Skip-Beat: The Morning After

Awkward Meetings

As Ren stepped unto studio 4, he stopped. It seemed like an action scene set up, with wires and catching mattresses everywhere. He sighed silently. These kinds of scenes almost always required Setsuka's loving and encouragement. He paced around, nonchalantly observing the crew and other cast. Murasame Taira was peacefully rehearsing lines with his manager. He seemed like a pretty cool guy when he wasn't bitting at Cain's neck, and Ren instantly wondered if they would have gotten along in other circumstances. Next, his eyes landed on Rio-san, and she seemed to be doing the same thing. However, her make-up designer picked at her every time she finished a line. Ren could see her annoyance even standing so far away.

"Ren-san." Ren turned around. The Director stood there, a slight smile brightening his face.

"Nice to see you back."It had been months since they had met. Since before Kyoko's accident. Seeing him now, Ren was somewhat relieved to see someone familiar. Ren bowed.

"It's nice to be back," He stepped forward. "However, please call me Cain-There are people around."

The Director looked around,startled. He scratched his head and smiled. "Oops. I forget. I'm sorry, Cain-san."

"No, It's okay."

"Well anyway," continued the director, " Where's Setsuka?" Ren felt his heart tighten at her sudden mention.

" She is taking a break for a while. Studies, I believe."

The Director nodded. " Ah, I see. How upsetting. I had something to say to the both of you."

Ren shifted his weight and leaned closer, intrigued. "Oh?"

"I'll tell you both later." said The Director. "it's not that important, anyway."

"CALLING CAIN HEEL TO SET. SCENE 58 TAKE ONE." Ren gave him a quick bow. "I will let her know, Director." He nodded.

"Yes, yes, on to set, they need you." With a reassuring smile, The Director bowed and headed toward the exit.

BThe day went by rather quickly,Ren flying around from stage to stage. It was dark once they ended, however he was satisfied with the progress. Only a few more meetings until the end of 'Tragic Marker.'

"Great work everyone!" Yelled the assistant director. The cast bowed simultaneously before returning to their dressing rooms.

With an exhausted sigh, Ren plopped down on the love seat. It was nice, the silence. It was new. The only sound in the room was that of his breathing, long, shallow and slow. It allowed him to think.

Is all this really worth it? All the hiding. I can't even keep her out of my head for a minute. I want her next to me. I want her with me. I want to hold her and tell her it would be okay. I want to apologize for leaving her after the accident; for leaving her as a child. I want to hug her and kiss her and -

He groaned and shifted positions, the thoughts only making him more anxious to see her. A sudden knock made him jump.

"C-Cain-san?" He processed the voice for a moment.

"Manaka-chan?" He called.

"Yes!" She yelped excitedly.

"You recognize my voice." Perplexed, he got up and opened the door. He had to look down to meet her gaze, even though she wore small heels. Her hair was tied in a half ponytail with the occasional hair sticking out, and her cheeks were flushed a baby pink. This girl, seriously.

"Cain-san?" She looked at him. He leaned against the doorframe, uninterested.

"What?"

"I-" she looked down. "I was wondering if you could give me a ride to the bus stop?"

He stared at her.

"My manager left early" she said quickly, obviously nervous. " and and it is getting dark and my parents tell me not to walk in the dark because I would get kidnapped and-"

"I don't have a car." He said simply. "Sorry."

"Oh? Well would you walk me there then?" She clasped her hands together.

"No." He said. "Ask someone else," he turned away.

"PLEASE!" She pleaded grabbing his arm. Ren looked at her hand. She quickly retrieved it and gave him a 90 degree bow.

"Please?"

Kyoko-chan, I miss you so much right now...


About three hours into her studying, she got a call. It was the 'Kiss of Veins' director, asking for her immediate presence at the Akataki building.

"Is-Is there a problem?" She asked.

"No, but we need you here. We need to have an emergency cold read of the first few scenes." A cold read?

"O-okay."

So now, she stood there, in front of the wretched building for the second time in a week. "They called you in too?"

She jumped, startled.

Reino watched her with a subtle smile. "To do the cold reading."

She quickly regained her composure and cleared her throat. "That's right."

"I wonder why." He said,giving her a light shove through the door. Grabbing on to a railing for support, she looked up at him.

"Who knows?" She said.

They walked in silence toward the elevators,occasionally greeting passing staff. The building was pretty crowded, considering the time and day. People shuffled across hallways with stacks of paper on their arms, others where on the phone. Others where holding meetings, and others where cradled over their cubicles in obvious discomfort.

"Something's off." Reino said, voicing Kyoko's very thoughts. She nodded and subconsciously moved closer to him.

"It's unsettling," she said. He simply nodded.


Ren stared at her. Manaka-chan skipped through the streets, humming along to a cheerful tune. He stayed a few feet behind her, agitated that he had to keep the Cain costume on longer.

"Cain-san?" She said.

He groaned in response.

"Are you and Setsuka really related?"

Ren coughed. "Yes. She is my dearest sister."

"Oh. It doesn't-" she was interrupted by her cheerful ringtone.

"Hello?" She answered. Ren watched the trees around them. He was happy the weather was warmer. The cold made life too lethargic.

"Right now?" She stomped her foot in protest. "Fine. I'm going." She slammed the phone shut. " I have to go to Akataki agency. They want to see me."

Ren was taken aback. "Akataki?"

She nodded. "It's my agency. They are doing a reading for 'Kiss of Veins' all of a sudden."

"'Kiss of Veins?'" He said. " you're in it too?"

She nodded with a smile. " I'm playing Gianna, the leads best friend." She hesitated. "Too? Who else is in it?"

"I'll go with you." He said.

Manaka-chan was surprised.

" you don't have to-"

"I'll call a cab."


They stepped unto the 18th floor, looking around.

"Room1805." She said.

Reino looked around. "Must be down the hall." They walked down the hall, stopping at the end.

"Left or right?" She asked, looking at either side.

"Let's try right."

They proceeded down the right connector hall.


" Why is there a meeting so late?" Ren asked as they exited the cab.

Manaka-chan shrugged. "I don't know, Cain-san. It's weird. They said room 1805. Come on."

They jogged into the building, ignoring the looks shot their way.


Kyoko rested her head on the wall. "We should've gone left," she said weakly.

Reino panted next to her. " I didn't think this hallway would be so damn long." She glared at him.

"Come, on." She said. "Let's head back."

"Kyoko-san?!" She and Reino turned around at the voice.

"M-Manaka-chan?" Kyoko couldn't hide her surprise. Especially at who stood next to her. Ren?

"you know my name? Oh what an honour!" Manaka- chan beamed. " I am a huge fan of yours." Kyoko gave her an awkward bow, her eyes nervously traveling to Ren. Reino looked at her, noticing the tension.

" Kyoko-chan? Are you okay?" Reino asked, steadying her. She nodded shakily.


"'Chan?'Are you really close enough to address her like that?" Ren could feel his face heat with anger.

Reino shrugged. "We're pretty close."

Ren looked at Kyoko sternly. She met his gaze with trembling eyes.

"I guess you are."



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