I fidgeted at all the attention that was suddenly on me. Being noticed was what I wanted, but not like this. Last night had been a long and sleepless one as I considered the ramifications of the day's happenings. As I stared up in the direction of the ceiling I had wondered if, perhaps, I had made a mistake. Now, as I walked on set, all doubts were dispelled.
I had definitely made a mistake.
"Schaffer." Oh god. "Are you aware that a haircut is a breach of your contract?"
"Ms. Anderson, I uh-"
"Perhaps you don't realize that, since we don't have you wear a wig, your real hair makes an appearance in the program for which you've been hired?"
"Well, it didn't quite-"
"And now since you've gotten it cut, that forces us to put shooting your scenes on hold. I'm sure you see why that's inconvenient considering you're one of the leads."
Helena punctuated each verbal stab with a step in my direction. Instead of taking a few steps back, y'know in the interest of personal space, I stood my ground, as per Aaliyah's suggestion. I realized with a grimace that it was her suggestions that had gotten me into this mess in the first place.
"Have I said something that confuses you, Mr. Schaffer?"
I shook my head, and tried to make it look less... utterly terrified.
Then, out of nowhere, the tension in Helena's shoulders, the steel in her neck and back, and the deadly tilt of head, just vanished. For a moment she said nothing, merely stared at me. Through me. When she finally spoke, her voice, while not gentle, had lost its edge.
"You're supposed to be better than this, Mr. Schaffer. What were you thinking?"
"Actually Helena, it was my idea!"
I could only wince as Aaliyah burst into the room. The way she entered, you'd almost have expected her to be accompanied by a fanfare of trumpets. Or maybe "The Circle of Life."
Helena brought a finger to her forehead.
"Ah. Of course it was."
The two began to argue, which seemed to be how our days always started here, and as I stood awkwardly to the side, Jack came up beside me.
"Aaron. New look I see. I almost mistook you for someone with a personality."
I blinked. "And for a second I confused you for someone with character."
Jack gave me a sidelong glance, eyebrows raised.
"You don't talk to your students like that I hope."
"I haven't formally started teaching yet. I was pulled into acting almost immediately after graduating. And how does everyone seem to know my life story?"
Jack chuckled. "You may be green, but you're still an actor, Schaffer. Your life is an open book now. All you can do is hope people read the author's notes, and not just the commentary. Speaking of... care to comment on this?" he asked, with a gesture at my person.
I sighed. "Long story."
Nodding at the fracas unfolding in front of us, Jack said, "By all appearances, we've got some time."
"Put simply, Aaliyah happened..."
"Well, that's everything for the day. See you tomorrow for episode two!"
"Aaron! Got any plans?" Aaliyah asked, all smiles.
"Great!" and suddenly I was being pulled out the door. "You have a car right?"
I guided Aaliyah to my car, when I could a word in edgewise. As we walked, she gave me the whole rundown of her master-plan to turn me into a star. The longer she talked, the more uneasy it made me. Aaliyah seemed to be taking this seriously. More seriously than I ever had, and that scared me. Acting was a hobby. Just something to do on the side. It wasn't supposed to become-
"Um, no thank you."
"You said you had a car."
My white SUV had seen better days, 13 years of better days admittedly, but it still held up pretty well. I bought it used, first car I'd ever owned, and it had gotten me through college. I loved that car, and I wasn't going to stand for some diva-
"We're taking a cab."
Aaliyah all but shoved me into the first taxi to pull up, earning her an odd look from the driver. He did a double take when he realized who she was. Not me though. I didn't take it personally. I had a small, but dedicated fanbase, which was all I really needed. Made it easier to connect with people and read all the fan-mail.
Aaliyah rattled off the name of some fancy establishment, in something that wasn't english. It turned out to be a hair salon. At that point I-
"Oh, it wasn't Omlette du Fromage was it?"
"I do believe it was."
Jack looked at my haircut again with renewed interest, and, a little approval if I wasn't mistaken.
"Hm. Well, maybe you've got some personality after all." With that, he pushed off the wall he had been leaning against, and started after Alex, who'd just walked in.
Helena and Aaliyah were still arguing, and, though this was all her fault to begin with, watching Aaliyah fight for me was just a little endearing. It was almost like she was the big sister I never wanted.