Skip-Beat: The Morning After

My Dear Ren

As soon as Kyoko opened her eyes, she was blinded by a luminescent white light. She sighed and blinked before turning away from it.

"Kyok—Kyoko-chan?" She heard a worried female voice call.

Kyoko stirred.

Who is that? Where am I?

She turned toward the voice, shielding the light with her arm. She paused and stared at the pulsating IV on her hand.

"Kyoko-chan, are you awake?!"

She fixed her gaze passed her hand and unto a woman's face.

It hazed in and out of focus, until she could finally recognize the woman.

"O—Okami-san?" Kyoko whispered.

Mrs. Boss lady smiled. "Oh,God, I am so glad you are awake. Taisho and I were worried sick!"

Kyoko blinked and attempted to push herself up. She immediately regretted it and let out a groan.

Mrs. Boss lady held her shoulder. "Are O.K? I should go call the nurse." She said standing.

"Wait," Kyoko called. "Where—where is Tsuruga-san?"

It was an automatic question. She didn't think about it. She didn't wonder why she asked it until afterward. But, regardless, in the back of her head that question lingered along.

Mrs. Boss lady's hesitation made Kyoko antsy. "I—Is he O.K?"

Okay from what? Kyoko thought silently. Why would he be hurt?

Why would you be at the hospital? Replied a small inner voice.

What happened?

"I-I don't think right now is a good time to tell you anything."

Kyoko felt her heart race, the heart monitor to her right accelerating.

"What? Why?"

Without another word, she walked out of the room.

Kyoko sat there, perplexed. She didn't remember quite what happened, or why she was there. She didn't even remember why she was so worried about Ren.

She looked down at herself.

Her arm, the one not injected with the IV, was in a hard, pearly cast wrapped around in a light blue sling. She flinched.

She continued to examine herself for further injuries, though the only other thing she felt were some rigid stitches sticking out from her upper forehead.

" You may not want to touch those, Ms. Mogami." Said a fragile pale nurse as she walked into the room.

"Can—can you tell me what happened?" Kyoko asked, following her with her gaze. The nurse looked at her as she set down a layered clipboard.

"You don't remember?" she cocked her head to the side with a worried look.

Kyoko shook her head.

The nurse, nurse Misa, gave her a single pondering nod. "I will order some tests to make sure everything is okay up there." She pointed a long slender singer at Kyoko's forehead.

Kyoko shifted uncomfortably. Why was no one telling her what was going on? Was it…was it that bad?

"I will check on you later!" the nurse said, heading toward the door. She seemed to be leaving, but suddenly stopped and turned around. "Do you feel any pain?"

Kyoko thought about it. "Maybe just my head."

With a final nod, the nurse was gone.

It was making Kyoko very anxious how no body was telling her anything. Nothing about what happened, or Ren's whereabouts.

She looked around.

Ok. I was at the concert, she began recalling. Her memory ended at around the final act, only glimpses and bits of Sho's song sprinkled across her mind. She faintly remembered the crowd, and their deafening screams. She just didn't remember why.

"So, you're awake."

Kyoko looked up.

Saena wore her usual elegant attire and her jet black hair in a classy bun. Her lips were smeared with red lipstick and had a sluggish look to match her attitude. She let herself in and sat on a love seat by the TV.

"You really are a mysterious child."

Kyoko sat up.

"Why?"

Saena shrugged. "Well, two days ago I got a sudden call saying my daughter was hit by a car. No explanations, only a big fat medical bill."

"What?" Kyoko felt her eyes widen.

H-Hit by a car?

"I was hit by a car?"

Her mother nodded. "It apparently wasn't too serious; the car was only going like 15mph."

How did this happen? Why-why was I even out on the street?

"What were you even doing out on the street?" Saena asked, echoing Kyoko's own thoughts. "There are also rumors that you were with some...some man!" She stood up, glaring at Kyoko defiantly. "I will not have my daughter sneaking around with someone I don't know…."

Kyoko had stopped listening as soon as she said the word 'man.'

Ren.

The memories spilled all around her like a flood, whipping out any other thoughts except those. The kiss. The fight. The accident.

"Oh my god."

"Are you even listening to me!?" Saena now stood right in front of her, her hands on her hips.

"I, uh. I need to talk to the nurse. I need to ask her something." Kyoko's tone was urgent, but her of course her mother wouldn't catch on. She kept standing there, glaring.

"Whatever it is it can wait."

"But I feel sick."

"It can wait. We don't need any more charges added to the bill anyway."

Kyoko stared at her mother, anger building up in the pit of her stomach.

"Actually, no. No it can't wait, and I need you to leave."

Saena stared at her. "What did you just say to your mother?"

"You are not my mother." Kyoko defied back, lifting her chin. " You may be my parent, but not my mother. A mother is someone who raises you, who reads you stories and tucks you in at night. Not someone who disappeared from their daughter's life for 10 years then shows up because of financial problems. And certainly not someone who is concerned about money while HER DAUGHTER IS IN THE ICU!" her breathing was hard, erratic, and the heart monitor reflected it.

Standing up to her elders…that was something forbidden to Kyoko. But the way her mother treated her, the stress she already had on her shoulders, the fact that no one will tell her what happened to her Sempai…. It was all too much.

Saena stared at her, utter surprise reflected on her face.

"Do you think I care about what you think? YOU ARE COMING BACK TO KYOTO AND THAT IS FINAL!"

"Excuse me?" Nurse Misa pocked her head through the screen door. "You are agitating the patient; I need to ask you to leave."

Saena continued to stare at her daughter.

"Two days. That's how much time you have before we leave." And without further conversation, she slithered out of the room.

It took about ten minutes to convince the nurse that she was O.K.

As nurse Misa turned to leave, Kyoko called out to her. "Umm, Nurse?"

She turned around with a gentle smile. "Yes, ?"

"Tsuruga Ren….is He in the hospital?"

The nurse's smile immediately dropped.

"Has—has no one told you?" she asked.

Kyoko shook her head.

Misa seemed as if she was finally going to give her an answer, but she didn't have the chance, for President Takarada strode in.

"Nurse Misa," He bowed. "You have done a marvelous job today, but if you could please excuse us."

Misa gave Kyoko one final nod before exiting.

As soon as the screen doors shit, Kyoko bombarded him with the obvious question.

"How bad am I? Where is Tsuruga-san? Is he mad? How did the concert finish?"

He exhaled a long, tired sigh.

"Well," he began grabbing a chair. "The concert was a big hit. Everyone's been talking about it for days. The whole dilemma with Sho…well, everyone thought it was Hana-chan. We talked with her about it, and she's willing to hold the blame for now.

Next order of business, you aren't too bad. Only a mild concussion and a broken arm. Oh, and you got seven stitches on your head."

Kyoko sighed.

"And…um.." he looked at her. "I'm afraid I cannot answer your final question."

She sat up, facing him directly. He seemed sad, and tired, almost as if he had gone through too many sleepless nights in her absence.

"Please, tell me. I won't tell him that I know, I just want to know he's O.K—"

"No, I literally cannot answer it. He—he's been missing since the accident."

It was as if a bucket of cold water spilled on her; on her heart. She felt herself tense and breathing harden, something that had been happening too many times for it to possibly be healthy.

"What?"

"The Paramedics brought you into both into the E.R, but only you had to stay. He was cleared. He said he was going home to get something, and that he would be back, but he wasn't. He's not at home, not at LME, obviously not here…we have no idea where he is."

"DID YOU CALL THE POLICE?!" Kyoko grabbed his arm, then quickly apologized. "Sorry."

"There is a small group out looking for him, but I want to keep it hidden from the media as long as possible. They don't know it was you two whom were in the accident, only that it was one of the members. And since Mioko was preforming, it is between you and Kanae-chan.

Unfortunately, most think it's you. Well, Hana-chan, since she's also at the hospital for recovery."

Kyoko was speechless.

"I guess that turned out O.K." he chuckled, trying to lighten the mood.

Sensing her discomfort, President Takarada leaned toward her and gave her a reassuring hug.

"I know Ren as if he was my son. I know he just needs time to sort things out and think."

"Why would he?" she mumbled against him.

"Well, that accident hit kind of close to home for him."

Wiping away a stray tear, Kyoko leaned back and looked at him. "Huh?"

With a distant look in his eyes, he smiled. "Ren was a rebellious child. His rebellious ways caused someone very close to him die, and well, I think he was afraid that, because of him, you got hurt. Those memories were reawakened."

"But I made the choice. I—I pushed him."

"You did?" he looked at her.

"I pushed him out of the way." She sighed.

"Even more so, then. Just give him time."

They sat in silence for a few minutes before Kyoko cocked her head to the side in wonder.

"I can't picture him as a rebellious kid."

The president laughed.

"Oh, he was. He even had to leave his former town for it!"

"Really?" Kyoko said, intrigued.

"Well, he didn't want to hang onto the past, that is all. "

"Where was that?" she asked. "His home town?"

The President frowned. "He hasn't told you?"

She shook her head.

" He is from Kyoto." He said casually.

Kyoko stared at him.

Kyoto?

She got a sudden flash back from that day she found Ren by the lake; How he had looked so much like him. Kyoko even had to think about it.

There is no way.

"President, how old is Tsuruga-san?"

He gave her a puzzling look. "21. Why?"

Kyoko is 17.

Ren is 21.

4 years of difference.

Around the same she had with him.

She swallowed back her nausea.

"By-by any chance…" she held her head, dreading the sudden head ached.

President Takarada shot up to hold her. "Kyoko-chan, are you O.K.?"

"By any chance," she continued. "Is Tsuruga-san a natural blonde?"

Maybe it was the silence that gave her the answer. Maybe it was President Takarada's surprised look. Or maybe, it was Kyoko's own heart that whispered the now obvious answer.

Kuon.


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