Skip-Beat: The Morning After

Final Goodbye: The End

Kyoko never noticed how irritatingly quiet LME's hallways were. The wide rectangular frames and lack of furniture made sounds echo, and the white wallpapers made it look like a run-down asylum. She stared silently at the President's office doors, letting her mind wonder with scenarios. Was Ren angry? He didn't look angry. He looked more…nostalgic as he walked her toward the doors. She protested, and tried to remain inside, but it was futile. As most forms of resistance were with him.

America….I'm going to America….She let out a long sigh.

Would she be able to make it? She didn't know too much English, and the little she did know would not get her very far.

She would be leaving all the people she cared for. She would be leaving Ren.

"Ah, I'm going crazy." She whispered, scratching her head.

Sinking down against the wall, she let her mind wonder to the night before.

"Are you okay?" Ren slipped his arm behind Kyoko, cradling her closer. She couldn't help but run her fingers along his arms and chest, tracing his every muscle and crevice. His hair fell over his eyes and nose.

She smiled. "Are…Are you?"

He chuckled. "Better than okay."

Sinking deeper into the covers, she laid her head against his torso. They held each other in silence. It was so peaceful. So surreal. Being there with him gave her a sense of security, as if his embrace would ward away any evils and repel every storm.

She almost felt….loved.

A sudden creak made her snap back to the present. Ren closed the door behind him, not gently, but obviously less agitated than before. He had his back to her, so any attempt at reading him was impossible.

Kyoko stood. "K—Kuon…"

Ren's head fell a smidge. "Let's go."

"I'm sorry." She said, fidgeting with her nails. She could hear his footsteps approaching her and finally stop a few feet away.

"Don't apologize." He grumbled.

She looked up at him.

He was noticeably angry, his fists were clenched and jaw was set. He looked almost like a scolded child.

Kyoko couldn't help but smile.

Without another word, he grabbed her wrist and pulled her toward the elevators. They walked together in silence, past the front desk and past the floods of gaping people. Finally, they stepped outside.

The sun was shining brightly and beautifully, and the wind caressed the busy streets, a rarity. Kyoko inhaled and soaked in the warmth.

"I want you to go somewhere with me."

She turned toward Ren and his eyes were on her.

"Hm?"

"You'll like it." He assured. "I promise."

They walked along the streets and quietly ducked behind into alleys when lurking paparazzi would near them.

Kyoko had honestly missed being outside. The last couple of months had been constant indoors and isolation, the only true natural air she remembers was at the hospital gardens.

A slight smile fell upon her lips. " I miss that."

"Hm?"

She blinked " This."

Ren looked around. "You missed dirty alleys?"

Laughing, she stopped walking. "No, this. The outdoors. Thank you."

He watched her with pure concentration, as if engraving her features in his brain.

Her short, spiky bleached hair had grown out past her shoulders and taken on a brownish hue, reminding him of her childhood appearance. Her honey eyes remained unchanged-bright and gleeful.

"Then come on," he urged her forward. "You'll love this then."

Interlocking his fingers with hers, they stepped out of the alley into an open clearing.

Kyoko gasped.

It was almost an exact replica of the gardens in Kyoto. The grass was tall and a baby green and it swayed harmoniously with the breeze. The trees where tall and shaded most of the space, and there was a lone stream of water trickling between Ren, Kyoko and a classic Japanese house. To complete the scene, a marble bench faced the sparking river.

She looked at him. "How?"

He smiled. "I know a guy."

She shoved him playfully. "We aren't trespassing, right?"

He shook his head. "The house over there is actually a restaurant. The owner is an old friend and a classic Japanese culture fanatic. His restaurants have the best gardens."

She nodded, fascinated.

Ren extended an elegant arm towards her. "Shall we walk, my lady?"

She gave him an amused smile and linked her arm through his. He was warm and familiar despite her changing life. It was then she finally realized how much she depended on him. She missed him when he wasn't by her side, which wasn't often. But even next to him she longed him. She loved him so much she couldn't bare it.

He leaned into her shoulder, her hair curling under his chin. He needed her. Ever since that night as the Heel siblings, he had realized how much he needed her. To keep his past and emotions in check, to keep him at peace. To have someone by his side, someone who would never leave. He wanted to make her happy, and every smile she smiled was a tresure. He wanted her to love, to live. To love and live with him.

They quietly walk to the bench and sit, and Kyoko put a decent distance between them. No matter her feelings, they weren't even a couple. And they were in public. And they were celebrities.

The last thing she needed was anymore scandals.

"Don't go, Kyoko-chan."

She stared blankly at the swaying grass. "Kuon-"

"Quit showbiz. It was all for revenge anyway, do you really need to continue?"

She looked at him, ignoring the small pang of pain his words cause. "I enjoy acting. I grew to like it as a career." She looked at her lap. "I will not quit."

Ren could feel specks of exasperation welling up, despite the fact it wasn't her fault. His eyes burned as he spoke.

"I'll support you, please just stay with me."

"You're being selfish, Ren. I've never been outside of Japan- I want to go. I want to see the clear blue seas and the Hollywood sign. I want to go."

He stays silent. "Do…Do you not want to be with me?"

From the corner of his eye, he could see her sink into the bench and bring her hands to her face.

God, I am so stupid.

"Kyoko-chan, I'm sorry. Please I-"

She couldn't help it. Tears cascaded from her eyes, down her cheeks, into her lap. She couldn't make them stop. With every sob she took she could feel the air getting thinner and thinner and herself getting lighter, but she couldn't stop. She didn't want to leave. But she wanted to go.

Suddenly, she was engulfed Ren's strong arms. He held the nape of her neck, making her lean into his chest. She threw her arms around him and gripped his shirt.

"I…I" Kyoko sobbed into him, not knowing what to do.

Ren shut his eyes, pained. "Shh, It's okay. I'm sorry." He caressed her back as gently as he could.

Seriously, Ren.

And they stayed like that. For 20 minutes he held her silently until her sobs died down into whimpers and those died to shallow, defeated breaths.

"Are you sleeping?" he asked hesitantly.

She shook her head and rose slowly. "N..No."

With a sniffle, her eyes settled on him.

Ren couldn't help but chuckle.

"Wh..what?"

"You're face is really puffy.

She hit his arm "Hey!" she laughed half-heartedly. "You're terrible."

"I know." He whispered, leaning closer. Their gazes met. " But you know I love you."

Without given any time to panic at his confession, he pressed his lips softly against hers.

It was a sincere kiss. Not like the ones the night before….this one was a sweet declaration of love.

At least at first.

Ren slid his arm to cradle Kyoko's back and pulled her closer until she was practically on his lap. She tangled her fingers with his hair, pulling his face as close as she possible could. Their kisses became more and more passionate and urgent. He wished he could engrave the feeling of her lips into his, and the warmth or her skin into his.

He traced her lips with his tongue hesitantly.

"N.." she pulled back, gasping.

He smiled and gave her a peck on the nose. "Let's date." He said.

She blinked at him, surprised.

"After you return," he continues. "Let's date properly. You make me a better person, and I've loved you since we were little. I am so sorry you were hurt by that horrible creature (Shou) and I couldn't protect you."

Taking her face in his hands, he looks at her straight into her perplexed eyes.

"I love you, Kyoko."

Love. She knows she loves him. She feels it with her every fiber, but she couldn't say it. Not after what love had brought her. She felt her breath quicken.

"You don't have to say it back." He twirled a strand of her hair from her face. " Just know that I'm here. And I will not betray you."

With a nod, she sunk back into his arms.


"Will it be cold over there? Hmmm..." Kyoko stared at her closet then back at her overflowing luggage.

"Aish!" she collapsed to the floor and rubbed her eyes. It was already 2 a.m. and she still couldn't get everything together. President Takarada told her not to worry, that she would get new clothes and toiletries the minute she landed, but she was still uneasy. She still wanted something from home.

From home….

She crawled to her desk and opened the bottom drawer.

Smiling radiantly, she pulled out her most precious possession and dropped it into her bag. Corn's stone.

Bing-Bing-Bing-Bing-

She flinched as her phone vibrated off her bed.

"H—Hello?"

"YOU'RE LEAVING TO AMERICA IN 6 HOURS LOSER WHY ARE YOU AWAKE?"

Surprised, she dropped the phone as Moko-san's loud voice echoed through the room.

"I had stuff to do!" she defended, picking it up.

"Like saying your goodbyes with Tsugura-san? He's not next to you right now is he?"

Kyoko could feel her face flush red. "What are you talking about, why would he be here in the middle of the night."

"You know…" Moko-san made an uncomfortable noise. "Because you all are all lovey."

"WE AREN'T THAT INTIMATE, MOKO!"

She giggled. "Sure, sure."

There was an awkward silence.

"You should accept him, you know."

Kyoko flopped down unto her bed and sighed. "Accept him?"

"His love."

She sat up. "How did you know he confessed?"

"HE CONFESSED?"

Kyoko covered the phone speaker with her hand "Yes."

"WHAT DID YOU SAY?!"

"Nothing."

"WHY THE HELL NOT?"

"Because…" she stayed silent, not knowing the answer herself.

"Don't be afraid, Kyoko-san. You deserve happiness. You deserve love."

She stayed quiet for a moment. "Thanks, Moko."

"Bring me souvenirs, yeah?"

"Of course."


She had gotten no sleep. Not that she had expected to, anyway.

The day had started quickly and quietly, with the sun peeking out from behind white clouds even before Kyoko had finally finished packing. The ride to the airport was stressful especially with the president going on about how great this would be for her-she couldn't believe it with Ren as gloomy as he was.

Him and the President picked her up at around 6:50 and informed her that her manager would be waiting for her in the States.

"Why?" She asked.

"So you won't be alone when you land," The president smirked at her, " Why? You want someone else to go with you?" His eyes landed on Ren.

She blushed. " More than anything..."

As if on cue, Ren looked over at them from the passenger's seat. "Hm?"

Kyoko looked at her lap. " Nothing."

Now, as Tokyo's International airport towered over her, the excitement she had felt for the past day withered into anxiety.

"You'll be fine," Ren assured, reading her thoughts. She nodded.

"Call me once you get there." He whispered, his breath caressing the top of her head.

"It'll be nighttime over here." She kept her eyes to the floor, not baring to meet Ren's gaze.

"It doesn't matter the time." He said before giving her a quick kiss on the forehead. "Call me anyway."

President Takarda, who had been standing back/blocking them from nearby eyes cleared his throat. "Woo, you could cut the tension here with a knife." He laughs, throwing his arms over their shoulders. "What? Did you guys not get it all out last night?" Rigidly, Ren slid from under him and pulled walked Kyoko to the front doors.

They hadn't noticed before, but the airport was actually quite packed despite it being a weekday, and people were beginning to coagulate around them.

"Tsuruga Ren?"

"Kyoko?"

"Why are you here together?"

"Is someone arriving?"

Load of questions flooded toward them, and Kyoko couldn't help but feel flustered. But, as professional as always, Ren immediately smiled. "Just driving a fellow label mate to the airport." He said with that gentlemanly Kyoko had grown to hate. She chuckled to herself. She knew th real Ren...and no distance would change that.

"Since Kyoko is truthfully still a trainee, LME is sending her to the States for a while to train." President Takarada stepped forward and gave Kyoko a friendly wink. " I will answer any questions, however please let her get through. She cannot miss her flight."

The paparazzi scribbled on their journals and swarmed him while Kyoko snuck into the building through the crystal doors. She was about to head to her gate, when she stopped. And turned around.

It was an intimate look, the one they shared. One of understanding and encouragement…one of love.

I didn't tell him I loved him….

Ren smiled and motioned her forward. It's okay.

With a tight smile and on the verge of tears, she headed towards gate 5.


He watched her leave. He watched her turn away and walk toward her future. Without him.

A slap on the shoulder made him flinch back. "Ouch.."

President Takarada laughed and leaned away from the press, closer to Ren.

"Stop with the drama, it's only two years. Sheesh."

"What if she meets someone else. What if she doesn't come back?"

The President stayed silent for a moment before turning back toward the press. "This will be it for today. For anymore information, please wait for the official press conference." With a polite bow, he grabbed Ren by the wrist and dragged him behind the corner of the building.

"I didn't know if I should give you this or not…" He reached into his coat pocket.

Ren watched attentively as his boss pulled out a solitary, square, navy blue box. His eyes widened and met with the President's.

"Is that-"

"It's a promise ring." He said.

"That girl….she still has some way to go. She's young, insecure. You're young and inexperienced." He held up the box and placed it on Ren's palm.

"But sometimes the best pairs are the ones who are broken and help each other replace their broken pieces."

He gave him a sly look. "Don't you think so, Kuon?"

And without another breath, Ren grasped the case tightly, and ran into the airport.


"Ma'am?"

Kyoko looked back at her attendant. She held Kyoko's ticket in her hand, verified and ready to go into baggage check.

Kyoko bowed, embarrassed. "Ah, yes I am sorry." She took her ticket and handed the woman her only suitcase. "Thank you."

She walked away, wordlessly and almost expressionlessly. She would put on the occasional smile for her fans, but even they could tell it was forced.

"Are you sad, Kyoko?" asked a young girl.

Kyoko smiled and nodded. "I don't want to leave you guys." She said.

The girl smiled a bright smile. "Don't worry!" she said, "We will support you no matter where you are."

"Mhm" Kyoko ruffled the girl's hair. "Thanks."

Dejected, and with no more time to waste around, she lined herself for security check.

She sighed, fidgeting with her hands.

If only I could tell him I love him…. He needs to know….

She looked at the clock: 7:45 a.m.

Her flight left at 8.

She had time.

Dashing from the line, she zig-zagged through the seas of people back to where she came from.

She stopped abruptly.

Where…where exactly is the parking lot?

She looked around, an unexpected sense of panic welling up inside her.

Ren, I love you.

Her breath quickened and air thinned.

So many people. I need to find my way back.

But she couldn't. The people shuffling past her and around her pulled her back to the lines, no matter how hard she pushed through. It was in vain. All her efforts were in vain.

She came to Tokyo for Shou. She had loved him. She tried her best to reach him, to push through the seas of obstacles to reach him. But she couldn't. Ultimately, the sea drowned her and spit her out.

Her breath quickened even more as all her memories rushed around her mind.

I can't breathe.

"Kyoko-chan!"

She looked up. "Ren?"

But she couldn't see him. She looked around and shoved people away, but she couldn't see him.

"Kyoko-chan!"

"Ren!" she sobbed.

"Kyoko-chan."

She exhaled a breath she didn't realize she was holding as his familiar arms wrapped around her, enveloping her in a back-hug. Her lighthouse amongst the sea had found her.

She was safe.

"I found you." He whispered.

"Isn't that Tsuruga Ren?"

"And Kyoko?!"

"Are they an item?!"

Ren gently turned Kyoko around and smiled. "I have something I need to give you," he said breathlessly. "Before you leave."

She nodded, eyes wide. "O—Okay."

He pulled out the box and seeing her face, he laughed. "It's not what you think."

Opening it, they both gasped.

It was beautiful. More beautiful than any engagement ring she had seen on any magazine or at any store. And they both instantly recognized the stone.

The ring was thin and simple, with crystal embroidery along the arches and sides. The stone at its center was small and sealed behind a wall crystals. It was Corn's stone. The stone he had given her-the ring held a small piece in the middle.

Kyoko smiled, speechless.

The light reflected a rainbow of colours from the stone, giving her the warmest of feelings.

Ren sighed.

Takarada…

God only knows how you do it.

" Last call for flight 1804 to Los Angeles, California. All Passengers please proceed to security check."

Ren cleared his throat and retrieved the ring.

Kyoko stared at it, awestruck.

"Is that a ring?!"

"Is he proposing!?"

People began screaming and inching closer, excited for the gossip. Paparazzi scooted their way in, and almost instantaneously, video cameras surrounded them.

But they paid no attention.

Their eyes were on each other.

"This is a promise ring." He said. "So you can't like any other foreign guys, yes?"

Kyoko giggled, blushing. "Ren—"

He took her right hand and slid the ring into her ring finger.

He smiled and brought her hand to his lips and gave it a tender kiss.

The crowd awed and giggled.

"When the time comes," Ren whispered. "You'll wear a ring on your left hand as well."

Kyoko looked up at Ren urgently—nervously.

"Ren…"

He leaned closer.

"Ren, I…"

She closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. "I'm in love with you."

The crowd went silent, apart from a few gasps and excited snickers.

Slowly, she opened her right eye, then her left.

She had never seen that look on his face before. He almost looked…embarrassed.

"Are you blushing?" she teased nervously.

Ren grabbed her by the waist and covered their faces with his coat.

"And I love you, Kyoko."

Even with the dimmed light, she could see his radiant smile and he pressed his lips to hers.

And with the sounds of shutters and flashing lights, they melted into their sweet goodbye.



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