in Shakespeare."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

He might have been serious - or he might have been making a joke about her Element. Unfortunately for Mamoru, Mai's inclined to give him a hard time regardless - partly for fun, partly as a distraction from that motorcycle ride. It's clear that she's not outright angry, just in a mood to challenge her friend for a little more detail. His explanation does earn some credit, and the arms start to unfold.

The explanation is quickly interrupted by a stranger, however, and Mai starts in surprise. The first thing to stand out is the man's appearance - and Mai is struck by the hair most of all. It kind of stands out - though by Ohtori standards, it would almost blend in. Almost. The words take a moment to sink in, and...there isn't an easy response to that. Sounds reasonable, after all...

Mamoru's looking at her, and Mai clears her throat. "Well, if I'm free at the time - and that's an if, the hospital might need to have a meeting that evening - I might give it a try. The most poetry I know is song lyrics, though." This last is admitted somewhat sheepishly, and Mai grasps for another topic. She glances to the stranger, for lack of anything better, and holds up the flyer. "So, are you just a passing art enthusiast, or do you have a stake in this?"

<Pose Tracker> Nephrite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

"Energy from the same source. Yes. That's an apt way to put it," Nephrite says, lifting up a corner of his mouth in a half-smirk. It's hard to tell whether he's agreeing with the younger man or patronizing him. Whatever the case, it does not seem to occur to him that he has anything at all to do with the Silver Millennium. His memories of that time are only dark and unhappy, nothing that a casual conversation like this would trigger. As far as he's concerned, the high school students before him are merely targets in his upcoming scheme. And he must do everything he can to draw them into it.

The man hears Mai mention her lack of poetry knowledge -- and were this an ordinary occasion, he would waste no time in turning away those whose greatest contribution was /song lyrics./ But this event is not to celebrate art; he had his day job for that. This is to be a tax collection, more than anything else. The people of Earth were always the citizens of their rightful ruler, and by right, she could claim whatever she needed from them. They simply had to be persuaded into giving it up, at least for the moment.

"Perhaps you don't realize the merit of your own work," he compliments her, doing his best to recreate the smouldering look that so many women fell for. "This young man compares you to the Ring Cycle, if I heard him correctly. And what is opera but an unbroken series of songs?" He turns his smirk into a replication of a genuine smile. "I wonder: would you be the beautiful Freya? Brunhilde, the fierce angel of battle? Or Frigga, the wise woman who keeps her husband's fancies bound to reality?" His eyes dart from Mamoru to Mai and back again. He does not know if these two are a couple, but he purposefully meant to imply it with his last statement. Rarely did a young man and woman go out alone without *some* kind of second level to their relationship.

At Mai's question, though, he simply shakes his head. "You would be correct on both accounts. I am an enthusiast of art, as well as a participant in this poetry...event." Under no circumstance is he going to utter the words 'poetry slam' with a degree of seriousness. "The judge of it, more specifically. Masato Sanjouin, at you service."

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Never in the day, never when he's awake-- these things happen in dreams he doesn't remember on waking; may have happened, could have happened-- but there's always that shiver. Mamoru doesn't look back until Sanjouin speaks again, answering Mai's question and then... sort of... going way off the beaten path, there.

There's an expression of tolerant amusement on his face as the man smoulders at Mai. He can't say a damn thing to Nephrite's projections and keep all his teeth, he figures, so he just watches, probably not even aware he's smirking.

When the man with the luxurious locks introduces himself, Mamoru looks sidelong at Mai and outright grins for a second, and then he turns solemnly to the adult and flourishes a perfectly executed stage bow. "Mamoru Chiba," he says, and then straightens his jacket as he stands upright again, and gestures briefly at Mai. "And Mai Tokiha. It's a pleasure to meet you, Sanjouin-san. I'll be participating and bringing a bunch of friends, we came to check out the venue. May we see?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

The judge of the poetry event. Mai is rapidly finding herself further out of her depth, and that look paired with the compliments certainly don't help there. It takes her a moment to find her voice, even as she's frantically wondering what else there might be to those references-

And then Mamoru gives her a grin. Why? What could he mean by that, and what is he thinking?

By the time Mai finds her verbal footing again, Mamoru has already gone ahead and introduced the two of them. She bows as well - though just a polite greeting, as opposed to her friend's ridiculous dramatics - and glances back to him. "Sanjouin-san, then - as Chiba-san here says, we're checking things out. And we're not dating - " She doesn't dare look at Mamoru. " - but that last one sounds about right. Coming here was his idea, I'm here to keep him out of trouble."

That's all. Honest. Just clearing up misconceptions.

<Pose Tracker> Nephrite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

...was that a bow of respect? Or is he simply being mocked?

For all of his time spent among mortals, dissecting their patterns of behavior and mapping out their typical thoughts and responses, Nephrite still finds himself surprised every so often. By and large, the etiquette and attitude of the Silver Millennium had died out centuries ago -- but, as they are deeply ingrained into his mind, it is sometimes hard to tell if something is out of fashion or not. For instance, a slight bow in Japanese culture is appropriate on many occasions; however, a sweeping bow is not. And it was the latter that this Mamoru Chiba had performed. His gut tells him that the boy was simply being insolent, but just in case there was a glimmer of sincerity in the gesture, he cannot risk turning him away, not when he is going to participate in the contest.

So the older man bows in a less exaggerated way, albeit in the same style. And if Chiba thought to make a fool of him, his would be among the first energies drained.

"I myself am here to survey the venue. I have not had the privilege to see it yet, and I would like to get a sense of its acoustics," Nephrite says, "You are, of course, more than welcome to join me. Though as a participant, Chiba-san, we should perhaps keep discussion of poetry to a minimum." He smirks again. "We would not want others to think you are trying to sway my judgment."

He turns his attention back to Mai, who had insisted that the two of them were *not dating*. "Frigga. A difficult role, to be sure. Like all Wagnerian women, she must have strength and power, yet the endurance to sustain herself through an entire opera. It is a pity many modern companies cast her only with an eye for volume. Though she is not the one desired -- the ingenue -- she must still be played with nuance. The dichotomy between the 'submissive' wife role and her desire to protect her husband and kingdom requires an...intelligent portrayal." He looks Mai directly in the eyes, wondering how much of what he's said relates to her, then turns back to Mamoru. "Of course, many would say that Frigga and Wotan have a business partnership rather than a romance. What about you, Chiba-san? Does the role of Wotan resonate with you?"

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's entirely possible there was some sincerity in there, in that courtly dramatic bow. The boy's solemnity didn't crack; the motion was so fluid and practiced that it's as if the action were rote for him. Aside from the grin to Mai beforehand, there's no indication thereafter but that he's completely and perfectly serious.

His hands go back in his pockets, and Mamoru rocks back on his heels a little, listening to the two of them. Mai doesn't dare look at him, but he doesn't seem too terribly affected: they've gone into what basically amounts to lit crit, and the consideration and the scholarship tug at his mind on a deep level. A deeply passionately dorky level.

"I'd've figured you for Brunhilde, honestly," Mamoru tells Mai, perfectly reasonable in tone and demeanor. He glances to Nephrite again, and then gestures for the man to lead the way. "I'm afraid I don't have much in common with Wotan, sir. Plus I'm fond of having depth perception..." "Also, is discussing the acoustics an acceptable alternative? Are you hoping for reverb or soundproofing panels?"

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Mamoru's bow was utterly absurd and Mai wonders if she should have called him out on it...but Sanjouin-san doesn't seem to have been offended, and Mamoru seemed as serious as normal. However much that is. In any event, there's an interesting discussion going on, and Mai actually nods in understanding. "You really do have to check acoustics personally - between the design, the actual construction, the materials used...some things work in theory, but the reality is something you have to investigate directly."

She's thinking of karaoke parlors instead of auditoriums, admittedly, but there are parallels. Though she isn't fool enough to mention that.

The discussion of Frigga is, again, overwhelming. Difficult, strong, powerful, prepared to endure, undesired... Mamoru had said that he didn't intent to suggest parallels, but Sanjouin-san seems to be drawing a lot of them. While she manages to meet the gaze, she can't help but look at Mamoru as well. Would he entertain the role of Frigga's husband?

...no, instead he's suggesting she's a fierce angel of battle. For some literary reason, or those nocturnal activities, and she finds herself cursing his oft-times unreadability all over again. "Well, not knowing much of the story myself, I can't argue much either way." Mind racing with potential implications, Mai moves to follow Mamoru following Sanjouin-san.

...maybe 'submissive' was what he objected to? Who even knows...

<Pose Tracker> Nephrite [Infinity Institute (S)] has posed.

Well, he's certainly humble, to shy away from a comparison to the highest Norse god. Nephrite can't decide whether that's a favorable or unfavorable mark on his personality. Or if he's deferring simply because he does not want to attach himself to this girl, relationship-wise. It's too ambiguous to read much into, so the man lets it go, tucking it away in his mind under 'humans are strange.'

It seems his prodding of the girl has reached its end -- she is not familiar enough with the source material to continue discussing it. Pity. The Ring Cycle was one of the greatest achievements in mortal music, though like many works of art, it was losing significance rapidly, thanks to the vapidness of modern society. He nods with just a hint of disappointment, then bids the pair follow him inside the museum.

"I've reserved a small audience room to hold the contest in," he explains as they walk. More accurately, he had created such a room with his magic, much as he had created his mountain home. He's visiting it today to make sure everything is in place; perhaps also to sabotage a few means of escape. The acoustics would, of course, already be perfect, but he needed a cover story. "I am looking for purity of sound, above all else. So that a voice can cut clearly through the background noise, without a single word lost to it," the man explains as they finally reach the door, a polished mahogany frame that had not been there the previous day. "Of course, part of that will depend on the reader's diction and clarity, but a room can set one up for success as easily as it can damn them."

He opens the door, and inside is an auditorium of small size, resembling a black box theater, minus the color. Everything looks to be in order -- obsessively tiny, even. But it's hard to escape the feeling that something is slightly /off/ about it.

<Pose Tracker> Mamoru Chiba [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

It's almost like unreadability is Mamoru Chiba's middle name, or something. Maddeningly, it's even possible that Mamoru doesn't even mean to imply anything, and his easy transition to Any Other Topic is a result of irritation that inferences are being drawn in the first place. Perhaps his ambiguousness and modesty are a result of deep-seated insecurity! Or maybe acoustics are more interesting than literature. Or maybe--

--maybe there's a reason that stepping into the small auditorium causes the teenaged boy to shiver, though it's heated, while the outdoors isn't. "Haha," he laughs nervously. "Well--"

Mamoru moves quickly, his dress shoes tapping on the hard, clean floor, instantly audible and reverberatingly clear. A quick shuffle-step to see if there's also a delay, and what there is of one enhances the double sound instead of overpowering it. "You've certainly got that, sir. The air seems designed to carry the spoken word. You may also have a Phantom of the Opera, though-- but I suppose a haunted stage only adds to the appeal for the truly theatrical in nature."

<Pose Tracker> Mai Tokiha [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Between the expression on Sanjouin-san's face and the overall grandeur of the construction, Mai is nearly out of her depth. The last few months at Ohtori have helped, and she's been to museums before, but she's out of her element. Whatever else Mai Tokiha might be, a dedicated student of the classics she is not. If a chill runs up her spine upon seeing the high-class theatre, that might be chalked up to nerves as much as anything else.

However...it's not like she's completely incapable of contributing to the conversation here. Mamoru takes the lead, but Mai can make her own judgements of the auditorium. She walks down the short aisle as her friend does his sound check - tapping shoes, and a few comments. Even from the back row of the audience, she can hear every word clearly.

It's not what she'd normally pick out - in karaoke, you don't want clarity, you want enough reverb that even bad singers can sound decent - but she can appreciate it. Walking back to the small theater's stage, she calls out to the two gentlemen. "It's better for speech than music, certainly. I don't know what standards you're holding this contest to, but this certainly seems like it would work - haunted or not."

Mai doesn't rush back to where Mamoru is standing, but neither does she hesitate - and with the topic back on terms she can at least comprehend, she stands by his side instead of trailing behind. "It's a bit smaller than I might have expected, though - what kind of turnout are you expecting?"