Skip-Beat: The Morning After

On That Alleyway

For a moment, everything was silent. The air seemed to freeze, hovering above them. Everything still.

His lips were cold against hers, a too familiar sensation that made her want to cringe away. But he held her tight, almost begging her, pleading her to stay.

And then that moment ended.

The auditorium was filled with high pitched screams; the concave walls making them ricochet back thirty times worse.

Everyone in the crowd was stunned. Most screamed with shock and anger, and other screamed of pure surprise. Even Kanae and Mioko, whom stood behind the curtains, stared aimlessly at them.

Kyoko shoved herself out of Sho's grasp.

He looked at her for a long moment before continuing on with the lyrics.

"And as time ticks away,

I will watch you fade away,

And no matter how hard that might be,

I will let you go and help you until the end,

Gomenasai, for your pain.

Aishiteru."

Kyoko was stunned. She stared at him, her breathing hard and rigid, and her gaze ice cold. She was about to slap him across the face when the crowd began to applaud.

They yelled and reached toward them in tears, yelling and screaming: "Sho-Kun! Hana-Chan!"

Oh No.

Sho bowed, smiling his usual cocky smile, while Kyoko stood awkwardly next to him. She scanned the crowd, purposely avoiding LME. Until her gaze landed on Ren.

Kyoko shivered.

His eyes pierced daggers through her, making her heart hurt even more. He didn't have to tell her how he felt; it was perfectly inked on his face. Hurt, disappointment…excruciating pain.


Ren didn't have time to even look away. It wouldn't have been so bad if he had. But, he didn't. He saw him sweep her off her feet and kiss her. And with every passing moment their lips were locked, he felt himself sink deeper and deeper into that forbidden abyss. He could feel his anger rising, not only from the kiss, but the anger that had been accumulated throughout the passing years and memories also threatened to spill. He tried his best to hide it—to contain it.

But you can only do so much.

When their gazes locked with each other, Ren calmed down. He then saw that the kiss wasn't planned for at all. It was probably just another desperate move from that class-A jerk. Even then though, Ren couldn't stand it.

He turned around.

Further in front of his vision, he spotted an emergency exit sign.

I need to get out of here.

"Ren." Yashiro stopped him. "Where are you going?"

Ren pulled away from his grasp, flinching at Yashiro's hurt expression.

"Out."

Ren squeezed through the waves of people, their screaming and cheering heightening his anger.

As he pushed the doors open, a wave of cool air greeted him. He sighed at the nice breeze, as if with its wind, it carried away some of the painful weight.

Since he exited from the back exit door, the area was mostly deserted, give and take a few pedestrians. In front of him was a double street, only two lanes; one for ascending traffic, and the other for the opposite current. It was quite narrow for Tokyo's busy streets, so Ren could only guess that it was some sort of back alley. That would also explain the absence of cars.

He sat down by the curb.


Kyoko followed him with her gaze until the moment he was out the door.

I need to sort this out.

As Sho continued to bow and shine, Kyoko did one final bow before turning away towards the curtain. Sho caught her arm and pulled her close.

For a moment, Kyoko thought he was going to kiss her again, but then he pressed his lips to her left ear, the one away from the gaze of the audiences and cameras.

"Where do you think you are going?" He whispered.

Kyoko turned toward him.

"To fix the goddamn mess you just made."

With that, she walked off, followed by another trail of cheers.

How do their lungs not burst off?

"Kyo-Kyoko-chan." Kanae stood in front of her.

"I had no idea he was going to do that," she defended.

Kanae smiled sadly. "I know. No one did. Don't sweat it," she bumped her shoulder.

Kyoko smiled back, anxiously glancing at the exit. "I'll be back."

She began jogging toward the door.

"Wait! Kyoko!" Kanae called "We need to go to the press conference still! We need to fix this mess!"

Kyoko, as much as she dreaded it, ignored her and burst out the exit doors.


Kanae assumed she didn't hear her and she didn't try calling again. The urgency in Kyoko's eyes told her not to restrain her from her destination.

"Where is that bitch!?" Mioko marched from out from the dressing room. "I knew we should have tossed her to streets as soon as I saw her!"

"Mioko-chan, calm down." Kanae caught her arm. " Leave her alone."

"Why should I? She's a slut."

"The fact that someone kissed her doesn't make her a slut."

"Why are you taking her side!?" Mioko exclaimed.

"Because the bitch here isn't her!"

They looked at each other for a long time, pain radiating off both their pores.

"Girls, please," Said their manager nervously. "Let's just find Kyoko-chan for now. Don't let anyone leave until we do."

"What, do we cage everyone up?" Mioko snapped sarcastically. "I rather let them out."

The manager looked at her. "Go out and preform 'Ring Around the Right.'"

Mioko's eyes widened. "That song isn't even finished being choreographed!"

"Improvise!" Her manager turned her toward the stage and gave her a light push.


Kyoko had to unravel the maze in her mind.

Since she left the building from the opposite side Ren did, she had to run around almost 10 minutes to find him.

He sat on the curb of a narrow, lonely street, not even pedestrians walked past. It was a strange looking shape, the street. The constant sways, bumps and turns it had made a speed of over 25 mph nearly impossible.

Kyoko was expecting to see paparazzi, but none were in sight. They were all probably still inside trading pictures of the night's steamy moment.

"Tsu—Tsugura-san?"


Ren didn't bother moving. Or answering. He didn't think he had the strength to.

"Tsugura-San… why are you out here?" her voice seemed closer.

Sighing, Ren got up. "I needed some fresh air."


His back was still to Kyoko, but she walked toward him anyway.

"Oh."

She was right next to him now, his distant look now visible.

"I am sorry." She blurted, making sure to look straight ahead and away from him.

"What for?"

"For what happened in there."


Ren tensed his fist. "How could you have known?"

She shrugged. "Even so, you once told me never to let that happen again."

"It's none of my business what you do with your life." He snapped. As soon as he said it, he bit his tongue, because he knew in his heart that it was his business; he wanted it to be.

"Uh…but I still disobeyed my sempai." She defended, turning to face him

He looked straight at her. "I am not your father!" He held her gaze.

" I am not saying that you are." She backed away, lowering her eyes.

"I am tired of you looking at me like a guardian or something. You don't have to take everything I tell you so seriously." Ren turned away from her as well, like two quarreling children.

"I show my elders respect."

He turned toward her again, tone steady. "Is that all I am to you? Your elder?"


Kyoko looked at her sweaty hands.

I am not going to start this conversation right now.

She turned towards him.

He looked at her sternly, as if inviting her into a challenge.

"Should you be anything else?" she finally said through gritted teeth.

Ouch.


Kanae and the band manager had looked almost everywhere, even outside.

"She is out here, I am sure of it" she assured him.

He shook his head. "We have been lo—" A sudden pair of voices made them look west.

"That's Kyoko-chan" Kanae said. "But I don't recognize the man."

They peeked around the corner.

Sure, enough Kyoko stood there with her back toward them. She seemed to be talking—no arguing with a tall, handsome man.

Tsu—Tsugura Ren?

"Oh my god."

"Manager Ma, go inside and don't let anyone out this way. We don't want the paparazzi or anyone making assumptions."

He nodded.

Kanae leaned back against the corner.

Kyoko-chan…what is going on?


Kyoko looked at him. She knew that she hurt him, but she just wasn't ready. Not here, not now.

"I guess not." He stepped down unto the street.

It all happened so fast. The car appeared as if from thin air; no one even had a chance to scream.

Except Kyoko.

"Ren!" she yelled, extending her hand towards him. "WATCH OUT!"

The silver Corolla sped over the sharp corner, only seconds away.

"REN!" Kyoko cried. "MOVE!"


He turned toward her.

Ren didn't understand why she was crying or why she called him with such urgency. Not until he turned towards her, that is.

"REN!" she screamed one final time.


Kyoko didn't regret doing what she did next. The consequences didn't matter, nor the pain.

She had to. She wasn't going to allow it. She wasn't going to allow this.

Kyoko lunged forward and collided with Ren, pushing him out of the Corolla's reach.

But she didn't have enough time to move herself.


Ren's head collided with the rocky pavement, making him momentarily lose consciousness. But as soon as he heard screams, he opened his eyes steadily.

Kanae, one of the other band members stared at the ground next to him in horror. She seemed to be yelling something to someone behind her, though Ren couldn't really make out what she said.

Ren saw more people coagulate around her. Amongst them was their manager, and even Yashiro. He held a phone to his ear and seemed to be frantically yelling to the person on the other side of the line.

Ren struggled to get up, but couldn't. He immediately laid back down.

"Ren? Ren, what happened!" Kanae leaned down next to him.

He looked at her, clueless.

"What happened to Kyoko-chan!?" She looked behind her, to a too dark saturated patch of concrete.

Ren followed her gaze.


Kanae didn't even have time to scream. She just saw her lunge toward him, pushing him away. She saw the silver car collide with her frail body, making her fall on it before falling unto the pavement. The man in the car got out immediately, frantically screaming at the sky. He called Kyoko over and over, not long before calling an ambulance.

Kanae ran toward them, in tears. She took in the scene.

Kyoko lying in her stomach, head to the side and drenched with blood. Ren beside her, completely passed out.

But then, he began to open his eyes.

"Mr!" Kanae grabbed the man's hand. "Please, just go inside and call for help!"

He nodded and shuffled away.

Kanae kneeled next to Ren.

"Ren? Ren what happened?" She asked urgently, even though she knew perfectly well.

He looked at her.

"What happened to Kyoko-chan!?" she looked back at her friend's immobile, limp body.


Ren didn't recognize her at first. But when he did, he felt his heart race.

No.

No.

No.

No, not again.

This cannot be happening.

Not again.

"Ky-Kyoko" he coughed, dragging himself toward her.

She laid there, completely immobile.

Ren felt himself panic even more as his heart raced more and more, and his breath became erratic.

"Kyoko!" he yelled. "Wake up!"

He grabbed her cold hand.

"She's breathing!" Kanae yelled to Yashiro, leaning over her Kyoko's back.

"Everyone get away from her!" Yelled President Takarada. "And go delay the paparazzi for as long as possible. Ren!" he pointed at him.

"Get Ren out of here."

Ren heard the faint sound of sirens as Yashiro grabbed his arm.

No. Kyoko-chan, please.

Please don't leave me.


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