Skip-Beat: The Morning After

An Alleged Accusation

6:14 a.m.…..6:20 a.m.….. 6:30 a.m.…..

Kyoko's sleepy, bloodshot gaze followed the lethargic hands on the wall clock. She had been staring at it for almost 20 minutes, hoping somehow it would move faster.

It didn't.

She had arrived at LME at 5:30 a.m., getting only a rough 3 hours of sleep. Right after the whole 'Sho vs. Ren' incident, they, Cain and her, went back to the room to try to get some rest. Only to be awakened by some LME agent trainee's, saying they were sent by the president to pick them up. At 5:00 a.m.

Ren had gone back to his house, not having any appointments or interviews what so ever. None than she knew of anyway.

Kyoko frowned, light tears coagulating on the corner of her eyes.

I deserve sleep too! I didn't have to be here until 9!

She kicked her feet in the air and waved her hands in a tantrum.

Why does Tsugura-san get special treatment!?

A single baby blue demon slithered in front of her.

"Well, it's obviously because he needs more sleep than you." it suggested with a grin, "See, in a way you are already better than him!"

Kyoko's eyes lit up immediately.

"Yea!" she exclaimed. "Yea, that's right!" the sudden realization made any traces of fatigue dissolve away.

I'm better than Tsugura –san! She chanted excitingly. She put her hand on her chin and nodded her head. I'm already a step closer to my goal!

IN THE MIND OF MOGAMI KYOKO:

Yes I will climb up to the top! Leaving both Tsugura-san and Shotaro Behind me!

She climbed up golden staircases, quickly surpassing the bowing duo.

Sho: Please stop! Your awesomeness is just too greaaat! (melts)

Ren: Please let me work for you! (begs)

Yes. Yes, that would be nice.

Kyoko smiled with triumph, still utterly lost in her delusional daydreams.

"Onee-sama!"

Kyoko's attention was snapped back to reality by a familiar little voice. Maria skipped toward her in her usual attire: A joyful, fluffy pink dress that hovered a little above her ankles. It had gorgeous décor, white lace sprinkled around the falling skirt. It was surprisingly adorable on her. Her hair was half up, tie up with a pearly bow. The rest of her hair cascaded in sophisticated golden ringlets.

" Maria- chan!" Kyoko embraced her in a welcoming hug. It had been a while since their last meeting, and, frankly, she had missed Maria dearly.

"Onee-sama! Why are you here so early?" She sat next to Kyoko, on the light beige loveseat.

"Actually, I was called in by your grandfather."

"This early?"

Kyoko frowned. "Yeah"

Maria made a face. "Well then shouldn't you be up in his office?"

" He's not here yet."

"Yes he is!" She exclaimed. "How do you think I got here?"

Kyoko stared at her. "Maria-chan," she neared her, "When did you get here?"

Maria smiled casually "about an hour ago."

About an hour!? So I've been sitting here for nothing!?

Kyoko composed herself and stood up. "I am going to go look for him, then."

"Onee-sama! Wait!" Maria caught her by the arm. She looked up with innocent hazel eyes. "I was hoping to you could teach me something."

"Teach you something?" she sat back down "what could I possibly teach Maria-chan?"

Maria turned around and grabbed something from behind the couch. She presented a small rectangular wooden box, beautiful kanji engraved at every corner. Kyoko blinked.

"What is it?"

"My best sewing kit!"

As soon as the box snapped open, they were both mesmerized. Needles of every size and dimension, of every material and width. String of every colour you could think of, even colours you didn't know existed.

Kyoko's eyes watered in awe. "It's—it's beautiful."

Maria nodded pride fully "I knew Onee-sama would like it." She set in on the table before facing a teary-eyed Kyoko. "And I was hoping it would bribe you into teaching me how to sew better."

Sew better?

"Is that what you wanted to ask?" Kyoko smiled. "Well I do love sewing…"

Time flew by faster with Maria around. They sat together, talked about recent events in their life. Maria was making tons of progress with her father; he even flew in often to see her. Kyoko avoided questions about herself, not even wanting to remember the last few days. She hoped maybe it had all been a dream, a strangely confusing dream. Then, a part of her wished it hadn't been just a dream. A small, secretive part of her….

"There!" exclaimed Kyoko and held up a small plush doll. It had ruffled auburn- blonde hair and a hot pink overall uniform.

"It looks just like you, Onee-sama!" Maria snatched it from her hands and began twirling around.


Ren had gotten home at around 4:30 a.m. and immediately went to sleep. His head was racing with questions, though, teasing and haunting him out of sleep. So the wonderful and anticipated nap only lasted about 30 minutes.

Now, he sat in his kitchen, lethargic gaze watching a half empty glass of orange juice.

Kuon: you seem tired, Bro.

Shut up.

He got up and went to the couch.

Yashiro said Ren didn't really have any appointments today, only an interview, but that was later in the evening. So, he had almost the whole day off.

I don't think I can take having a day off, he thought to himself with a sigh.

Kuon: what the hell do you mean? How can you not handle a day off? We can sleep-we need that.

RING RING! RING RING!

Ren looked over at the marble counter, where his phone was vibrating erratically. He reached over for it.

Manager Yashiro

"Hello?"

"Ren!" Yashiro replied, tone surprised, as if he didn't think Ren would answer. "I just got a call from the interviewer for this afternoon. They asked if we can do it today at 10 a.m. instead."

Ren blinked. Thank god.

"Yeah, okay."

"Great! I'll be over there in a while, so be ready."

He shut the phone.

Honestly, he was relieved. Not only because he had something to do, but because he might get a glance at Kyoko today.

If President Takarada called her so suddenly a few hours ago, it has to be for another 'Love me' assignment.

Kuon: or you could just call her…then you could see her for sure.

Ren ignored the remark and went to get changed.


Yashiro got there about 30 minutes later, and, naturally, they took Ren's car.

Ren wore casual black pants and usual leathery black shoes. The only reason Yashiro even bothered looking him over twice, was the bizarre turtle neck he was wearing. It wasn't particularly ugly; it was a mahogany brown that blended well with his dark coat. But…a turtle neck?

"Hey, Ren..." he sneaked a glance. Ren looked at him, expression completely unreadable.

"Yes?"

"It's nice and sunny out…"

"Yes." Ren blinked, obviously puzzled. "And?"

"So, why the turtle neck?"


His question didn't really catch Ren off guard. He was wearing an odd shirt (odd for him), so naturally he would be questioned about it.

" I can't wear a turtle neck?"

"No, no, it's not that you can't…it's just that…" Yoshiro trailed off.

Kuon: man, this poor guy is super scared of you. Do you treat all the staff like this?

Ren considered that for a moment.

"I just felt cold this morning, that's all," he finally responded as softly as he could.

Yashiro nodded, straightening up. "You are catching a cold?"

"I don't think so.."

"We still want to keep an eye on that."

Ren nodded politely, though, he made sure the gesture made his hair fall over the left side of his neck…just to be safe.


Ren arrived just a few minutes after Maria had left to call her grandfather. And to show off her new doll.

Kyoko made sure to bow politely as Yashiro and him approached her.

"Good morning!" she said cheerfully, desperately masking her nervousness. But then Ren smiled, a truly sincere smile, and she immediately relaxed.

"Did you just get here as well?" he asked as his manager went to prepare tea.

"I've actually been here since 5 a.m." she looked at the clock. 8:10 a.m.

Maria-chan really kept me entertained.

"Wow, why so early?"

" I have to meet the President here in about an hour. And I didn't really have a chance to go home."

Ren nodded.

"Why are you here?" she asked.

"I have an interview at around 10 a.m. But I also wanted to talk to the presi—"

Just as he was finishing his sentence there was a loud, disturbing door slam behind them.

Leather black pants. Obnoxiously crimson shirt. Clattered dark chains hanging on perfectly tanned skin. Straight blonde hair…

Kyoko swallowed down a whimper.


Ren looked behind him, to see what had gotten Kyoko pale as a sheet.

He sneered tightly.

Kuon: Mother of - does this guy follow us!?


"You!" Sho pointed straight at Kyoko. She flinched back.

"Why didn't you answer your phone yesterday?" he walked forward, walking right by Ren and into Kyoko's personal space. His intimidating gaze bore holes through her's.

"Maybe I was busy?" she suggested, stepping back.

He got a step closer.

Ren put his arm out to stop him. "I suggest you stop." He said coldly. Sho looked at him.

What is this guy doing? What- wait a minute.

Sho looked him over. Wavy dark hair, hazel eyes and incredibly tall. A sudden flash of the man at the grocery flashed through his mind.

No. that guy had longer hair and seemed paler. And he had a bruise on his neck.

Sho looked at Ren's neck. Obviously, it was covered by his horrendous turtle neck.

Quick! Improvise!


Kyoko was kind of stunned by his demanding and straight forward questioning. In front of Ren, too.

The only thing that kept her from running as fast as she could was Maria's sewing kit. She still grasped it in her hands, and honestly, it soothed her.

"I suggest you stop," Ren repeated when Sho took another step forward. He looked at him for a second before Sho reached over and smacked Kyoko's wooden box out of her hands.

She flinched as it collided with the floor, the heart wrenching clash! Making her ears hurt. As all the precious contents drained out of it, she slapped Sho on the arm wordlessly before kneeling to pick them up.


It took Ren a few seconds to realize what had happened, but when he did, he immediately got on his knees next to Kyoko and helped her. Even though her hair was covering most of her face, he could see she was hurt (emotionally.)

Kuon: Let's burn the bastard.


Sho watched them intently.

They gathered the objects in silence, Kyoko collecting the ones near her while Ren leaned around for the scattered ones.

Big mistake.

Sho could now clearly see the purple sore bruise on Ren's outstretched neck.

He grinned.

Got 'cha.

Sho looked over at Kyoko, about to reveal the man's secrets. How he was dressing as someone else and going around getting hickeys. That would surely crush her image of him. But then he stopped cold and really looked at Kyoko. At how Ren and her interacted. At how close they were…

The man last night had a girl…

"IT WAS YOU!?" Sho's surprisingly loud accusation made both Ren and Kyoko look up.

No way. No freaking. No, no NO.


Kyoko looked at him, perplexed.

Inner demons: this guy…seriously. He's just becoming more and more stupid. Not to mention he's now talking to himself.

Suddenly, Sho grasped her arm and stood her up. Her eyes widened and she tried to wiggle free. Immediately Ren grabbed her other arm.

"Let her go" they said in unison. Sho yanked her, and , not wanting to hurt her, Ren let go.

Before anyone could protest, Sho was dragging her away towards what seemed to be a recording studio.

" I swear to god, if it was you, Mogami Kyoko, you will not hear the end of it!"

He pushed her inside and locked the door.

Kyoko slid away from him, not knowing what to expect next.

Inner demons: he's lost it. He's gonna kill us!

No, no. FOCUS. He would be so rash…..right?

Once again, Sho grabbed her arm, grip a little lighter than before, stood her up, and leaned her against the wall. He was closer than they had ever been, face only breaths away from Kyoko.

"Get off of me." She ordered sternly.

He held his ground.

"Was it you?" his breath was warm against her cheek. "Did you do that to him?"

Kyoko blinked and knitted her brows together. "What are you talking-"

Sudden knocks at the door made them both jump, but Sho continued to question her.

"Did you give Tsugura Ren that hickey!?"

Her skin drained of colour and eyes widened with surprise.

That was more than enough to answer his question.


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