The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York City
This mammoth building houses art forms of all kinds, within its sanctums and halls. Art forms of all kinds, American, Near Eastern, Korean, European, Cypriot, islamic, Japanese… every region of the world is represented. Beyond that, there are collections from individual people, education centers, a full scale library, two lecture auditoriums… and displays on things such as arms and armor, musical instruments, drawings and photographs… even an institute of costumes. If it exists and could possibly be considered art, it has a section here, most residing within the two main floors, though one Auditorium, the center for education, and the costume institute are on the partial ground floor, along with the museum store/souvenir shop, and the cafeteria. Throughout the building there are also other eating areas, balcony bars, dining rooms, new cafeterias, roof gardens with cafes… On one section there's even a temple of sorts, taking up a full section of the building. The library, near the entrance as well as the Greek and Roman art sections, is immense.
The Met has quite a few pieces that are absolutely amazing, pieces that simply take the breath away. But what red-blooded (yellow-clad) scion of Sun Wu Kong could pass up a special exhibition of Ming dynasty paintings and drawings? And so he sits, on a bench, pointedly peering at one entitled 'Elegant Gathering in the Apricot Garden', which shows several of the most powerful men in the Chinese empire, circa 1457, in ink on silk. He has a duffle bag at his feet, and sits with his elbows on his knees, fingers lightly threaded together, peering at the piece with his head wrinkled up as if in deep contemplation - or extreme confusion.
Jolie happens to be passing through after viewing the recent Pictures exhibit. Nothing like the camera for a Film major. And on through the new Ming exhibit she goes, oohing and aahing at the various works on display. She notices David and walks on over, standing next to him. She looks down at him and softly says, "Trying out to be in the next painting?"
"If these inks had been accurate, they'd be called 'Opulent Gathering in the Whorehouse'. I'm trying to decide what it says about these men that they want to be seen walking in apricot trees when these gatherings really took place with a whore on the knee for each and one under the table for them all to share." He looks up sidelong, his lips curling into a small, pleased grin as she sits, the wrinkling of his brow smoothing away. "How do you think they'll talk about us, in six hundred years? Me, the warrior-poet? You, a terrifying sorceress who ruled the minds and hearts of men even as she controlled the bodies of the dead? Do you think they'll paint us walking sedately among apricot trees?"
Jolie looks at the painting. "Maybe apricots were a metaphor for big butts." She shrugs. "Powerful men always want to look nice to the public, even when they're really just gettin busy." David's description of her makes her pause, then laugh. "Terrifying? Do I look terrifying to you? Or any of that stuff? How do you /want/ to be remembered?"
"Sometimes. But - do I seem like a fucking warrior-poet? I don't know -how- I want to be remembered." He glances back at the ink, shaking his head, just a bit. "We're the first in a new age of heroes. Our names -will- be remembered, if we live long enough to do the sorts of things that Hercules and Jason did - but I'm not sure what's worse. Being remembered -accurately-, with all our flaws, with the fumbles and the fuckups and the just plain -boring- shit…or being remembered like that. False, pretentious, cosmetically and aesthetically pleasing." His shoulders roll in a shrug - the sort of gesture you make when something can't really be answered. "Is what we're going through what Hou Yi went through? I always hated Archer Yi because of his story - it made him look like a vengeful, bloodthirsty psychopath to me. But maybe he was like me, doing what was necessary to save the world and save his friends. Maybe I would have understood him."
"Yeah, but how people think about the stories changes as much as the stories do," Jolie says. "Some people think of Hercules as a hero. Some people think of him as a big stupid lug who got lucky because he was so strong. And wow, the way some people talk about my daddy, you'd think he was the be all and end all of evil or somethin. So, I'm thinking that I'm cool with people blowing my story all out of proportion. Just so long as I do what I'm supposed to do."
Jolie adds, "And as long as my friends know the truth."
"From the stories…I'd just hope your dad was on my side. I mean, you can't die unless he digs the grave, right? So either be his friend so he won't…or, I guess, steal his shovel." He leans forward, reaches out with his foot, pushes the duffle bag over so that it rests in front of you. "I got you something, by the way. I was going to melt it down, use it as a stand for the skull of the guy who tried to kill me with it, and give you that. But this is probably more practical, even though I don't think you're the type of girl to go 'ew, gross' when a guy who likes you gives you a dead thing as a sign of affection. This is more a symbol of, 'Look, I'm worthy, and when I overcome a challenge that could have killed me, the one I wanted to admire me for it is you, so I bring you the spoils of war' type thing." His lips purse, tug off to one side. "I guess I'm also not good at being subtle with my overtures. You're not really supposed to explain this sort of thing outright."
Jolie listens and listens, her head cocked to one side. And then she smiles. "You kinda overexplained it, but that's cool. Thank you." She unzips the bag and peeks in, just in case the contents could cause a reaction in the art-viewing crowd around them.
Well, since it's a good-sized weapon of a length that's almost certainly illegal to carry in New York (but probably explicable as a piece of art rather than a weapon in a crunch), the katana is probably best kept in the bag. The ornate scabbard is worked in ebony with gold inlays, the tiny, delicate lines of precious metal tracing the outlines of ravens in flight up and down its length. Black jade decorates the menuki and the tsuba, but the tsuka itself is very plain, wrapped tightly and sweat-stained as a sign of constant, hard use and ultimate utility. "It's enchanted," he says, "But I think the enchantment only functions for the tengu - perhaps was even unique to the tengu who tried to kill me. But it's sharp, and I expect will hold an edge quite well. Japanese steel was never that great, but it does -cut- well, so long as you don't need to parry with it. You'd be better off with a good dao or a polearm, but lots of people think a katana strikes a very dashing figure in the States."
Jolie just stares as the gift is revealed, one hand on her chest. "Oh. Wow." Once she is able to regain her composure, she leans down to give David a big hug and a kiss that would probably lead to a chorus of "Oooooooohs" if this were a sitcom. "You know, I don't know what I'd do with it, and yeah, a polearm would be more up my alley, but that is one pretty piece of silverware, and you won it in battle." A pause. "What's a tengu?"
The kiss might not draw a chorus of 'ooooohs', but it does draw a low, pleased sound from David, returned quite happily before she draws back, his arm still around her waist and a grin on his lips that won't quite go away. "I can help you learn to use it - although my teaching may be biased, and my specialty is…well, not Japanese swords, I always found the whole kendo thing really limiting. I like to think outside the box, and kendo doesn't encourage that. But…you don't have to use it. Just put it on your mantle and point at it and say, 'The world's greatest warrior gave that to me.'" The grin grows a bit as he indulges arrogance, then continues, "A tengu. Shapeshifter - but their natural form is that of a man-raven hybrid. This one was more skilled than most. Perhaps not dai-tengu, but greater than karasu-tengu. The first foe that's drawn blood from me in…well, a very, very long time. To put it in perspective, Mikaboshi sent a few of the smallest of giant-kind to kill the rest of our band, and the others managed to overcome them only through bribery and guile. He sent the tengu and two Oni - the greatest of giant-kind - to take care of me, and I slew both the giants before they could land a blow."
Jolie rolls her eyes. "Not every victory has to be a beatdown, David. If they paid them off, then that's a few less people for the bad guys to use against us. And besides, you weren't there, so maybe they figured that fighting was just gonna lead to them dying or getting hurt." She looks at David with complete seriousness. "We use whatever tool we have. We play to our strengths. It's like when me and Maia and Rupert and Haldor went up against this giant pig. Rupert and Haldor did the beatdown. But Maia did her Sailor Moon thing, and I wrapped a cable around the thing's legs at top speed. We /all/ defeated the thing, but not all of us beat on it."
"I wasn't saying that they did a less admirable job - I was trying to demonstrate what a tengu is. Five giants would wipe the floor, physically, with the rest of the band - including Haldor. Two oni are a step up from five regular giants. And the tengu is more dangerous than two oni. How else am I supposed to put it? I refuse to say that his power level was over nine thousand." He swings himself around to straddle the bench, facing her, now. "You are all dangerous in your own ways. I told Maia as much - that you were one of this band in particular that I didn't fear for, that I thought you could survive most things admirably." His head cocks to one side, and he asks, "Did you 'call dibs'?"
Jolie laughs. "Thank you, David. I appreciate that you respect my, um…ability to survive." She settles down on the bench, side saddle, facing him. "Uh, what do you mean by me calling dibs?"
"She…misunderstood some of my intentions. Maia is my bandmate, I defend her with my life, and I think she is very clever - but she is also shallow, inexperienced, and prone to believing her conclusions infallible." Prone to believing themself infallible…hmmn. Who -else- might suffer from that problem…. "Anyway. She told me that you had 'called dibs' on me. And refused to clarify."
Jolie waves a hand idly. "She's rich, smart, pretty, and the daughter of a Goddess. That kinda thing comes with the territory. And, as far as dibs were concerned, I told her that I thought you were cute." She flashes a smile. "Am I wrong?" Placing a hand on David's thigh, she says, "Maia likes big lunky guys. I like my men to have style, stamina, and smarts. Sounds like you, doesn't it?"
"Maia finds it comforting to be surrounded by those who do not challenge her views of things. You are unintimidated by the possibility of conflict." Drawing a bit closer, he slides forward on the bench. "And I like my women strong, dangerous, and unafraid."
"Maia's a good person, and I know she's got my back. I've got hers. We just disagree on some things." Jolie's smile gets bigger as David gets closer. "And I plan on getting stronger, more dangerous, and more unafraid. I mean, it's real easy to be unafraid when people are afraid of you." Her voice is almost a purr.
His hands slide out, start at her hips, and trace downward until they're stroking along thighs. "Then I suppose I'd better plan on liking you better and better," he murmurs. His hands slide down, along the outside of her legs, fingers curl under her knees and draw her closer until he can lean in, letting his body press against hers.
"You know, we should get outta here before we start something we can't stop," Jolie says, with a sultry twist to her lips. "Not that it wouldn't end up bein the best performance art ever."
She's drawn closer, her legs pulled upward so that when he lowers them, her knees are over his thighs. If his own legs weren't straddling the bench, she'd be in his lap. "I thought you were unafraid," he says, teasingly, leaning in to press a kiss against her ear. "I suppose we should edit that to, 'unafraid, except in public'."
Jolie giggles. "Edit that to 'unafraid, but not wanted to get busted by the cops for indecent exposure'. I don't wanna be in lockup if something serious goes down and the others need us, know what I'm sayin?"
"Oh, come on. What sort of godlings are we if we can't get out of being arrested? My father would disown me if I couldn't thumb my nose at mortal authority." He leans back, his grin pleased, eyes darkly amused.