So Let Them Watch – My oh My

May 31, 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 heartbeat.

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.

Introducing Yuri:Everything has disappeared into thin air…[because] I burned it all.

It hurt.

She wasn’t supposed to hurt, because hurt came from nerves and she wasn’t supposed to have those. But how else was she to describe this thing that she was distinctly feeling, a sharpness that lanced up her arm and back down again whenever she so much as bent her elbow? It had happened on Sooyoung’s plane, too, but that pain had gone away soon after the bewildered flight attendant had opened the bathroom door.

She peered down in the darkness as the throbbing in her arm lessened. Thoughts about Sooyoung and the struggling plane swirled in her head. Had they managed to right themselves once she’d jumped through the portal? Or most likely, they had fallen—

Seohyun shook her head. No. They’re fine.

Her pale skin almost glowing against the otherwise lack of light. Somewhat smudged with dirt, perhaps, but her arm seemed okay. Then she tried to lift it up, and another spear of pain shot up to her shoulder.

Seohyun froze and winced. She waited until the latest bout of internal stabbing faded away before very carefully getting on her feet. One glance around didn’t tell her much. It was still dark, although she reasoned that there had to be light coming from somewhere; her arm couldn’t glow by itself.

Her steps echoed as she headed to her left, tilting her chin up to squint at the slits of moonlight shining back down at her. Although maybe she shouldn’t assume that it was the moon—just because she has been on what seemed to be Earth the last two times…

This entire journey is something straight out of a scifi novel.

She hesitated before ducking into a hallway, the low ceiling almost making her crouch. There was a yellow glow coming from the other end, stronger than the moon but not as harsh as the portal she’d dropped from. Her left hand gripped the wrist of her injured arm, trying to keep it from swaying as much as possible.

A strong wave of something washed over her as she stepped gingerly into the room. The scent prickled her nose and settled in her throat, the strength of it almost making her gag. She coughed, noting movement out of the corner of her eye. “H…hello?”

The shadow moved again. A woman emerged into the glow Seohyun now saw was coming from a lightbulb encased in frosted glass and mounted above. The stranger regarded her with a wary expression. “How did you get down here?”

“Down here?” Seohyun repeated, forcing the words out over the sting in her nostrils. “I…fell.” She seemed to be using that explanation quite often. But it was the truth, if not a very descriptive one.

The other’s frown deepened slightly. “Fell? From where?” She walked forward briskly and gripped Seohyun’s bad arm, her hold firm but not forceful. She started to tug Seohyun along, but stopped when a wince flashed across the latter’s features. “You’re hurt.”

“I probably just…sprained…twisted…or something…” Seohyun mumbled, unsure not because of a lack of vocabulary (she knew more than enough about human injuries and how they might be caused) but because she wasn’t sure what she had (because she wasn’t one).

The woman said nothing. Just nodded and then began waving her hands. Seohyun watched, baffled, until the other finally stopped. “There we go.” She tugged again at Seohyun’s arm. “Show me where you fell from.”

Seohyun didn’t move. She stared at her wrist, which the woman was now holding. “It’s…it doesn’t hurt.”

“No, it shouldn’t. But I didn’t heal it or anything,” the woman replied. “You’ll still have to see a doctor to get it fixed properly. I just made you think it’s all better.”

“Made me…think?”

“Right.” The woman suddenly smiled and winked. “That’s what magicians do, yeah? Make illusions. Mirages. Magic. All a trick of the human mind.” She wiggled her eyebrows. “Now, mind showing me where you pulled off that little trick of yours, please?”

“Magician.” Seohyun blinked as they walked. The human mind…I am…am I…

“Here?” The magician asked, sounding incredulous as she peered upwards at the thin cracks above. The light streaming through was so little she didn’t even need to squint against it. “You’re skinny, but there’s no way you can fit through that.”

“I…came through something different,” Seohyun explained hesitantly. “It’s not there anymore.”

“Not there anymore?” The magician repeated, eyebrows raised. “How’d you get rid of it?”

Seohyun shrugged. “I don’t know. It comes and goes.”

The other peered at her, leaning close. “You’re not some sort of magician too, are you?”

“No.” Seohyun shook her head vigorously. “No, I’m just a—”

“I’m Yuri,” Yuri interrupted with a grin, patting Seohyun on the back. “Unnie to you, I’m thinking.”

“Unnie,” Seohyun said, shoulders immediately relaxing with the word. “I’m Seohyun. Um, can I ask…where are we?”

“My basement,” Yuri replied with a smile. “I’m preparing for my next show. No one was supposed to come down until then, but since you made it here, I guess you get a special sneak peek.” She grabbed Seohyun’s hand—the one Seohyun didn’t think hurt anymore—and headed back down the hallway they’d come from.

“Sit here,” Yuri told Seohyun, pulling a chair from against the wall to settle in the center of the room, right under the single light. Seohyun did, squinting in the shadows to see what else might be hiding, but Yuri didn’t give her the chance. “You like hats, Seohyun?”

Seohyun started when Yuri suddenly appeared in front of her. “Hats? Uh…”

“No?” Yuri had already whipped a top hat out from nowhere. She flipped it so she could reach inside. Then she pulled out a small white rabbit crouched in the palm of her hand. “How about bunnies?”

“I—” Seohyun’s eyes widened when Yuri dropped the animal into her lap and then plopped the hat on her head, pulling the brim down to her nose.

“Hold her for me, please.”

Seohyun managed to scoop the rabbit against her stomach with one hand while the other readjusted the hat so she could see again. Cute, she thought as the rabbit blinked at her, twitching its nose as it settled comfortably in her hold. So warm…

“Lady and…gentlerabbit,” Yuri announced with a flap of a cape she was now holding. Seohyun looked up just as the magician wrapped the red cloth around herself, looking like the main character of the Dracula novel, or perhaps a crimson egg roll. “Welcome to the show.” Yuri whipped the cape free, spinning as it came undone. The cape crumpled to the ground.

Yuri was nowhere to be seen.

“Where’d she go?” Seohyun whispered, absentmindedly stroking the rabbit between its velvety ears. She glanced to both sides, squinting into the darkness.

“Looking for me?” Yuri asked brightly from behind them. Seohyun turned to look, but a sudden flash of movement caused her to face forward again, where Yuri was now standing and grinning. Two clay garden pots sat at her feet. “Would you say you have a green thumb, Seohyun?”

Seohyun knew what “green thumb” actually meant, but that didn’t stop her from looking down at her hands anyway, just to check the color and make sure Yuri hadn’t changed them while she wasn’t looking. The rabbit was thankfully still white. “I don’t think I’ve ever tried gardening, to be honest.”

“First time for everything,” Yuri encouraged. “Now put Soonkyu down—she won’t be going anywhere. You’re gonna help me plant some trees.”

“Soonkyu,” Seohyun repeated, for some reason suddenly regarding the rabbit with a new sense of love and familiarity. She gently placed the rabbit down on the seat cushion, where it settled itself with another twitch of its nose. Then Seohyun walked over to stand in front of Yuri. “What do you need me to do, unnie?”

Yuri’s smile widened slightly before she took one of Seohyun’s hands. “Hey, I can tell you’re gonna be a natural already. So why don’t we have a race? See who can grow a tree the fastest.”

Seohyun blinked. “Grow…the fastest? But don’t trees take years and years? Decades to reach adulthood?”

“Oh come on, Seohyun,” Yuri laughed, reaching out to ruffle the other’s hair. “This is magic. Have some fun. Trust me, okay? On the count of three, just hold the edge of the pot like this.” She crouched in front of one of the garden pots and gripped it firmly with both hands. “And think leafy thoughts. Ready?”

“…Okay.” Seohyun followed suit, feeling the coolness of the smooth clay under her fingers. “Leafy thoughts,” she repeated somewhat dubiously.

“Exactly!” Yuri grinned. “Here we go. One, two, three!”

Seohyun remembered the glossy pictures of forests in her textbooks. The trees lining the sidewalks of Yoona’s town, and the giant one in the square that Yoona’s band had performed under. She saw again the tops of so many trees as she stared out the airplane window, Sooyoung’s flight attendant voice drifting out of the speakers and into her ears. The palm trees lining the L.A. streets while the smell of Sooyoung’s favorite pizza invaded her nostrils.

“What’d I tell you?” Yuri laughed, snapping Seohyun out of her thoughts. “Seems like it’s not just your thumb that’s green—it’s your entire hand!”

Seohyun suddenly jerked back when she realized something dark and rough stood millimeters from her nose. She let go of the pot and landed on her bottom, the pain not even registering as she craned her neck upward, following the trunk now growing from the pot and almost brushing the light on the ceiling. Branches sprouted from the trunk, full of lush green leaves that quivered slightly in the draft of the room.

“Unnie, you’re amazing,” Seohyun breathed as she turned to look at Yuri’s tree, equally as tall and impressive. “How did you do that?”

“What’d I tell you? Magic.” Yuri winked before leaning closer to examine the trunk of her tree. “This is my crowning achievement. My closing act, if you will. So it has to be perfect.” She scraped a bit of the bark off with her fingernail and examined it, rubbing the particles between her fingers. She paused. Sniffed at the bark dust now coating her fingertip, and whispered, “But it’s not. Perfect.”

“It looks incredible to me, unnie,” Seohyun assured her. “I can tell you’ve worked hard on it.”

Yuri wiped her hand on her pants, expression suddenly darkening. The change made Seohyun’s stomach feel cold. “Working hard is nothing if the end product isn’t up to par in the end.” She let out a frustrated growl. “I’ve had it.” The hand that had been in her pocket now slipped out, something shiny clenched in her fist. She flicked her thumb and a flame appeared.

“Unnie—” Seohyun shouted, alarmed. She scrambled to her feet and dashed towards the chair. She reached it, crouching protectively over the seat just as Yuri’s tree caught on fire, the entire trunk going up in a fiery column. Seohyun felt the heat at her back as she looked down. Soonkyu the frightened rabbit stared up at her, curled into the smallest ball possible, eyes glittering with terror.

The smell hit Seohyun like a sledgehammer. She inhaled sharply on reflex, then gagged as the familiar prickling sensation stung her throat.

Smoke.

“Unnie, stop, please,” Seohyun begged, scooping Soonkyu up and turning around to face the fire. Her tree had caught the flames too, now, leaving Yuri standing between two burning pillars, not even flinching as a glowing branch landed centimeters from her feet.

“I can’t stop,” Yuri muttered, staring as her masterpieces disintegrated into hot ash. “It has to be perfect.”

Seohyun coughed, her chest now burning. “Please, unnie, let’s go upstairs. Get some fresh air.”

Yuri’s chuckle fell hard on her ears. “Upstairs? Upstairs looks just like this, Seohyun. Only my basement seems perfect enough to withstand anything I throw at it.”

Upstairs… Seohyun raised her free arm to cover her face. So the cracks through which the moonlight had been slipping through were spaces between charred floorboards, now exposed to the elements because the house above them had been burned to the ground.

The heat in the room made the air shimmer, but Seohyun squinted to try and get a good look at the magician. So quickly had the atmosphere changed: Yuri who laughed and took the hurt away and effortlessly became her unnie, now glowered and wielded a lighter to burn away imperfections and looked, without a doubt,

broken.

“Stay here,” Seohyun whispered to Soonkyu, setting the rabbit back down on the chair. She stroked its back until its eyes drooped and its tiny body stopped shaking so much. Then she stumbled towards the wall on her right, the glint of something orange, like the fire, catching her eye.

The object turned out to be as tall as she was, and only just a little wider. Luckily, it was light, so she picked it up and made her way slowly back to the center of the room. As she got closer, the heat seared her face, the smoke stifled her breath. But she pushed doggedly on, finally planting one end of the object in the ground in front of Yuri. Still holding it on either side to keep it in place, Seohyun went around to stand beside the magician. The magician who was too hard on herself even as she saw the best in other people. “Unnie, what do you see?”

Yuri’s gaze flickered to the mirror.

“Right here,” Seohyun insisted, pointing at her own reflection. “What do you see, unnie?” What do you see in me?

“Scared,” Yuri said, voice cracking. The expression was written all over the face. “Uncertainty…failure is so close. So much closer than anything else.”

“And?” Seohyun prompted, trying to speak steadily in the face of everything Yuri had just pointed out. “Tell me everything that you see, unnie. Everything.”

Yuri looked at her mouth, lips pursed, tight with… “determination,” she said slowly. “Not going to give up.” Dark eyes, reflecting the flames, but also something that burned, deeper. “Will to succeed. We can do it. I…I can…”

“Yes, unnie,” Seohyun agreed, tone soft as she stepped out of the frame but kept her finger on the mirror, shifting just slightly so that she was now pointing at Yuri’s reflection. You’re the same as me. Yuri’s gaze didn’t move, though. Seohyun suppressed a smile, because that meant Yuri had been describing herself all along. “Unnie, you know what I see?”

Yuri remained unmoving, unblinking. But she was listening, Seohyun knew.

“Perfection,” Seohyun whispered.

A hiss suddenly filled the air, and seconds later the two were drenched with the water spraying from above. The fires sputtered to a stop soon after, leaving blackened stumps barely taller than Seohyun.

Yuri shook her head, wiping the wet hair out of her face with one hand. “Who…the sprinklers have to be turned on manually.”

Seohyun stared at the wall to their left, where she could see that the handle labeled “EMERGENCY SPRINKLER” had been pulled down. Below it sat a little white ball of fluff, nose twitching innocently.

Yuri stared, and then laughed. “Soonkyu…no. No, there’s no way. She would’ve had to jump at least a meter straight up.”

Seohyun smiled, grabbing the magician’s hand. “Unnie, I think you’re not the only one here with a little bit of magic.”

Yuri shook her head. “You don’t get it, do you, Seohyun? There isn’t such a thing as real ‘magic’. It’s all tricks, illusions, behind-the-scenes secrets that can be perfected given enough time.”

“I don’t know, unnie,” Seohyun replied thoughtfully, intertwining their fingers. “I think, if anything, Soonkyu learned from the best.”

Yuri paused, then nodded. She met Seohyun’s gaze, expression just as contemplative. “That she did, Seohyun.

That she did.”

Seohyun withdrew from the curtains, pulling them closed once more. “Unnie,” she hissed, “there’s like…a hundred people out there!”

“My comeback has been long awaited, you know,” Yuri laughed, adjusting the top hat on her head and straightening her suit. “Did you really expect anything less?”

Seohyun fiddled with the edge of the black skirt Yuri had given her. “I just…haven’t been in front of that many people before.” Even at Yoona’s impromptu outdoor concert, she’d been part of a crowd of no more than fifty. This was twice the number, and all of them looking at her. Or at least, in her direction.

“You’ll be fine,” Yuri assured her with a warm pat on the back. “Their eyes will be on me, anyway. Oh, and my partner-in-crime, of course.” She tapped her hat, and Seohyun imagined that she could see through the cloth into the secret compartment Soonkyu was currently snuggled in.

Yuri winked. “But we do need our lovely assistant, and she wouldn’t be of much use to us frozen or fainted onstage, right?”

“Right,” Seohyun managed to laugh, a smile finally making its way to her lips. “Let’s have fun, unnie.”

“Now that’s what I like to hear.” Yuri walked forward and gripped one edge of the curtain. “Alright…it’s showtime!”

Seohyun really shouldn’t have worried. The roar of the crowd was as invigorating as the thunder of their applause after every act. She felt an excitement in her chest and a fluttering in her stomach that made her almost lightheaded, but in a way that resulted in grins and a sharp focus even she was unused to on a regular basis. And all too soon, Yuri was saying the magic words:

“And now, for our final act.”

Seohyun crouched in front of her garden pot, already thinking her leafy thoughts. Yuri had never told her how any of the tricks worked, and what little Seohyun had learned was from observation or curiosity that led her to sneaking around Yuri’s props whenever the other wasn’t looking. But the tree-growing remained a mystery, and Seohyun was glad of that—it made the magic seem that much more real.

The crowd ooh-ed and aah-ed as the trees extended their last branches. With a flick of Yuri’s hand, a spiral of flames suddenly twirled down the trunks, earning gasps from the audience. Strangely enough, however, the fire didn’t seem to be burning the wood at all.

Yuri, hands on hips, turned to Seohyun. “So, my dear Seohyun, do you suppose we should call the fire department?”

Seohyun grinned, the spotlights shining down on them making it hard for her to see anything besides Yuri’s encouraging smile. “I think she’s already here.”

“Look! The bunny!” A boy from somewhere in the crowd shouted.

Sure enough, Soonkyu emerged from the top of Seohyun’s tree. And as soon as the rabbit’s ears perked up, the flames disappeared with a whoosh, leaving nothing but the pleasant scent of a campfire in its wake.

Everyone cheered as Soonkyu leaped to Yuri’s tree, effortless extinguishing the flames there as well. Yuri grabbed Seohyun’s hand, and as soon as the rabbit hopped down and landed safely on top of Yuri’s hat, they bowed ninety degrees.

“Thank you for coming!” Yuri shouted, waving as she turned to Seohyun. “Let’s not forget the lovely—” she stopped, staring at something behind Seohyun’s shoulder.

Seohyun turned to look, though she already knew it would be the portal before the white light nearly blinded her. She turned back to Yuri and smiled apologetically. “So…that’s how I got here. And I think I have to leave now, unnie.”

Yuri didn’t miss a beat, throwing an arm around Seohyun’s shoulder and grinning at the audience. “Let’s say goodbye to Seohyun, now. She only leaves in style, as you can see.”

The crowd shouted their farewells, and Yuri leaned in close, still smiling. Her lips didn’t move as she whispered, “Goodbye, Seohyun. Unnie thanks you for everything. And I dare you to say now that you aren’t the least bit magical.”

Seohyun chuckled. “Okay, unnie. And thank you,” she said, throwing both arms around Yuri and pulling her close. She laughed as Yuri yelped, and Soonkyu scrambled over the edge of the top hat so Seohyun could kiss her on the top of her fluffy head. “Goodbye,” Seohyun said in a louder tone, her voice echoing, reaching the farthest corners. She gave a last cheerful wave before jogging into the portal.

She looked back, her last sight of the magician standing in a room without shadows warming her more pleasantly and thoroughly than any fire ever could.