So Let Them Watch – PAPARAZZI

June 14, 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.

Introducing Tiffany:I’ll give you the smile you want.

“Hey, here’s an idea.” Hyoyeon snapped her fingers. “Go with Tiffany-unnie for the day!”

Tiffany raised her eyebrows. “Are you sure? My job isn’t the most exciting thing in the world.”

“What? I think Seohyun would have a great time being a maid.” Hyoyeon grinned.

Seohyun examined Tiffany as unobtrusively as she could, wondering exactly how a pink jacket and blue jeans translated into the black-and-white maid outfits she’d read about.

Please stop calling it that,” Tiffany groaned, rolling her eyes. “Just because I do a lot of glorified cleaning and…” she trailed off and turned to Seohyun. “You know what, I think you should come with me. You’ve spent long enough with this bad influence here.”

Hyoyeon waved helpfully.

Seohyun smiled. “If you truly don’t mind, unnie, I’d love to.”

“Well, that’s that.” Tiffany grabbed Seohyun’s hand and practically dragged her out the door, muttering darkly about Hyoyeon spreading unnecessary rumors.

“Bye Seohyun! Have fun!” Hyoyeon cheerfully called after them. “Try not to slip on a mop and hurt yourself. Oh, and watch your wrist! Just because I run a charity doesn’t mean I want to keep giving you treatment!”

The theater Tiffany worked in was by far the largest building Seohyun had ever been in—barring the airport, perhaps, but she didn’t think that should really count. It was an older structure, the kind that echoed softly inside wherever you took a step. Tiffany explained that the acoustics were so good, the performers never needed microphones. “One less thing for the tech crew to worry about, and that’s an infinite blessing, if you hear them have anything to say about it.”

Tiffany’s “maid” duties, as dubbed by Hyoyeon, turned out to be more than just keeping the theater clean. Not that Seohyun found out about this right away, because as soon as they stopped backstage, Tiffany handed her a pair of pink rubber gloves and explained that there were floors that needed scrubbing.

Seohyun didn’t mind the work, and even less so because Tiffany was there to keep her company. The latter was nothing short of entertaining, even describing many hilarious situations that Hyoyeon had gotten herself into over the course of their friendship.

“One time,” Tiffany was saying, “we volunteered to be mentors for troubled adolescents. Hyoyeon’s kid apparently texted too much and paid nothing else any attention, so Hyoyeon told her partner, ‘let’s show him how it feels.’ And those two just walked into the room one day, sat down, and started texting each other. The poor boy was so confused!”

“But did he pay attention to them after that?” Seohyun asked, wringing out her sponge into the bucket between them.

“Hm?” Tiffany was scrubbing at a particularly resilient spot on the hardwood they were kneeling on.

“Did he learn his lesson?” Seohyun rephrased.

“Oh, of course.” Tiffany sat back and blew a stray strand of hair from her face. “Hyoyeon’s a great teacher, you know.”

Seohyun nodded in agreement.

“Hey, don’t forget behind stage eight,” someone yelled at them as he walked by.

“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Tiffany called back, pleasantly enough, although there was an edge to her voice.

“Wow,” was all Seohyun could say, startled by the sudden intrusion.

“Yeah,” Tiffany snorted. Seohyun hesitated, then pulled off a glove to gingerly pat her shoulder. Tiffany glanced over and immediately brightened, even flashing a smile. “Don’t worry about it. Idiots will be idiots.”

After stage eight, someone else asked (in a much nicer way, Seohyun decided) for them to check the lighting for the eastern balcony of stage five. Tiffany responded cheerfully, and Seohyun pondered the fact that Hyoyeon’s friend seemed to be an electrician as well, among many other things.

And so the day went. After one task was done, someone new was always ready with another. Seohyun learned about wiring and pit orchestra formations and bathroom disinfectants, and shuffled through so many scripts, she was surprised she didn’t get any paper cuts (Tiffany, on the other hand, already had bandages wrapped around several of her fingers).They met people short and tall, snappy and accommodating, “do this now!” and “oh, if you have the time, this would be lovely”. Tiffany handled them all with practiced ease, and always with a smile. Although Seohyun was getting better at telling what was behind each slightly different grin.

“Hey, Manager Hwang!” A girl jogged up to them just as they finished repairing the pulley that operated the stage curtains (Seohyun had just learned how to tie three or four different kinds of knots).

Tiffany rolled her eyes, although her tone was devoid of irritation. “For the last time, Nicole, keep calling me that and the wrong people will hear. Then the next thing you know, I’ll be out on the streets and out of a job.”

“You’d think people who act for a living would know to let loose a little.” Nicole wrinkled her nose. “Anyway, have you heard about some creep sneaking around taking pictures of everything?”

Tiffany frowned. “What, some reporter got in for a sneak peak?”

Nicole shrugged. “Nobody knows, just that someone is doing it. Figured you might be able to stop it.”

“Sure, I’ll try.” Tiffany nodded. “Any idea where they were last?”

“Someone saw camera flashes from behind stage one.” Nicole motioned vaguely over her shoulder. “That was the most recent; otherwise the guy’s been all over.”

“Alright then.” Tiffany rolled up her sleeves and shot a grin at Seohyun. “Ready to do some detective work?”

It’s only noon, Seohyun marveled silently. I don’t think I’ve ever been this productive.

When they entered the stage one auditorium, Tiffany swore under her breath. Seohyun peered over the other’s shoulder, but could only make out a man with a headset directing several people onstage. Oh, but he’s that guy who yelled at us about cleaning stage eight earlier…

Before she realized it, Seohyun was watching Tiffany march up to the rather demanding man. She waited until he’d lowered his arm (previously pointing from one unfortunate soul to another) before she tapped him on the shoulder. He turned with a scowl and she countered with a bright, “hey!” (Although the way her eye twitched didn’t go unnoticed by Seohyun.)

“What do you want?”

Tiffany blinked a few times, as if each bat of her eyelids deflected a little bit of his bad temper. “I was told there were some disturbances recently. Someone’s taking photos when they weren’t supposed to?”

“Oh yeah. That.” His expression got even darker, which Seohyun hadn’t thought possible. “As if my actors need the added stress of some stalker watching them as they work. You better find the guy soon, you hear?”

“On it.” Tiffany winked and gave him a mock salute before backpedaling off stage, almost bumping into Seohyun. “Whoops, sorry!”

“I’m fine, unnie,” Seohyun assured her. “But he wasn’t very helpful, was he?”

Tiffany waved her hand nonchalantly. “Oh, don’t mind him. I’m just glad he was in a good mood today.” She only let Seohyun gape for a few seconds at the unexpected statement before she motioned her over to a small huddle in the seats. “Come on, we’ve got some more people to ask.”

The answers they received came almost at once:

“Oh yeah, I thought I saw a flash while I was going through my lines, up on the western balcony.”

“I’m pretty sure I saw something bright go off in the wings like half an hour ago.”

“Yeah, and later while I was going to the dressing room I almost bumped into someone. They were all hunched over and in a hurry so I dunno—kinda suspicious, don’t you think?”

“That last one seemed like a clue,” Seohyun commented as they made their way backstage. “Are we heading to the dressing rooms now?”

“Yes, but not because of that,” Tiffany chuckled. “The play these guys are putting on is ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, so having some guy running around bent over isn’t actually a big tip-off, now is it? They mean well, of course, but sometimes performers want drama a little too much, if you ask me.”

“You’d make a great actress though, unnie,” Seohyun piped up.

“What?” Tiffany shot her a dubious glance as she opened the dressing room door.

Seohyun shrugged, the grumpy play director immediately coming to mind. “You’re pretty great at acting like you can tolerate people you actually find very distasteful.”

“Oh, that?” Tiffany laughed as she pulled back a curtain of a dressing stall. She peered inside for a couple seconds before ducking back out. “That’s not acting, Seohyun. I really am tolerating them. I respect that something might have happened to make them particularly nasty, whether it was just a bad morning or maybe some significant event earlier in their life. We all have our off days, sometimes even off years, but I trust that they’ll hold themselves accountable for it, so I won’t need to.”

Seohyun blinked, absorbing what Tiffany had just said. “That’s really nice of you, unnie.”

Tiffany shook her head, a wry smile on her face. “It’s not like I’m a saint, either. But I can’t handle being something that I’m not; hence I’m back here, instead of out there.” She bowed to a couple women sitting in front of a long mirror. “Pardon me, but do you mind if I ask you a quick question?”

As much as she was enjoying the detective work, Seohyun let herself zone out of the ensuing conversation. Instead, she focused on the expressions, the body language. The inflections in tone, the smiles. For all of Tiffany’s eloquence, she was just as able to communicate nonverbally—and maybe even better than she ever could with words. Now, Seohyun could clearly see how much Tiffany cared for those around her. She didn’t know if these two women were Tiffany’s prior acquaintances or if they’d never seen her before in their lives, but it didn’t matter; Tiffany cared for them all the same.

Seohyun wondered how big Tiffany’s heart had to be in order to fit the entire world inside—some of its inhabitants kicking and screaming all the while.

“Well, I think that about wraps things up,” Tiffany announced as they left the dressing room.

Seohyun raised her eyebrows. “Already?” She hadn’t been paying attention, but the two actresses Tiffany had just interviewed hadn’t seemed like they knew the crucial piece of evidence needed to track down the mysterious photographer.

“I’ve got my theories,” Tiffany amended. “But now all we have to do is catch the guy. I don’t think he’s gone very far, though.”

“Unnie,” Seohyun said softly, now feeling a little apprehensive. “You’re sure we shouldn’t…call security, or something?”

Tiffany laughed and patted her head. “No worries, Seohyun. We’ll be more than enough to handle the likes of him.”

Seohyun didn’t know where Tiffany was getting the confidence, but the older girl’s assurances were more than enough to help her relax. Tiffany now led them through some hallways that connected the backstages of different auditoriums in the theater. The space wasn’t very big, and with plenty of people bustling back and forth, Seohyun shrunk as far into the wall as possible, hugging her injured arm in an effort to avoid it getting jostled.

They popped in behind several stages, but Tiffany never seemed to be able to find what she was looking for, because they were back in the hallways after a quick once-over. She also didn’t seem to find it necessary to ask anyone else about what they might’ve seen, so Seohyun was left to try and puzzle out what Tiffany’s theory could possibly be.

“Oh, this is interesting,” Tiffany commented as they past the door to stage seven. “The light’s on, but no one’s due to be rehearsing for another couple hours.” She twisted the knob and peeked inside.

FLASH!

Seohyun squeezed her eyes shut and jumped back reflexively, her back hitting the wall behind her. Tiffany, however, seemed unfazed. “Hey there! Having fun, I see?”

Seohyun slowly cracked one eye open, confused by the higher-pitched tone Tiffany’s voice had taken. The door to stage seven was now wide open, and just beyond the threshold, Tiffany was crouching, smiling brightly at a toddler with a polaroid camera in one hand. His other was in his mouth, his teeth worrying at his tiny fingernails.

“You’ve been causing a bit of trouble, you know,” Tiffany informed him solemnly, although the smile never left her face. “What’s your name? I’m Tiffany.”

“Kyungsan,” the boy mumbled around his fingers.

“Ah, that’s a wonderful name.” Tiffany nodded. “So, who brought you here today? Mom? Dad?” She shifted one hand behind her back to subtly beckon Seohyun closer.

“Mom is working,” Kyungsan said glumly.

“Oh, that’s too bad,” Tiffany agreed, sympathetic. She turned to look at Seohyun. “Tell you what. Seohyun-noona here will keep you company until your mom gets back, okay?”

“What?” Seohyun’s eyes widened, alarmed. “Unnie, I don’t think I can—” I’m not even—

“Of course you can,” Tiffany interrupted, grin widening. “Kyungsan and Seohyun are gonna have a great time, I can already tell.” She winked. “I’m gonna find his mom. Just stay here until then, alright?”

Seohyun stared helplessly at the empty doorway, Tiffany’s receding footsteps echoing in her ears. Once they had faded away completely, she turned to Kyungsan, hesitant. “I suppose it’s just you and me now.”

Kyungsan considered her for a moment, and then held out his camera. “Does noona want to look?”

Seohyun, taken aback by his sudden openness, struggled to form a reply. “Um—yes. Yes, I’d love to.”

Only a few minutes later, she and Kyungsan had taken a dozen pictures of themselves and the surrounding props backstage, and he’d even shown her some of the photos from his adventures around the theater that day.

How could Tiffany-unnie have possibly known…But she couldn’t have known about Seohyun’s key; even Hyoyeon had seemed to have forgotten about it the morning after she’d made the half-drunken observation. And yet Tiffany had picked up on her insecurities and known just how to placate them, had known somehow that Kyungsan would take to her right away…

Or, Seohyun thought, suddenly remembering the hasty way Tiffany had left them. The uncertainty in her eyes even as she’d smiled her best to put Kyungsan at ease. Yet the boy had felt nervous with her and not with Seohyun. Maybe it’s because thinking you’re bad with kids and being afraid that you will be are still different, Seohyun decided. Children are supposed to be really intuitive about these things. Like a sixth sense.

Kyungsan ran up to her just then, waving his latest polaroid proudly. And Seohyun couldn’t hold back a smile, both because of the picture (a very close-up view of what might be a pile of clothes, or a paper-mache rock—she wasn’t sure) and because for all of the incredible things Tiffany was capable of—for all the smiles she could use to make someone feel right at home, for all of the faults she was aware of and able to forgive—it was nice to know she could have a weakness as normal as a three-year-old with a gap in his teeth and grass-smeared knees.

“Had fun?” Tiffany asked as they both waved goodbye to Kyungsan, who bid them farewell from the arms of his mother.

“Very much.” Seohyun grinned. “But unnie, next time you should play with him too.”

“Oh, that’s okay. I’m not very good with kids,” Tiffany replied immediately, expression sheepish.

“It’s alright, unnie,” Seohyun said cheerfully. “I’ll continue to believe that one day, you’ll become absolutely wonderful with children, just like you are with adults right now.”

Tiffany chuckled. “As much as I appreciate your faith, Seohyun, I don’t think you’re going to be rewarded for it anytime soon.”

“It’s what I’ve learned from you, though,” Seohyun pointed out. “I mean, besides everything else you’ve taught me today. But I think this is definitely the most important.”

“Oh, really?” Tiffany raised her eyebrows. “If you’d really learned from me, you’d say that you accept that I’m bad with kids, and just focus on what I’m actually good at. Otherwise that would just be too optimistic,” she teased.

Seohyun beamed. “It’s only optimistic if I think that of everything. But I don’t. Only some things, unnie.”

Tiffany sighed, smiling in resignation as she shook her head. “Maybe I ended up learning a thing or two from you, instead, huh?”

“Maybe.” Seohyun shrugged. “Oh, by the way, how did you know it was Kyungsan, unnie? That was your theory, right?”

“Oh, that,” Tiffany laughed. “I really went out on a limb, actually. In the dressing rooms earlier I saw some baby stuff in the stall. This isn’t the first time someone’s kid has been wandering around the theater ’cause their parents are too busy to look after them; explains why no one noticed him before now, too. And then all I had to do to find his mother was to go back to the same dressing room.”

Seohyun shook her head. “Wow, unnie. You’re really amazing, you know that?”

“Oh, stop it, you.” Tiffany started to make a face, but then she paused, narrowing her eyes at something behind Seohyun. “Wait, speak of the devil…is that kid taking pictures again?”

The flash stayed, though, and Seohyun knew why. She automatically bowed ninety degrees. “I don’t have much time to explain, unnie, but that’s my cue to leave. Tell Hyoyeon-unnie I said goodbye as well. I’ll take care of my arm, I promise.”

She yelped when Tiffany pulled her out of her bow and into a tight hug. “You’ve cleaned toilets with me today—no need to be so formal,” the older girl chuckled.

“I really did have fun today, though,” Seohyun laughed. “Cleaning toilets with you will be some of my best memories, I know it.” Tiffany didn’t say anything, but Seohyun heard her smile in the silence, felt it in the way Tiffany’s arms wrapped around her just a little more tightly.

“Alright, Seohyun, take care,” Tiffany mumbled after a pause. “Part of me thinks this is all just some brilliant stage effect you somehow picked up on today.”

Seohyun laughed again, thinking about her exit from Yuri’s magic show. How long ago was that now, really? She stepped back and mirrored Tiffany’s crescent-eyed expression. “Bye, Tiffany-unnie.”

“Bye, Seohyun!” Tiffany continued to wave even after Seohyun’s silhouette had dissolved into the light.

Moments later, a puddle of darkness slipped in after her, much too late to be her shadow. Tiffany shook her head and rubbed her eyes, but by then, Seohyun, the portal, and whatever else had followed (a trick of the mind?) had blinked out of existence.