Attractive but not too attractive. Sexy but not too sexy. Decked out in black dresses, Taeyeon and Yoona stride into Crash & Burn on moderate heels that blend in with all the other heels around them. Their identities? Themselves. Kim Taeyeon, daughter of an eyewear technology tycoon and Im Yoona, daughter of a food and beverage tycoon. Their aim? To appear approachable enough for the secretaries to befriend.
A quick look around the crowded establishment brings to their focus the targets for the night. Wendy and Irene are seated at a table, drinking and chatting. There is no plan. Taeyeon and Yoona will just have to find a way to join them as naturally as possible. Normally, this isn’t difficult for them. They have attended enough dinners and luncheons and parties to be able to make small talk easily but having the mission at the back of their minds makes them second guess their actions.
“Let’s get drinks,” Taeyeon suggests and Yoona nods, turning in the direction of the bar. They walk through the place, noting how small and cosy it is. Most of the business would be fuelled by regulars who like this place and the comfort it offers with its cushy couches and lounging areas. This place isn’t the typical hipster or trendy drinking hole with very young and drunk people. The crowd is mostly made up of the mid-twenties or thirties working class, here after work to relax and destress.
The bartender winks at them, obviously liking what he sees and asks them for their order. They go for lychee mocktails, a safe choice in a new place, but the bartender has other plans. He offers to fix them a house special, on the house, so they smile and accept, thereafter piling their easy charms on the guy. Twenty minutes later, they have sufficiently blended in and are feeling comfortable enough to start teasing the bartender.
“If you’re gonna give us so much attention, won’t your regulars complain?” says Yoona, flashing the coquettish grin that sets hearts fluttering.
“Most of them are guys and they’re not gonna complain about having two gorgeous girls in here, I’m sure.”
“Any girls in here you fancy?” Taeyeon asks with a coquettish grin of her own. “Besides us, I mean.”
The bartender laughs and his eyes twinkle at them as he waves them to come closer. “See those two girls over there.”
Taeyeon follows his gaze and almost smiles too widely. Bingo, their targets for tonight. “Blue dress? Blonde?”
“Yeah. They mostly keep to themselves. Don’t really talk much, even when I talk to them. They just smile, and that’s if they even come to the bar.”
“Sounds tough on ya,” says Taeyeon, singing to the bartender’s tune.
“Yeah. If you can get them to say hi and come over to talk, I’ll give you another drink on the house.”
Yoona looks at Taeyeon, a confident smile already forming on her face. “Leave it to me.”
Taeyeon relaxes, leaning back against the bar. “We’ll be here, waiting.” Yoona leaves with a wink and Taeyeon turns back around to grin at the bartender. “You’d better start mixing our drinks, honey.”
“You have plenty of confidence in your friend, huh.”
“Just look at her, why wouldn’t I?”
The bartender looks. “You’re right. Looks like I’m gonna owe you girls another drink.”
Yoona strides over casually, her legs moving with purpose towards the blonde in a black dress and the brunette in a blue dress. Stopping in front of their table, she smiles when their eyes land on her. “Hi, ladies. My name’s Yoona and my friend over at the bar is Taeyeon. We’re new here and we’re looking for some fun.”
The blonde responds first. “What kind of fun?”
“Fun with the bartender.” She winks at them. “Getting free drinks, for example.”
The two ladies look at each other for a moment.
“Wanna go?” asks the brunette.
The blonde shrugs. “Sure, I guess.”
Yoona grins and walks back to the bar with her two new friends. There never was any doubt that she would fail but that feeling of triumph is boosted by how this also works out with their mission for the night.
The bartender leans over and whispers, “Damn, she’s good.”
“You have no idea.”
Yoona arrives at the bar with the two ladies and Taeyeon gets off her stool to give the brunette a seat.
“And this is the bartender who will be treating us to a round of drinks,” Yoona says to the ladies in introduction. “Say hi.”
“Hi,” they say to him.
“Dear Mr Bartender, I believe that will be four house specials on the house,” Taeyeon says with a laugh.
“You girls win,” the bartender succumbs with his hands raised in mock surrender.
Yoona and Taeyeon exchange one look and burst into giggles, each knowing fully well just how right the bartender is.
The rest of the night goes by easily, the girls chatting about everything and nothing in particular. After all, making new acquaintances is right up their alley. By the end of the night, there’s Wendy, the brunette, laughing hard at Taeyeon’s witty puns and Irene, the blonde, smiling delicately at her friend’s rather embarrassing non-stop laughter, a sure sign that she’s more than tipsy.
“Sorry girls, but I think Wendy’s had enough for the night. We should get going. It was fun though.” Irene offers Yoona a demure smile. “Thanks for inviting us to join you.”
Yoona returns an equally alluring smile. “Be sure to join us the next time we come.”
With a nod, Irene stands. “We come here two or three times a week. Say hi if you come again.”
Taeyeon stands with Wendy leaning on her. “This girl needs to get home. Will you be okay sending her home?”
Irene turns to her and puts her arm around Wendy to support the giggling girl. “This isn’t the first time. Neither will it be the last. I can handle it, but thanks for asking.”
Yoona and Taeyeon help Irene with Wendy and see them off in a cab. When the cab is finally out of sight, they look at each other with grins.
“That was easy,” says Taeyeon.
Yoona laughs. “Let’s report our success to the rest. They’ll be happy to hear it.”
“Yeah, let’s go back.”
Tiffany is standing the empty house waiting for Taeyeon when she returns to her HOST in her hovercar. She doesn’t say a word, simply watching the surveillance screen on her Intelligent Communications Equipment (ICE) as Taeyeon keys in the code and presses her thumb on the machine. A security gate slides open, allowing Taeyeon to send her hovercar into the storage tank and it isn’t until the machine flashes ‘HOVERCAR PARKED’ that she puts her ICE away.
Standing in the shadows, she waits a few more moments until the door is opened. “Follow me,” she says, as soon as Taeyeon’s face appears in the moonlight.
Taeyeon gasps, presumably shocked by Tiffany’s sudden appearance, but follows.
“Tonight,” Tiffany says suddenly, stopping in the shadows without warning.
If it weren’t for her reflexes, Taeyeon would have walked straight into her but she manages to stop just short. However, when Tiffany turns around, she finds herself disconcertingly close to the petite woman. Tiffany is well-trained and betrays none of those undercurrents on her face but Taeyeon, unlike her, is visibly affected by the proximity.
Taeyeon takes a second to register what Tiffany said. Then, she breathes in sharply. “Thank you.”
“Rest well tonight. Now that we have made first contact, return to your normal lives for a while. Go out and play. Be visible. We will collect you in a few days to continue your training.”
Taeyeon frowns. “What do you mean ‘be visible’? Who should we be visible to?”
“There’s surveillance on everyone. Go to public places. Go shopping with Yoona and the rest. Dine at restaurants. Make a few transactions.”
“Okay, that should be easy,” Taeyeon says with a nod. Then, as an afterthought, she asks, “What about the two of them? Shouldn’t we make contact again soon?”
“Not too soon. We’ll talk again.”
“Sounds good.” Taeyeon smiles secretively as though she is planning something.
Tiffany suppresses a smile as she reaches out and touches Taeyeon’s earring. “Take care, Taeyeon. I’ll see you again.” With that she turns and leaves, leaving Taeyeon to wonder what that gesture had been about. She moves quickly in the shadows to her hoverbike and mounts it. Pressing her thumb on the reader brings her steel machine back to life and it hovers above the ground silently. Tapping on the touchscreen sets it in motion and she leans forward, grasping the handles securely as it speeds her towards her secret quarters.