Skip-Beat: The Morning After

Unto The Hazardous Road

The words echoed in her mind for minutes. She just sat there, stunned, unable to move or speak or say anything. Another piece of evidence had landed casually on her feet, taunting her to believe the impossibility of the probable truth. Yet, she still couldn't quite bring herself to. She didn't even know what to do if Ren was actually Kuon. Would it change anything? What would she even call him?

All these questions swirled in her head, making it an even bigger mess than it already was.

"Kyoko?" She heard someone call. Most probably President Takarada, but she was too distant to tell.

He had dragged her back inside, without even giving her a chance to say goodbye to sweet Tadao. Kyoko would have to thank him later though. Their chat, whether or not helpful, was soothing to her aching heart.

They sat in the lobby, along with other stray patients and their families. It was a dull shade of beige, the lobby. It almost made Kyoko want to go back into her designated room. Loveseats and mismatched lounge chairs were scattered about the room, giving it an unorganized aura.

"Kyoko?" she heard someone call again. This time, she looked up.

Indeed, it still was President Takarada who stood over her. He was looking down at her through sophisticated square-framed glasses.

"Did you hear me?" he asked.

She simply shook her head, her wig swaying along with it. "Sorry."

He sighed and sat next to her.

"I said I'm going to send out a small troop of police officers to bring him back."

Kyoko frowned. "He's just going to resist."

The President nodded, as if she had just simply reassured what he already knew.

"Then we will bring him back by forcefully. His professional career is on the line."

Kyoko shook her head, immediately dismissing the use of force. "No!" she contradicted. "You can't hurt him."

"What am I supposed to do, then?" He sighed, dropping his head unto his palms.

Kyoko thought about it.

Regardless of how she felt, the President was right. Ren had to comeback; he wasn't even the person to run away in the first place. Especially from work.

"The accident hit a little too close to home for him…" She remembered the President telling her. He never did tell her what that 'accident' was. But she repressed her urge to ask; she was, subconsciously, a little afraid.

He also wouldn't come back if they went to get him, not in his current state.

Then the thought hit her. It was a tiny little thought, one that might not even work. But, regardless, she suggested it.

"I'll go." She said.

The president looked at her. "What?"

"I'll go," she repeated. "I'll go get him."

They stayed silent for a few seconds, both processing the thought.

For the President, this meant he would be entrusting Ren to her; he would be entrusting an unpredictably and emotionally hurt man to a fragile, emotionally hurt girl.

For Kyoko, this meant that she would have to face her conflicts right in the face. She would have to face Ren, whom she missed dearly. But, to her horror, she also might have to face Kuon; the boy she knew once upon a time.

She felt a shiver run down her spine.

"I think that might be smart, actually." Said the President.

"Oh?" Kyoko cocked her head to the side.

"It is highly unlikely he will fight against you, but…" he trailed off.

"What?" she urged.

"Nothing, never mind." The President stood up, an enthusiastic look coming over him. "Are you up for it?" he asked her.

Kyoko nodded, giving him a smile.

"I've missed your smile, Kyoko-chan" he held a hand out to her.


As she grabbed his hand, President Takarada wondered if keeping quiet about it was O.K. maybe he should tell her. No, there was no need to.

Ren would be happy to see her, right?


The next challenge would be getting out of the hospital. Even though Kyoko was in good condition, she was still prone for sudden black outs and extreme headaches. Obviously, since she had been hiding most of them for the past few days, hiding them a little longer didn't seem too difficult.

Even so, the President hesitated releasing her. And so did the staff, since there was no parental signature issued.

"Ms. Mogami, we need a parent to sign you out and review your tests." They had told her.

She simply smiled and nodded, replying: "I know it is protocol, but, really I'm O.K. and, my mother is a busy woman. I shouldn't disturb her."

Now, a few hours after arguing with them, they finally discharged her with a few pain killer prescriptions.

"I am sending someone with you as a chaperone, O.K?" the President called from the limousine's passenger seat.

Kyoko shook her head. "I really think it would be a lot faster if I just went alone."

He turned around to face her. "What is on your mind? You seem very preoccupied."

Kyoko was stunned at the sudden question.

"You can tell?"

He gave her a sly smile. "That distant look and tone of voice is something I'm all too familiar with."

Kyoko smiled. "I'm just tired."

"Physically?"

"Emotionally."

The president nodded. "I can tell you this: live your life so that you won't regret it later. Make decisions that make you happy. Live like there is no tomorrow. All of those cheesy 'live life to the fullest' quotes…follow them."

"Is that what you do, President?" Kyoko smiled.

"Obviously!"

In a way, his advice did soothe her. She didn't regret pushing Ren that night, and she didn't regret going to sort things out either. She had too many regrets in life to invite anymore.

"Your flight leaves at 10 a.m tomorrow." Informed the President.

Kyoko nodded.

"I will send someone to pick you up."

As they pulled up at Daruyama, Kyoko felt a wave of relief. Her eyes had ached to see that black and white and red sign again, to see her lonely bike leaning against the railing. She ached to see her adoptive family again. Even if they weren't technically even her adoptive parents, their love and care surpassed what Kyoko could even ask for.

With an anticipating sigh, Kyoko bowed politely.

"Thank you for taking care of me today. I will see you tomorrow."

As soon as she shut the door behind her, a messy haired, middle aged woman pocked her head out the front door.

"Kyoko-chan!"

"Okami-san," Kyoko smiled.

She embraced her into a warm, welcoming hug.

"It was so quiet here without you." She said.

Kyoko tightened her grip, biting back tears. "I missed you guys so much."

Okami-san smiled and leaned back to look at her.

"Your hair has grown a lot!" she said, tucking Kyoko's shoulder length auburn hair behind her ear.

"Really?" Kyoko touched it. "I should cut it then."

"No!" Okami-san exclaimed, pulling Kyoko inside. "It looks nice."

There weren't many costumers, only a few scattered around the place. Taisho, though, seemed to be cooking attentively and diligently, as if to feed a hundred men. When he caught sight of them, he gave Kyoko an expressionless bow.

"Welcome back." He greeted, pushing a bowl of noodles toward her.

Kyoko smiled. "Thank you!"

She savored the food, taking her time and tasting every single noodle and vegetable. It had such a peculiar taste, the food Taisho made. It could make someone feel at home and well, even though everything else in their life said otherwise.

So, that is why Kyoko just sat there with them. Eating, and chatting about life. It made her feel good and wanted. More accurately, it made all the feelings her mother left drift away.

At least for tonight, I'll enjoy myself.

Because I have no idea what tomorrow will bring upon.


For the first time in a long time, Kyoko smiled as she woke up. She had much needed rest, and was ready to face the day.

She didn't know what to pack, so she didn't. She still didn't even have a cell phone. Kyoko frowned.

My cell phone.

She jumped at the sound of a honk outside her window.

That's for me.

With a sigh, she stood and looked around.

We depart once again, my little sanctuary.

Kyoko was mentally prepared for what was to come. She even prepared the worst case scenario; but it was badly staged since she really had no idea what to expect. Would he still even be in Kyoto? Who knew.

She hesitantly decided not to awaken Taisho and Okami-san, so she left them a note, hoping they wouldn't be mad.

Since it was early morning, the sky was a inky blue colour, scattered twinkling stars illuminating it.

"Kyoko-chan?"

She turned around.

"Yashiro-san?"

He smiled. "I will be escorting you to the airport."

Kyoko shook her head. "I'm sorry that you had to wake up this early." She said, easing into the golden Taxi.

Yashiro shook his head. "No, I am sorry. If I would have just monitored Ren and…" He trailed off, a sad look crossing his face as he shut the door.

"No, it wasn't your fault. I'm still really confused about everything, actually."

"Everyone is." He said. "And the press won't shut up about it either. Making up ridiculous stories and making pointless connections. I even saw an article that said he has abducted by aliens!"

Kyoko giggled, and then quickly stopped herself. "Sorry. Wrong time for humor."

Yashiro smiled. "No, it was actually quite hilarious. The things people come up with."

The streets were quite busy for 7 a.m. on a Saturday. Most people slept in, give and take a few weekend workers. But not that day; buildings were illuminated with lights and skyscrapers shone twice as much, lighting up the whole city.

"Oh!"

Kyoko jumped at Yashiro's sudden exclamation.

"I have something for you!" he reached into his leather brief case.

"A Phone!" Kyoko exclaimed, taking it in her hands. It was a smartphone, almost as big as her hand. She sighed happily and held it to her chest.

"Thank you so much!"

Yashiro nodded. "Ren said a long time ago you needed one. I had forgotten until yesterday."

"He said that?" she asked.

Yashiro nodded.

I didn't think he actually meant it when he said he would get me a new phone.

Kyoko smiled nostalgically. She would have to thank him.

For the rest of the ride, thoughts of Ren invaded her mind, swirling and dancing around. She recalled all the happy times they'd spent, and the bad ones. She remembered the beginning and how he was unhappy with her ridiculous motives for entering show business. She remembered how much he truly made her smile. She remembered his smile—his true smile, and how breathless it made her.

It made the car ride feel eternal.

But as soon as they entered the airport, the first thing that hit her was the unbelievable amount of cars. Rows and rows of them coagulated toward the gates, honks filling the air.

To pass time, Kyoko read all the gate destinations.

Busan, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

Kyoto, Japan

New York, United States of America

Kyoto, Japan

Shiroi, Japan

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan.

Kyoko frowned.

"Yashiro-san?" she asked.

"Hmm?"

"Do you know why there are so many flights to Kyoto today?"

He shook his head. "Their times are really close, too."

Kyoko shrugged. "I hope I don't get lost."

Yashiro chuckled. "I'll help you all the way to the check in desk, O.k.?"

Kyoko nodded. "Thank you!"

"I can only take you this far," called the Taxi driver. "If not, I will get stuck in traffic."

"That's O.k. thank you." Yashiro handed him the fare and opened the door.

The first thing that Kyoko noticed as soon as she got off, was the amount of paparazzi standing by the front gates.

Kyoko gasped and hid behind Yashiro.

"Crap, I should have brought a wig."

"You're lucky the President knows you so well."

Yashiro held a shoulder length brown wig over his shoulder.

She sighed with relief and slipped it on. It wasn't as nice as the one Misa had given her, but it would do.

"Ready?" Yashiro asked.

Kyoko nodded.

They swayed and avoided the crowd, Kyoko trying desperately to avoid as many hits as possible. But, by the time they got past the paparazzi and crowd, Kyoko's head and broken arm throbbed with pain.

I'll buy some pain killers once I get to Kyoto.

They continued on inside, struggling to locate the check in desk.

"Are you sure it's this way?" Kyoko asked.

Yashiro shrugged. "I'm following the signs."

Kyoko chuckled. Good thing it was required to be there a few hours earlier.

"Mogami Kyoko."

Kyoko stopped, Yashiro stopping with her.

That voice. That frigid tone. Kyoko could recognize it amongst an army.

Mother?

She turned around and face Saena, who was only a few inches away. She gave Kyoko a wicked grin.

"I could recognize your face no matter how many wigs you put on your head."

"What are you doing here?" Kyoko asked rigidly. Her hand was tensed into a closed fist.

"What do you mean? We are leaving to Kyoto. Or have you forgotten?"

Kyoko blinked at her. "What?"

"I told you, you had two days. Today is two days. Therefore, we are leaving. Clear enough?"

Kyoko took a step back. "No. I'm not going with you. I have more important things to do."

Kyoko quickly turned around, dragging Yashiro along with her. Saena's stern hand wrapped around her arm, painfully suffocating it.

"Ma'am, please let go of her." Yashiro demanded.

Saena's dagger gaze snapped toward him. "Do you have any idea who I am?"

"No, but if you don't let her go immediately I will call the police."

Saena grinned. "You don't brag about me much, do you, dear?"

Kyoko breathed deeply, calming herself. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Don't lose it. Don't fight.

For Ren.

"Let me go, mother." She ordered.

Yashiro looked at Kyoko with utter surprise. "She is your.."

"Why are you here then, if not for me?" Saena asked, turning Kyoko around.

"It's none of your concern why I am here."

"It is my concern!" Saena yelled.

By then, a crowd had gathered around them. Not a heavy crowd, a light one, but it was rapidly growing.

"Lower your voice." Kyoko whispered.

"I will do whatever I want." Saena shot back. " And if you aren't going to tell me why the hell you are here, then you are coming with me!"

Saena began to pull her away.

Kyoko ripped her arm from her grasp, regretting it as it collided with her broken arm. She bit back a scream before regaining her composure.

"Even if I told you you'd drag me back with you."

"True." Saena nodded. "but I like gossip."

"I don't have time for this." Kyoko said, once again, turning around and walking away.

"How dare you turn away from me!"

Saena lunged toward Kyoko, grasping on to her wig.

"Ah!" Kyoko struggled, holding the wig unto her head.

"Security!" Yashiro yelled, knowing if he even tried to push Saena off, the wig would come off as well.

The paparazzi were interested now, peaking through the glass walls from outside.

Kyoko shook her head and tried to get free, but Saena's grip was strong. Naturally, such a situation can only last so long.

The wig fell to the floor, spattering across their feet.

Kyoko turned around, mouth agape.

"Oh no." Yashiro sighed.

"Everyone! Look!"

"it's Kyoko!"

"From Dark Moon!"

There was chatter amongst the crowd, the paparazzi flooding around them. They bombarded questions at her in between the flashing cameras, crowding around her and Saena.

Yashiro struggled to suppress them, and soon after, some security guards aided him.

Saena looked at her sternly. "We are getting on flight 185 to Kyoto." She said.

The crowd around them was silent, wanting to catch any snippet of their conversation.

Kyoko slowly shook her head. "No. You are."

And without even a final gesture, she turned around and began to, finally, walk away from her mother.

"You'll regret this!" she yelled after her.

I highly doubt that.

The crowd parted as Yashiro and her walked away, only a single person standing in their way.

He was probably in his late 30s, a man about Kyoko's height. He held a tape recorded and a camera in his hand, along with a notebook tucked messily in his pocket.

Kyoko stopped in front of him.

"Excuse me," she said as gently as possible.

The man bowed shakily, moving aside.

She began walking past him, but he stopped her.

"Miss, Kyoko, I have a question."

She looked at him. So did everyone elese.

"Do you know that woman?" he asked simply.

Kyoko thought about it. Obviously, if she even was going to answer, she would lie. But, you're never even supposed to talk to the paparazzi or reporters, because they never say the truth no matter what you say. But not speaking to the man would be rude of her.

"No." she responded.

"I have no idea who she is."


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