Skip-Beat: The Morning After

Kyoko or Hana

Kyoko looked out the Taxi window, lethargically gazing over Tokyo's busy landscape. Despite her love for Kyoto's simplistic buildings and rural life, she actually had missed the busy metropolis.

It had been almost a week since she last saw this place. Almost a week since she'd been away from the drama; almost a week since she began to love him.
Well, technically the feelings had been there long before, but it wasn't until that fateful trip to Kyoto that they actually surfaced- that they actually unlocked free.

She sighed, pressing her hands together.

A soon as Ren and her got off the plane, her phone was plagued by missed calls and messages, some form the band, but most from the President. Again, her priority would always be her eccentric boss.

"Hello?" She answered, alarmed. "President?"

"Kyoko-chan." His voice was calm, but also had an obvious urgency to it. "I need you
and Ren to separate immediately. Get different Taxis and come straight to LME. Both of you." And without further protest or questions allowed, he hung up.

Kyoko looked at Ren and wrinkled her nose. "He said to take different taxis."

He looked at her, confused. "Why?"

Kyoko gave him a single shrug before turning into the parking lot.

Kyoko let out another sigh, her knuckles burning white. She could only hope everything was okay. God only knew what happened while they were gone.

She looked over at the empty seat next to her and smiled sadly.

I can no longer deny how I feel about you. But I will, with all my soul, try to suppress just for a little while longer.

"LME right?"

Kyoko jumped, looking up.

From the rearview mirror, the grungy Taxi driver looked back at her with an annoyed look.

Kyoko nodded, her black wig swaying. She had hoped to be able to ditch it at the airport, but both Ren and her decided it was probably smart to keep them on until they were near the agency. She took a lock of hair between her fingers, twirling it nervously.

The city was sunny, the bright evening light flushing across buildings, warning stray people to get home before sunset. That was the intriguing thing about Tokyo- the fact that it was a beautiful masterpiece yet it could also be the most dangerous poison after dark. They passed by Daruyama, making Kyoko crane her head back toward it, a small smile crossing her features. She was rather excited to see them, her family.

She frowned.

Was Saena still around? or had she finally given up and gone home. She doubted the latter, but did dearly hope so.

A familiar chime brought her back into the taxi, away from the scenery. She looked down at her phone.

Tsuruga Ren

Do not come to LME.

Kyoko blinked at the rectangular screen. She was about to reply, to ask why, but stopped herself, anxiety rising to the pit of her stomach.

"Are you sure you want to be dropped off here?" said the driver, making Kyoko look up at him. He kept casting nervous glances ahead.

"Why? Is something wrong?" She asked, intertwining her fingers.

He shook his head. "No, but... It seems rather crowded..."

Kyoko leaned over the small opening between he driver's and passenger's seat, giving her a clear view of the agency's lobby.

She gaped at it, swallowing an anxious breath.

Rows and rows of reporters lined the pavement, blocking the entrance. Tons of paparazzi held up their cameras while chatting, taking fake shots. There were also a lot of security guards fighting to keep them from blocking the streets, though much of the struggle was in vain. Inside the glass building, she could see most of the staff nervously looking over the crowd, probably panicking over what to do. Amongst these people, she saw her boss, stern against the second floor window. He looked relaxed, and if he was even remotely fazed by the situation, he showed no sign of it.

Her eyes scanned the crowd, trying to plan an entrance route or for any sign of the possible cause. News leakage? Maybe they heard Ren was returning.

Kyoko clenched her jaw at the notion.

They would give Ren hell if that was it, hell he didn't deserve. They would probably spread a ton of rumors and lies.

She scratched her head, sliding the wig off. It would be better if the press didn't see her disguise...in case she needed to get away later.

Her hand landed on her neck, atop the warm, sore blotch of skin. Closing her eyes, she prayed no one would see it, even if her hair was long enough to cover it.

Helplessly, she let the memory flood in.

"Nii-san, get off." said Setsu, pushing on Cain's chest. He looked down at her, gaze strong and determined and full of thirst, thirst that Kyoko was sure would haunt them both.
He leaned closer, turning her head to the side with a gentle caress.
Setsu clenched her jaw, grabbing unto the pearl sheets.
"Think about what you are doing," she whispered.
Cain inched toward her, his breath warm and steady against her cheek. He cocked his head and met her gaze.
"That's exactly what I'm doing."
She held his gaze, pleading.
With a sly smile, he moved his lips to her neck.
" Even if no one else knows, we know-you're mine. Don't forget that promise."

Kyoko let out her breath, a stew of emotions flooding through her.

Wait...

She leaned over to her bag, retrieving Ren's scarf. With a sigh of relief, she wrapped it on, feeling safe and sound under its intoxicating scent.

So glad I kept this.

"Here you are, Missy." Said the driver.

Kyoko bowed, handing him the required quota. "Thank you, Sir."

"No problem." he said, still eyeing the crowd.

Kyoko opened the door, instantly flooded by loud yells and camera clicks!

The driver stopped her, putting his arm on her shoulder. "Here." he said, handing her a business card. She looked at it.

Inawo Akinari

1 (800) 756-787-532

Taxi Driver Professional

タクシー TOKYO CO.

She looked back up at him.

"In case you ever need a ride out of this loony place." He winked, then turned back around.

Kyoko blinked and stuffed the card in her bag before getting off.

She immediately spotted Ren amongst the crowd, surrounded by reporters. He had on an antsy expression, but kept his usual professional grace. As if on cue, he looked up, catching her gaze.
And frowned, his eyes darkening.

What the hell is going on.

"Kyoko!"

"It's Kyoko!"

In mere seconds, the flood of reporters coagulated around her, bombarding her with questions. She held up her arm, half to shield and half to push.

"Is it true?" One asked. "Is it true you were Hana's stand in?"

Kyoko stopped, turning toward the question.

She recognized him as the reporter from the air port, the same glum expression but with renewed craze. She blinked.

"What?"

Even more questions were thrown at her, the constant flashing of the cameras blinding her.

"News leaked that you were Hana's stand in at the Onnanoko no Kaikaku concert. Any comments?"

She stood there, astonished, without even a clue of who could have told. Sho? No. Telling would mean the public finding out he had kissed her on stage. The band members? Kyoko doubted it. It would make things more difficult than it would better.
She felt a shiver run down her spine as a hand wrapped around her wrist.

Her head snapped toward it. It was a slim, male hand, not one she'd ever seen before. Her eyes trailed up to meet a frail, but focused gaze.

"Ha-Haruo-san?" she stuttered. Her manager looked up at her, carefully pulling her through the crowd and toward LME.
"I know we haven't been properly introduced, Kyoko-sama." He said shoving at the reporters. "But yes, that would be me."

Kyoko flinched at his honorific suffix. " Kyoko-san or chan is fine; I'm only 17."

Haruo smiled as he opened the door for her. He didn't look a day over twenty nor had the geeky appearance she remembered- probably because she'd only seen him from afar. He wore a professional- looking suit, but it also had a casual fashion to it. His black hair was messy and stuck to his tanned face.

" But you're my boss, nevertheless." he said.

As the glass doors shut behind them, so did the massacre of people.

Kyoko let out a sigh of relief. "What is going on?"

"They know about you being in Onnanoko no Kaikaku." he said simply, lowering his clipboard to his side.

"Who told?" she asked.

He shrugged and gestured to the elevators. "Let's go find out."

Nodding, she followed him onboard.

The elevator ride was silent at first, making Kyoko feel rather awkward. Sensing this, Haruo lifted his clip board.

"You disappeared so suddenly; I wanted to warn you about this but couldn't find you anywhere."

Kyoko pursed her lips. "I had some affairs to tend to outside of town."

He nodded, as if the excuse made perfect sense. His face lit up. "Oh! by the way," He turned toward her, handing her a note. "The President asked me to give you this."

She blinked at it and took it in her hand. It has a simple note, scribbled on common lined-paper.

"What does it say?" she asked, opening it.

"I don't know. It wasn't addressed to me. Reading it would invade your privacy."

Kyoko bit her lip.

'Tragic Marker' will resume filming in a few days and carry on for another month. More details soon.

She stared at it for a long time, long after the elevator's monotonous ding! made her flinch.

"Kyoko-sama?"

She would have to be Setsu again...great. Not that she wasn't looking forward to acting, (Inner demon: Sarcasm.) But she wasn't looking forward to just what was going to happen.

No. She was going to tackle this; she wasn't going to let this emotional fiasco get into the way of her acting. Her original plot was to compete against Ren just as much as she was competing against Sho.

I cannot forget that.

Haruo walked past her, Kyoko dragging herself behind him.

"A..Any other things I missed?" She managed to ask.

He looked back at her, handing her a thick packet. Kiss of Veins was printed on the front of it.

"What is this?" She asked, skimming through it.

"A script." he said. "Akataki agency asked for you to star in it."

Kyoko stopped walking, looking up.

He met her gaze and nodded, an understanding smile surfacing on his features. "I know, I know. I was going to drown the thing, quite honestly. But they insisted. Persisted. Practically held me at gun point to give you the script."

Kyoko frowned eyeing the packet. "I'll read it over." She said finally.

Haruo nodded. "Let's go in then?"

She looked up at the President's mahogany double doors.

She gave him a determined nod before proceeding inside.


"The President did?" Ren asked, stepping inside the elevator's shutting doors. Yashiro shuffled behind him.

"Yes. He really want you to talk to you a soon as possible." He looked at Ren. "And where the heck where you!? I was worried sick!" he touched his forehead. "Literally! I had a fever two days ago!"

Ren bit back a laugh. "Sorry," he said. "I had urgent business out of town."

Yashiro crossed his arms. "You could have still told someone," he mumbled.

Ren was almost exactly what the press had asked- Where where you? why so suddenly? One even asked if him and Kyoko were involved. He had shrinked back at the question.

"Oh!" Yashiro exclaimed. "He also told me to give you this." He handed Ren a sloppy looking note.

'Tragic Marker' will resume filming in a few days and carry on for another month. More details soon.

Ren involuntarily smiled, though it quickly turned into a frown. He wondered if Setsu would be mad about what happened in Kyoto-He doubted it. It was Setsu after all.

I'm not even suppose to remember what happened in Kyoto. It was part of the promise.
He let out a relieved sigh as Yashiro eyed him. "Why do you look at relieved all of a sudden? what does it say?"

Ren stuffed it in his pocket. "Nothing. It's not important."

Yashiro frowned, handing him a thick packet. "Aha, sure. And this came in for you as well."

Ren took it, instantly skipping to its first page. "A script?" Ren asked, reading the title: Kiss of Veins

Yashiro nodded. "From Akataki Agency."

Ren shoved it back. "Return it."

"Give it a change, Ren. Don't let where it came from affect it. It's a good story line."

He eyed the script. "When does it film?" he asked.

Yashiro shrugged. "Soon, I guess."

It may interfere with 'Tragic Marker.'

"I'll look into it," He said, knowing he wouldn't accept it, but took it back regardless.

With a satisfied grin, Yashiro opened the President's mahogany double doors.

And they both instantly stopped cold at the sight.

Kyoko was crouched over a love seat, expression pained as she cradled her cheek. Around her stood an alarmed President Takarada and someone that looked like Onnanoko no Kaikaku's manager. Next to her, holding her arm was someone Ren had never seen before. He looked rather young and professional and attractive. He decided instantly he didn't like the mystery man.

"Answer me!"

Ren looked up toward the voice.

Standing over Kyoko was Saena.


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