Skip-Beat: The Morning After

Actress vs. Acting

It had been weeks since the announcement had been made- two tense, painful weeks. The days passed by insidiously slow, and now that the time had come, Ren felt flustered. The 14 days, 2 hours and 30 minutes he spent praying and blindly believing he could do it quickly vanished into a mere memory, one blocked by panic. He had originally figured that no mater how much he prepared, it would be in vain, however, it was his duty to try to be without her. To be in control without her. To breathe without her...

"Cain Heel to studio 4."

With a quick flicker toward the intercom, Ren slid off the high oaken stool with a glum expression. You could almost visualize his troubled aura radiating off his thick leather costume. It leaked into the already dim dressing room.

Studio 4-Focus.

Before leaving the room, he took a final glance in the mirror. A pair of deep, dark eyes stared blankly back at him, innocently depicting utter disappointment. He quickly masked the unwelcomed sentiment, but , no matter the effort, said eyes always seemed to vacate a sense of longing. And although he figured out why quite some time ago, the mere realization was obviously not enough to fill the void.

He didn't think they could even be complete, either.

It had been 2 weeks since the announcement had been made. She had tried convincing herself that he'd be okay, though it didn't cease her raging nerves.

Kyoko dropped her pencil, hey eyes scanning over a cluster of unfinished math problems. Then glanced at the clock.

He should be there by now.

He should be filming.

Scenarios boiled in her mind, some good, some bad, but most impossible- but they still lingered there, a bothersome itch at the back of her brain.

What if he's sick? That man could have pneumonia and still go to work.

She laid her head on the kotatsu table.

No, he wouldn't. He takes care of himself now.

The whole point of her leaving the Setsu role was to focus on her studies, yet the most she's done is maybe a few pages of over due homework. It wasn't her fault, not really. She could have juggled both things at once. Even without Setsu, she has Kiss of Veins to worry about. According to Reino, they would begin filming in a few days.

Kyoko turned her head to the other side, gaze landing on the wretched script. How she had gone along with 'Kiss of Veins,' she didn't know. She knew why she did it, but the logic behind it wasn't plausible- she couldn't even make herself believe it. But, no turning back now.

Closing her eyes, her mind drifted back to a week ago, when she had finally accepted the role.

Kyoko stood in front of Akataki agency, ready to face its director, or even Reino. She inhaled a large breath and tucked her shaky hands into her coat pockets.

The automated doors opened, revealing a luxurious lobby adorned by a crowd of beautiful people. The secretaries where the very definition of beauty with their long straight hair and high nose bridges; with their light brown eyes and elegant cheekbones. Kyoko wondered if they were related-or aliens.

"Konnichiwa, Kyoko-sama. How can we help you today?" said one of the ladies, looking up at her.

Kyoko inched back, instantly intimidated.

"I..I need to clear up a misunderstanding."

The lady nodded. "Yes, of course. With who?"

She thought about it. "The casting director for 'Kiss of Veins."

At the mention of the movie, the second lady instantly looked up. "Oh, we are all so excited about that movie- it is a definite success!"

Kyoko nodded, grinning an awkward smile.

"The casting director is out right now, Kyoko-sama. Would you like to relay a message?"

Kyoko looked down at the tile floor, her fingers dancing upon the marble desk top.

"Um, no." she replied. "No, that's okay. Thank you." she bowed politely before turning around.

Guess I'll have to come back later.

"Kyoko-san."

She stopped cold.

"What brings you here?"

She hesitantly turned around, her arms wrapping around herself.

In a corner of her brain, she could hear her very core telling her to flee. Especially that single baby blue grudge...

"I had things to straighten here." She said.

Reino nodded, the light's cool rays bouncing off his silver hair. "Where you able to 'straighten' whatever it was?"

Kyoko frowned. "No."

"Well, maybe I can help you," He said. "What is it?"

She narrowed her eyes at him.

There was something off. His usual teasing nature was absent, and the usual glint in his eyes was dimmed. And, to top it of, he seemed sincere about wanting to help.

"He's plotting something." Whispered her demons. "Don't say anything."

"None of your business." She said, stomping towards the exit.

" Aw, you're leaving already?" He asked.

" Yes."

As the doors opened, the chilly wind greeted her with a colossal exhale, almost knocking her off her feet.

Reino grabbed her arm. "How upsetting. I was hoping to chat about our new movie."

Kyoko shook him off and inevitably turned toward him.

"It's not 'our' movie. It's yours."

He cocked his head to the side and stepped outside, making the doors shut behind him.

"No," he said. " It's ours. I made special effort to make you the supporting lead."

" I didn't sign for it, and I'm not gonna." She said through chittering teeth.

"You know, white day is coming up, right? You better accept the role." Reino said, his violet eyes acquiring that mysterious light once again.

"No." She said. "I'll take care of myself this time."

Or just tell Ren, she thought to herself silently.

Reino looked at her. " Is it your boyfriend? Is he not letting you be in it?"

Kyoko's eyes widened. "Who's boyfriend? I don't have a boyfriend."

Reino smirked at her. "Oh? I thought that guy was your boyfriend."

"Who?"

"That Tsugura guy-the scary one." He said, faking shivers.

Kyoko couldn't help but shrug uncomfortably. She quickly laughed to cover her true emotions.

"Tsugura-san? Of course not! We're co-workers."

"So it's him who isn't letting you do it. He does have a sort of grudge against me, doesn't he?"

Kyoko turned around and proceeded out to the street.

" ." Reino called out.

Kyoko was going to keep walking, but stopped as he grabbed her arm.

"Let go." She said.

Reino dragged her back into Akataki Agency, the warm lobby hugging her welcomingly.

She struggled and pulled at his hand, fighting to get free. But as they got into the elevator, she knew the effort was in vain. So, she laid back against the elevator walls in defeat.

"Why?" she asked.

Reino looked at her before releasing her arm.

"Hey you got your cast off." he said, his eyes still on her. She shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah, like a week ago."

He nodded and leaned back, his position mirroring Kyoko's. "What happened to you anyway? the news kept saying different things, especially after you got revealed as Hana's double."

She shrugged. "You don't need to know."

He frowned. "What, don't you trust me?" He said, inching closer.

Kyoko backed against the corner and gave him an unintentional side-smile.

"Obviously."

The elevator stopped at the 24th floor, and she followed him out defencelessly.

"But I'm sincere, though." He said, looking back. " I want you to be my co-lead."

"Why?" She said, pouting. "Why me?"

He shrugged. " I admire your acting. A lot. So, I think our chemistry will be great and you can be my acting tutor."

Kyoko stared at him.

In love with me?

She cleared her throat.

"I'm too flustered by you to act with you."

He stopped abruptly and turned around.

His violet eyes pierce through Kyoko, giving her chills.

"I promise I will behave." He inched closer, his breath ticking her forehead. "But I want my first to be with you."

" Your first?"

"-time acting." He finished with a mischievous smile. " or where you thinking of something else?"

Kyoko blinked. "Of course not."

"So will you?" His gaze intensified "Please?"

Naturally, she couldn't refuse.

She gazed at the clock once again, and her heart sunk again.

President Takarada said she could join then for the final filming, but she wasn't sure she could hold off that long. She didn't think she could keep away from Ren for that long..


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