WARNING: Mild Language, Angst
As 7am rolls around, you make your way back to the practice room. Your muscles from the other day are warm and you feel immensely better after a shower and breakfast. You make your way into the room and take up your normal spot by the electronics. The members trail in one after another and start stretching, chit chatting amongst themselves about schedules, etc. Like you, they’d showered, eaten breakfast and were looking much better than when you saw them an hour ago. You can't help but smile to yourself, not only are you female, but you are older and had bested them. Tong makes his way in, chats with each member, as he heads over to start the music and recorder. You aren’t sure why he's being so nice to you; it seems off from the other day at the meet and greet. Knowing your true identity could not have made that big of difference to him. Could it? Maybe he's bipolar? A smile lights up your face at the thought, to which Tong catches.
“There is something amusing or are you smiling because I am so close?”
You roll your eyes and bent back over to the task of checking email and recording in the log for insights, and other little tidbits that come up while at these practices.
After the music starts, you glance up to watch. You never know how long taping a dance version will take, it depends on sound quality, no dance mistakes or vocal ones. Those were fine when recording the boyfriend version or fan version, the fans expect a certain level of silliness and humanity in those.
This was to be the last practice and filming before schedules took many of them in opposite directions again. Reef, while having been pleasant enough the past few weeks starts acting up, slightly grumpy, definitely no aegyo, and it's becoming noticeable by all.
He's upset and the camera is picking it up in spades. Ae catches it in the mirror and tries to motion for him to smile, perform. Reef ignores him and continues on as if nothing's wrong. When the song ends Tong asks you to stop the music.
Everyone immediately turns on Reef. “Is there a problem we need to discuss? You know we can’t have that while filming, what’s up?”
“I’m tired alright?” he belligerently replies.
Ae is taken back by the informal response. It isn't a shock coming from him but the level of anger is. With a raised eyebrow he goes over and talks to Reef in private. The other members wander around, practice a step or two, try to glance unnoticeably over at the private conversation.
“If you think she’s so great, make her do this. She has to be just as tired as we are or are you afraid of pressing your luck with her? Afraid she’ll discount you and you’ll miss your chance?”
At the last words you look up and over at the pair. Ae and Reef aren’t huddled anymore and the body language was tense and angry throughout the entire group.
“Is there a problem?” you ask timidly; unsure if you want an answer.
“Never princess,” Reef responded; “I was just suggesting that since you are so perfect, you could prove to us lowly male humans, who you really are by doing our song. I mean you worked out more than we did, you haven’t been sleeping much lately, prove to Ae, Tong, and the rest of us that you’re just as human.”
Your eyebrows rise and you slowly stand from your spot on the floor.
“Have I done something to offend you Reef? Would it be better if I went with another group today?” you ask as you turn your gaze to Tong, then over to Ae.
“You haven’t offended me, but my elders keep doing so by comparing us. Settle it for us, do our song, on instrumental, and either show us just how perfect you are or how human since we haven’t released anything you could practice from.”
“No, I won’t have it,” Tong begins and turns to Reef, “Miss Atlantic does not have anything to prove to any of us. She has obviously been doing this significantly longer than we have. If there is any comparison we have made it's to show you something to aspire to.”
You glance between the members, the friends that are suddenly at odds with one another due to you. You can’t do this again; this is one of the reasons you refused to be acknowledged as Fire anymore.
“Very well,” you decide as you glance over at the door; then bend down and reset the music.
“Noona, you do not have anything to prove to us. I am not sure what is going on but please, retake your seat and we will work through this,” Tong states as he moves forward.
You look from Reef back to Tong, over to Ae, hit play for the music and walk to the center of the floor. Everyone has been so caught up in Reef’s actions that no one but you has noticed the third party that walked into the room and now stands just inside the door. Your eyes met his briefly, he nods his ascent just as the music and you start.
While doing the dance moves that required no singing, your mind begins to run through the possible problems with Reef; did you do something, say something this morning? Perhaps you need to apologize for earlier teasing them being pansies? The teasing had been back and forth, nothing directly meant for Reef, you would apologize when this demonstration was over. You had begun to see the members as friends but now you seriously doubt it.
When finished you turn to Reef and are taken back by the pure hatred you see in his eyes. You take an involuntary step back as he advances, “Maybe you are a goddess and perfect after all,” he sneers “well as a performer ....”.
Your eyes grow large at his attack, “Excuse me?”
“You heard me. I’ve heard nothing for the past 10 years but how perfect Fire was, Fire was this, Fire was that, we have to do it perfect just like Squall. Well, I’m sick of it! We shouldn’t have to be compared to a has been. You can dance, I give you that and your voice isn’t half bad, but you aren’t worth all the fuss we’ve been subjected to,” he turns toward Tong; “you’d better stake your claim quickly, We've all seen Ae sniffing around. But then, she likes variety."