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Media Training

Posted on Mon Mar 25th, 2024 @ 12:39 by Claire Cavendish & Mhairi McIntyre & Cameron Johnston

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: Mechanical Workshop, Avalon Institute
Timeline: Tuesday 15th of December
2647 words - 5.3 OF Standard Post Measure

"Alright then, looking forward to meeting you. Have a nice day." Claire finished the conversation and put the received back on the base of the phone. A long exhale followed as the head mistress leaned back in her large desk chair. For a moment panic set in. What had just just agreed to. Why? It seemed so clear, so obvious when the man on the other end of the line had explained it to her. It hadn't taken more than the time it took to put down the phone for her to get reservations. She knew how news programmes worked, they needed juicy details and soundbites. She knew how things could be taken out of context. And they only had a day to prepare.

After a moment of panic Claire reasserted herself and she did what she had grown accustomed to doing over the past year and a bit. She closed her eyes and envisioned a place where she knew she'd be able to find the help she needed. The air around her fizzled and with a pop she left a vacuum in the seat that quickly filled with air.

The darkened garage was an eerie place for most people, but for someone that thrived in the dark it only gave a sense of security. "Cameron?" She called into the dark. Then she heard rummaging in the direction of the little office area, a sound that caught her attention and made her walk in the direction. More rummaging.

"Fuck! That's yer boss." It was the voice of the local New Cresthill Mechanic that was helping out with all the technical things that needed to happen around the festival. She had helped with the sound and lights as well as guiding some of the workshops. It was late now though, so she was definitely no longer here to help our with hotwiring toasters. The muffled curses and conversation continued, "My trousers.."

It gave Claire pause, hand hovering over the doorknob to the office. In stead of swinging the door open she softly rapped a knuckle against the frame.

By now, it was universally known that Cameron kept the worst office space of the entire faculty. He argued that it was because his most important work happened in the garage, which was kept in a far more orderly fashion for the most part, but there was no getting around the fact that he simply had no system for paperwork. Inventory manifests, purchase orders, certification documents, equipment servicing roster, several menus from local restaurants, all co-existed in several piles that could loosely claim the priority designation of "For Later", "Ask Jon" and "Don't Lose." Most of the candidates for the last pile were shoved into the filing cabinet in the corner, the others existed as piles that just got moved around the shelves depending on how out of control they'd become and whether or not the desk was able to accommodate them. Completely contravening health and safety standards, the wall behind the inward-swinging door was stacked three-deep in some places with boxes, and this remained the standard state of affairs of new purchases until the seniors needed something and dragged things out to the actual storage, where labels were a thing and every tool and spare part had its place. It mattered out there, Cameron argued; it probably mattered in his office too, he just... distracted.

The scramble and muffled conversation from the other side of the door gave no greater testament to that particular issue, though there had never really been any cause in the past to accuse him of this particular diversion. A clatter suggested something had hit the floor from a height, possibly pushed accidentally from the desk, and an elongated shushing did its best to stem the flow of muttered expletives as a rather frantic mechanic did his best to placate one woman whilst opening the door to confront another.

He had oil smudged across his nose.

"Uh. Hi."

Typically speaking, Cameron wasn't someone who got flustered. Most of the time, he was annoyingly calm, reasonably pragmatic and prone to excessive bouts of optimism that saw him face a lot of life's little challenges with a grin and a wink. For a guy who could have made it to town and back before anyone had figured out he was leaving, he didn't often appear out of breath either, and yet there was a decidedly dishevelled aspect to his appearance that went beyond the decorative application of lubricant. Mostly, he looked sheepish, apologetic and exceedingly awkward, his tall frame positioned in the partially-opened door in such a way as to provide the best obstacle to any attempt to peer past him.

"She's, uh..." He cleared his throat. "Just..."

He shimmied out of the door, pulling it closed behind him.

"Slight technical mishap. We were just trying to fix the..." He gestured vaguely. "And then the..." A spin of his hand elaborated. "Good news though," he brightened a little too effectively. "The Camaro's fuel lines are halfway replaced." Cameron squinted at his friend then, knowing entirely too well exactly who it was he was speaking to, and seemed to shrink just a little as his hands made their way into his back pockets. "You're probably not here about that though." The faintest glimmer of concern registered then, a ripple beneath his boyish embarrassment that spoke of at least some portion of potential maturity. "Everything okay?"

There was a moment where Claire was trying to figure out the exact nature of things, there was something about the dishevelled look and chaotic explanation that seemed to imply the two of them being engaged in something unbecoming. "That's good news, but indeed not the matter at hand." She seemed to contemplate her response to the question as to whether or not everything was okay a little longer. "Yes, I think so. I just. I need some help. Again." A meek smile. She realised that most of their interactions were driven by the fact that she needed his help with something or other.

The exact nature of things was something that Cameron himself was struggling to define. Being typically prone to honesty, he couldn't claim that being locked in his office with an object of deepening affection was entirely derived from innocent intent, but he would also die on the hill that saw him declare there had been no ulterior motive when they'd first disappeared inside. It was a garage, they'd been enjoying the opportunity to work together. Were ridiculous amounts of flirtation responsible for the calamity that had left things a little complicated in the trouser department? Maybe. He didn't think any of his friends would really understand why it counted as such, though, nor was he about to attempt explaining why Mhairi, wearing no makeup and with her hair shoved haphazardly up on her head to stop it dragging through the oil, was more of a distraction than any woman he'd ever encountered and that was saying something, given his misspent youth. Physical attraction was all well and good but she understood him when he rambled about things he wasn't used to other people caring much about.

Also, she was pretty.

She was still currently cursing to herself behind the closed door.

Very pretty.

Cameron shared a pained look with Claire before he responded to her request. "A new problem sounds pretty tempting about now," he confessed, his slightly dazed smile the epitome of long-suffering resignation.

"I just got off the phone with BBC Scotland." Claire ran a hand through her hair, it wasn't in the usual bun and it was clear she had been about ready to just call it a night when this particular conversation had happened. "They got tipped about the festival and want to come in and dedicate a news item to us and the festival, especially in light of the developing situation." She wasn't sure how else to explain the whole political movement, it was eerily reminiscent of the witch hunts.

"Oh boy." For a moment, Cameron was distracted from his own dilemma long enough to consider the multitude of potential ones that Claire's predicament could present. "I take it we agreed?" Peering directly into Claire's eyes, his head ducked just a little to permit it, the mechanic lifted both eyebrows expectantly. From a very pragmatic stance, inviting the national media in was asking a lot of the staff and students, especially as there was plenty of cynical evidence to suggest that political agendas dictated the lens through which major media outlets chose to represent certain stories. Cameron knew his friend, though, and he doubted Claire would be quite so eager to fall victim to the foregone conclusion that the only outcome was a negative one.

A slow nod at the question on whether or not they agreed to let these strangers in, with camera crew and all. "They'll be here tomorrow." Her confidence betraying her once more, and relying once more on someone like Cameron to help her get things properly in place to make good on promises she'd made.

"Tomorrah?" Mhairi had emerged from the office, she seemed a bit more put together than Cameron when he first emerged from the small private room, though still clearly dishevelled. "Couldnae given us more of a heads up?"

"They want to broadcast on Friday, so they need time to edit and allow for adjustments based on my approval." Claire had made sure to set very clear stipulations on using the item. She was to have the opportunity to veto. She'd get that in writing before any filming would occur. She was quick to plunge herself into things head first, but she wasn't stupid. It was only then that she realised Mhairi had used 'us', and a smile formed.

Cameron's expression was a little more bemused, though it was offset by an affectionate resignation that saw him study the mechanic's face for a moment before turning back to Claire with a look that suggested trying to argue would prove pointless. As things settled, he was gradually finding his way back to the cocksureness that usually fuelled his optimistic confidence but there was nothing like being broadsided by a highly determined Scottish woman to give a man a run for his money. Besides, Claire was more than his boss; she was his friend, and those were becoming harder to keep around of late. Jon wasn't much good for relationship advice and the speedster had balked at calling all the way to London to seek the input of the one person he normally would have dumped all this on.

"What do we need to do?"

It was always a relief to have someone like Cameron. Whose first response, whenever the purple head teacher came up with something on short notice, was 'what do you need'. Claire's smile didn't waiver, a bit self conscious about the way this must look towards someone like Mhairi. "I've got the skeleton of a tourplan, I want to make sure what they see on that route is up to scrutiny." She knew that keeping the castle in order was always a tall task, even with a speedster and duplicator running around doing chores. "I want them to see all the things we're doing for the kids without them getting distracted by the fact that they're teens, sometimes rebellious, sometimes temperamental."

"This is where she turns me into a glorified janitor and doesn't up my meal allowance." Though the remark was directed at Mhairi, the twitch of Cameron's teasing smirk was aimed directly at Claire. "The good news is," he continued, careful not to derail the conversation too much, "we're probably in the best shape we've been since opening. All the effort we've already put in for the festival will help but we also have a business manager now who is not afraid to bust a man's balls if the maintenance schedule falls behind." His girlfriend might have had his measure but Cameron wasn't altogether sure he wasn't a teensy bit scared of Jhanvi, now that the mutant had reverted to the more aggressively officious of their double persona.

"I'll talk to Gabby to ask if there might be some confectioneries that are unsuitable for sale." Claire smiled back, feeling thankfulness swell inside herself. Cameron was right of course. With the help of so many people the Institute was looking more and more like one of those high end private institutes that she'd been inside of for most of her academic life. While it wasn't something she'd always had fond memories of, to the outside world those were prestigious. And they could do with a prestigious image.

"Gabby? You mean from the corner bakery?" Mhairi was surprised to hear that name drop. There was something that suddenly seemed to click in her head. "Her pies are amazing." She prodded Cameron with an elbow as if to say that was a good deal, regardless of how much work had to be done to attain them.

"I'm hurt that either of you would think this is news to me." A hand pressed to his chest gave emphasis to the charade, though Cameron was already mid-smirk in delighted recollection. Investing time in building relationships with the locals had been worth it for many reasons, though it was taking the current pressure of popular opinion to really test the validity of some of them, and if nothing else, Cameron was pretty sure his appetite was fairly well-known around town. Graeme still liked to joke that the mutant was the sole reason the town could support two Greggs. "Shoot me the tour plan and I'll drag Mhairi around on a mock version, see what her eagle eyes spot while I brush up on my hob-knobbing." It was a solid example of a more familiar confidence, a way to involve his girlfriend, without admitting she was his girlfriend, and granting her further access to poke around inside his workplace under the guise of official business. With any luck, if he managed it enough times, people would stop thinking it was weird when she turned up.

Claire reached inside her breast pocket and pulled out a sheet of paper to present to Cameron. She had hastily scribbled down the different classrooms and parts of the castle she wanted to share with the BBC. It was clear that there was a focus on the cultural and historical aspects of the castle. With time for a music rehearsal, a tour of the art room, a showing of the Shakespeare play. "Thank you. I can't say that enough." She took another step closer and gave him a quick hug. She turned to face Mhairi, "and thank you."

Mhairi smiled and gave a nod, wanting to give a wave when the head teacher also stepped in to give the local mechanic a hug as well. It was weird to be so accepted in a group of people that it felt like she barely met. "No worries. No problem." The RP of Claire made her very aware of her own accent. She then turned to Cameron and looked at the paper, the handwriting a far cry from her own scribbles in the shop, "where to first?"

Making a show of scrutinising the list he'd been handed, Cameron lead a meandering path between disassembled projects, the Pied Piper of information as he twisted just enough to ensure that the woman trailing him couldn't read over his shoulder. "Says the cafeteria here." It did not. "Cafeteria, back freezer, give special attention to the ice cream stock. Weird."

As the pair disappeared, leaving Claire to watch in amusement, the speedster stretched upwards with list in hand to dangle it out of reach.

"Careful, it doesn't say I have to share."


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