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Open Mic Night

Posted on Mon Jan 16th, 2023 @ 9:32 by Claire Cavendish & Phoebe Hunter & Jonathan Monroe & Reagan D'Angelo & Cameron Johnston & Donald Johnson & William McAvoy & Jhanvi Dhar

Chapter: Prologue: Dawn of Avalon
Location: Auditorium
Timeline: Saturday evening, September 19th, 1992
4274 words - 8.5 OF Standard Post Measure

After about an hour or so Claire had taken a quick headcount and was confident that most, if not all, the faculty had arrived. She got up on the stage at the far end of the auditorium and looked out over the hustle and bustle of the gathered faculty. There was a sense of pride as she saw all those gathered people. They were all working towards a common goal, her goal. Her stomach felt all warm and fuzzy inside and a smile adorned her face as she approached the microphone in the centre of the stage.

"Good evening everyone!" She waved at the people in front of her. "Thank you all for joining us, it's lovely to see all of you back again for a new year at Avalon." There was a short applause that she paused for. "Now, my special talent, as some of you will know, is to make boring start of the semester speeches for the students. So I thought I'd apply that here and talk to all of you for a moment." There were some boos from the audience, and while she couldn't quite tell where they had come from she knew almost for certain Cam and Rea would be joining in on that. "I'll keep it short. I promise. I just want to thank all of you for being here and for joining Avalon in working towards a better tomorrow, where all of humanity can live in harmony." Another applause. "This year looks to be one of our most exciting ones, with more students joining us than ever before. This is our chance to really have an impact on how they see the world, their place in it, and how they can have an influence on both. So thank you all for being here! Let's make it a year to remember!"

Phoebe clapped politely having only just made it in time to hear the speech having been out for a run and then showered. She wore a plain dress and boots with it which was really as relaxed as she could get right then and there with half her stuff still packed up and the other half still in London. "Lovely speech." Pheobe approved with a nod as William just clapped. He as was growing used to all the familiar and new faces but it did not mean he was going to be staying long, he wanted to catch Noel's House Party if possible on the television. It was something of his traditions now that he could operate technology without confusion.

Hands cupped over mouth got an exaggerated "whoo!" out of Reagan before she clapped and eagerly readjusted her seating, anticipating her shot at the stage.

"Alright, alright. As I promised, a short one. So without further ado, let's get this show on the road!" Claire applauded and stepped aside with a broad motion towards the first person to take the stage. Jonathan had made all the arrangements and plans so she had no clue who would be first or what they would be doing, she simply gave them the room to do it.

"Well, as always, they've left me to follow a class act."

Guitar held over his head, Cameron wove his way through the audience with his unmistakably cavalier attitude towards public scrutiny already in full swing. Negotiating the stairs whilst slipping the instrument's strap over his head, the mechanic-cum-musician made his way towards the mic and hooked his foot to drag over the stool that had been set for acts that required it. An adjustment of the mic stand saw it drop too far, and the protesting feedback evoked winces all around before he readjusted both the microphone's position and his own location in regards to the amp.

"Dodgy equipment. Someone needs to shake up the maintenance department around here." A jab at himself, as always. "Okay, folks, I've been told one song is plenty so I had to narrow down a few options. I know quite a few of you have expectations."

His gaze swept towards the members of the faculty who were already well-versed with his tendency to play questionable songs very well, an almost intentional squandering of decent talent to make people groan. It had gone as far as to frustrate a few who had heard him perform perfectly adequate music just as well but what was the point if you couldn't annoy the people you love.

"But I might disappoint you this year. See, over the break, my family welcomed little Sophia Grace. Tiny wee bairn, about the size of my hand." He held it up for comparison. "And, coincidentally, I was driving when I got the news that she'd arrived a few weeks earlier than expected and a certain song was playing on the radio, one that's from a movie that I know is top of the list of certain cinophiles around here."

This time, his look was very definitely directed at Reagan and Claire.

"And, since it turns out there's a lot of waiting around NICU when you're just a lowly uncle, I decided to use the time to learn the song. So, this one's for you, Sophia, but also for a couple of other lovely lasses in my life." He winked, which was never a great sign. "Tissues out, ladies."

Adjusting the guitar, playing a couple of experimental notes to make sure it was still in tune, Cameron launched into an annoyingly competent rendition of My Girl. He'd never seen the movie but he'd been present for the endless waterworks afterwards.

A teary reaction he might have gotten, if Reagan had actually seen the movie. They'd been so bad about theater attendance so far this year. She sheepishly leaned in toward Claire to speak softly. "Is that one on our list? We should make him watch it with us." All the same, when Cameron finished, she was as enthusiastic as she had been for Claire's speech, trying to ignite the energy in the room. A standing ovation from the biology professor! If she wasn't careful, Claire might ask her to start a cheer squad for the students at this rate.

Amidst the smattering of applause, Cameron dipped his head and then patted his handed against the guitar as he stood. "Always time for some Cash later on. For now, I'll get off the stage so the real talent can take over." A finger pointed into the audience became a hand that swept invitingly towards the stage. "Ms. D'Angelo, the mic is yours."

Eager and waiting, Reagan hopped up to take the steps on to the stage in a few, bounding hops before she came to meet Cameron on stage. Thankfully the students weren't there, so she could be a little sillier than normal. And so she greeted the man who'd volunteered her with a big hug and a kiss on both cheeks (standing on her toes to do so). Her form moved elegantly for one in a nice, formal suit with the jacket removed, shoes and pants black, buttoned down shirt in white, complete with a nice rainbow tie. "Thank you, Cameron! Watch out for this one ladies and gents, might find him outside your room playing an alluring solo."

As she spoke, she finally acknowledged the audience with a big wave and a cheeky grin wide enough to be seen across the room. Introduction out of the way though, she made a show of taking the guitar from Cameron and having to adjust that, the stool, and the mic to make up for the height difference. Clearing her throat, she plucked a few simple strings. "I can't pretend I'm as talented as our dear mechanic here, but I thought a simple chord or two would be easy enough. And I'm a sucker for a good break up song. My apologies in advance for the performance!"

She said it all so enthusiastically, maintaining positivity throughout. It was basically karaoke, right? Just have fun with it, consequences be damned. And so she started slowly and built into what she had practiced, singing softly but mostly on key, and keeping the chords simple to play The Bangles' 'I'll Set You Free.'

Several bars in and Cameron had already offered to spin Claire into an impromptu dance, with enthusiasm enough to ensure that he would have picked up a chair and danced alone with it if need be.

Claire gladly accepted the opportunity to be distracted from having to go on herself in a moment and spun under the extended arm of Cameron. Gracefully sliding to and fro on the music being played by their friend.

All in all, not too bad, she thought, with nary a boo and even some generous clapping once she finished (even if most of the staff were just being polite). She raised a hand in thanks and adjusted to stand as she spoke again. "And on that mediocre note, who'd like to come up next and blow us all away with a performance?"

From the audience, hands cupped around their mouth, someone yelled, "Make the doc go next!" There was absolutely no proof that it was Cameron, except for the fact that it was.

"All right, all right," David ambles up onto the stage, grasping the microphone as if he were born and bred for this. Mixed Company aside, he could belt out a tune when he had to, but he'd elected to break up the karaoke with something ephemeral, this time. "So, two mutants walk through a bar-"

"Already heard that one!"

The heckle from Cameron died down long enough for him to pull Reagan into a hug as she rejoined their huddle. "You've been practising," he murmured approvingly. "And here you're warning the ladies against me." The wink paid no heed to the eventual punch in the arm he was earning himself and the mechanic returned his attention to the act on stage.

Reagan gave Cameron a soft jab in the ribs with his heckle before retaking her seat, leaning in to respond to him quietly so that David could continue without distraction. "Not like I busted out the Indigo Girls or anything. Better or worse than last year's gymnastics display?"

"Oh, pish-posh," David smirks from the stage. "All right, tuck this feather in your cap. So I'm a therapist," he taps the microphone with his index finger. "And I've got this patient, walks in, he's all kinds of messed up. He says doc, I don't know what's wrong with me. You gotta help me! - Oy vey iz mir. If it's not one thing, it's your mother, amirite?"

"Did someone spike his soda water?," Cam murmured, grimacing slightly as a surreptitious thumbs-up to Reagan became the only answer he could afford her without grossly interrupting the good doc's 'moment'.

"-and then they asked, what's the act called?" David was saying, after a litany of increasingly bizarre and wacky (though age-appropriate, this is a school) shenanigans featuring a talent scout office and an unusual family circus act, "and they said, oh, it's The Aristocrats!-"

Claire shook her head a bit, and then applauded. It was one of those things you heard a lot in comedy clubs, much more of an inside joke among comedians than for the benefit of the audience. Though all in all she was quite happy with how the night was progressing, and how everyone was putting in the effort with this. She looked over to the side and saw that Phoebe was getting ready to do her part of the open mic night. She whistled on her fingers to encourage the new addition to the crew and wondered what her talent would be.

“Im not prepared. You go first Jonathan.” Phoebe offered quickly. She hated pushing someone one forward but just needed a few more moments to prepare.

Having remained quiet - and honestly, a little nervous - Jonathan cleared his throat gently, moving forward from the back of the room. To the surprise of several people, he was dressed up in a top hat, coat and tails.

"Ladies and gentlemen...who here believes in...magic?" he asked, adding a little mystique to his voice and presentation. Lifting the hat from his head, he bowed theatrically. "Behold, the great Sapphiro the Stupendous!" With a flourish and a burst of blue flame, his open hand suddenly flicked open a single purple-coloured rose. "For the lady..." he added, offering it to Claire with a grin.

Claire smiled gracefully at the offered rose and held it in front of her chest, making sure not to prick herself on the thorns. She watched the rest of his performance unfold.

"Now then, let's see...ah!" he motioned to Reagan. "Would you do me the great favour of picking a card young miss?" he asked, offering a fan of playing cards.

Reagan couldn't help but grin at 'Sapphiro the Stupendous' from ear to ear while she selected a card for him. It was the only way she could sufficiently vent her amusement without cracking jokes out loud and continue to play along. She took the card, gave it a good look, then placed it back into the fan.

"Now, don't show me. I want you to remember that card - it's very important, as these things often have a mind of their own. Much like many of our students, I'm sure you'll all agree. Now, go ahead and shuffle that back in - excellent..." he took the cards back from her with a little tip of his hat. "Wonderful. Now, the problem with these cards is that they're made of...well, card. Very easily damaged. Or even..." His hand lit up with flame again as he tossed the entire deck into the air and watched them all incinerate and scatter into tiny pieces of ash.

"Hmm," Jonathan touched his chin. "It's not going to be particularly easy to figure out which one your card was now, is it...but wait! I see you over there, Cam. Don't think you can get away with it..." He approached Cameron, reaching down and into the other man's pocket. With a flick of the wrist, a single untouched playing card appeared in Jonathan's fingers. "Honestly, I'm trying to do magic here. Anyways, Miss Reagan." He held up the playing card. "Was this your card?"

Reagan made a show of gasping, though she was genuinely impressed, grin now directed at Cameron. "Yes, yes it was! Queen of Diamonds! Just your type, Cam. No wonder she ended up in your pocket." She teased the man next to her, starting a round of applause for Jonathan.

A hand pressed to his heart, Cam's expression was an overstated 'you wound me', but he lifted his hand to offer Jonathan a high-five nonetheless.

Phoebe clapped politely. She was impressed by the magic skills but it was also a good way to see the team dynamics. 'Sapphiro the Stupendous' was a brilliant name for a magician.

Finishing with a theatrical bow, Jonathan accepted the light applause and stepped aside.

"My turn." Phoebe had no choice now that Johnathan had finished his magic tricks with a flurry of claps and woots to step onto the stage. She had been dreading the part of the night when she would finally have to get up and do something. She had been wishing for about an hour that she could either sneak off without repercussions or that she had Claire’s power to disappear into the shadows. She took in a big breath and remembered that she was a former MI-13 agent who had faced things that would make the people in this room cry. She could sing her favourite song in front of all these new people. The strings of the CD she had put on started to echo through the auditorium. It was Shakespeare's Sister's song Stay that had been top of the music charts at the beginning of the year.

"We're going to have to start a band," Cameron murmured to Reagan, only half-joking. It was the point of Claire's reasoning for the event, of course, an opportunity to get to know each other outside of the powers that defined them otherwise. Still, if their new leader was up for karaoke then team singalongs seemed entirely feasible.

"I can rock a mean tambourine if you get me going." Reagan quipped back to Cameron, but kept mostly silent through the performance, smiling up at their new team leader on stage. They'd been introduced, sure, but would any of the team really know her until they went on a mission together? A musical number was a good start at least.

"You'd better hope and pray. That you'll make it safe. Back to your own world. You'd better hope and pray. That you'll wake one day. In your own world..." The history teacher sang the best she could, sober and nervous. It was not perfect but who could reach the tones of Siobhan Fahey on a karaoke machine?

Glad to see so many of the faculty really giving it their all Claire was happy that the group was coming together over this talent show. She let out an encouraging "Woohoo!" when Phoebe tried for the high note.

Reagan clapped politely for Phoebe, adding a little cheer of her own to accompany Claire's.

Claire slowly started to move towards the side of the podium as Phoebe was approaching the last part of her song. She wanted to prepare for her own performance, and she needed some time to set everything up properly.

The song faded and Phoebe stood there looking a bit embarrassed and red faced but happy that she had gotten up there. The music video was one of her favourite music videos on MTV at the moment so it was nice to sing to others instead of just in her old flat or in the car.. “Now you all know what type of music I like. Thank you.” She said into the microphone before putting it down looking to Claire.

Cameron lifted his hand as Phoebe exited the stage and offered the camaraderie of a high-five of appreciation. "Next stop, Eurovision." He winked at her and, because he could see she was still jumpy from adrenaline, and because he typically treated people like he'd known them forever, pulled her in for a reassuring squeeze as he directed his voice towards Claire as she prepared. "Can we keep her?"

DJ sat quietly near the back staring at the piano at the side of the stage, the other musicians covered a range of hits but none of them used the piano. He debated on playing something with the guitar but he wanted to stand out a bit, after all he was the music teacher.

Standing, DJ walked toward the stage, he smoothed the wrinkles in his Khakis, and straightened the sport coat he wore over his tshirt. The brown loafers without socks had been made famous by Don Johnson in Miami Vice.

He sat at the piano and looked at the audience, the only face he recognized was Claire. "Hey yall, I'm DJ and I'm gonna play this here piano," he said with a thick Southern accent before playing the "Lewis Boogie" by Jerry Lee Lewis.

"Now this one I don't know, but he seems like fun, eh Cam?" Reagan especially enjoyed the accent, exaggerated or not. Another Yank on the staff perhaps? She made a note to introduce herself when all this was over with. Suppose that was the point of a faculty mixer, right?

"I'm telling you, we got this year's Eurovision in the bag." Cameron grinned as he clapped along with everyone else, though his attention had the wandering curiosity of someone who had just realised one of their little group had snuck off.

The performance from DJ had struck a chord with the crowd and now Claire wasn't at all too sure about doing her entire routine as the last person up on stage. She had changed into a leotard and tights as well as legwarmers and a pair of black ballerinas. Her hair was loose and she pushed a small stool with a record player on top of it onto the stage. She disappeared for a moment before stepping back out, with a small backpack slung around her shoulder she made a long silent walk across the entire stage to get to the record player, pulled a record from her pack and placed it on top, putting the needle in place. Quickly getting in place in the middle of the stage and sitting on her knees, bent over.

As the first tones of the song began to play she started to move to the music, stretching, curling, turning. Then the time came to get up from the floor and do some more intricate dance moves. In the first pirouette she made sure to loose her footing and awkwardly fall to the ground. She sat back on her foot and hung her head in shame. Then she quickly got up from the ground and looked at the audience, "Can I start again?" She asked in the smallest voice she could muster before rushing over to the record player, suddenly interrupting the music and replacing the needle on the record's start.

Once she restarted her routine it was clear she knew exactly what she was doing. While the first part of the song was slow, and her moves meticulous and smooth, once the beat started the energy in her routine also picked up. Flourishes and pirouettes quickly followed after one another. A split jump as she made her way over to the front of the stage again. Spins and turns, dropping effortlessly into a split, before making her way across the front of the stage where she pointed at five of the people in the front row at the stage, turning as she made her way across all of them. She back-peddled, arms swinging to the beat, just looking like she let go off all of her tension and fears and doubts, in that moment it seemed like it was just her and the music.

Another pirouette, almost as if she wanted to proof that the first fall was a fluke, or better yet a part of the act, it seemed like she'd never stop spinning, keeping her eye on an anchor point at the back of the room, but when she did finally stop spinning she immediately went into a ground routine, legs kicking up ninety degrees as she stood on her heels and hands. Stretching out completely, before corkscrewing around, making her way back towards the front of the stage with a jump into a roll, immediately transitioning to a flip with a stretched leg and as a final flourish showing off a breakdance move where she was spinning on her back, holding on to her knees.

As the music died out she was stepping backwards again, arms spinning until she got to the middle of the stage and threw in a final pirouette, one knee lifted, and she kept going around until the record stopped playing. She came to an abrupt halt and looked into the room. Needing a second to anchor herself and then quickly giving a bow to the audience.

DJ stood and applauded Claire's performance, her dancing just seemed to get better with age. He was impressed with the amount of talent spread across the staff, they were quite an impressive bunch, and he just hoped he'd fit in here.

Reagan stood at the end of the performance, clapping and cheering wildly for Claire's amazing dance routine. "Knock 'em dead, boss! Way to start the year getting everyone to crush on you!"

An ear-piercing whistle, caught between four fingers, was Cam's way of making an appropriate amount of noise. The big goofball had an abundance of affection to go around but he reserved an extra portion of pride for a scant handful of important influences. A lot of people in the room owed plenty to the aubergine beauty, it was nice to see her in the direct firing line of some appreciation for once.

Phoebe had instantly known what the woman was doing from the first couple of beats of the song. It had been a film that she had seen several times at university with different friendship groups. She was impressed by the older woman. "Woohoo!" She called as some of the noise died down to let her give over some appreciation without being drowned out by the noise.

Thankful for the fact that she was purple and that the blood flushing to her face only discoloured her slightly, Claire pulled the microphone back onto the stage; "Thank you all for coming, thank you all for sharing your passions with us." Claire was still a bid winded from the performance as she spoke to the group. "Enjoy the rest of the evening, get to know each other, and whether this is the first semester you're here or if I've been stuck with you for some years now" She took a moment to look over at Rea and Cam in particular, "Welcome to Avalon!" She applauded everyone in front of her and gave a final bow before quickly taking the record player, bag and record off stage with her. She needed to get out of the leotard and back into something more presentable and then mingle with the crowd.


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