Welcome to the World of Art

April 04, 2019:

Karen and Cait run into Billy and Lena at an art auction. Cait is pushed under the social bus via Karen.

An Art Gallery in NYC

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

At the Metropolitan Art Gallery, the silent auction is in full swing. It's a formal event catering to the wealthy and successful of the tri-city area, East Coast elites. Socialites and businesspeople alike descend on the gallery to see and be seen, and to bid on outrageously overpriced art in order to one-up each other. The high ceilings capture sounds in cunning baffles and there's a harmony of arrangement that puts the art and the party moving through the same space, cautiously respectful of one another. A sea of dark tuxedos and formal evening wear abounds.

Caitlin Fairchild is not usually one for the glitz and glamour of high society. Despite appearances to the contrary, she is a *titanic* nerd (and not just in terms of stature) who is more comfortable gaming at home than going to a fancy event.

But when Karen Starr invited her to the Met Gallery silent auction as her plus-one, Caitlin couldn't really say 'no' to her friend. Karen's social acumen keeps the redhead from turning into a wallflower— or getting ambushed by overbearing east coast socialites.

So she hovers in Karen's personal orbit with a polite Business Smile fixed on her face. Her attire is a sleeveless blue dress, modestly cut with a knee-length hem and ribboned shoulders that support a near-horizontal neckline just below her collarbone. Low white sandal pumps and matching handbag complete the ensemble.

"Do I not get art?" she inquires of Karen. Caitlin's staring at an abstract pieece of twisting metal, curves and solid lines emerging and battling one another for dominance. "All I see is a lot of wasted aero-grade aluminum," she admits, and furrows her brow in consternation.

*

Lena shares in the off feeling about being in these types of situations. She wasn't an update girl; never was and never would be. However, the odd desire for socialites to flock together was at least always a given, and almost always promising. She didn't know the red-head personally, nor the blonde, but in this crowd they at least stood out.

A wandering about in her sleek grey gown that shimmers with a frosty blue soon finds the snowbunny and her fur boa (left draping across the crooks of her gloved arms) close to said bubble and art piece. "In places like this, it isn't about art, honey." She murmurs, her dark lips pressing a dimple into her cheek due to a sly smirk. "It's about power. Money. Who has the most and who can claim as such. Think of this," she motions to the statue. "As a trophy. What it means to the artist is the same as what it means to who owns it."

*

It would be an incredible task to mistake Karen Starr for a certain, other, blonde. Though rather tall, this particular businesswoman almost approaches something akin to an eyesore. The expensive-looking pantsuit she's wearing is certainly pinstriped, but the horrid shade of salmon that makes up the bulk of its color palette is… Unique, to say the best of it. A pair of unremarkable flats, and of course, a few other important details. Padding in the right places- around the stomach, primarily- coupled with a loose mane of dirty blonde that reaches most of the way down her back, and… Well, she doesn't cut an imposing figure. Frankly, she looks kind of like the CEO of a company should, if one's preconceived notions are to be believed. The final touch is a pair of overly thick glasses that, without which, the woman she's pretending to be would most assuredly be legally blind.

She adjusts them quietly. "I guess not? I didn't bring you here to -get- the art, though. I brought you here to learn one of the most important lessons of management. Passing the buck." Karen states, before gesturing quietly to the approaching Lena. "Associate." Talk about out of the pan and into the fire.

*

"Hate you," Caitlin mutters at Karen. The seething vituperation is as mean as Caitlin ever gets, which is to say it's less frosty rebuke and more springtime breeze. She sips her ice water and turns to face Lena with a smile firmly in place again. She is perhaps half a step nearer to Lena than Karen is, a subtle physical barrier to keep people from just bum rushing the CEO of Starr Labs.

"That's… a little cynical, isn't it?" Caitlin asks Lena, blinking in surprise. "I thought art was about creating, uh, emotions. Feelings of … well, sadness, or anger. This is a little confusing," she admits, nodding at the statuary again. "I don't think confusing counts as an emotion, anyway," she concedes, and laughs at her own equivocation.

*

"Could be. Guess it depends on how you see the world after awhile." She shrugs, eyeing Karen and Cait both and at least offering them a passable smile. "Art is about a number of things. These functions rarely are. Art makes you feel what you want it to make you feel. It's subjective. Honestly? Confusion is an emotion. If that's what you're feeling, especially when looking at something abstract, then you're not wrong."

Arms resting below her chest, casual and relaxed, she eyes out toward the rest of the crowd still milling about their business. "Sorry for interrupting you two."

*

It really is a small wonder. In the moments between glances her way, Karen has acquired… Items. There is a plate, somewhat suddenly. On it, are soon many hors d'oeuvres. Then, several more. Then, tucked to the side, is a glass of bubbling wine that seems perhaps a touch -too- full? Yet, it soon isn't. Bright and bubbly, the CEO watches her protege work in silence, and though it may be a mystery from whence she acquired so many snacks, she is certainly putting them to use.

As Lena apologizes, though, she offers this small but friendly wave. "Not interrupting! Please, keep teaching her things about art. It's -all- very important because she has a report due in the morning. We're researching some neurological readers that can detect minute changes in brain chemistry. Art is a major stimulus for the work we're doing." That Karen is lying through her teeth isn't readily apparent. However, Lena isn't actually interrupting- so she has to find some way to keep her assistant glued to the other woman, while reaping the only worthwhile rewards for this kind of engagement.

*

Caitlin goggles at Karen. She's not going to out the lie, of course, but the redhead's clearly caught completely flat-footed by Karen's effortless duplicity. She finds herself wagging her chin though, awkwardly supporting her mentor's wild assertions. "Yy-yes, I'm a biosciences major," Caitlin supplies. Even with Karen's help, Caitlin doesn't sound terribly convincing. "I'm uh… in college. My name's Caitlin," she tells Lena, and offers her a surprisingly gentle if very callused handshake. "It's very nice to meet you."

She goes to shoot Karen a discreetly chastising look, then spots the hors d'ouvres in her hands. Eyes widen happily and she reaches to pluck one, then checks herself. "May I have one?" she asks, resting her hand on her sternum politely to await Karen's response.

*

Lena stares. She knew bullshitting, being as she did it often herself. However, she watches the pair as they speak, arches one fine brow before giggling and shaking her head. "Sure. We can talk about art for whatever it is you're doing." Pause, "Lena. Pleasure." Hand out, she offers a shake in return.

Then comes the reach and pull back for food. "Are you serious?" She asks the pair, another brow up and arms resting under her chest. "Are you two working together or is this something else? Eat, Cait. That's what all the fancy food and drinks are for. You're here, you can have whatever you want." A smirk, "Even if that means not talking about art anymore." Turning, she faces them directly. "So, changes in brain chemistry, hmm? What lab are you with, by the way? In truth, I didn't really think lab types came to these sorts of things."

*

Billy arrives from The Sound Stages.

*

Karen is, as it were, a somewhat supreme bullshitter. It comes with the territory of having to hide literally everything about yourself. After all, anything she says that isn't 'I come from an alien planet, but not one in -this- universe, one from a -different- universe' is going to be a lie. It just leaves one wondering how much, after all, is a lie in what she's saying. This time, it's only everything. If Lena calls her on it, her plan for the moment is to blame the failure of the ruse on Cait.

Speaking of Cait, the woman hones in on Karen's carefully tended overflowing plate of goodies. There is a genuine moment there- where Karen looks almost hurt, as if Cait has both insulted her and injured a family animal. Then, Karen responds rather swiftly. "Yeah, you can have a few, that's fine."

Her attention shifts back to Lena, and Karen figures that she can dig Cait a little deeper. "We work for Starr." Hah. 'Work for.' Either way, it isn't entirely wrong. "Well, we don't normally. But Caitlin can tell you more about that."

*

Caitlin gives Lena an almost prim look at the woman's interjections, pausing again before picking a snack off the tray. "It's polite to ask," she mutters, and pops the morsel into her mouth. It's a good thing Karen qualified 'a few'. Caitlin's already eying the buffet table like it's an open feeding arrangement.

She gives Karen a helpless look as the blonde *digs them deeper oh my gosh Karen* and she smiles gamely at Lena with an enthusiastic nod. "Yep, Starr labs, that's where we work," she says, cheerily. "I mean for. For we work, for Starr labs. We're contractors," she says. "Doing research into biosignalling and neurochemical stimulation. For, uh… the military. Who want to learrrrrn," she draws out, "about how people … feel… about… things."

*

Lena parts her lips and then closes them. She drinks in the information being 'told' to her, her hands shifting down to now rest on the rounds of her hips. She smirks again, eyeing the pair and muffling a snicker. Then, she starts laughing. Sighing, she gently dabs the top of her finger under her darkly framed eyes before giving a wave of her gloved hand. "That's great. Relax, I don't care why you're here, but…christ. Easy, red. It's fine. Promise." A pause, "So, you want to know about art or you want to let me in on why you're actually here? Secret?" She leans closer to the pair, framing her mouth to not to be 'heard'. "I'm here for STAR Labs, too."

*

Karen rolls her eyes for a moment. Chalk it up to whatever you wish, but this… Odd little game of ruse upon ruse is almost if not coming to an end. There's a buffet to destroy and more snacks making the rounds, but specifically, calling the company Starr Labs isn't exactly correct. Looking- and feigning a great deal of it- exhasperated at Cait, she calls out, "She gets confused all the time. It's not STAR Labs, it's Starrware Incorporated. The STAR Labs contract was -last- month."

Admittedly, that is yet more lies. Getting Cait into social trouble at a societal event is proving to be altogether too amusing for Karen, despite that she herself doesn't particularly care for these engagements- at the very least, not the ones centered around things that her company literally has… Zero investment in.

*

He may not be particularly into art, at least modern art. But what he is into is power and money, and silent auctions on art are a good place to rub shoulders with the kind of people that will pay exorbitant fees to protect the ludicrously overpriced art they have just bought. So there he is now, dressed impeccably in a dark grey three piece suit with a dark crimson vest and tie. His hair is brushed back perfectly to frame his face, a wide smile showing off his perfect white teeth as he shakes hands with a -much- older woman. Even the champagne glasss in his hand is held delicately to complete the image he is so carefully crafting. Who would think this man was ex-special forces.

He catches the a flash of silver grey out the corner of his eye, before a white boa catches his attention further. His attention hardly seems to split from the woman standing before him for a second but it is clear after only a couple of moments he has seen something that interests him more. He smiles even more warmly at the older woman before him, running a thumb down her bare arm before he begs her forgiveness and escapes her company making his way over towards Lena and her group. None of whom he recognises. "Lena, can't say that I expected to see you here." His voice is warm, his expression completely at ease and friendly and yet there is a hunt of steel underlying his speech.

*

Saved by the mercenary. Caitlin exhales in relief and glances skywards in silent thanks for Billy's intervention, and she backs up a half-pace so she's closer to Karen.

"Thank heavens, I was flailing there," Caitlin says in a virtually soundless voice. She conceals her words behind a hand holding some kind of cracker arrangement so no one spots her doing a ventriloquism act for Karen.

*

STAR, Starr…it all sounds the same to her. Relenting, finally, she gives another shrug of her shoulders and beams up and over toward the arrival of Russo. "William." She muses, reaching over and pulling him closer with a hooking of her arm to his own. "Surprised? Why? You got me this dress and promised me drinks." Looking at his empty hands, she tsks. "Failing. Beautifully, but failing." A pause, she moves her hand out. "This is Caitlin and her associate who's name I didn't get. They're here studying about emotional stimuli brought on by interacting with art." A lie is a lie is a lie, but at least it sounds fluid coming from Lena's lips and Karen's when she started spinning the web. "Caitlin, this is my friend, William."

*

"Please call me Billy, calling me William makes me feel like a fossil." He smiles winningly towards the other two women not sure about their cover story or how much they may be worth, but if for nothing else appearances are still appearances. "That sounds like a fascinating study. May I ask how you are measuring the response of the subjects? I have not seen anyone wearing any monitors of any kind?" He seems to be genuinely interested, his eyes lighting up a little as he turns to Lena for just a moment before turning back patting her hand that rests on his arm. "Do you have a control group? Have you noticed a difference in thr subjects that have an understanding and appreciation of fine art compared to the uninitiated?" He sends a small wave towards a waiter carrying champagne, smiling at the man and indicating their group. "I myself am a fan of art, though I must profess that much modern art goes above my head. I am much more interested in historical pieces or landscapes."

Finally a waiter carrying a tray of champagne flutes arrives and he takes one off before handing it towards Lena "Here you are my dear, please make sure you don't go overboard like last time."

*

[Karen Starr returns to OOC Land.]

*

"Ah. uh. I… Ka— Karen?" Caitlin backs up under the withering hail of Billy's interrogation. It's a level of specifity she's wholly unprepared for and that sort of dissemblance on the fly is not a skill the rehead remotely posesses.

And then Karen's gone! The sly blonde had scampered off while Caitlin was pulling everyone's attention, leaving her to fend for herself.

"Oh, gosh. Listen, my friend… has a weird sense of humor," she says, pinking around her ears. "She does these pranks where she throws me under the bus and then runs off while I'm holding the bag. I'm really just here for the art," she assures the duo. "I'm sorry for pulling you into that," she says, with a sincere note of apology.

*

Lena accepts the glass, smiling gently and pressing its brim against her lips. After a sip, she makes a soft 'mmm' sound against Billy's slight jab. "I'm perfectly in control, dearest. Just remember who was carrying who out, my pretty lightweight." Another sip, she turns her attention to Cait specifically.

She smiles, and smiles, sips, and listens. Another giggle, she shakes her head. "Red, seriously. Don't worry about it. I know you weren't here for whatever the hell you were trying to spin. Granted, it is interesting to consider, but if you're here for the art, be here for the art. That's why I'm here." Lena admits, sipping and taking a look at the abstract work still looming close by.

*

"That may be true, I may be a lightweight. But at least one of us is pretty. Dear." He adds the dear clearly as an afterthought before taking a long sip from his own flute of champagne. He smiles towards his apparent 'wife' again smiling warmly at her "So have you seen any art you like? Perhaps like that beautiful piece from that gallery in London? That one where you thought the electrical panel was the most stunning piece of modern art you had ever seen?"

Taking another sip from his glass he turns back towards Caitlin with a warm chuckle. "Ah I understand how that is. Many of my own friends are actually very similiar believe it or not, good to see that true friends do not change no matter what walk of life they are in." He looks back towards the art "I love art, though sadly I am not so interested in the abstract as so many others. Sometimes I can see the beauty and other times I think the artist is just lazy and banking on their name to garner interest."

*

Caitlin shifts uncomfortably at the dry banter from the duo. It's hard to tell if it's good natured spousal ribbing or two people taking potshots at each other. She sips her filtered water and looks around at anything else in the area until a statemet is directed at her again, and she focuses her wide green eyes on Billy with her full attentnion.

"Mm!" She swallows the water in her mouth. "Yeah, friends are the worst," she agrees, laughing. "I like some art. I just don't get *this* art," she admits. "The abstract stuff doesn't make sense to me. Like I don't understand what it's trying to say."

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