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26 Paparazzi

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Debbie had her haunts - all of them did. There were certain places where the chances of you being able to get a photo that would sell were pretty decent. The main bars and restaurants in the city were pretty obvious, but everyone had an airport shift too. She had a preferred location, and sometimes it was worth rolling the dice. She wasn't high enough up the chain yet to have the insight into when people would actually be flying or landing, but sometimes she got lucky. Airport shots weren't usually worth that much, but if it covered her rent for the month, that was something. If it was a good night, she might even be able to cover the mileage there and back.

Honestly it was a fucking cold night, and there weren't many flights landing at this time. Her fingers were starting to ache around the body of her camera, and she was tired and hungry. It was a weird place to be with so few people around. It wasn't that the airport was empty, but... well, comparatively speaking it felt like a ghost town. And with how big it was she always had the feeling if she did end up in trouble there wouldn't be anybody around to help. It was a pretty dangerous business, really, but there weren't that many options available to her. All the other paparazzi had stories about being beaten up or having equipment broken. If you were lucky, you were just removed, but that still meant the loss of the payday, which could be hard to take.

She was about to call it a night and head back to her car, when a solitary figure caught her eye coming down the escalator. Debbie lifted her camera for a better look through the zoom lens, and took a few shots. Even if it wasn't someone famous, she just liked the composition. There was something almost Edward Hopper like about it. She was pretty sure she recognised the woman though - Lou Miller, front woman of the latest hot rock group.

The woman emerged in a leopard print coat and sunglasses, breath misting in the cold air, and she looked around. There were no taxis in the rank, and Debbie wasn't sure there would be many turning up soon. That was always the danger of rolling the dice. Really, she was kind of surprised there wasn't a chauffeur of some description waiting.

With a sigh and a muttered curse word, Debbie lowered her camera, letting the neck strap take the weight. She stepped out of the shadows, doing her best to make some deliberate noise, and the woman turned around.

She sighed.

"Did you get a good picture, at least?"

Debbie shrugged.

"I think so? I wasn't even sure it was you at first, to be honest. But the lighting coming down was too good to miss and sometimes it's easier to see through the lens." She hesitated and offered a half-shrug. "I can delete it if you want, I guess?"

Lou took a deep breath and sighed it out, shaking her head.

"No, it's okay. It's not too big a deal, right? And you need to eat, so if you can get something for it, more power to you, I guess."

Debbie nodded uncertainly.

"Thanks."

She wasn't sure how to feel about that. The balance of power had shifted, but she wasn't sure where it had settled. This wasn't the same as being called up by someone to set up a shot, it felt weirdly like a gift. She wasn't about to turn it down, but she still felt...

"Hey uh... none of my business I guess, but... your car not show up?"

"Nope, and my manager isn't answering her phone. I assumed I could get a cab, but I guess not."

"Do you know where your hotel is?"

Lou laughed and held up her phone.

"That, at least, I have. Do you know a cab company number or anything?"

Debbie shifted uncomfortably.

"Look... this is kind of... weird, and I wouldn't blame you if you said no. And if you do then I'll see if I can help another way. But I was going to call it a night and head back to the city anyway. I can drive you, if you want. I'm not going to sell the story or anything, but just... you seem like you need a ride. And this place is weird at this time of night."

Lou watched her for a long moment, and nodded slowly.

"What's your name?"

"Debbie. Debbie Ocean."

"Well Debbie Ocean... that would be very kind of you. I'll pay you for the gas."

"Oh, no. No need. But maybe let me get another picture or something?"

Lou grinned, lowering her sunglasses just enough to look Debbie in the eye.

"I can do one better than that. How about a backstage pass for the next gig? We've been looking for a new tour photographer. Consider it an audition. If you want, I mean."

Debbie stared, wide-eyed and heart pounding.

"Are you serious?"

Lou shrugged, pushing her glasses back up.

"Why not? Think you can do the job?"

"I know I can."

"Alright then. Which way's your car?"

It took Debbie a moment to process the question, and she gestured vaguely, then shook her head and focused.

"Right. It's this way."

"Thanks."

Her voice sounding foreign to her own ears, feeling like she was walking on air, Debbie set off, trailing in the rockstar's footsteps.

"You're welcome..."