Skip-Beat: The Morning After

My Dear Fairy Prince

As soon as the thought hit her, Kyoko immediately labeled it ridiculous. The little evidence there was wasn't nearly enough to prove such a massive revelation, and even if it was, she would have denied it with all her might. To think that Kuon was there, so close, only a hand stretch away, and because of her oblivion, she didn't reach out and kept him from leaving. Instead, he slipped away again. Without a trace. Not even leaving another oval blue stone to hold his memory.

Kyoko couldn't bear those thoughts. She didn't want it to be true. So, she simply dismissed it.

Now, staring aimlessly at the white walls that engulfed her, she thought of other things. She thought of going back home, to her little room at Daruyama, her little safe haven. She could picture herself slipping under her blankets and shutting everything out, building a temporary sanctuary in the darkness. Where no one could reach her, hurt her, or question her.

In the end, Kyoko just wanted peace for a while. Away from Shotaro and his playboy antics, away from the heavy schedule at LME. Away from the all too familiar feelings that were begging to resurface within her.

She just wanted some peace; she needed it.

"Ms. Mogami?" Nurse Misa's gentle voice snapped Kyoko back into reality. "How are you feeling?"

Kyoko smiled lethargically, pushing herself up on her elbows. "O.K."

"Are you sure?" Misa persisted, pouring some apple juice into a Styrofoam cup.

Kyoko thought about it for a moment.

Although broken, her arm felt fine, maybe just a little rigid. Her forehead throbbed from the stitches, causing her only minimum discomfort. The only thing she found that caused her obvious discomfort was the progressing tightening in her chest. Though Kyoko knew that insidious ache wasn't medically treatable.

"Just a little chest pain." She finally said.

Misa nodded, her eyes showing a flash of concern as she scribbled on her clip board.

"I will make sure to look into it." She handed her the cup.

Kyoko savored the juice's tangy, sour taste, thankful to have something other than water. She finished it with a satisfied sigh.

"Thank you," she said, handing the cup back.

Misa smiled. "No problem. Oh!"

She had begun to turn away, but suddenly stopped.

" Dr. Sasaki said you can go wonder outside if you'd like." Misa said turning back to face her. "This hospital has really nice gardens."

"When will I be allowed to leave?" Kyoko blurted. She didn't want to be rude, but she didn't have the time to stay there forever either.

Misa shrugged. "Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in a week. It all depends on how fast you progress."

Kyoko nodded, sinking further into her bed.

Trying to cheer her up, Nurse Misa grabbed a single black wig from her bag and tossed it at her.

Kyoko stared at it for a moment.

"You should really go outside." Misa persisted. "It will do you good."

Kyoko sighed and slipped the wig on. "I sometimes forget my fame."

Misa smiled. "That's why I really admire you."

Kyoko smiled. " Because I forget who I am?"

"Well that, and the fact you are an amazing actress. Also because you don't seek the fame or attention." Misa replied. "It just simply radiates towards you."

The wig cascaded down to her waist, its jet black colour contrasting with her pale, petite physique. She smothered it to one side before looking up at Misa.

"Thank you so much." She said with a smile. "I don't think anyone has told me that before."

Misa bowed. "It is an honor, then."

Kyoko politely bowed back.

After a moment of silence, Nurse Misa shuffled to Kyoko's bed side.

"Are you ready? Can you walk?"

Kyoko swung her legs over the bed, her toes barely touching the icy floor. Noting this, Misa positioned a pearly pair of slippers by her feet.

Kyoko could feel her body tingle in anticipation of standing up again; she felt like a child taking their first steps. She slowly let down her right foot first, sliding it into the slipper. It was warm and plush against her moist skin.

One down.

Hesitantly, she let her left foot fall. Though it fell a little too fast.

She felt herself lean to the left, losing the little balance she had. Then, she felt a strong, rough hand catch her right arm, steadying her.

She looked up, expecting to see the President, or (hopefully) Ren.

To her disappointment, it was none other than the single cause for all of this. Shotaro Fuwa.

"Be more careful." He said.

Kyoko snorted, snatching her arm away. "Don't tell me what to do."

"I'll take her outside," he said turning to nurse Misa. "You can leave."

Kyoko elbowed him in the stomach. "Don't tell her what to do either."

Misa looked back and forth between him and Kyoko.

"It's okay," Kyoko smiled. "We need to talk anyway."

After a long moment, Misa simply bowed and exited the room.

Of all people to meet, Kyoko had completely forgotten about Sho. She was too preoccupied with other things to deal with his tantrums.

She turned towards him. "What are you doing here? You agitate me."

Sho gave her a challenging grin. " I had to ask you how you even managed to get hit by a car in an alleyway."

"That alleyway was very stupidly placed." She defended.

Slowly, she felt a single blue spirit slither out from her body. It placed itself gracefully on her shoulders, wrapping its misty tail around her neck.

"He better be here to apologize." It whispered.

Kyoko ignored it, to which it took as a sign of retreat. So, silently, disappointingly, and lethargically, it dissolved into white ash.

"Or maybe you are just that unlucky." Sho said, oblivious.

He walked around her in a circle, studying her up and down. His fists were clenched, to the point of them turning a pale white colour.

Kyoko eyed his fists.

"Luck had nothing to do with it." She said slowly.

Sho stopped in front of her, his forest green eyes swirling with different emotions.


He knew she was hurting; he could see it. The way she stood, clothing her broken arm. The way her usually bright eyes drooped with fatigue. It all tugged intensely at his heartstrings, knowing it was his fault. If only he had just stuck to the routine; if only he hadn't kissed her. But he had to. He had to let her go.

Now, standing in front of her, he wondered if she even would forgive him. He didn't think so.

But, for his own well being and conscience, he had to try. If not begging for forgiveness, at least helping her with whatever is troubling her.


Suddenly, He embraced her into a hug.

"I'm glad you are O.K."

Kyoko blinked, surprised, but she didn't fight it. She knew how he must have been feeling; guilty.

So, instead, she awkwardly patted him on the back. "It wasn't your fault." She whispered.

He sighed against her, and hesitantly let her go.

"I know."

She smacked him. " You're still gonna pay for it though."

"It?"

"It."

He raised his eyebrows. "You mean the kiss?"

Kyoko leaned against the bed, feeling faint.

Sho, immediately sensing it, grabbed her arm.

She groaned, cupping her head in pain. It felt as if a mischievous weed had wrapped around her skull, crushing it wish every squeeze. But the blinding pain lasted only seconds, making Kyoko worry even more.

"I'm okay." She said, regretfully using Sho for support. "The doctor said that might happen."

Sho nodded, attempting to hide his discomfort. "Then maybe we should go outside. It will do you good."

Nodding, Kyoko followed him out.

The hospital corridors were wide and an emotionless white. Room after room, Kyoko saw worried family members shuffling around, crying over beds or smiling happily. She wondered what it was like to have that; a caring family. Someone who stays by your bed side, who holds your hand through stormy nights. Kyoko knew she could point out a few people in her own life that would do that. But none would provide the comfort of a parent like the one she craves.

She bit back a nostalgic sigh. Sending her mother away was the right thing to do. And whether she was serious or not about the two days, she had yet to find out.

Kyoko still had one day in bliss if Saena really did mean it.

As they reached the end of the corridor, Kyoko gasped. Nurse Misa really wasn't kidding about the gardens.

Beautiful iridescently green trees and bushes adorned a serene garden filled with a rainbows of lilies and roses. Fountains of delicate sculpting stood tall and proud, showing off their exquisite carvings. Cement benches were sprinkled around the area, along with several picnic tables. Kyoko's eyes caressed the beautiful scenery. Elderly patients reading books, or having meals with their loved ones. Cancer children running around, living today as if it were endless.

She smiled.

" Ahem." Sho cleared his throat.

At some point in the trip, while Kyoko daydreamed, He had led them to a marble bench. He patted the seat next to him.

"I'd rather stand," Kyoko said. "All I've done in the past few days is sit and sleep."

With a single nod, Sho fell silent.

After a few moments, he looked up.

" What exactly happened, anyway?" he asked,

Kyoko blinked at him. "Huh?"

"You know," he urged. "The day of the concert. All we know is that you got hit by a car-"

"All we know? Who knows?"

"Just the staff at the concert. And well, the rest of Japan thinks Hana was the one that got hit."

Kyoko nodded. She would have to visit Hana-chan soon; Kyoko's own careless actions have been causing her a lot of drama.

Gomenasai, Hana-chan.

"Anyway," Sho continued. "There are also rumors that there was a second victim."

Kyoko felt her heart skip a beat. "Oh?"

"Was it Tsuruga Ren?" He asked, leaning closer.

Kyoko took a step back, avoiding his gaze. "Why are you jumping to such rash decisions all by yourself?"

From the corner of her eye, she saw him give an uninterested shrug. "It was just a question." He said. "And if he had been involved, him disappearing off the face of the earth so randomly might make more sense."

She looked at him, the nice spring breeze taking a sudden chill. According to the President, the fact Ren was missing was confidential knowledge.

She leaned closer to him, holding her hospital gown down. "How do you know about that?"

Sho gave her a baffled look. "How can I not know? All of Tokyo is fuzzing about it!"

He reached behind him, grabbing his cell phone. Kyoko rubbed her hands anxiously, hoping Sho was bluffing. Even though it had only been a few days, she knew the power of the press. They would twist and bend reality to make it seem much worse. Who knows? Maybe the next headline will be: Tsuruga Ren, Top Star or Runaway Criminal?

Kyoko held her temples with a preoccupied sigh.

After several seconds or scrolling through the screen, Sho held up the phone to her.

It was a news article:

A few days after his last interview, top star Tsuruga Ren was declared M.I.A. "He is nowhere to be found," as several sources state. He was last seen at the debuting concert for the new hit band 'Onnanoko no kaikaku.' Trusted sources say they saw him exiting the building early, and heading to his car before speeding off. It has been 3 days. Will our beloved idol disappear forever? More to come on tomorrow's issue.

It was followed by a badly photographed picture of Ren amongst a sea of people.

Kyoko sneered at it. "Sources? What kind of idiot 'sources' are these people talking about?! None of that is true!" she shoved the phone back at Sho. She could feel another head ache creeping through, and Kyoko let it. She needed something else to focus on besides the fact everyone thinks Ren is either dead or kidnapped.

Rubbing her forehead, she sat down next to Sho.

"So then you do know what happened." he said simply, looking down at her.

Kyoko looked away from him.


Sho knew she wasn't going to tell, and frankly, he didn't want her to. He didn't come here to get gossip or taunt her.

She was looking away from him, her black wig twisting with the wind.

It didn't really occur to him how hard this must be to her until that moment; Being stuck here in a hospital while someone so important to her was somewhere so beyond her reach. Not being able to move or say anything to anyone.

He sighed, moving his blonde hair behind his ear.

"Look, I'm not saying I like the guy or anything but you really should go find him. Who the hell am I supposed to compete against now? I don't wanna win by default."


Kyoko looked at him. "I have no idea where he is."

"Yes, you do." He said with a nod.

She blinked at him, perplexed. "No, I don't."

Suddenly, Sho turned toward him, his knees brushing against hers. She tried inching back, but he grabbed her arm.

Defeated, she looked into his deep green gaze.

"Yes, you do. Look, the way you two are around each other…the way you look at each other…that is a bond not easily severed. Where do you think he is?"

Kyoko thought about it for a moment.

She knew nothing about Ren's family. He usually spent his free time working or at his house. She didn't remember him mentioning any friends or family outside of Tokyo.

What about Kuon?Whispered a voice deep within her mind. Where would Kuon be?

Kyoko shook her head. He isn't Kuon. He would have told me.

Maybe he didn't think he had a reason to tell you.It replied.

Kyoko let her mind drift back to her beginning at LME.

"Did you use to live in Kyoto?" Ren had asked her while holding Corn. He never did tell her how he knew that.

He said it was because the stone was from a Kyoto gift shop.

Oh? The voice questioned. And why do you have to live there to get one? It would make more sense that you were visiting then purchased the stone as a souvenir. But he distinctly asked if you lived there.

Kyoko pondered it. That doesn't mean anything.

So what if it doesn't, then? What do you have to lose if you believe it?

Time.

"I really don't know, Sho." She said finally.

He leaned closer to her, inches away. "I'm going to tell you one last time. you .do. know."

Even if Ren was Kuon, Kyoko wouldn't know where to begin. They met in Kyoto, yes, but that meant nothing. He could be anywhere. She didn't even meet him outside of that secret river.

Secret river.

"If you could go anywhere, run away anywhere right now, where would you go?" Sho asked her, urging her, almost pleading to come up with an answer.

Secret, magical river. She would go to that river that held way too many sorrows, yet vanished them in seconds. That magical river where she could sit for hours, gently caressing the icy water. That magical river she met a fairy prince once upon a time.

"I—"

"Kyoko-chan!"

Kyoko looked behind her, upset at whoever had interrupted her. But when she saw Kanae running toward her with a relieved grin, she couldn't help but smile.

Kyoko stood up and embraced her in a friendly hug.

"I was so scared. I-I saw everything and I was so scared." Kanae whimpered against her.

Kyoko patted her back. "It's okay. I'm okay."

Kanae nodded against her before leaning back to look at her. Kyoko could see her eyes were dewy with stray tears, to which she felt her own water.

"Everyone has been taking turns to come and see you, you know. But you're always sleeping!" Kanae exclaimed.

Kyoko smiled. "Really?"

Kanae nodded. "And I wish I could stay, but I actually came to get him." She pointed a pale, slim finger at Sho, who was too immersed playing with his phone. But as soon as his presence was requested, he looked up. "Me?"

"Yes you." Kanae nodded. " We have a press conference. Since we ditched the one after the concert."

Sho frowned and crossed his arms. "No."

"You have to come!" Kanae insisted. "It's for the band! And Kyoko-chan obviously can't go!"

Sho looked at Kyoko, silently accusing her for the inconvenience. "Fine," he agreed. "I'll be there in a bit."

"No," Kyoko intercepted. "You two should go together."

They looked at her.

" Sho, you can't let her go by herself." She grabbed him and stood him up. "And you can't be late. I'll be fine."

"Are you sure, Kyoko-chan? Do you want us to call a nurse?" Kanae asked, worry filling her tone.

Kyoko smiled knowingly. "No, that's okay."

I owe you, Kanae-chan. For the kiss.

As she watched them slowly walk away, she realized it. Sooner or later a relationship between them might bloom. And, surprisingly, it didn't bother her at all, if anything she was excited. Kyoko would make sure to protect Kanae, though; so she won't get hurt as she did.

Kyoko stood there for a few minutes. Enjoying how the breeze played with her hair and kissed her skin, looking up at the cloudless sky. She enjoyed it. Tokyo had been so depressing for the last weeks, almost as if the rain foreshadowed—no, warned her. But now, she sighed. Peace and no rain in sight, therefore, no gloomy days ahead.

"You seem quite interested in the sky, young lady."

Kyoko looked behind her.

There, sitting on next to an angel fountain, was an elderly man. He seemed weak with age, and had an oxygen tank next to him. He wore a hospital gown, similar to her own.

Kyoko wondered what he was ill with. Probably just old age.

She smiled kindly at him.

"It a wonderful thing to look at."

He cocked his head and scratched his bald scalp. "I do reckon it's just a sky. Why is it so interesting?"

Kyoko thought about it.

"Well it's never the same. It's always changing and it's always a surprise to what it changes to."

The old man smiled, showing off a few missing teeth. "Never thought of it that way."

Kyoko sat back down on her marble bench.

"You seem preoccupied." Noted the old man.

She leaned forward, looking at him through the bushes.

They sat side by side now, though on different benches and separated by some scattered bushes. Kyoko could hear the soft murmur of his oxygen tank.

" You have really good intuition, mister."

"I may be old, but I can recognize that sad spark on anyone's eye."

Kyoko dropped her head unto her hands, frustratingly tugging at her wig.

Ren couldn't have left Tokyo. But if he hadn't, wouldn't have they found him by now? Where could he possibly be? Is he hurt? Doesn't he even care about her?

Kyoko closed her hands into fists. Yea, doesn't he care about her at all? Even if she is just his junior, he should show a little more respect.

"You can tell me. I do reckon it would be better than letting it eat at your insides."

Kyoko looked at the old man hesitantly.

He chuckled lightly. "Relax, you don't have to. Even if you did, I'd probably forget the second you finished."

She smiled, the tension easing. "Does your mind play tricks on you?"

He smiled sadly. "I have something those doctors call Alzheimer's."

Kyoko felt her smile wipe right off her face. "I—"

"No it's okay," he said. "I can still remember my family and stuff. I just didn't want to be a burden to them, so I spend most of my time here."

Kyoko looked down. "I'm so sorry."

"No, don't be. I get to meet nice people!"

They chuckled.

In a way, her heart ached for this sweet old man. Innocent and joyous, yet doomed to spend his days in a caged hospital. Even though he probably knew how severe his condition was, he still joked about it as if it wasn't. That made Kyoko sad, yet extremely honored to have met such a person.

"Mr." she called.

He looked at her, his fading brown eyes alert.

"What is your name?"

"Shimuzu Tadao, at your service!"

Kyoko smiled sadly. "Mr. Shimuzu, you are right. I have a problem."

"Tell it to me so, child."

With a painful sigh, Kyoko began to recite her thoughts.

"See, I think I know something. And evidence leads to it. But it's almost impossible; it can't be true. And if it were true, I wouldn't know what to do. And if it isn't true I still wouldn't know what to do with myself."

Kyoko looked at Tadao with a hopeful gaze. He blinked several times, attempting to process her babble.

"What did you say your name was?" he asked, turning toward her.

"Kyoko—uh…" she struggled for a faux last name. " Yoshida."

He nodded. "You have a beautiful name. 'Mirror' is what Kyoko means, you know. Meaning, you show what you think without hesitation."

"That sounds like me," Kyoko replied, picking out a single crimson rose from the bush.

"Well, Miss Yoshida, the answer to your problem is clear as mud. You go with your gut and believe whatever you already think you know."

"But it's impossible!"

"Anything is possible. Even if you are wrong, how would you even find out without trial and error? You aren't even giving yourself the opportunity to be wrong."

Kyoko felt her heart tighten. "But I am afraid I'm right."

Tadao looked at her. "You need to not be afraid of what life throws at you. Not knowing things makes you human. And humans must go out and test their theories for themselves."

He smiled at her. "You should follow you gut. I regret not following mine every single day."

Kyoko felt a betraying tear slide down her cheek.

Ren—Kuon, where are you?

"Kyoko-chan!"

She looked to her right.

President Takarada sprinted toward her, wearing gray coloured sweat pants and a blue T shirt.

That's the most normal I have ever seen him.

"Kyoko…Kyoko-chan." He panted, sitting next to her. "Ren…we have a location."

Kyoko gasped, immediately straightening up. She felt her pulse race, her breathing hollow, and her mind spark.

"Where?" she asked shakily.

He looked up at her, gaze locking her into place.

"Kyoto."



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