Skip-Beat: The Morning After

Once a Secret Now a Test

That night, she dreamt of the strangest thing. Ren—no Cain, had been sitting on top of her, despite her loud and thrashing protests. He had been preaching to Kyoko—no, Setsu, about fairness. Or had it been unfairness? Kyoko couldn't remember, but it seemed unimportant anyhow.

The first thing she did as she awoke was ponder why such a dream would even dare invade her blissful slumber. Though she quickly shrugged the notion off.

Dreams never make sense, she assured.

Slowly, drowsily, her eyelids fluttered open, cringing at the bright sunlight pouring form those colossal hotel windows.

Rubbing her face, she sat up, stretching her arms to the ceiling.

With a light smile, she looked over to her left, to the empty queen bed.

Empty.

Startled, her eyes widened.

Ren?

A thousand scenarios flooded through her mind as her eyes frantically searched the room. Did he leave again? Was he kidnapped? She doubted it, but the possibility was there. Not on the couch, or anywhere near sight. But then her eyes landed to the spot next to her.

With a muffled scream, Kyoko flew off the bed, landing painfully on the floor.

Kyoko, you idiot!

She clutched her broken arm as it instantly flooded with pulsating pain.

"Mph..." She groaned.

After a few moments of regaining her composure and gathering her wits from the elegantly-carpeted floor, she stood and gaped at him.

The bed was fairly big, definitely big enough to fit two people comfortably and allowing them a decent amount of personal space.

But Ren was almost completely on the spot where she once laid, his arm draped over the edge of the bed.

How did this happen? Where we really that close together? Oh my god, what did I do last night?

With every gentle breath, his back rose then fell, making Kyoko's lips quirk into a side smile.

At least it looks like he is resting.

With a troubled sigh, she dragged herself into the bathroom.

It was quite luxurious, the bathroom. A spacious white room with scattered paintings to give it a classy splash of colour. Besides a regular shower, it also had a bathtub on the side.

She frowned to herself.

I really should shower.

She examined herself in the mirror, shaking and ruffling her auburn hair to put it up into a disorganized bun. She opened the faucet, and was about to splash cool water on her face when a minuscule detail caught her eye.

Her breath caught.

Hesitantly, she turned her head to the right, stretching her neck toward the mirror.

With yet another muffled scream, Kyoko quickly backed away from it, her eyes wide with shock.

There, almost to the nape of her neck, was a small, reddish-violet mark, one that looked almost too familiar.

She stared at it, hoping maybe it was a mirage, a trick on her tired eyes.

She reached up, running her fingers across the sore skin.

It..It wasn't a dream…

Kyoko sunk down to the floor, desperately trying to recall the night's events. In vain.

Oh god. What have I done? How did this happen? I..I don't even know who I am anymore…

She dropped her head into her palm, counting her breaths.

"Hey."

Kyoko jumped.

"T-Tsuruga-san. Hi."

He smiled down at her, leaning against the bathroom floor.

His hair was messy, his natural waves falling around his face, framing it perfectly. His gaze was soft and relaxed, making Kyoko almost instantly melt.

"Here," he said, holding out her cell phone. "It's been ringing nonstop."

Kyoko blinked at him before grabbing it.

"Sorry," She apologized. "I really didn't hear it."

Ren shrugged, stifling a yawn. He opened his mouth, as if to say something. Immediately, Kyoko worried he would bring up the night's events, but she let out a relieved sigh when he simply walked back into the living room area.

She looked down at her phone, gaping at the 17 missed calls. 2 from LME, 3 from Sho. 2 from Moko-san and an impressive 10 from the president.

She instinctively called him to call back first.

He answered on the second ring, his tone surprised.

"Kyoko-chan, so you're still alive."

"Yes, sorry, I didn't hear my phone." She replied, scratching her head guiltily. "Is everything O.K?"

She heard the President sigh before continuing.

"Well, technically no. everyone keeps asking where Ren and, now, you are. The people at LME are getting especially suspicious, and the people at Akatoki agency want to play dirty and call the press. Do you have any idea how many reporters have called LME since yesterday?"

"No."

"Exactly. It's kind of a nightmare. So you two come home soon, O.K.? I booked your flight for 2 p.m. Don't miss it!"

Kyoko looked at her phone's neon, digital clock.

9.a.m.

"At the Itami airport?" she asked.

"Yes, so you'll have to take a bus over there."

Kyoko groaned. "O.K."

"Oh, and, Kyoko-chan?"

"Yes?"

"Don't tell anyone about Kyoto, O.K.?"

Kyoko's face went pale.

That's it!

That is what they had been talking about the night before; forgetting everything that happened in Kyoto as soon as they landed in Tokyo.

"I really hope that was the right thing to say," she voiced, lowering her gaze.

"Huh?" asked the President, confused. "What was?"

Kyoko shook her head, dismissing any and all lingering thoughts for later. "No, nothing. I—I won't tell. I promise.

With an approving sigh, the President said his farewells before hanging up.

5 hours. 4, if you excluded getting to the airport and through the mess of a security checkup.

That is how much time they had in their secret fantasy. It didn't make Kyoko particularly sad, but neither did it make her happy. Her emotional self being a wreck, all she could do was enjoy the little time that was left, and mentally prepare for their return.

Releasing a troubled breath, she stood, leaning against the sink.

What would she even do once they got back? She didn't even ask the band manager if she needed to stay any longer or go visit Hana-chan. She didn't even ask her own manager for guidance or if any scripts had come in for her.

The poor boy, she thought to herself, we haven't even gotten a formal chance to meet.

Kyoko slid her fingers across the marble counter, coming to a stop next to a contact case. She hesitantly held it up, twirling it in her hand.

An image of Ren's sapphire blue eyes flooded into her memory.

That's right Kuon had blue eyes.

"So you noticed, then?"

She looked towards Ren, once again leaning against the bathroom door.

" I wouldn't have remembered if you wouldn't have taken them off." She said, putting the case down.

"I'm going out. Do we need anything?" he asked, looking at her.

Kyoko thought about it for a moment, though her thoughts were interrupted by a text message.

She looked down at it:

President Takarada

Kyoko-chan, your tickets are under fake names. Get disguises. We don't need any more press attention.

Kyoko: Hayashi, Sumiko

Ren: Hayashi, Hitochi

Kyoko suppressed a laugh.

He just loves to make us related, huh?

"President said our flight back it at 2. And that we need disguises."

Disappointed flashed across Ren's face. "I don't like wig shopping."

" Neither did I." she gestured back toward the living room, to the mahogany coffee table.

When she arrived to Kyoto, she was forced to buy a black wig. It was fine, but she bleached her own hair to get rid of the colour, now it was coming back to haunt her.

Ren gave an agitated sigh, rubbing his forehead. "I'll be back." Without further words, he unlocked the door and it shut closed behind him.

"Be careful." Kyoko whispered, her voice catching in her throat.

She looked back at the shower and decided it was probably the smartest thing to do. And considering she only had one extra change of clothes, it was either now or never.

Ren came back around 30 minutes later, wigless and agitated.

" I hate those things. They itch."

"You're acting like a child," Kyoko said, fixing her own wig. It was jet black with bangs, and it fell a little over her shoulders. She liked it, actually, and missed seeing her fair skin contrast with the colour. "We have to get you one."

Ren walked into the restroom, stopping right in front of her. He grabbed a lock of her wig ad twirled it around his fingers. " I remember when you had black hair." He said. "Why did you dye it."

Kyoko stepped back. "Many reasons."

He didn't push the subject.

They left the hotel at around 11.a.m., returning to the wig shop. Well technically, it was a cosplay/ costume shop. It was a little crowded with teenagers fussing and trying on costumes, but besides that, it was empty.

"Come on," she said, dragging Ren along with her. He pulled away from her grip, putting his hands in his pockets.

Kyoko rolled her eyes. Such a child.

The wigs were placed all along the far wall, radiating every single colour of the spectrum. Long, and short, wispy and straight.

"Any colour in mind?" she asked, looking at him.

He looked down at her with a piercing gaze.

"Guess not." she answered and looked back at the colossal wall. Kyoko smiled, an idea suddenly striking her.

"Let's play Rock Paper Scissors." she said, turning toward him with her fist outstretched. He looked at it.

"Why?"

"Come on!" she urged, slightly excited.

A ghost of a smile crossed his lips. "Who's being childish now?" he protested, but raised his fist.

"Winner chooses the wig colour." Informs Kyoko. Ren lifted an eyebrow at her. "No strange colours."

She nodded.

"1." she counted, raising her fist.

"2." he followed.

"3."

Kyoko smiled. "I win."

Ren dropped his fist, sighing. " Best out of 3."

Two turns later, Ren sat down on the metallic seat, defeated. "That's not even fair. You picked rock all three times."

Kyoko nodded in triumph "You'll be surprised how often that works."

She examined the wall once more, finally deciding on a blonde one. It was about the same length as Ren's hair, except it was wavy and a honey-gold. She extended it toward him. "For old time's sake."

His gaze softened as he took it. "I never liked my blonde hair."

"I did." she said. He looked up at her, and she turned away. No need to awaken anything.

Only 2 more hours left. Might as well keep them as smooth as possible.

The bus station wasn't far from there, and they both thanked the heavens for it. Kyoko's feet were awfully sore from the constant walking and Ren was just lethargic. It was a lonely, old bus stop, only a few people gathered along with them.

The bus arrived at around 12:45, dropping them off at Itami at exactly 1 p.m.

They both got off the bus and exchanged tiring sighs.

"Traveling is so tedious." Kyoko said, stretching his back.

Ren shrugged. "I think it depends on how you look at it."

She cocked her head toward him. "Oh?"

He nodded. "One may see it as a bother while others may see it as an opportunity to preoccupy the mind with something else."

"Is that what you do, Tsuruga-san?"

He looked at her, gaze soft as velvet, but with a frigid undertone. He stayed silent.

Getting the tickets was easy enough, though it got kind of sticky when the clerk asked for our IDs.

We argued, saying we didn't need to show one since we are just picking up our ticket. However, even I knew you had to show once, especially if you are picking up a ticked. I had no idea how that had slipped my mind or Tsuruga-san's for that matter. So, after some 10 minutes of arguing, the clerk called our 'guardian.' Even from where we stood, we could hear the President's demanding voice.

Afterwards, the clerk simply gave us our tickets, face drained of colour.

Tsuruga-san and I couldn't her but chuckle as we reached our seats.

Again, it was first class, two or so away from the front. It was nice. To feel the soft leather seat sink beneath my aching body, to rest my broken arm against the plush arm rest. And to have him beside me, even it was just for a small amount of time.

The plane ride was silent. Not awkward, but thoughtful. Not happy, but sad. Kyoko was dreading getting back to Tokyo not only because of the probable chaos that awaited them, but also because of their promise. Would it last? Would it work? Was it made for the best?

Or for the worst?

Kyoko didn't know. Ren didn't know.

So, for the remaining 2 hours, they stared out the window, admiring the distant sun that shone oh-so-brightly across the evening sky.

MEANWHILE IN TOKYO

The President threw his arms up in the air.

"What do you mean you can't get me a camel!?" he screamed at a nervous looking employee.

"I want one for tomorrow! I must have one! If not, I cannot wear my Egyptian get up."

The employee seemed about to speak, but was interrupted by a set of erratic knocking upon the office doors.

"Enter." Said the President, sitting down.

In burst an exasperated Manager Ma, slamming his hands on the President's desk.

"Who the hell told." He spat. "Who revealed her identity to THE GODDAMN PRESS?"

The President looked at him. "Has the pressure of dealing with a teenage-girl band gotten to you, Ma?"

" .serious." Manager Ma slammed a newspaper article in front of him.

President Takarada sucked in a breath as he read the head line:

Actress Kyoko a stand in for Hana in Onnanoko no Kaikaku


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