So Let Them Watch – Genie

June 25, 2014 in moonrise31, So Let Them Watch by moonrise31

In this ten-chapter fic, each member represents a concept from a different Girls’ Generation music video—with a few creative liberties tossed in, of course.

Seohyun: The robot with a key, some bravery, and quite possibly a heart.

Yoona: An artist with the age if not the years, and the notes if not the experience.

Sooyoung: The dreamer with her head in the clouds and her feet on the ground.

Yuri: A magician who doesn’t believe in magic, but maybe that’s what makes her so perfect.

Hyoyeon: The healer who will stop at nothing to save her town, her country, the world…and herself.

Tiffany: An optimist who knows the glass is half empty; but add enough water, and it’ll become more than half full.

Sunny: The racer who, more than a need for speed, needs a reason to stop, once in a while.

Introducing Jessica:Even if it all flies away in the wind…right now, this moment, the world is yours.

Quiet.

The roar of the portal had long faded away, along with Sunny’s echoing farewells. Now, Seohyun could hear nothing else except for her own unsteady breathing.

She felt her heart pump against her chest and she placed a hand above it, wondering why she was so nervous.

Why is it so silent?

She shifted her feet then, shoes scraping against the hardwood below. She opened her eyes slowly, taking in her surroundings. She was inside a building, but one that had been abandoned seemingly long ago. The room she stood in was bare, the floor coated with a fine layer of dust. Sunlight streamed through the blinds hanging crooked over the window. The walls were blackened and streaked with dirt.

Seohyun didn’t know why, exactly, but she wanted to get out of there.

She hurried from one room to another, wondering what kind of building this had once been. Business? Apartment complex? School? It was impossible to tell. Although finding the exit seems to be even more difficult.

Then she spotted a stairwell and breathed a sigh of relief. With each echo of her footstep bouncing off the empty walls around her, her stomach twisted in another knot. But just as her hand touched the railing, a flurry of sound exploded from somewhere above.

Seohyun stopped.

She strained her ears to make out the voices, but they were too far away, and she didn’t dare try and sneak closer. Then the murmuring rose to shouting, the yells careening down the stairway and crashing all around her. Seohyun winced and covered her ears.

She realized too late when footsteps stomped on the stairs overhead. Before she could take a step away from the landing, she came face-to-face with the woman storming down. Seohyun took in the camouflage, the assault rifle over one shoulder.

Soldier.

“A civilian? What’re you doing here?” She demanded.

Seohyun blinked. “I…I don’t know—”

“No time,” the soldier interrupted, grabbing her wrist. “Come on, we gotta get out of here.”

Seohyun yelped as she was dragged down the remaining flights—one, two, three—and then the soldier shoved her out of the building. She stumbled as she crossed the threshold, tripping on a piece of concrete that had broken off and was now poking out from the sidewalk.

“Keep moving!” Thin but strong arms caught her and hauled her upright once more. They pushed her forward. “We need to be out of here before—”

BOOM.

The soldier dove, taking Seohyun down as well. Seohyun flung her hands out in front of her, barely saving herself from face-planting into the cement. She felt a weight land on top, but it was almost welcome amidst the pieces of debris showering them from above. Chunks and embers landed all around them, and Seohyun heard the soldier grunt from above whenever she was hit. Seohyun’s wince deepened, imagining what it might be like to have those heated projectiles smacking into her back instead.

Finally, the clattering of debris gave way to the soft hiss of smoke and flames behind them—a sound Seohyun had become all too familiar with in a certain magician’s basement. Except this was on a much larger scale. The soldier grumbled, rolling off of her and landing on her right. Somewhere much closer, a crackling sound started up.

“Sergeant Jung. Sergeant, come in. Over.”

The soldier cursed and pulled a walkie-talkie from her belt.

“Sergeant Jung. Stay where you are. I repeat, stay where you are. Don’t make things worse for yourself. Over.”

“Yeah right,” the soldier muttered. She turned, and then chucked the device towards the burning building. The two of them watched the walkie-talkie fly in a graceful arc before it landed in the flames. A small mushroom cloud of fire burst from the impact.

“Huh,” the soldier said. “That went way farther than I thought it would.”

“Um.” Seohyun cleared her throat. “Uh, sergeant…what just happened?”

“Bomb,” was the curt reply. The soldier stood up and brushed herself off, frowning and deep in thought.

“I see,” Seohyun mumbled. Maybe it’s better if I keep quiet.

The soldier blinked and shook her head. Then she coughed, looking almost embarrassed. “Sorry.” She held out a hand. “Call me Jessica, okay? I’m just an unnie in a fancy uniform.”

“Seohyun.” Seohyun grabbed Jessica’s hand and let herself be pulled up. “Unnie…what was that?”

“Nothing for you worry about,” Jessica answered briskly. “Okay, let’s get you somewhere safe, alright? What’re you doing so close to the border, anyway?”

“Border…?” Seohyun repeated.

“Yeah.” Jessica looked at her dubiously. “You know, between North and South Korea. You’ve learned that in school by now, right?”

“Oh…yeah. Yeah.” Seohyun nodded, wondering why in the world she had been dropped off in a war zone. “I guess I got a little…lost.”

“Lost,” Jessica snorted, but fortunately she left it at that. “We’re gonna have to make it to Yeoncheon-eup, which is a couple kilometers from here. You think you can walk that far?”

“No problem,” Seohyun promised. She hesitated, but curiosity got the better of her. “Unnie, wouldn’t it have been better for us to keep that walkie-talkie? Then we could ask them to send help, right?”

Jessica hesitated before shaking her head. “It’s just you and me, Seohyun,” she said grimly. “And I don’t know how much longer I can keep you safe, so I think we should hurry.” She slipped the rifle off of her shoulder and held it loosely in one hand before turning her back on the remains of the building.

Seohyun swallowed and wordlessly followed.

Just what exactly have I gotten myself into?

The two trekked in silence for a while, the gravel of the dirt road crunching loudly beneath their feet. Jessica walked quickly, but not so fast as to break into a jog, so Seohyun did manage to keep up. But her mind raced, wondering why exactly Jessica couldn’t depend on anyone else. And were they the only survivors? Should she really have been so trusting?

Not that I have any other options.

Jessica coughed. “So, Seohyun. Where’re you from?”

“Oh.” Seohyun blinked, wondering what Jessica would think of the first answer that had popped into her head: A room full of books and a shadow that was chasing me across worlds or time or something else; I really have no clue.

Instead, she said, “Um…not around here.”

“I see.”

Jessica didn’t say anything else, but Seohyun got the sense that the soldier was trying to hold a conversation and coming up empty. Not that she was much better at this sort of thing, but Seohyun figured she might as well give it a try. “Unnie, can I ask you a question?”

Relief flickered briefly over Jessica’s expression before she managed to return it to its original impassive state. “Yeah, go for it.”

“When’d you join the army?”

“Hm.” Jessica tapped her chin. “I was drafted…nine months ago? Yeah, I think that was it.”

“Drafted?” Seohyun tilted her head, trying to remember what she’d read about conscription. If she recalled what she’d read about South Korea correctly… “I thought only men were required to serve.”

Jessica gave her a strange look. “Yeah, like a century ago. Then they realized that it was sorta sexist and they needed more people to defend the border, so bringing in the other half of the population seemed to be the logical thing to do.”

“Right.” Seohyun laughed nervously, resisting the urge to massage her temples. She decided that she should stop trying to make sense of timelines and things, if only for her sanity’s sake. Instead, she glanced at the four stripes embroidered onto the shoulder of Jessica’s uniform and quickly pushed their discussion away from her apparent ignorance. “Nine months and you’re already a sergeant, though? That’s impressive, unnie.”

Jessica shrugged. “I guess they think I’m pretty good at what we need to do. Maybe even too good.” Her expression darkened.

Seohyun mirrored her frown. “Unnie, what happened back there?”

“Like I said, just an explosion,” Jessica replied quickly. She tried for a smile. “That’s why we need to get you out of here. Way too dangerous for a high school student.”

Seohyun looked down then, noticing that the uniform from Yoona’s high school was now ripped and smudged in several places. Although considering what it’s been through, I’m surprised it lasted this long.

She thought for another moment, letting the realization of exactly how much she’d done ever since Yoona had invited her to stay the night really sink in. Then she said, “Unnie, can I tell you something?”

Jessica blinked. “Sure.”

“The reason I’m here,” Seohyun began. She hesitated, and then tried again. “I’m not from around here because I, quite literally, fell from somewhere else. Another city, another time, another world, I don’t know.”

Jessica said nothing. Their footsteps tramping in the gravelly dirt filled the silence.

“I don’t exactly know where I came from,” Seohyun elaborated. “I just know that it’s a room, and it has a lot of books. So I did a lot of reading. But I guess some of the texts were outdated because I didn’t know that male-only conscription was already one hundred years ago.” She paused, knowing that she had to explain the portals; but having to say it out loud, no matter how many times she had thought it to herself, somehow made the entire task more daunting, the situation more unbelievable than it already was.

Well, here goes nothing.

“But…one day, this kind of…portal, appeared. And I jumped in, and it brought me to somewhere outside of that room. It brought me outside, where there was grass and sun and sky. And ever so often it’ll appear again and whisk me somewhere else. Another place, another time. Maybe even another universe; I couldn’t tell you for sure. But I do know some things for certain. That I’ve listened to music and been on my first plane ride. And I’ve helped perform tricks in a magic show and CPR on an unconscious stranger. I’ve found a lost kid inside a very large theater and ridden a motorcycle while the driver disregarded several speeding laws and traffic signs.

“What I’m trying to say is,” Seohyun took a breath. “I’ve been through my fair share of things, unnie. And I know it can’t really compare to war and combat, but I can handle it. I promise.” So please, stop trying to keep things from me. Especially when I was right there as it happened.

Seohyun waited. But their silent march continued, the crunch of gravel ringing in her ears after the last wisp of her words had vanished into oblivion.

“So…you’re not from here.”

Seohyun barely suppressed a laugh at Jessica’s delayed response. “No, I’m really not, unnie.”

“I guess that explains some things.” For her part, Jessica didn’t seem too fazed by Seohyun’s explanation of portals and different worlds. Instead, she unfastened her helmet and plopped it, lopsided, onto Seohyun’s head. “You’re a trooper, I see.”

Seohyun straightened the helmet and smiled.

It seemed clear now that Jessica worked very much on her own time, so Seohyun didn’t mind waiting a few more minutes before the soldier spoke up again. “I guess you’ve realized now that we were the only ones to make it out of that building alive.”

Seohyun nodded. “Thanks for saving me, unnie.”

Jessica rapped her knuckles gently on the helmet. “Don’t thank me for doing my job, Seohyun. Especially since you’re the only one who probably would think to do that, at the moment.”

Seohyun remembered the voice from the walkie-talkie. “Do…do they think…you set that bomb off?”

“Quite the imaginations they have, right?” Jessica smiled wryly. “We were out on patrol when we found it, and the first lieutenant tried to say that it was me who put it there. Which makes me think it was really him. Luckily the other two didn’t believe him, and then they started to fight…and they told me to run.” Her grip on the rifle tightened. “Why the hell did I run?”

“Because it’s better that one of you make it out instead of none,” Seohyun pointed out gently. “Actually, make that two of us.”

Jessica looked at her for a moment before letting out a weak chuckle. “Yeah. But you know, I’m pretty sure the first lieutenant arranged something beforehand saying that if that bomb went off, it would be because of me. So now they’re breathing down my neck, but I have to get you somewhere safe before I face the music.”

Seohyun blinked. “But unnie, if you didn’t do it, there’s no music to face.”

“If it’s my word against a higher officer’s,” Jessica commented drily, “I don’t think you need to be in the military to figure out how that’s probably gonna end.”

Seohyun frowned.

“Hey, cheer up.” Jessica poked Seohyun’s cheek. “We’ll be at Yeoncheon-eup by nightfall, okay? It’ll all be over soon.”

Seohyun didn’t like the way Jessica had said “over”.

The rifle clicked as Jessica shifted her grip slightly, and Seohyun’s attention was drawn to the weapon. The question was out before she could stop it. “Unnie, have you ever shot anyone?”

“Sure,” Jessica replied. “You can’t really get away with not shooting out here, you know.”

Seohyun refrained from asking her next question, because she was afraid of the answer. She liked Jessica, she was sure of it now, and having her image of the sergeant suddenly drenched in blood was not something she thought she could handle.

“Freeze!”

Jessica swore. “We’re almost there.”

Seohyun’s eyes widened as two soldiers approached them, rifles trained on their chests. “Unnie, what do we do?”

“Just be ready to run,” Jessica murmured out of the corner of her mouth, raising her hands slowly over her head. She still gripped her rifle firmly in one hand.

“Drop the gun, sergeant,” one of the soldiers said, now within two meters from them. His companion kept his own weapon pointed at Seohyun.

“I’d rather just hand it to you, private,” Jessica offered casually. “This is an expensive piece of machinery, you know.”

The private hesitated. Then he nodded, his trigger finger tensing a bit more. “Alright. But one wrong move and we’ll fill you with holes, got it?”

“Just leave this kid out of it, okay?” Jessica tilted her head in Seohyun’s direction. “She’s just trying to get home.”

Seohyun knew she shouldn’t be taking Jessica’s words so seriously at the moment, but she couldn’t help thinking, Wherever home is around here, unnie, I’m pretty sure the closest I have to it is when I’m with you.

“We’ll deal with her later. Just come quietly, Jung,” the private snorted. He reached up for the rifle.

“I apologize in advance, then,” Jessica said brightly.

He blinked. “What?”

Jessica brought the butt of the rifle down on his helmet, hard. His companion shouted, startled, but didn’t have time to even lift his weapon before Jessica whipped her gun around in a backhand swing. The end of the rifle connected with the side of his helmet with a loud thunk.

“I can’t have you ‘dealing with her’ at all, I’m afraid,” Jessica answered belatedly.

Seohyun stared.

“Come on,” Jessica prodded, waving her forward. “They’re only gonna be out for a while. The helmets are pretty thick.”

Seohyun willed her feet to move.

“I’m glad you didn’t shoot them, or…kill…them, or anything, unnie,” she managed a few minutes later, once her heart had settled.

Jessica shrugged. “Would’ve taken too much time.” She turned and noted Seohyun’s shocked expression. Then she snickered. “…is what I say so the tough guys leave me alone. But killing isn’t a good thing, Seohyun, so I won’t do it unless I’m ordered to.”

Seohyun felt a little better at that.

“There we go.” Jessica pointed at the emerging outskirts of the town. “We’re almost there.”

Once on the streets of Yeoncheon-eup, Jessica headed for the nearest inn. “You’ll be fine staying here for the night, right? And then I trust you can get yourself wherever you need to be in the morning.”

“You’re leaving, unnie?” Seohyun couldn’t stop herself from grabbing Jessica’s uniform sleeve.

Jessica smiled softly and patted Seohyun’s head, her palm lightly knocking the helmet with a hollow sound. “Unnie’s still got to take care of some things, you know.”

Shouts from outside and heavy boots clanking on the street made both of them turn. “Speak of the devil,” Jessica muttered. She gave Seohyun one last grin. “It was nice to meet you, Seohyun.”

It hurt Seohyun to see how how genuine Jessica’s smile was. “Unnie, you don’t have to. It wasn’t even you who did it.”

“Not everyone would agree though, would they?” Jessica pointed out.

“But…” Seohyun started. A small voice inside her head said, But if we agree, isn’t that enough?

Jessica cut her off. “It’s alright, Seohyun. Sometimes you just have to accept things as they are. They might take me down, but they’re still gonna do it my way.” She winked. “You just have to always have a plan, and with any luck, no one will ever realize that it might be half-baked at best.”

“Unnie?” Seohyun asked, skeptical.

“Just think.” Jessica leaned in close, as if divulging a dark secret. “All those wannabe dictators, conquerors, world tyrants. They all planned so carefully, so meticulously. But where’d that get them? Nowhere—because in the end, they’re always overthrown. Sometimes with a plan just as well thought out, and other times just by people deciding to take them by storm, ’cause they’d had enough. So that’s what we have to do, Seohyun,” she grinned. “Take the world by storm.”

Seohyun wasn’t sure if she understood, exactly, how any of that had to do with the current situation. But before she could say so, Jessica was already out the door.

“Here’s the key to your room, dear,” the kind elderly lady at the receptionist’s desk told her.

But Seohyun didn’t hear.

For a moment, she thought that the shadow had come back for her. The nothingness, the silence, the emptiness—it threatened to engulf her, swallow her whole and never let her back out.

Then the receptionist cleared her throat and repeated herself. Seohyun was shaken out of her daze. She turned around and politely declined the key, smiling as she explained she wouldn’t be needing it after all. On the inside, though, she was trembling.

The shadow, hopefully, was long gone by now. But she had finally realized what it had represented.

Seohyun dashed out of the inn and into a ring of guns.

“Seohyun,” Jessica said, bewildered. Her hands were raised, her rifle lying at her feet.

“If this is your plan, unnie,” Seohyun murmured, “I have to say—I’m not very impressed.” She sought out the leader of the soldiers, hoping that it would be the person with the most stripes on their sleeve. She counted four on the man standing a little more forward from the rest. Focusing her gaze on him, she cleared her throat. “With all due respect, sir, you have the wrong person.”

He spared her a glance. “Step back, miss. This person is a dangerous terrorist. She’s betrayed her country.”

“I think you’ve got ‘being betrayed’ confused with ‘doing the betraying’,” Seohyun insisted calmly. “Quite different, once you think about it.”

The opposing sergeant sighed and looked behind him, making eye contact with two soldiers. He flicked his head towards her. “Get her out of here.”

“Do you really think,” Seohyun shouted, causing the advancing soldiers to stop in their tracks, “that a terrorist would go out of their way to rescue a civilian from an exploding building, and then walk her to the nearest town so she could go home?”

The sergeant looked doubtful, but then his expression hardened. “She assaulted two soldiers on the way here.”

“Because they threatened me,” Seohyun shot back. “Whether or not you think they were justified in doing that is irrelevant here. Because she made it her duty to get me to safety before turning herself in for a crime she didn’t even commit. So do you really think she was the one to set off that bomb?”

“Seohyun,” Jessica said quietly. “Whatever you say, they still have to bring me back.”

“Then I’m coming with,” Seohyun replied. Jessica opened her mouth, but Seohyun interrupted. “I still have your helmet, unnie.” She rapped the headgear she was still wearing. “And I’m not giving it back until I’m sure you’re going to need it again.”

Jessica stared. Then she shook her head, a ghost of a smile on her lips. “Wow. I wouldn’t have wasted all that time bringing you here if I’d known you were just gonna insist on coming back with me anyway.”

“Come on,” said the sergeant. He looked uncertainly at Seohyun. “Uh. I guess you can come, too.”

They were escorted into the back of an all-terrain vehicle. The two-hour drive was mostly silent, but Seohyun took comfort in leaning against Jessica and listening to the latter’s steady breathing.

“Unnie,” Seohyun whispered.

“Hm?”

“When your conscription is over,” Seohyun said, “what’s the first thing you want to do when you go back home?”

Jessica hummed. “Take my sister out for some food.” She glanced at Seohyun. “Wanna come with?”

Seohyun smiled. “I’d like that. Unnie, what’s your sister’s name?”

No answer.

She blinked when she realized Jessica was asleep. Really? Under circumstances like these?

Once they arrived at the army base, Seohyun had to wait for another nail-biting hour outside of the headquarters tent for the commanding officers to reach their verdict. When Jessica came out again looking significantly less tired, she knew she needn’t have worried.

“Thank goodness the first lieutenant was pretty sloppy,” Jessica explained as she took a seat next to Seohyun. “They found some coded messages in his things that basically sealed the deal about who the real terrorist was.” She took the helmet off of Seohyun’s head and settled it on her own. “To be honest, it seems so easy that I’m kind of offended they didn’t realize it sooner.”

“I’m glad you’re okay, unnie.” Seohyun grinned. “You think you’ll get promoted?”

“I hope not,” Jessica laughed. “Being a sergeant is busy enough, you know. I’d like to avoid work as much as possible.”

Seohyun looked down at her hands, neatly folded in her lap. “Thanks for doing the extra work of walking me to Yeoncheon-eup, then. Even if I ended up coming back.”

“Yeah, what kind of thanks is that?” Jessica teased. But she threw an arm over Seohyun’s shoulder and pulled her in for a hug. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were crazy, running out into a bunch of soldiers like that.”

Seohyun made a small whining noise. “I didn’t know there’d be that many.” She paused. “But even if I did, I wouldn’t have wanted you to face all of them alone.”

“Aw, that’s nice of you,” Jessica chuckled. “I’m alright by myself, though.”

Seohyun shook her head. “I know what it’s like to be lonely, unnie.” She thought for a moment that she saw the shadow flickering in the corner of her eye, but she knew that she’d run far away from it by now. “I don’t think I’d want anyone to be alone like that. Ever.”

Jessica laughed softly. “Crazy kid,” she said again.

Seohyun smiled, thinking about Jessica’s earlier declarations. “Just think of it as me trying to take the world by storm, okay?” Facing all odds, whether it’s an enormous looming loneliness or possible death by firing squad. Facing it with a smile and the belief that somehow, everything is going to be okay.

Jessica stared, and then laughed when her words from the inn came back to her. “I just hope the world is ready.” Seohyun chuckled, a reply on the tip of her tongue.

The two turned at the sudden glow lighting up the night.

“Ah, I guess I’ll be going now.” Seohyun gently slid out of Jessica’s hold and stood up, turning around for one last wave. “Bye, unnie.”

“Bye,” Jessica replied faintly, staring as Seohyun stepped closer to the portal. “Are you going home?”

“Maybe. I’m not really sure,” Seohyun admitted. Then she smiled. “Who knows—maybe I’ll make it back someday?”

Jessica snorted. “You better wish with everything you’ve got that you won’t.”

Seohyun laughed, her last words fading with the dimming light. “Fair enough. Then after you’re back from the war, okay? You can take me out for lunch.”

“Krystal would love to meet you,” Jessica whispered. As if her breath extinguished the last bit of brightness, the light disappeared, taking Seohyun with it.

A few moments later, Jessica blinked and made a small noise of understanding. “So that’s what she meant by ‘portal’.”