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 Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]

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PostSubject: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:12 pm

If you know what you're looking for, you can find just about anything that can be bought or sold in the Backlight. Fancy shoes, exquisite foods, high-end jewellery, and in this case, quality audio tech.
Sure, you could probably get a pair of headphones or some speakers at many of the shops about the district, but Cecil had yet to find a place with a better selection than SoundWave. It wasn't all cheap, but you could be damn sure you got your money's worth whatever you bought.

And so, it was there he found himself browsing today. His current pair of headphones seemed to be on the decline, and while they worked fine for now, he'd rather have a replacement ready before they inevitably gave up on him.
"Hmm. Heard good things about these." Picking up one of the sample pairs left for people to try, he puts on the headphones and starts the sample song. He listens for a bit, before putting them back. "Nah...too bassy. I can see why they're liked, but definitely not my taste...how about these...?"

Cecil repeats the same process with another pair of headphones. By the time he takes them off, he's grinning. "Nice. But how much do they..." He looks at the price tag, and frowns. "...dammit. Definitely out of my range...well, guess it's onto the next."

Shrugging it off, Cecil continues to browse the wares.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:15 am

"Current trends indicate... which reflects from the trial sales period... it may be a good idea to repeat that next quarter... mmmbut what if...?" As per standard operating procedure Susan would wander about with her nose in her tablet thinking aloud to herself about prospective financial decisions. This time it was concerning a new line of MP3 players that were about to be released. Well, had already released. Technically. The Concerto3S went live two months ago but supply was purposefully understocked in order to drum up demand, Susan worked out it was another... nine weeks before they should be sold again and at just below adequate supply in order to sustain pricing over an extended period. As she ran through mental calculations and price models the businesswoman had found herself floating into SoundWave, the Backlight District's premier music store, nearly bumping shoulders and running into people as she stared intently at the electronic device in her hands.

She had known the way well, had walked this path many times. SoundWave was structured much like a chain store and happened to hold the lion's share of products from their subsidiaries despite being privately owned, and just so happened to be one of the better places to engage in market study. She actually had a quite pleasant working relationship with their floor manager Kaitlynn, in return SoundWave would receive information about upcoming products and a preference for the harder to find models. To be this successful you had to be successful, had to make money to make money. It behooved them to supply the music store with supply that would be a guaranteed purchase and it would benefit SoundWave to be far ahead of their competitors and it came at the low cost of sales information. Yet upon entering the store and peering her head away from her portable computer to look for her business associate Susan would spy a teenager.

Sporting headphones, appearing to be in school yet old enough to hold a job and thus disposable income, browsing several models with an interest beyond browsing. The businesswoman knew the difference, it was how long someone dwelt on a product and what they wanted to compare. People who tested out new devices were never just looking to compare, they would want to purchase something. Susan would take to watching the teen, interested in what he would decide on but moreover why he would choose that particular sale. What marketing had guided his decision, what feature swayed his opinion. She would bring her tablet back up, flitting her eyes from it and back to catch offhand glimpses of him while pretending to occupy herself with something else. Of course, she was explicitly bad at this, instead giving him her usual hollow stare.

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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:19 am

For a while, Cecil continued on with his browsing, mentally logging anything that caught his attention...within his price range. Couldn't afford to spend too much.
For all Susan wasn't nearly as discreet as she was trying to be, Cecil wasn't the most observant at the best of times, so it balanced out for a while. He couldn't remain oblivious forever, however, and eventually the fact he was being quite blatantly stared at came to his notice. ...I've gotten this wrong before. Have to double check. He continued on for a little bit, stealing similarly unsubtle glances at the woman watching him. Nope. She's definitely watching me...

Cecil picks another spot not too far from Susan, and blatantly stares back at her, a little smirk on his face and a twinkling in his eyes as he waits for her to notice. The moment he notices that she knows she's been caught, he takes in the reaction he gets, and grins at her. "So, watching people shopping something you do often, or is there something special about little old me?"
Deep in his unconscious, he kind of hoped the answer was yes, but consciously he was just hoping for an amusing reaction. He might not have pulled a stunt like this most other times, but he really didn't get the feeling right now that there was anything sinister about this so much as he got the impression he might not be the most awkward person in the room for once.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Tue Nov 21, 2017 4:44 pm

Deft fingers would slide over Susan's tablet, marking down the various interesting data points that she would pick up on from her observations. He tended to hover around the Nautilus GXs, which came to no surprise seeing as how popularly they scored in performance and the brand loyalty she had inferred from surveys. With her brain filled with mental math and deductions on where his interest came from (admittedly mostly assumptions on her part, she held some running story in her head that he was a burnout, probably listened to rap. She didn't think he was into sports like most young men with longer hair were, burnouts being the alternative). With her routine she would fall deeper and deeper into her own head, sometimes blatantly just looking at the young man as opposed to stealing glances. That would be until she had made a mistake and her vacant eyes locked with his. Susan flinched slightly and turned her attention back to her tablet. The woman gave it her full attention, chewing on her tongue nervously as the teenager approached her, putting up a bad facade that she was merely just occupied with her device.

She could feel herself shiver as he neared. He was going to talk to her and ask her to stop glaring at him or misinterpret what she was doing or... She didn't really care for teenagers, to be honest. Some of them were unnerving and unpredictable. He could probably tell from the flitting of her pupils that she wasn't really looking at her device the whole time and he would call her out on that one too. Susan would hunch her shoulders and turn her body away from him when he spoke.
"N... no, I wasn't- I mean I-I didn't mean to-" she began to stammer, averting her gaze. He already caught her eyeing him, so why was she still lying?
"I was, mmm, I-I was just interested in you!" she said with a small smile to show that she wasn't some creepy stalker or anything of the sort. It took her a moment, but her face fell in horror, terrified stare returning to him as she realized what she said may have meant.
"Y... you're shopping, I mean what you are buying, I-I..." Susan closed her eyes and took a deep breath, clasping her tablet to her chest to calm herself.
"I am also looking to purchase a new pair of headphones, but I do not typically shop for them and I don't know what I'm looking for. I wanted to see what you bought so I would have some sort of idea." This lie was much better, delivered in her professional stock tone. Admittedly it was easier to talk to people when she didn't need to look at them.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:50 pm

...this...was scarily familiar. He'd just meant to poke fun, but...oh geez, he felt bad right now. Positively awful, even. She seemed like she was positively having a meltdown. His expression shifted rapidly from amused to concerned as the woman before him stammered and stuttered away. "Hey, hey, calm down...crap, I'm sorry, alright? I...I..." He fell silent, no idea what to say.

As the woman calmed herself, Cecil continued to look on, a guilty look on his face. She seemed to be alright, but hell if he didn't have enough experience to know that she was probably still trying to pull herself together right now. "Right...right..." He couldn't look her in the eye right now. He couldn't. I should've known better...that was a shitty thing to do. I could have handled that better. A pained grimace appears on his face, and he looks away, running his fingers through his hair. "Sorry. Just...sorry. People are...people are hard, right? They'll be doing their own things, or talking amongst themselves, and you just can't..." He swallows, mouth suddenly feeling dry. Painful memories come up. "I know what it's like. This kinda stuff. It's fine. Just...sorry. I shouldn't've done that." Cecil closes his eyes, grits his teeth, and takes a deep breath in and out. He cannot start getting upset right now. He suddenly starts to cry, that's going to be the last straw for the both of them.

He takes another breath, and looks back at the woman before him. There's a smile on his face, but it's still obviously more concerned than anything, a sentiment more clearly expressed by the dark green eyes he looked at her with. Can't make this more awkward...she came here for headphones, I think she said. Focus on that. I just need to avoid calling attention to what just happened.

"That might not be the best idea. I'm probably going to want different things from what I get than what you do. Any decent pair will probably do the job well enough for you not to care much, sure. But if you're going to be putting any real money into this rather than grabbing something cheap, best you get the best experience you can out of it, hey?" He shrugs, letting out a soft breath through his nose as he smiles a little more, if still pointedly quite awkwardly. "So...any idea what you wa-" Cecil cuts himself off, facepalming. "No, of course not...you just said you didn't, that was a stupid question, why did I ask that, I swear to God why do I do these things...." Shaking his head, he lets out a deep sigh and takes his hand away from his face. "Alright, take two. What do you listen to? Any pair you pick up is going to sound at least a bit different to another one, and some of the quirks to their sound are going to be better for certain types of music and such than others. It'd be good to know if you're going to be listening to them a lot as well...some of these things, while great for being able to appreciate all the details of what you're listening to, aren't really going to be things you can listen to too much at a time."

He pauses a moment, rubbing at his face. "Oh, yeah. These for at home, or to listen to while you're out?" He scratches at his neck, and lets his hand drop again. "I'd definitely understand the latter. The noise can kind of get to you sometimes, even if it's not exactly loud where you are."
...crap, was that too much? I might have gotten carried away there.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:00 am

Oh. Oh no. This was not good by any stretch of the imagination. Susan had not planned any farther than simply fibbing and expecting him to tell her everything about his product choice. She... did not anticipate more lines of questions into her product choice and now nothing was prepared and everything was up in the air. The last thing she had wanted was anyone to apologize to her for her weirdness as he had, it pointed out that there was something wrong. Susan merely smiled a polite toothy grin, a reflexive and nervous smile born of habit in situations such as this where she had to stay and listen and make small talk while wishing she was anywhere else in the world at the moment. Of course, it was all in the eyes. Her stare was vacant as usual yet filled with a... something difficult to describe, but it was negativity to be sure. Anxiety, displeasure, resentment, it was difficult to pinpoint which emotion but it certainly broke what would be a perfectly normal smile. It was... robotic was a good word. Artificial.

But she would relax again when the topic turned away from personal issues and back toward the topic at hand, her expression fading to a neutral-if-empty one as she listened to the... many more options she had not considered, to be honest. It had not crossed her mind why she needed headphones as had been said, let alone for what purpose they would serve. Susan, being a market researcher, knew infinitely more than the teen about the various products in the store. Some of them she had designed marketing pushes for herself. Their specifications were as familiar to her as the lines on her palm, but she would need to put up an act as if she weren't familiar with each and every set of headphones she were presented with. Some place where Susan really shined in situations such as these: acting as a sound board. If she could allow him to voice his own knowledge and preferences to her it could in turn sway his own opinions into a favorable sale. Outside factors permitting of course. But she couldn't keep making more complex lies, like claiming she made music as a hobby. He would see straight through her and the fallout would be catastrophic.

"I... am looking... for headphones for... home use," she would speak slowly and deliberately, giving her brain time to load the next set of scenarios in her head, "I have neighbors that do a lot of yard and home work that I would rather not listen to throughout my days off, and I am looking for something that can completely tune them out. I actually have a wide taste in music so anything that would suit a variety of types would be best. I'm aware that I can change the sound preference on my MP3 player but I would rather not need to do that every time I felt like listening to a different playlist." Well none of those were technically lies and just as she'd had experience with Susan volunteered little to no personal information while still contributing to the conversation and being agreeable. At the same time she introduced a few ideas: noise-cancelling and sound balance, which may make the young man think of those himself for his own set. Strangest still was her attitude shift, from complete panic to absolutely professional. Her voice, expressiveness, even the way she stood had become more put-together, calm and collected. Then again Susan had always been better at speaking when she felt that she controlled the flow of the conversation. It was being caught off-guard when everything fell to shambles.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:27 am

Cecil winces. If he thought anything strange about the whole affair, he didn't show it, focused instead on the task at hand. "That...that sounds awful. Not that they're not free to do these things, but that would be painful to deal with at home..." Not...that it isn't already awkward there. "Nevermind that. Sounds like neutral and isolating is good. I have an idea, but this might take a little. I'm not familiar with everything here."

Cecil takes off to quickly look over select pairs out of the ones he'd already tried, trying on one or two of them again before taking off. "That's open back, on-ear's probably not a good idea here, isolation just isn't very good...how about...? No. Way, way too cool. And...a little congested, too." He continues on this way, talking to himself and generally making a bit of noise as he goes through the selection. Most of what he's looking at are over ear, closed back headphones. Notably, he hasn't given any consideration thus far to the headphones actually advertised as featuring noise cancelling capabilities. It looks like he'll get to them, but they've been given no special consideration.

His attention seems to be piqued as he tries another pair - the CosmosG500s. Compared with Nautilus, they're not nearly so much of a major name, but the line has still managed to attract its own following. If you were to look well enough, you'd see that the pair he has on now happen to be the G240s, an older model known best for their clear, bright sound. The 500s were a little less bright, but much fuller by comparison. When he puts them back, he checks the price and seems a little torn, but tries to shake it off as he continues through the selection.
Partway through his run through the selection, having just started on the noise-cancelling selection by this point, he stops. "Just realised. How much you looking to spend on these? I have no idea what your budget is."
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:38 pm

The businesswoman merely nods shyly as the teenager comments about her pretend situation at home. She had not really thought that one out either, and what was she supposed to say? She didn't want to complain about her "neighbors" and sound like a nag or a witch. No, she was content to go along with whatever he wanted to suggest to her. And then he left her. Susan stood where she was for a few moments attempting to process what had happened until she decided to hastily shuffle after him, following his lead and looking toward him expectantly. As he put on several pairs of different headsets her eyes would light up and the meek woman would sneak several entries into her tablet on what he looked at and the little notes he would speak to himself, attempting to translate them into something that made sense as he did. She couldn't help but feel a grin tugging at her lips. This was the best outcome she could have hoped for! At her mere suggestion she not only had him thinking about his own options for headphones but trying on several different pairs.

She would scurry around after the young man feeling pleased as punch toward herself for doing such a good job, not even bringing to thought that it really wasn't her job to sell people things in the first place. It begged the question who was assisting who in this scenario, Susan who was attempting to guide the young man toward a purchase himself or the teenager who was eager to help a shopper as if he worked there. If he didn't do similar he should, she thought. If you do something well never do it for free after all. When he would speak to her again inquiring about pricing options she would stare at him for a moment before it dawned on her that she should get out of Observation Mode and speak when spoken to.
"...? Oh, yes, money is no object," she waved away. To the discerning eye for someone like Susan this could be easily believed. Her smart dress was much more thought out than that of a server or other service-level worker yet she wasn't gussied up like someone who would need to be, like a secretary. She was professionally dressed in name brand clothing, neatly ironed and pressed for office work and her tablet could be made out to be a personal one, not an assigned one. In short she very much fit the description of someone who was well off.

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To Susan the purchase of a pair of headphones, even a fairly expensive brand, was not a major purchasing decision to agonize over. It did not even register as important in her mind at all, not compared to the other things she was presented with in any case. At the forefront of her mind was keeping up this little charade without tripping up in her own fibs, however it worried her how simple she was being and she was concerned if she sounded too robotic. Eager to keep the discussion going, the woman edged her nose closer to the headphones in the young man's grip.
"Mmm, what is it you have there?" she inquired with mild interest. She wanted to hear what he thought of the product himself. If it came out of his own mouth he would be more easily inclined to believe his own hype, and thus more likely to purchase them. Though... that's not exactly what she should be doing at all. If he would not purchase them it was his decision and her responsibility to notice why that was or was not. She could... treat this as a survey! Yes, a direct survey, that would do well. She could aggregate that with the information that Kaitlynn would provide and form a much clearer business model with customer review, yes that would be perfect!
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:52 pm

As Susan followed Cecil around, he found himself acutely aware of the person nearby, constantly making notes based off whatever he said. She seemed pleased by the efforts he was going through. And frequently, she was...a liiiiittle closer than he found comfortable. For the set of assumptions he was working under about her, it wasn't particularly unusual behaviour...but it definitely bothered him a little. The proximity and the general scenario might have gotten a different guy a little hot under the collar, and he definitely understood why, but...he just wasn't interested like that. He barely knew her, and she was definitely in enough of a different place to him in several ways for it to be noticeable. All he knew was that this was a bit uncomfortable, and that he couldn't bring this up at home, lest his Dad and his younger sister jump on the chance to wind him up.

As she responds to his inquiry about her budget, he quirks an eyebrow, an amused, sarcastic tone in his voice. "Really? I've seen cars go for less than some of the pairs I've seen. If you really can afford to spend like that on a pair of headphones, you're definitely doing something right." He laughs a little to himself. "Wish I could say the same."

As Cecil takes off the pair he currently had on, he blatantly startles as Susan's voice comes through to him, leaning a little away from the now encroaching woman, and shuffling back slightly to get a little space. "Sorry! Sorry. Didn't notice you'd got there. It happens." He shakes his head. "Gaaah...you wanted to know about these, right?" He holds up the pair, before setting them down again. "They're...not awful? I suppose it's passable for the price, sure, but even if you're just looking at others like it, it's not your best option. The upper midrange is kind of a bit weak, andit feels like it's got a bit of a problem with excessive sibilance. The work seems to have been funnelled into improving the noise cancelling capabilities of the thing, but the isolation is barely even passable enough for that to do too much good." He shakes his head scowling. "That might have sounded a bit harsher than the reality is, I admit, but this definitely wouldn't be my first pick. As it is, getting noise-cancelling headphones of comparable sound quality to a pair without usually takes some expense, let alone solid noise cancellation without worrying about that..." He shrugs. "But that's not a problem for you, is it? I'll have to start checking out the pricier stuff on selection."
Cecil continues through, occasionally doubling back to prior sections to try something that he skipped before - "...these cost what now? They're good, but not that good." - but otherwise working through the noise-cancelling selection as normal.

Eventually, Cecil finds himself working a shortlist, with just a few more for him to look through. He turns back to Susan, very quickly checking distances after his surprise last time. "I think I've got some solid ideas at this point what'll work out. Just want to check a few things." He pulls his phone up, and starts flicking through reviews, looking through reviews of the headphones on his shortlist and seeking out any reports of durability problems or other hardware faults occurring after purchase. As he continues through, he occasionally repeats the process, occasionally getting rid of the pages corresponding to certain pairs while keeping the others. By the time he's done, there's still a reasonable amount of tabs on his browser for headphones.
"Alright. Couple more questions, and I think I'm done." Once again, he turns back to Susan, his eyes again flicking between them to make sure she isn't too close. "No matter what you pick, any pair is going to have a stronger performance somewhere or another, so I'd prefer to know where you'd prefer that to be. Now, how to put it...?" His hand comes up to cover his mouth, elbow resting on his other hand as his fingers run along his chin. "Hmm...the lower range carries the bassier stuff and a lot of the percussion. Midrange, guitars, surprising amount of brass, and most of the vocals depending on the track. Upper, a lot violin work, vocals again depending on singer, plenty of woodwind there, and basically the higher register in general. Lower ranges tend to carry the rhythm of the track, mids'll can vary as to whether they focus more on harmonics or the rhythm, and the upper registers practically guaranteed to be doing harmonic work. Everything's balanced well enough to handle any song well, and it should sound just about how it was originally arranged, but there's going to be a little emphasis on certain elements no matter what you pick. So...this is less of a question of what you listen to, but more about what about a song you want to shine most."

His hand comes a little of his face as he pauses, gaze flicking up into the corner of his eye. "Oh, yeah." He lets his hands drop. "There's distance to consider, too. Even if you're not out, you might have a problem with cables depending on where your headphones are going to be hooked up to. Might not be a problem, but if it's going to be, then I don't think it's too silly to say that wireless is probably going to be a good idea. I'll stick with wireless if you'd just prefer to avoid cables in general, too."
Cecil waits patiently, not really thinking too hard about the amount of stuff he'd just dropped on Susan.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:30 pm

The woman chuckled politely along with the teen, as per standard procedure. It was purely reflexive at this point as well as simply good etiquette. Not laughing at his comment would see her as rude or unfeeling and that simply would not do. She supposed he was right about the prices, some of them broached into the four-digit mark, obviously meant for those who work with music for a living. Not that she couldn't afford any of them, but to do so at the drop of a hat would be rather irresponsible of her. She presumed her reasonable limit would be... three hundred dollars with room for swing. Yes, that sounded appropriate enough. She wouldn't miss that money at all. Susan flinched when the young man took a large step back from her when she leaned in, tilting her head slightly with a blank inquisitive look. Had she... done something wrong? What was it? Did he not take kindly to her peering over his shoulder? Oh, in her commitment to analyzing his purchasing decisions she had come to close to invading his personal bubble! The businesswoman winced at her mistake, bowing her head slightly and taking a small step backward to fix her mistake.

...it quickly became apparent that her original assumption was incorrect. She in fact did not know more about their own products than this boy did. At least not by performance outside of trial reports. She could tell anyone that the set he was currently holding in his hands produced a threshold of sound from 20 to 20,000 Hz but how that made things sound and what songs they worked best with was anecdotal information at best or just completely unknown to her. But it was great information! She found her attention dividing between intently listening to what the teenager had to say and notating his insight onto her tablet. Her curiosity and need for knowledge had gotten the better of her manners as he explained the differences and quirks of each device, to which Susan found herself peeking over his shoulder again and being generally too close for comfort. When he turned around he would come chest-to-nose with her, catching her peering around him to catch a glimpse at his screen yet she would back off meekly as she had done before.

When the teenager finished his very long-winded explanation Susan stood staring at him for a good while. She blinked once. Twice. Oh, r-right, this was the part where she should say something...
"Well... that certainly is a lot of helpful information..." she mumbled. She really did believe it to be helpful despite her tone, but it was a lot to piece through. She had a grasp on much of it but not all of it would be appropriate to comment on if she were to supposedly be an ignorant shopper. The woman closed her eyes, took a breath, and steeled herself for her own observations of the situation.
"Yes... yes I believe the wireless option would be more prudent. As for the ones I asked about I must agree with you, if you're as knowledgeable over these as you seem they should not be my first pick either. I may be able to afford it but I would hate to throw money down the drain, aheheh." Susan laughed nervously with her complement, unsure if it was fitting as she shot the boy an approval-seeking glance. She didn't want to seem conceited like she could just throw money around willy-nilly. Turning her gaze away from him Susan cleared her throat and continued,
"Ahem... In any case, I believe the high range should suit my tastes just fine. There's a particular country singer I find myself listening to quite often, her songs often involve violin. Would that be correct? What would you suggest?" Susan believed that she had most if not all the information she needed at the moment, all that was left involved validation. That is, allowing the teen to pick out a pair of headphones for her to try and allowing her to gauge his insight into them with her own two ears. She suddenly had more plans than just market research in mind for him...

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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Fri Nov 24, 2017 8:58 pm

As much as he found himself subconsciously pleased by the sheer enthusiasm displayed by the woman by him as she listened attentively to what he said and noted down his observations, the way she was constantly getting so close was really, really fraying at his nerves. At every instance he discovers Susan is practically touching him, Cecil positively chokes at the proximity she reaches in trying to get a glimpse of the screen of his phone. And, without fail, all ability to speak coherently and higher brain function shuts down completely for a moment or two each time, signified by an increasingly bewildered look and a whole lot of sputtering uncontrollably. He starts to get just a little paranoid about it as it continues.
...which is to say, he's constantly watching out for the next time Susan is about to creep up on him. He does not hide this fact in the slightest.

He smiles along sympathetically with the awkward complement (and it was awkward, even for him). While the smaller nuances of her behaviour eluded him, he of all people was hardly about to judge.
With the answers to his questions comes a confident nod, and a small chuckle. "Just about. Let me just check through..." He pulls up his phone again, rapidly eliminating a large chunk of the tabs he'd collected, then slowing down and more rigorously checking the reviews before eliminating a couple more. "Right then! I think I have an idea what might work...though...I think it's a good idea to get a frame of reference, first." He doesn't even bother asking her to come along, instead starting to watch for her presence again as he moves, though in a less panicked and simply more wary manner this time.

When he stops, it's by the Nautilus GX. "You said you weren't familiar with this stuff, right? Nautilus tends to be where a lot of people start. It's definitely consistently better than most of the average stuff you'll pick up, and you can be fairly certain most times you aren't wasting your money, but it gets over-hyped just as much. After all, as I said, it's where most folks start - and when they've only just picked up their first decent pair, they definitely don't have much of a frame of reference for how good something is." He shrugs. "The GXs definitely aren't my first pick, little more bass emphasis than I'd prefer, but that's more just my taste. They're still solid, so I figure they'll make a good starting point to compare the others to." He looks expectantly, waiting for Susan to try them.

Once she familiarises herself, he grins at her. "Hopefully, you've got a feel for those. It's still entry level, though. I doubt you'll be able to quite pick up all the nuances yet, but you should have the idea. Now, onto the actual stuff." He takes off again, mad grin only tempered by his efforts to stop Susan getting that close again. Efforts that still sometimes fail, but efforts nonetheless.

The next pair he stops at are the Ventus IR3s, one of the noise-cancelling pairs. "First option's here. Doesn't sound quite so great as the others, but the noise-cancelling is actually pretty robust, and from what I've read you're not going to have to worry about build quality or battery life. Not the newest of things, but there's a reason they're still putting out variants of this thing instead of flat out abandoning it for a newer model so far. Try it." Once she's done here, he's off to the next.

Next model up is the Gaia NT. Not noise cancelling, funnily enough. "Got to say, these are pretty solid. They managed to load in half a ton of features without compromising majorly elsewhere, and the isolation is some of the best I've experienced in a while. I'm pretty sure you could shut out most things completely with these without even having to turn on the music." There's a confident little 'hmph' after he makes his statement. "Tad bulky, though. Give it a try - shouldn't be hard to tell if it'll be a problem for you." Again, he waits for her to try. And once more when she's finished, he moves on, this time to the last pair.

The Fiagro 870s are where Cecil stops, another pair of non-noise cancelling wireless headphones, this time with a port in the headphones for a cable. Funnily enough, they're the cheapest of the lot, barely pushing into the triple digits.
When Cecil finally wheels around to face Susan once more, he's grinning a mile wide. "Far as I'm concerned, these are the best sounding of the lot. Little less isolation than the NT, and Ventus definitely has a bit of an edge in build quality here, but hell if they don't sound good. Sound is beautiful, and the sound-staging's comparable to some open-backed pairs I've tried. As a bonus, having the jack means you can hook it up directly to a source with a cable, and get the corresponding jump in sound quality with it. There's...just ah, one thing that's worth really noting." Cecil takes a deep breath. "They're revealing as hell. These thing'll open you up to just about every intricacy of everything you're going to listen to, but if there's something off with the track, you will know it. These things really aren't forgiving. Making the most of these means making sure you've got high quality sources - both because if you don't you're not going to get the extra benefit from these, but also because you really don't want to hear what happens if you put low quality files through these. Try yourself. You should get an idea of what I mean."

Once he's run Susan through all three, he stops there. "So...think you know what's going to work best for you? Narrowed it down much as I felt comfortable with, but there's only so far I can take it before it's basically personal preference on where your priorities are." He waits patiently, with a genuinely relaxed smile on his face.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Sun Nov 26, 2017 4:50 pm

It seemed well enough that Susan could just not get enough helpings of crow. She had taken far too long too realize the she could have been invading his personal space and it noticeably took a toll. But she held the vacant smile of chagrin. Fake it until you make it. Susan had felt that she had been faking her way through this entire exchange and she wasn't exactly making it now was she? Behind her empty eyes was a black hole of floundering self-doubt but at least the grin on her face belied that fact.

Don't mess this up now, this is going well. Respect personal space, smile and nod with interest. Wait for natural breaks in the conversation and repeat back information or ask questions. You can do this, this isn't important, it isn't a big deal at all just... j-just stop being you for a few minutes, be someone confident.

It had taken a conscious effort on her part not to peer at his phone again, the nervousness helped her keep her feet from moving closer at the least. It was difficult not to, she never meant to be rude but she would like to see where he was pulling his information from. It was another valuable data point. Where did someone this knowledgeable and committed to the merchandise get their reviews? It would be good to know. Not for tricks of the trade or insight mind you, but a valuable part of any business model: advertising. Salem Ltd. could pay premiums to keep their products toward the top of the page, perhaps side ads and planted reviews to boost their numbers. She believed it well worth the investment, although more study would need to be done in the matter concerning website traffic and whatnot. The "grandmasters" of the hobby would not be fooled and if that is all who visited this site it would be a disaster. Still, very much worth sinking time into.

Darn it girl, stay on task!

Susan had found herself on her tiptoes again but managed to sink back down before she thought he noticed anything.
"Yes, I suppose that seems like a good place to start," she echoed in agreement, following his lead in step as she had done before.
...and they were back at the Nautilus. Susan stood just a little bit taller in the light that he had chosen one of her companies products as a good fit. It meant that she was on the right team. Wordlessly she would place the very familiar headphones over her ears, playing with the sample screen to find a soundtrack she enjoyed. Most of it was newer and more popular stuff that she wasn't terribly fond of, alternative rock and hip hop and house music, but she managed to latch on to one of the classical pieces that every MP3 player had one song of for some reason. As expected the sound was fresh and crisp, no distortions, definitely loud enough and managed to drown out most of everything around her... just not completely. Nautilus still made good headphones, however. Susan wouldn't give any indication on her opinion on the outside, perhaps tilting her head slightly or guiding her eyes to the ceiling, a small nod here or there but she was already very familiar with this set.

Susan was actually surprised, maybe a little disappointed that those headphones weren't in the running. They seemed to be an alright enough choice, what could be more well-rounded? She would nod at the boy as he showed her his first set, a pair of Ventus from a rival brand name. They were more popular with the retro crowd, a little more old-fashioned with a cult following, but that was a good way to go wasn't it? If you never had to change your product and it still sold well enough it built a form of brand loyalty, like sturdy German engineering did. Reluctantly she slipped them over her ears and noticed the difference immediately. Everything was not so much muffled as it completely disappeared. Susan was sure that the store could be lit on fire right now and she wouldn't have noticed the blaring alarms. The sound quality was noticeably lower, sort of... wooden? The Nautilus had a robust sound with thumping bass, like sitting in an amphitheater, these were more like being in a room with a loud band.
"Hmmm...." she hummed, squinting just a little bit. She wasn't certain that she liked the change in sound quality but these were certainly a sturdy and impressive pair. Moving on.

The next pair of headphones, the Gaia NTs. These were more easily snapped up by techies that liked fotal control over how things sounded. Susan played with the settings a little bit but found it overall too complicated, and when she finally played her classical music piece she had sabotaged the sound unknowingly, the treble was much too violent. She would tilt her head back and forth, nodding left to right with a deep frown on her face as if she was working out how "headbanging" worked for the first time. She didn't like the bulkiness to them, it was like a can of soup was strapped to her head.
"No... no, definitely not..." she mumbled. The businesswoman could see why people liked these but they were decidedly not for her. On to the last set.

A pair of Fiagro brand headphones. These were quite competitive in the market for their low price and comparable quality, she was pretty knowledgeable about them. The main drawback is that the plastic was subpar and had to be handled with care or they would break six months down the road, but were cheap enough to keep buying pairs of them. A solid business strategy to be sure. Susan slipped these on too and found herself enamored with what she heard. The quality was clear and bright due to the quality of the track and what she heard from the rest of the store was minimal. Clearly this was the superior product. If it was as he said and lower-quality songs wouldn't play as well that wouldn't be a problem, she wasn't a hoodlum that pirated her music and the MyTunes store only offered songs of fine structure and sound.
"....!" The surprised and interested stare on her face made it obvious that this was indeed what she was looking for.

"Yes, I believe these are the superior choice," she would inform the teen, slipping off the headset with a neutral and focused look. She would have to admit that this experience had been enlightening, never before had she gone this in-depth with testing and it was actually very enjoyable. Testing... yes, that's right. Testing.
"Oh! That's right, I have something for you..." she trailed off, digging in her purse for a moment. Susan produced one of her custom-printed business cards.
"You have been very helpful today, I greatly appreciate you taking time out of your day to assist me in picking out something I would enjoy," she chirped, presenting the card to the boy, "I would like you to do me one more favor, I would like you to call me sometime tomorrow. I believe I we have something to discuss. Can you do that? I'm free between 11 and 1 in the afternoon. Just so I'm aware, you're name was...?"

Susan's attitude would shift once more, adopting a more pushy and take-charge demeanor that she was known to do when she greatly wanted something done. She didn't want to go for introductions this time around because she wanted her identity to make a greater impact for what she wanted to discuss with the teen. Her business card read:

Salem Limited
Forging a Greater Future.
2611 Brightburn Ave., Endymion

Susan M. Groves
Economist and Marketing Liaison
(485)231-4922


Were the boy as knowledgeable about the companies behind the products as he was with the harmonics of the headphones, he would recognize Salem Ltd. as the parent company for the subsidiaries that produced the Nautilus and Gaia lines of headphones. Susan offered a sincere smile at the end of her admittedly forceful request.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:24 pm

Cecil winces harshly as Susan starts playing with the equaliser on the Gaia. Trying to mess with the sound before she'd even heard what it sounds like normally, let alone when she didn't particularly know what she was doing? He understood why someone would do that, but it bugged him massively. He's quick to reset the headphones back to normal before he moves on, knowing that the blunder had probably shot her impression of it.

As Susan takes in the Fiagro, a little smile appears on Cecil's face...followed by a confused and apprehensive look as she starts digging in her purse. Wh...what is she...why is she...? A strange feeling starts to rise as he receives the business card, only amplified by the sudden shift in how she interacted with him. They...had something to...?
He looks over the card. He recognises Salem's name, but it isn't what sticks in his mind.
Susan M. Groves...
Economist and Market Liaison.


...business. It was all business. She probably didn't even need the headphones.
It made a lot of this make more sense. The constant notation of just about every remark he made, the way she'd been watching him to start with, her persistent attempts to try and get a good look at his phone when he was looking things up. He might have been just a single point of reference, but all the data she had could really be broken down into those. It still helped the business.
He guessed it didn't really change much. He'd took it on himself to help her out, and really, he'd still done that. Given, the circumstances were different to what he'd been led to believe, but there wasn't anything malicious about it, nor had he really lost anything.
It just...it just dampened his enthusiasm, really. That semblance of a shared interest had been ripped away, and while before he could of held it close that he'd been able to do something for someone that would make their daily lives better, even had they never met again, this felt more insignificant in the scheme of things. Could have basically been anyone she'd taken to watching during their shop, for all it was worth. It was just more...impersonal. Isolating. And it meant a once colourful and vibrant memory shifted into a cold, dreary greyscale.

There's no shock on Cecil's face as he processes all of this. No blank realisation, no surprised exclamations of who Susan was. No anger, no excitement, no sadness or disgust. There's just a fade to something neutral and lifeless, hollow and empty where the joy once was. He blinks a couple of times, before his face returns to its relaxed facade.
As he removes his gaze from the card, he spots the smile on Susan's face. Even as he was feeling now, the thought the smile might be false never came. She seemed genuinely happy with the situation. If anything, that ill delivered statement from earlier had proven true. She did have an interest in him. Had she not, she would have never given her card and requested he call.
It just...wasn't something he could feel pleased about, right now. He just felt the so-oft empty space he'd briefly managed to fill, the void more cold and hungry for having its temporary seal so suddenly torn away. He wanted to be able to return that smile, to be as happy about all this as the woman before him. He really did. He just...couldn't, right now.

He pauses, the words drying up as that all too familiar feeling of impenetrable separation rises again. "I..." The facade falters a little. Briefly. There's another pause, before he looks at Susan properly, the easy look so often worn set in stone on his face. "I'm Cecil. It...it was nice to meet you, Susan." He takes a slow breath, closing his eyes briefly and holding the expression to hide the way his eyes shoot to the side. "I don't know if I'll be able to call - what between the timing and the fact I tend to do really badly on a phone - but I'll do my best to try and get in contact with you."
...probably won't have a say in whether or not I do either if Dad or Rydia get wind of this.

Words said, a sense of awkwardness starts to creep in as he stands there. His expression changes to one of someone uncertain what to do now, and his mind blanks out.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Sun Nov 26, 2017 6:46 pm

Susan's smile faded to a frown of concern. Suddenly the optimism had been pulled out from underneath him, that much was clear. She... didn't do that, did she? Oh, she had come too far here to lose grip of this situation! It would just ruin her day to know that she had done this well only to have it come crashing down on top of her, falling off the mountain as her hand slapped the precipice. For a kid he was smart and full of potential, his love and involvement of his own topic reminded her of herself as a child. A-although her interests were in fantasy novels and math and she was picked on for it instead of praise like she had given this boy. Either way "I don't know" was not an acceptable answer in her book, it was uncertain, and an uncertain success was a failure with a time-release.

"Is there something wrong with your phone, Cecil?" she asked innocently, purposely using his name so that she would remember it later, "I could call you if you prefer, although I won't be able to do so until later in the evening. Would you like to arrange a visit tomorrow instead? We could speak further over lunch, I'd love to do so now but I'm afraid there is somewhere I need to be." It was no lie, she had spent far too much time in SoundWave than she had anticipated and while she had a wealth of data points to pick through if she couldn't blast through the rest of the stores she wouldn't be ten minutes early for her 2 o'clock meeting. Still, she would really like to get in touch with this young man before she left. At least guarantee a call back, it would be a shame if she never saw him again.
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PostSubject: Re: Keeping An Ear to the Beat [Susan/Cecil]   Sun Nov 26, 2017 8:10 pm

"No, no, there's nothing wrong with-" The moment she starts speaking again, the words suddenly choke out from the interruption, and any attempt at finishing what he's saying is made impossible. So, he just listens.
And subsequently, finds himself surprised by just how insistent she was on speaking with him again. He...he didn't think he'd made that much of an impression. She really wanted to meet up with him again that badly? Hell, she was offering lunch even. It might have been a little touching another time that she thought he was worth the effort.
Lunch was definitely off the table, though. It was prime material for winding him up, and the irrational feeling that it would leak back to his family was unshakeable. And as for her calling him..
If he was left to do it, he probably wouldn't. He knew it all too very well. But he didn't exactly want to end this all here either. Whether naive hope at making something out of this or something else, he wanted to continue on with this.
"...I'd appreciate if you could call. Later is fine. Number is..." Cecil lists off his number.
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