2007-11-26: The Wandering Minstrels


Fenton_icon.gif Portia_icon.gif

Summary: Times Square gets rocked early by a pair of wandering musicians.

Date It Happened: November 26, 2007

The Wandering Minstrels

Times Square

Midday. Most good kids are all off in school. Portia, on the other hand, is not being a good kid. She's out, curled up on a bench in the middle of Times Square, guitar in lap. She's not actually playing, though. Really, she's watching people going by, looking contemplative, and occasionally shifting the instrument like she's going to play but then changing her mind. It's a little chilly to be out, but that doesn't seem to bother her too much.

As popular a spot as this place is, it's one of Fenton's least favorites. He prefers having space enough to walk, and he could do with a little extra to move- you know, Just In Case something happens. Yet it's something he supposes he should get used to, living in New York. Besides, it's not so different from a few places back home, and the accents are sometimes just as discernible.
He's been told there's a good music shop around here- not just the kind that sells cds and things, but stuff for instruments, sheet music… he only realizes belatedly that he should have at the very least asked for an address. As it is, it's a little late to be considering such now that he's here. He's not about to backtrack all the way to the subway after all this, even with his acoustic guitar strapped in its case and slung over a shoulder. Mistakenly Fenton had hoped that having the extra baggage would ensure him a little more room for maneuverability through the streets. Not so, but at least he has something more to push back with, if he isn't always so concerned about damaging the instrument.
He finds a break in the crowds and he takes it, effectively spit out of the flow of foot traffic near the bench that Portia now occupies. Breathing a sigh as his pale eyes scan the crowds that continue on their merry way, Fenton shakes his head. "…dunno if I'm ever gonna get used to this…" he mutters.

As popular as the place is, Portia doesn't seem to mind it much as she watches people go by. She doesn't like being so crowded, sure, but people avoid the bench for the most part, at least going around it. Especially since she's got a guitar and for some reason the crowd mentality regarding people sitting on benches with guitars is that they are some sort of hippy-hobo and up to no good. Which, at the very least, gives one breathing room.
Portia shifts the guitar once more, perhaps giving up the idea of playing when there's suddenly someone in front of her. Someone a little more than interesting simply because she's spied the precious treasure on his back. She's stunned at the coincidence for just a moment before she looks right at him.
"You play?"

Now he's hearing voices- oh, hello. With the press of people around it's no wonder he at completely missed her as camouflaged with the rest of urban life at its liveliest. Fenton blinks at the girl, noting the guitar that she has there propped over her lap. The end of his lips quirk into something of a grin and he shrugs the shoulder that his guitar strap digs into. "Guess you could say that," he replies. He stops himself before he can ask out of reflex if she does as well- as if it isn't bloody obvious already. Of course she could just be choosing to sit out here with a guitar for no other reason, really. There are strange people in this city after all.

Gesturing to the empty spot next to her on the bench, Portia can't help but grin now. It could be the guitar. Or it could be something else entirely. Either way, the girl looks quite content. "Want to play together?" She pauses, giving him ample time to consider the question before she poses another. "Do you sing, too?" Ah, full of questions.

He isn't going anywhere, apparently, so why not? Giving the ever-moving crowds another glance, Fenton shrugs again and then steps over towards the bench, sinking down to sit. His feet are much more grateful for the break than he realizes. Carefully he sets the guitar case at his feet, pausing for a moment before he leans over to flick open the clasps and tilt up the lid.
"Hey, sure. Why not?" he grins back at the girl. It's nice to be able to do something with his guitar after bringing it all this way. Fenton's not the least surprised to find how out of tune the thing is as he strums the strings in testing, and he frowns and turns the pegs to adjust things a bit. "Ah, a bit, yeah…" comes the reply to the second question. It doesn't take him too long to get the instrument tuned, and he nods in approval after another strum. "Oh, name's Fenton by the way." He offers a hand in her direction.

The hand is accepted and shook gently. "Portia." She replies, her on fingers strumming along the strings to test them out. Her guitar, on the other hand, is quite tuned. She'd probably be quite angry if it wasn't. She glances back over to the boy sharing her bench before she looks down at her guitar. "Try and keep up, then." The girl murmurs, grinning a little as she offers the challenge. It's then that she starts to strum, her fingers quickly picking up a tune, glancing over to see that he can keep up. She'll hold back a little if he's not up to par, but if he is…

Oho- it's just like dueling banjos. Or something. Fenton retracts his hand, smirking as he sets his fingers along the board with his other hand and listens for a moment as Portia goes to it. Not bad, not bad at all. Now, let's see if he can do this.
Freestyling isn't new for him, but it's been a while since he's done so with someone, the last time probably months ago and back in London. Still, he's always up for a challenge, and for certain he's enjoying himself right now. Seems it doesn't take him long at all to get into the swing of things, and by then he's forgotten about the press of people milling past their spot on the bench.

Oh! Portia wasn't expecting the level of talent the boy has, and she actually grins as soon as she hears him pipe in with some music. It's been a while since she's really gotten to play with anyone, much less someone who actually has some talent. Right. Time to kick it up a notch. He said he sort of sang too, so she's going to make the assumption he'll be able to keep up. Or at least that he'll try. She steals a glance towards him, grinning, before she continues to play. And here's the tricky part… even though it was just freestyling and she hadn't prepared in advance.. she's attempting to improvise some lyrics, taking little bits of the melody and singing along, just seeming to make it up on the spot.

His fingers are at home, dancing right along the board, skipping over frets, his other hand strumming enthusiastically. Apparently he has some range for musical taste despite his choice of clothing style. Fenton bobs his head with the rhythm that they've settled into, and he glances back at Portia, mirroring her grin as they both continue to play up a storm. He quirks a brow at her as she begins to step it up by adding vocals. Improvising just by playing instrumentals is one thing, but it's always been a little tricky for throwing together words on the fly. He likes prose well enough, but if the words won't come to him today, he'll stick to guitar…

The girl is entirely in her element. She hadn't expected much from the stranger in the crowd with the guitar, but she's impressed. He's held his own well, is keeping up with the tune and everything. It's not really much of a contest anymore as much as it is a concert. And Portia's really in her element. She might have just been wanting to see what he was made of, but she's really just enjoying the music… both the creation as well as the process of creating it. And now she's really into it. Not for anyone but herself, just to play and really live in that moment, then and there, for nothing else but just that song.

Screw looking for the music store that might not even exist, let alone be in the area. This is all the music he cares for right now. It's been a long time since Fenton's had the chance to play his heart out and just for the fun of it, and here he has his chance. His fingers are going all out for this and he's glad he'd had some warm up for his voice singing to his iPod as he walked the streets earlier. The notes and words just seem to come and then slide right into place.
It's likely that the two have drawn some attention, but as it usually is when Fenton gets into his playing, he doesn't really notice. The only other person he's aware of at the moment is Portia and he follows her lead, takes over, twists and hands it back again. It's anything goes. It's awesome.

Crowd or not, Portia's focus is also pretty singular. Fenton, and their music. It's hard not to focus on it, and it's pretty obvious that the crowd is quite interested as well. Portia is quite focused on the music, but in the back of her mind she's aware of the crowd. She'll play for a little longer, she thinks, but she's sure that the song will unfortunately have to end soon enough. All good things do. She glances towards Fenton to give him a visual clue as to her intentions with the song, gearing towards a spectacular ending to the whole ordeal.

They've been going for a good while, and while he doesn't feel it now, Fenton knows his hands will probably complain later. Still, this has so been worth it. He catches the cue, and perhaps at that point also finally notices the people that have gathered about them. It's probably something he shouldn't be surprised about, and thankfully he's used to playing in front of a lot of people that the extra pressure of now having an audience doesn't really affect him much. Besides, who cares if they screw up, it's all been improvisation anyway and not so much a real performance as it's been an activity they both found they'd enjoy at the time. Still, they might as well make it good right on through to the end. Nodding his head at Portia, Fenton shoves the crowd from his mind- an easy thing to do when the music's there.

And there's the music, great right down to the end. While not as grand as the rest of the song, there was the presence of the crowd, a bit more aware to the two of them that may have brought their music a little more down to earth. Still, even if the crowd was there and Portia was aware, she doesn't give up on the ending, pushing the song through as best as she can for a song made up on the spot. Portia finally winds the song to a close. The crowd claps, entertained by the musicians, but the girl hardly notices. Now that she's not got the music, she's really just focusing on the boy. "That was great." She beams. "Really, really great.

The sound of applause rises only slightly above the general city ambiance. Fenton breathes out a sigh as he lets his guitar rest against his shoulder, his hand draped over the top of it. The crowd fades into the background again for all the attention either musician grants them. "What a rush," Fenton laughs, grinning over at Portia. "That… was awesome."

Portia can't help but grin. "Wasn't expecting to get to do something like that today. I'm really glad you happened along. I almost didn't say anything to you.. you looked so flustered when you first were standing there, I almost didn't want to bug you."

Fenton chuckles, leaning back on the bench, his gaze flicking across the crowds as they begin to disperse once they figure that's the end of the show. "Walking through these full streets does that to you. Was trying to look for a place but that's near impossible if you don't have good directions nor an address to go off of, you know?" He flexed his fingers, letting them drum against the guitar face. "This was better though. I'm glad you spoke up when you did. Do you always hang out here to play or..?"

"Not always," Portia replies. "Most of the time if I'm playing I'm in the park. I just kind of wandered out this direction today. Wasn't even sure if I was going to play.. but I guess I did." She laughs a little. "Glad you played too. You're really talented, you know?"

"Ah, I see." This seems like a strange spot to be playing guitar at what with everything you have to contend with, sound-wise, but it worked out for them earlier so Fenton doesn't question it. "Thanks," he grins. "Used to be in something of a band back home, but that was just a randomly thrown together thing- you know, with the kids from your neighborhood just to make some noise. Long while back. I kept up on the guitar though- I love this thing." He glances back at Portia. "You're really good to, though."

Reaching into her guitar case and scribbling something down, she offers him her name and number. "Well, if you ever feel like doing that again, look me up. Neighborhood band or no.. it'd be fun to start a real one, or even get a few people together now and again." She tucks her guitar, safely away in its case. "Thanks for playing.. I'll see you sometime, Fenton?"

He lifts his hand from his guitar to take the slip of paper between his fingers. "Oh yeah, will do," Fenton says, folding the paper and sliding it into his pocket. He leans over to set his guitar back in its case, following the girl's lead. The clasps click as he locks them in place, and he shoulders the case once again. "Thank you," he says, nodding at her. "And most definitely. See you around, Portia." He smiles broadly- he doesn't smile half as much at the university- and then turns to once again find his way back into the perpetual foot traffic of Times Square's streets.

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