Skip-Beat: The Morning After

That Fateful Concert

The amount of people that showed up was astonishing. Considering the fact that the band had only been around for a little over a year and had only had one single, the amount that people that showed up was ridiculous.

Kyoko peeked through the colossal crimson curtains to the crowd. A sea of people cheered and waited anxiously for them, making her nerves and stress intensify to the maximum. Even the thought of letting all those people down made Kyoko upset.

She then began to realize what the President had meant when he failed her talent audition so many distant memories ago. To be a celebrity, love is essential. If Kyoko didn't feel such an emotion for each and every single one of the faces amongst the crowd, then she really would have no reason to perform in the first place—but the fact that she did care for the fans of 'Onnanoko no Kaikaku,' the fact that she cared for Kanae, Mioko and Hana's reputation, made it an obligation to make them happy. Even if it took Kyoko days of bloodshed and mental strain to learn all the routines and songs, as long as the fans were content, Kyoko didn't want any compensation.

I really have learned a lot about people in the past bunch of months she sighed. The sudden image of her mother crept into her mind. Too bad I will have to leave it all behind after today.

"Kyoko-Chan!" Kanae called from behind her.

She turned around. "Yes?"

"You look great!" Kanae stopped in front of her.

All three of them were required to change between every few songs, but, for their opening with 'Flower Garden,' they wore bright looking tank tops adorned by forest green cardigans and pants.

Bold look for a bold song, Kyoko justified.

"Thank you, you too!"

"Places everyone!" yelled the manager. Kyoko felt butterflies tear at her stomach.

Mioko skipped over to them and landed on Kyoko's left side with a radiant smile.

"Let's work well together!" she said while bumping them lightly on the shoulder.

Kyoko and Kanae nodded with a smile.

"Ready?!" called the manager.

The girls nodded.

"At the count of 3, we will pull back the curtains!"

Kyoko's heart seemed to beat at its own rhythm now, no longer caring to follow any particularly healthy pattern.

" 1…"

She worried for her performance. She worried for the people that would be watching her from the crowd.

"2…"

She flustered at the closing duet she would have to do with Sho Fuwa.

" And…"

But most of all, she tried desperately to hide her biggest of worry. What would happen after the concert was over, if her mother would even care for more negotiation. Kyoko would have to tell everyone herself. She would have to face every single person that ever gave her a chance in the industry and tell them, square in the face, that she was quitting.

"3!"

Kyoko didn't know if her heart could handle such pain a second time.

12 HOURS EARLIER…

It had been weeks since she had slept so soundly. Finally back on her own bed at Daruyama, with that familiar breakfast smell greeting her in the morning.

She smiled and stretched over her bed.

Today is the day! She thought excitedly. All those weeks of training will finally pay off today.

Kyoko bounced off her bed and stood in front of the mirror. The intense dark circles around her eyes had died down a lot, and her skin looked moist and clear—the way it should be.

As her eyes unintentionally graced the monotonous calendar next to where she stood, a gloomy frown spread across her face.

Sure, today would be a wonderful day. But tomorrow… tomorrow would completely deteriorate whatever joy might linger.

She hadn't seen her mother after their encounter at LME. All she had told Kyoko was that the day after the concert they would be leaving to Kyoto.

And all Kyoko had told her was fine. If she would have said otherwise…

Let's just say that Saena would have, in the end, gotten her way anyway.


Ren hadn't heard from Kyoko since the whole Saena incident. The last conversation they had was a few hours after she left home. Kyoko had called him to assure everything had worked out—that as long as she visited her mother more often in attempt to make amends, she didn't need to leave to Kyoto.

It made Ren sigh a huge sigh when she told him. Even if they hadn't come up with an agreement, Ren wouldn't have allowed Saena to take her. He didn't help Sho send her back, so he sure as hell wasn't going to let her be dragged back.

How?

He didn't know. But he would have found a way to keep her there.

"Ren!" the persistent knocks on the door could only make Ren guess it was Yashiro.

Sure enough, he was correct.

"Yes?" he held the door open.

Yashiro looked him up and down, slamming a foot on the ground.

"Why aren't you dressed yet?!"

Ren blinked at him. "Because it's 10 O'clock in the morning."

"EXCACTLY!" Yashiro stepped past him and motioned to his room.

"You need to change! You need to wish Kyoko-chan luck!"

"What for?"

"TODAY IS THE CONCERT! Did you actually forget?"

Ren shook his head and closed the door. "No, I did not forget. But she doesn't need luck. She will do great."

"It's still customary." Frowned Yashiro.


He knew Ren was just being like that on purpose. He obviously just didn't want Yashiro to experience any happiness in life. Yes, that was it. Ren hated him.

WHY CAN'T HE JUST ADMIT HE LOVER HER AND JUST…AHHHH ASDFGHJKL

Yashiro sat on the floor, almost like a mad child.

Ren looked at him. "What happened?"

"You need to get ready to go see Kyoko-chan."

"The concert isn't till later tonight."

"SO?" Yashiro stood and grabbed Ren's shoulders. "You need to look perfect!"

Ren gave him a side smile. "What are you, my fairy god mother?"


Kyoko stared in awe at Taisho's homemade breakfast. Fluffy omelets, fresh veggies, but best of all, a steamy bowl of miso soup.

"th—that looks yummy." She could almost taste their sweetness, and she tried her best not to drool.

"It is for you." Taisho pushed the plates toward her.

"You look tired lately."

Kyoko's eyes lit up. "Th-Thank you!"

She sat down in front of him and took slow, savoring bites.

Her peaceful day came to an end at about 4 p.m., when she was dragged back to the studio for a final dress rehearsal.

"Are you guys excited!?" Mioko jumped up and down excitedly.

Kanae shrugged, hugging her hands. "More nervous than anything."

Kyoko nodded in agreement.

"I think I'm most excited about working with Sho!" Continued Mioko. "He's just so amazing!"

"But you aren't working with him, Kyoko-chan is." Kanae corrected.

Mioko shot Kyoko a deadly glare.

"You can have him," Kyoko held up her hands. "I didn't choose to work with him."

Disappointment crossed Mioko's face. "I wish!"

"I'm with Kyoko-chan on this one," Kanae said stretching her arm. "He's not all that special."

"How dare you two say that! He's charming, blonde, suuuuper sexy…"

Moko went on and on praising him.

Kyoko looked over at Kanae. With each passing trait Mioko said, Kanae seemed to shrink in her chair.

She touched her shoulder. "You okay?"

Kanae jumped. Even though she nodded, Kyoko noted the light blush hovering over her cheeks.

Hmm.

It was an hour until the concert, and the auditorium was already close to full. The three girls sat in their dressing room chairs.

Mioko wore her hair in a loose wave with her make up subtly done to suit it.

Kanae wore her cascading brown hair in a middle part, complemented by luscious red lipstick.

Kyoko wore a straight auburn-blonde wig, the closest colour to Hana's hair. She stared at her reflection, admiring the perfect princess she became. She wished she never had to take off her delicate make up, or her glamorous costume. She wished she really could become a fairy tale princess. Problem was, she lacked her handsome knight in shining armor.

A knock at the door made the girls look back.


It took Ren a moment to take her in. Every time he saw her in makeup, it took him really aback.

She smiled at him. "Tsuruga-san! What are you doing here?"

She hopped off her chair, bowed politely to the other people in the room, and excused herself outside.

"I came to wish you luck." He responded as they walked side by side.


Even from the angle where he stood, Yashiro could tell Ren was flustered.

Success.

He watched them walk along the closed stage curtains, and with every occasional smile, Yashiro would cross his fingers.

I wish…


Kyoko smiled at him.

" Thank you! That's very thoughtful"

Ren nodded, and stepped in front of her. He looked at her, gaze hardening.

"Is everything really O.K. with your mother?"

Kyoko's heart stopped for a split second as she swallowed the lump in her throat.

"Yea. She was reasonable."

You're not lying.

"I would have thought she would've but more of a fight."

"Yeah, me too."


Ren could tell she hid something. She was clear as water to read, and he knew that she really didn't want to talk about it at the moment.

I'll ask her about it tomorrow.

His face softened and he smiled.

"Do well, O.K?" he touched her shoulder.

She grinned and nodded. "O.K!"

The girls stood by the curtain, ready to go out on stage as Sho approached them.

"See you in a few songs" he winked at Kyoko.

She stuck out her tongue at him as he returned to the dressing room.

As she turned back around, she spotted Kanae next to her. She was looking back at Sho, with that same distant expression she had showed when he bumped into her at rehearsal, and with the same light blush she had a few hours before.

Kyoko smiled knowingly. "Just be careful," she warned. Kanae looked at her. "Huh?"

Kyoko shook her head. "Nevermind."

"Places everyone!" yelled the manager. Kyoko felt butterflies tear at her stomach.

Mioko skipped over to them and landed on Kyoko's left side with a radiant smile.

"Let's work well together!" She said while bumping them lightly on the shoulder.

Kyoko and Kanae nodded with a smile.

"Ready?!" called the manager.

The girls nodded.

"At the count of 3, we will pull back the curtains!"

Kyoko's heart seemed to beat at its own rhythm now, no longer caring to follow any particularly healthy pattern.

" 1…"

"2…"

" And…"

"3!"

It was perfect. The dance, the music, the voices. They all fell together in perfect harmony, and the audience loved it. They cheered and sang along, heightening the atmosphere. It was all the girls' dreamt it would be.

Kyoko spotted a few familiar faces amongst the crowd.

Ren, oviously. Yashiro, President, Moko-san, and most of the people that were at her audition.

One person she didn't expect to see though was Saena. Honestly, when she saw her amongst the crowd, after double checking, she felt very intimidated.

Even more when the final song came…

She had changed into an elegant ballet leotard and attire, to correlate with the graceful choreography.

As soon as Sho stepped out of behind the curtains, the air was filled with violent screaming. He smiled and waved at everyone.


Ren's expression said it all. Shock. Confusion.

What…

Yashiro looked over at him. " I thought you knew they were dueting."

"Who said I didn't." Ren said through tight teeth.

"Your expression."

Ren looked at him.

Don't lose it. Don't lose it.


"Thank you all for coming tonight!" Sho introduced. "For the final song, Hana-chan and I will be singing an original called 'Gomenasai.' Enjoy!"

Kyoko fake smiled along and bowed before grabbing the mic parallel to Sho.

The song began, the same amazing melody as it had been back in the studio. She sang along with it, a few lyrical mistakes due to the lack of practice, no one noticed though. They were all to mesmerized by Mr. Rotten Chicken egg.

As the chorus came on, the dance routine also commenced. It took a lot out of her not to cringe away at his touch.

"Gomenasai (I am sorry), for all the hardships…"

His arm wrapped around her waist as hers around his neck. They did a single turn, before they faced away from each other.

"Sumimasen (Excuse me) , I know I let you down."

She looked over at him longingly, the crowd sighing along with their every move.

"Gomen (sorry) for all the mistakes,"

She did a series of pirouettes toward him and hugged him from behind.

"But regardless of our faults,"

Sho turned towards her, still in an embrace.

"Aishiteru (I love you)"

He dipped her down and as he gently brought her back up, their lips brushed together.

Kyoko felt herself blush as she returned to her stop across the stage.

I am going to murder the choreographer.


Sho saw how hard it was for her to keep her composure. And he was sorry for how he was going to intensify her discomfort. But it was necessary.

He saw how she and Ren looked at each other. He knew that, in her heart, he was no longer welcomed.

He knew the battle was coming to an end.

But he needed at least one final try. This was his final try.


As the chorus approached once again, Kyoko looked down at the audience. They were all silent, swaying along to the marvelous new song.

Her eyes landed on Ren.

At that very moment, it was as if she was back in the hotel room. Back to the day Sho called her and Ren lost control.

She could see his fury through his eyes. And could see his pain through the way he avoided her gaze.

It made her heart ache so much to see him as so. But what could she expect?

"Gomenasai (I am sorry), for all the hardships…"

His arm wrapped around her waist as hers around his neck. They did a single turn, before they faced away from each other.

"Sumimasen (Excuse me) , I know I let you down."

She looked over at him longingly, the crowd sighing along with their every move.

"Gomen (sorry) for all the mistakes,"

She did a series of pirouettes toward him and hugged him from behind.

"But regardless of our faults,"

Sho turned towards her, still in an embrace.

"Aishiteru (I love you)"

Again, same as before, he dipped her down, but, when he brought her back up, instead of a simple brush of the lips…

He kissed her without holding back.


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