So Let Them Watch – MR. TAXI

June 21, 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.

Introducing Sunny:I’m going at a speed that can’t be caught, oops!

Seohyun ran.

When she’d landed on the other side of the portal, she hadn’t immediately realized why she should be running. But as soon as her heels had touched the ground, she’d felt a sudden push that almost made her stumble, so she frantically threw one foot in front of the other. And then she kept going.

It was hard to run through the streets of a big city, but Seohyun managed for a good distance, weaving through the crowds and inciting only two or three indignant protests when she accidentally bumped elbows with someone. It was a lot to keep track of, though, looking left and then right and dodging someone’s puppy and then glancing behind to try and see what in the world she could possibly be running away from—

“Oof!”

It took Seohyun a few seconds to realize that she was no longer moving, although her legs still waved feebly in the air as if they wanted to continue as soon as possible. She had landed on her stomach, on the pavement, except it wasn’t really the pavement because said pavement shouldn’t be this soft

“As happy as I am that you didn’t land on your face, mind getting off of me sometime soon?”

Seohyun looked down, and the girl she’d landed on blinked back at her. Luckily, the mass of people had parted around them, leaving Seohyun with a little room to scramble up and lend a hand to pull up her unintentional landing cushion.

“Thanks,” the girl said, scrunching her nose as she smiled and dusted off her leather jacket. Seohyun was suddenly struck by the memory of a small white rabbit popping out of Yuri’s magician top hat.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to run into you.” Seohyun bowed ninety degrees. Not that the girl seemed particularly offended, but that really only made Seohyun feel even guiltier.

As expected, the other waved off her apology. “A twig like you can’t actually hurt me that much. I’m Sunny.” Now it was her turn to hold out her hand.

Seohyun accepted the handshake. “Seohyun.”

“Hi, Seohyun.” Sunny grinned. “You in a hurry to get somewhere?”

“I…” Even as the words left Sunny’s lips, Seohyun felt the itch at the bottoms of her feet, the constant push against her back. “Yeah, I guess I need to run.”

“Run?” Sunny raised her eyebrows. “Please, let’s not be so old-fashioned. Ever heard of taking a taxi?”

Seohyun had, but she’d never actually been in one, which was what she suspected Sunny actually meant. “It’s alright. I don’t think I have money for the fare anyway.”

“Fare?” Sunny scoffed, grabbing Seohyun’s hand. “As if unnie would charge you for a ride she was gonna take anyway. Come on!”

The sudden burst of movement settled the nervous energy in Seohyun’s legs, and Sunny’s firm grip confidently guided her through the bustle on the sidewalk. It gave Seohyun time to get a good look behind them.

The moment was brief, the stirring so slight, but Seohyun saw it. Saw the shadow as it slipped back behind the corner it had slithered out from. The sight made her stomach turn.

She whipped back around and leaned forward, willing herself to go even faster. She tightened her hold on Sunny’s hand. “Unnie,” she whispered, “please, can we hurry?”

“No worries,” Sunny replied, pulling them to a sudden halt by the curb. “Our ride is here.”

Seohyun watched as Sunny swung a leg over the seat of the motorcycle and began strapping on a helmet. “That’s…a taxi?”

“Figuratively speaking.” Sunny grabbed the extra helmet hanging on the back of the seat and tossed it to Seohyun. “Use your imagination!”

Seohyun only stood for a second before she pulled the protective headgear on and slid onto the motorcycle behind Sunny.

“Nothing to be afraid of,” Sunny assured her—Seohyun glanced behind them, wincing at every twitch in the crowd, but Sunny averted her attention by grabbing Seohyun’s arms and wrapping them around her waist—”Hold on tight, now. Here we go!”

The motorcycle roared to life, and Sunny pulled away from the curb and into the afternoon traffic. The scenery on either side became a pleasant blur, only coming into focus whenever a red stoplight forced them to pause. It was at these times that Seohyun caught glimpses of life in the city: a grocery store with a rack full of glossy magazines near the front door advertising the latest girl group sensation, a police officer directing traffic at an intersection and eyeing them suspiciously (Sunny, on her part, gave him a cheerful wave and confided in Seohyun that people really needed to stop judging books by their covers), and an incredibly tall glass building with “LEE CORPORATIONS” printed at the top in big white letters, just barely visible from the street below.

Eventually, the cars became fewer, the buildings shorter and farther in between, until cement gave way to fields of swaying grass. Seohyun didn’t stop looking behind her, but the shadow seemed to have gone. Either that, or she just couldn’t see it because the sun was setting when Sunny finally slowed.

Once the engine died, the two were bathed in a pleasant silence. It lasted a few moments before Sunny took a deep breath and stretched, reaching towards the sky. “I think it’ll be okay if we rest for a bit, right?”

“Yeah.” Seohyun walked to the side of the road and tentatively crouched, feeling the grass between her fingers. The way the blades tickled her palms reminded her of when she’d woken up in the middle of a similar field, Yoona grinning back at her.

“Oof.” Sunny plopped down next to her, lying down on her back and folding her arms behind her head. “The colors are really nice, aren’t they?”

Seohyun sat down gingerly and leaned back on her hands, watching the horizon as it became streaked with reds and oranges. “It’s beautiful.”

Sunny pulled one hand from under her head to gesture upwards. “And wait until the stars come out. No more of that light pollution you get in the city, you know? So then all you see is the moon and the constellations, and you realize how much brighter they must be for you to be able to still see them from lightyears away.”

“Yeah,” Seohyun agreed, remembering the astronomy textbooks she’d read from what seemed to be several lifetimes ago. “Some of them aren’t even there anymore. By the time we see their light, they’re already long gone.”

Sunny let her hand drop. “It’s kind of poetic though, don’t you think? I’d like to be remembered at my finest, even in the centuries, millenniums past my time. Doesn’t matter that I’m gone if they’re still able to remember me like it was yesterday.”

The last ray of sun winked out, drenching the sky in the dark purple of twilight. Seohyun nodded along, warming up to the metaphor they’d developed. “And when it’s that far off into the future, nobody will remember anything but the light: your accomplishments, the fun times you had, all the good things and none of the bad.”

“Yeah,” Sunny chuckled. “They’ll only see that you were running, and not what you were running from.” She paused. “We all run from things, Seohyun. I hope you know that.”

Seohyun knew what the other was getting at, but she asked anyway. “Even you, unnie?”

“Especially me.” Sunny smiled wryly. “Do you know what you’re running from, Seohyun?”

Yes, Seohyun opened her mouth to say, but then she closed it again. Because no, she didn’t really. How did “a shadow” even begin to really answer the question? Seohyun had absolutely no idea about those portals dropping her from place to place, much less any about the thing that had chased her into the first one that had started it all. The shadow was just that: a dark shapeless blob, menacing, lurking a single turn behind her. She glanced over her shoulder instinctively, but saw only the darkened sky meeting the rolling fields. And then the first star winked to life.

“Unnie, look,” Seohyun breathed.

Sunny arched her neck, attempting to look behind her without lifting her head. Her lips slowly curved into a smile. “There you go, Seohyun. Now tell me that it matters whether that star is still going strong or if it died two hundred years ago. Because right now, it’s just incredible, yeah?”

Seohyun only nodded, smile widening as a second star blinked next to the first one.

“I don’t know what I’m running from, either,” Sunny said after a while, breaking the silence. Her jacket rustled as she shifted slightly. “People will tell you all sorts of things, like responsibility, or fame, or legacy. But it’s not any of that.”

Seohyun looked at Sunny again, then, taking in the leather jacket and black boots, the motorcycle parked at the side of the road. Sunny met her gaze and laughed. “I’m not one of those ‘bad girls’, either, if that’s what you’re thinking. Rebelling isn’t really my style.”

Seohyun shook her head. “No, unnie, I wasn’t thinking that. You don’t give me that sort of feeling at all.”

“Oh, good.” Sunny exhaled, puffing out her cheeks as she did so. “People think that I’m running away from inheriting Lee Corporations, but I’m not really. I’ll always go back, you know? I have a duty, and I’m going to fulfill it. It’d be silly to run away. To abandon my family like that.”

Seohyun thought of the tall glass building in the middle of the city, towering over all else. Imposing, demanding, almost ominous. And Sunny was going to be a part of that? Even lead it, one day? If she really was running away from it all, Seohyun wouldn’t blame her. “So what are you running from, unnie?”

“I don’t know.” Sunny laughed, but it wasn’t really one. “The tabloids that’ll report on anything that moves? The people who’ll always see my father behind everything I do, instead of me as my own person? The people who tell me I should do this and be like that when the only person who really has any authority on the subject is me. No one else.” She exhaled again, the soft sound eventually dissolving into the quiet that followed.

“It’s all stuff I shouldn’t run away from, though,” Sunny spoke up again. “I should just face it and bear it and not let it pound me into the ground.” She turned her head to look at Seohyun. “But sometimes it’s just easier to avoid it, you know?”

“Yeah.” Seohyun agreed. She definitely knew the feeling of perpetual motion: dropping from one world to another, finding a place, but never certain enough to make her stay there. So what was she running from, exactly?

She looked at Sunny, who also seemed lost in thought. She cleared her throat. “I think it’s okay.”

Sunny looked up. “Hm? What’s okay?”

“It’s okay, that you’re running.” Seohyun shrugged. “And maybe you’re running away from all of those things, or something else entirely. It’s hard to say for sure, but it sounds like you have a really good grasp of the situation already.” Unlike me, she thought, resisting the urge to glance behind her and risk glimpsing a dark expanse creeping up on them. “It’s almost as if you’re running in circles instead of a straight line.”

“Like a racetrack.” Sunny smiled faintly. “You think if I go fast enough, I can eventually lap them, and maybe figure out once and for all what exactly I’m running from?”

“I think you can already see them from behind,” Seohyun agreed. “You’re almost there, you know, unnie. So just keep running. And then you can pass them, and run so far ahead, maybe even break out of the circle eventually. And then you’ll just keep running until you’re out of sight, and people will only remember the light you left behind.”

Sunny stared at her for a moment, and threw her head back, laughing. “Wow, Seohyun. That was pretty deep.”

Seohyun felt her cheeks warm, but not from embarrassment. Hearing Sunny laugh and mean it just made her want to smile back.

But then she saw it. Something darker than it should be, gliding down the road in front of them, towards them and the city behind them. Seohyun froze.

Sunny immediately noticed her stricken expression. “Seohyun? What’s wrong?”

“Unnie,” Seohyun managed, her voice suddenly hoarse. “Can we…go back?”

“Of course.” Sunny leapt up and brushed off her pants before holding out her hand. “Come on, let’s go.”

Seohyun wordlessly clambered onto the motorcycle behind Sunny, hugging the other girl tightly and telling herself not to look behind them. Because she already knew the shadow would be there, drawing closer, closer…

Sunny suddenly let out a whoop as she turned the ignition. The motorcycle’s headlight flickered on and Sunny stepped on the gas, accelerating so fast that Seohyun was sure both of them were actually bumped into the air briefly. But Sunny kept a sturdy hold on the handlebars and Seohyun had Sunny’s waist in a death grip. The two sped towards the city, the stars along for the ride.

Seohyun squeezed her eyes shut, not taking the chance to admire the different neon flashing lights as they entered the outskirts. The city at night was a different being altogether: sirens in the distance, the shouts echoing from the open doors of bars, the sounds of glass breaking and the tires of Sunny’s motorcycle leaving rubber tracks behind.

Seohyun felt Sunny shift, turning to look behind them, and it made her want to bury her face into the other’s shoulder. As if her not being able to see would mean Sunny couldn’t, either.

Sunny said nothing, but Seohyun felt her turn back around and accelerate again.

Did she see?

“Unnie,” Seohyun finally said, “you shouldn’t be speeding.”

“We’ll worry about that if I get caught,” Sunny replied lightly. “Right now, I’m going really fast, and I think that’s how we can help you, yeah?”

Seohyun heard her voice tremble just the slightest bit. “Unnie…you saw?”

“When we were talking about things we were running from, I didn’t expect yours to be quite so…substantial,” Sunny answered grimly. “What in the world is that?”

“I don’t know,” Seohyun quietly admitted. “I’m afraid, unnie.”

“That’s okay,” Sunny said, making a hard right and almost throwing the both of them off the motorcycle. “It’s okay to be scared, Seohyun. As long as you don’t let it paralyze you, okay? You gotta keep going. Use your fear to make your legs run faster.”

Seohyun couldn’t stop herself from chuckling, no matter how weak it sounded. “You’re doing all the driving right now, though, unnie.”

“Oh, you’re right,” Sunny agreed. “So give me lots of moral support, okay?”

“Okay.”

Seohyun opened her eyes then, to chance a glance behind them. The shadow was a few blocks away, slipping through the street soundlessly. It passed through lamps and pools of light from store windows, never engulfing the brightness. Instead, it made the already shadowy spots even darker: difficult to make out unless you knew what you were looking for.

Seohyun wondered how Sunny had managed to see it.

“Alright, I think I have an idea,” Sunny announced as she turned right another time. “It involves continuing to speed and possibly going the opposite way on several one way streets, so help me keep an eye out for cops, would you?”

Unnie,” Seohyun couldn’t help reprimanding even as she strained her ears for those far off sirens.

“Yeah, I know I said I wasn’t into that ‘bad girl’ stuff,” Sunny chuckled. “But I’d break a few rules just so we could stop running for a bit, you know?”

Seohyun peeked over her shoulder and eyed the motorcycle’s dashboard. “I just hope you have enough fuel for it.”

“You think your friend would let us take a break and get some gas?” Sunny asked brightly, and then swerved right, causing Seohyun to choke instead of reply. “Whoops, sorry.”

“I’ll just…sit here,” Seohyun decided.

“Good idea,” Sunny chuckled. “I’ll try to warn you before I—now!”

Seohyun flinched as Sunny made another right turn. She didn’t realize how hard she’d been squeezing until Sunny made a strangled sound. “Seohyun…I can’t drive if you’re suffocating me to death.”

“Oh. Sorry.” But Seohyun only loosened her hold by a fraction.

The minutes ticked by slowly, tensely, and Seohyun would glance back ever so often to make sure authorities weren’t on their tail—she already knew the shadow would be. They’d passed the LEE CORPORATIONS tower for the second time before Seohyun realized what Sunny was doing. “Unnie…are we going in circles?”

“I gave what you said some thought,” Sunny replied. “I think it can be applied to more than one situation now, don’t you think?”

“I…” Seohyun didn’t know what to say. Unnie, this shadow has been chasing me ever since I left my room six worlds ago. Is beating it in a race really the best idea? But then Sunny would reply with something like, Do you have any better ones? And they both already knew the answer to that.

Luck must have been on their side, because the streets stayed surprisingly silent, any sirens starting up always from the other side of town. It was just Seohyun and Sunny and the shadow, going in circle after circle around the entire city. They slowly began drawing farther and farther ahead, until Seohyun couldn’t see the encroaching darkness whenever she glanced behind them.

“Halfway there,” Sunny muttered as they passed LEE CORPORATIONS for the fifth time.

“Wouldn’t it be easier,” Seohyun ventured, “if we made smaller circles?”

“I like the way you think,” Sunny laughed, lifting a hand to knock a fist against Seohyun’s helmet. “But you know the more in the center of the city we are, the more people there are, right? No one’s gotten hurt yet, but I’m not gonna be the cause of it if something does happen.”

“I understand.” Seohyun settled herself more firmly in the motorcycle seat. “Drive faster, unnie.”

“You got it!”

Five laps later, something else occurred to Seohyun. “Unnie…what if it realizes that we’re now following it? What if it just turns around and starts chasing us again?”

“Then we’ve got a long night ahead of us.” She heard the grin in Sunny’s voice. “But I think my problem is more similar to yours than you realize, Seohyun. So I doubt we have to worry about it having more than a one-track mind, if it has a mind at all.”

It seemed that Sunny was right; soon enough, they saw the shadow slinking along the street ahead of them. “Alright, let’s finish this,” Sunny murmured, accelerating once more. Seohyun watched the arrow on the fuel meter drop even lower, millimeters from the very bottom.

“Here we go!” Sunny yelled, barreling down the road. Her front tire rolled into the darkened patch, and then Sunny’s half of the motorcycle was over it. Finally, Seohyun and the back tire drove into the shadow.

Immediately, the street lamps winked out. The “CLOSED” and “OPEN” signs of the nearby stores blinked into darkness. The glowing “LEE CORPORATIONS” letters overhead faded away. The world turned pitch black.

Seohyun felt as if she was floating, her arms still in a circle but wrapped around open air, the seat under her no longer warm from the heat of the motorcycle but cold because of the nothingness now in its place. Seohyun didn’t know what she had been expecting: a slithery voice whispering devilish propositions in her ears, a rumbling growl that threatened to rattle her bones, or maybe constant maniacal laughter that would make her grind her teeth to dust.

Anything but this silence.

She’d closed her eyes when they’d entered, but now she couldn’t tell if she’d opened them, because it was all the same. The darkness was total, the dead quiet complete.

She felt the heart in her chest begin to thump erratically. Her breathing became shallow, bordering on hyperventilating. She couldn’t hear anything over her body’s own panic signals.

“Seohyun…”

Her thoughts came in flashes: Sooyoung’s plane crashing—Yuri engulfed in flames—Hyoyeon performing CPR—count to thirty, Seohyun, yes, just like that—

“Seohyun!”

First, only Sunny’s voice. She latched onto it, the inflections of her name on Sunny’s tongue echoing in the dreadful emptiness.

“Seohyun, are you there?”

Then Seohyun felt the warmth return to her arms, felt Sunny’s waist reappear. The hum of the motorcycle crashed victoriously in her ears. When she finally dared open her eyes, the lights of the city (and the stars above, glowing ever so faintly) shined back at her.

She hugged Sunny so hard she didn’t care if it did suffocate the other girl.

“We did it,” Sunny agreed, letting out a strained laugh as her motorcycle shuddered to a stop. “And just in time, too.”

Seohyun turned around, but the only thing behind them was an empty road, the street lamps casting shadows that weren’t very dark at all. She slid off the motorcycle and pulled Sunny into a proper hug. “Thank you so much, unnie.”

Sunny embraced her with just as much strength, rubbing her back soothingly. “No problem, Seohyun. And thanks to you, I think I can keep running. Even after I’m out of gas.”

“Only until you feel like you don’t need to run anymore,” Seohyun murmured. “It’s good to stop and look at the stars once in a while, right?”

“Right.” Sunny chuckled. Then her hand on Seohyun’s back paused. “What in the world…”

Seohyun could see the bright light of the portal from the corner of her eye and knew it had formed behind her. But she squeezed her eyes shut again and hugged Sunny even tighter. “Don’t worry about it, unnie. It’s telling me that I need to go, but I want to stay here just a little longer.”

Sunny hesitated for only a moment before she returned to rubbing comforting circles. “Alright, Seohyun. You can stay as long as you want.”

And Seohyun savored, for a few more precious moments, what it meant to be still.