Skip-Beat: The Morning After

Enter: Onnanoko no Kaikaku!

Normally, Kyoko would be okay under the spotlight. She was actually starting to grow fond of the appreciation and awe that followed it. But this kind of spotlight...this accusing, blinding pair of eyes that bore daggers into her's, that spotlight was one that made her highly uncomfortable.

"Wha-What are you talking about?" She inched her head back, finally breaking the poisonous gaze.

Sho shoved her lightly, making her look back up. He was even close than before, their noses grazing each other. Kyoko blinked nervously.

"I saw Ren's neck. I doubt he would be around just anyone, or if he was , the press would have caught on. The only person close enough to him to stay hidden..." He leaned over her. "Is you."

I...I... even her mind was blank. Her hatred and revenge forgotten for a moment. But only a slight moment.

She pushed him back.

"Who the hell are you to accuse me of that?!" she yelled at him, her voice fierce and angry. "And why do you even care? Who are you to care about my life or Ren's? You hate him. And I am just a boring, unattractive bumpkin girl." with every word, she walked toward him. And with every step she took, he took one back, clearly taken aback by her sudden speech.

Why is she so protective all of a sudden?

" Stop answering my question with questions. Tell me the truth!" he shot back.

"AND WHAT IF I DID! AND WHAT IF I DIDN'T!? " she stopped. "What are you going to do?!"

Sho pinned her against the wall once again, though instead of facing her, he put his head right next to her's, lips right on her ear.

"He has no right." was all he whispered. Then, suddenly faced her.

"Wait. Do you have one too!?" She turned her head, despite her constant protesting.

"Sho, Let me go!"

Inner Demons: What the hell. Now he thinks he can just touch her!?

Apparently

"Seriously, Sho, stop!"

There was sudden thump at the door, making them both jump. Then there was an even louder one and finally, one that tore open the door.

Sho and Kyoko both looked at President Takarada, completely taken aback.

Kyoko wondered what it must have looked like to him.

Her pinned against the wall by Sho, whom was still viciously searching her neck and shoulders for a kiss mark.

Awkward.

"What is going on here?" the president faced them. he wasn't wearing extravagant clothing that day, or not as extravagant as it could have been. he wore a blue track suit with sequins plaguing its whole front. His black pants also had blue sequins.

Kyoko slid down the wall then moved aside.

"Nothing." she said matter-a-factly . "We are done here." Her gaze fell on Sho. He was looking at her already, and his expression was completely unreadable. Sadness? Anger? Regret?...guilt?


I am so stupid.

Sho bowed his head slightly as he marched out of the room without any further words.

What had he been thinking? Accusing her of that. Could it have possibly been her? She never really answered.

Manager Shoko fell into stride next to him.

"I heard what happened."

"Already?" he said irritably.

"You want to talk about it?" she leaned toward him.

Sho looked away. "No."

It hadn't even been his intention to go into that lowly grocery store the day before. but something had called him. Fate? Or maybe the pudding staring at him through the large glass windows. yea, probably the pudding.

And now he really did regret going in there. Not only does he have more questions about Ren and who he is, but now he really does fear their relationship.

Idiot! What relationship? She is still yours, He told himself.

But in him mind, he knew he was just kidding himself. He could tell by the way Ren and Kyoko interacted there was obviously something there. A hidden secret, a hidden spark. One that Sho and her never could have shared.


Ren spotted him heading his way, his head held unusually low for his jerky, cocky self.

Ren had stayed there, by the president's office, the only person he knew would be able to calm Sho, and maybe even Kyoko down.

Kuon: We should have just gone after her and beat down the door. Then beat him up.

You are too violent.

Kuon: so are you! We are the same person, Ren. Please accept that.

I have. But I still cannot go beating people up for no reason.

Kuon: are you telling me that wasn't a reason?

They both stayed quiet.


The mere sight of Ren made him want to run. Kick him in the shins, and then run.

The way he just leaned against the wall nonchalantly, as if he were all innocent. For all Sho knew, sleeping with Kyoko! a High school girl!

He shivered at the thought.

No. Kyoko wouldn't allow it. She doesn't even know what is going on half the time.

As soon as Sho reached Ren, they both straightened up.

Just walk right past him, he told himself. Don't even look at him.

Ren stepped in front of Sho, trying deeply to mask his exasperation.

"What was that about?" Ren demanded.

Sho smirked. "It's none of your business," he replied, deciding to keep his mouth shut about the hickey.

"You made it my business." The way he said that, the way all light drained away from his eyes that send a shiver down Sho's spine.

Before he could reply, Ren continued: "If you ever even touch her again, I will make sure you regret."

And with that, he walked away, shoving his shoulder challengingly into Sho's.

Game on.


Kyoko told him. He told him everything. About Kyoto and Sho, and how he completely stampeded over her and why she even got into showbiz. Though she made sure to add that her motives don't really matter anymore.

He stayed silent for a long time, looking down at the crimson carpet.

The air around them sat still with tension, but that was all broken when he extended his arm and dropped it on her shoulder.

"I'm sorry, kid." He stood up.

"I say we feed this to the press and completely ruin him!"

Kyoko hid a smile.

Suddenly he looked at her with renewed excitement.

"Oh! I have a new 'Love Me' assignment for you!"

Her eyes lit up. It had been a long while since her last assignment and honestly, she was looking forward to it. It would serve as a great distraction.

"Oh? That's great!" she stood up, suddenly very excited.

"What is it!?"

They both erratically bounced around for a few seconds, and then he stopped, expression saddening once again.

"But, after all you told me, I don't think you'll like it."

"What? Why?" she said, a bit confused.

The president paced nervously around her, pondering whether or not to tell her.

"Well, it requires you to work very close to Sho Fuwa."

"Am I going to be his assistant?"

He laughed. "I would never allow that.

Once he began to tell her the actual task, Kyoko felt uneasy. Not because of what it was, but because she lacked the skills to fulfill it.

"Okay, so let me get this straight..." she began, linking her fingers together. "You want me to fill in as a member of a new band called 'Onnanoko no Kaikaku' because the member I have to replace had a sprained ankle?"

The president nodded. "You have a general idea. The band hasn't actually debuted, and they are more known by their English name: Girl's Reform. And the leader, Ayuzawa Hana sprained her ankle really horribly during last week's dance practice. Their big break will be in a week, when they give their first concert. You just need to fill in so the rest of the members can properly practice the dances. Hana should be back by the time of the concert."

Kyoko's head spun.

"President, I can't dance or sing."

"That's okay!" he began dragging her out of the room.

"They will teach you what you need."

Hesitantly, she nodded.

"When will we meet them?"

They got into the escalator.

"Right now."


On the way to the studio, President gave Kyoko more shocking news. She now has a manager. His name was Haruo and according to the president, he was a good kid and a distant relative to him. So, Kyoko could totally trust him.

"When will I meet him?" she had asked him. He shrugged. "Maybe tomorrow. He is a great kid, but kind of shy at times. "

He also informed her that Ren and her would be taking a break as the Heel siblings for a while, for the movie was having some of its scrip re-written. she didn't really know her feelings when he told her that. Not sure if she is relieved that she doesn't have to act so rash as Setsu anymore, or upset over the fact she wont get to see Ren as such.

They were standing in front of the studio now, both of them just staring at the door knob.

"I should warn you," President turned towards her. " The members…aren't too friendly. "

Kyoko froze. "How…How bad are they?"

Her question was answered when a series of agitated screams leaked their way from the closed doors.

Cringing, she finally pushed it open.

One of them was blonde, a sandy, creamy shade of blonde. Her skin was pale, and her alert caramel coloured eyes were darting around the dimly lit room. She wore a white frizzled miniskirt complimented by a tight hot pink tank top that was obviously two sizes too small.

The next person Kyoko noticed was a petite, chocolate haired girl sitting on the floor next to the blonde one. But unlike the others, the quiet girl didn't wear heavy makeup or wore awkward clothing. She simply wore a loose T shirt and jeans.

The final member was on her feet, screaming and pointing at someone who looked a lot like their manager.

She had light brown highlights on her straight orange hair and an equally toned fake tan. She wore a short red sequin dress and slippers.

Oh, god.

"I am perfectly fine!" She screamed. "I don't need some inexperienced rookie to take my place!"

"You need surgery on that ankle, Hana." Replied the manager. "Unless you don't ever wanna dance again."

Hana stayed silent, looking down at the other members. She looked back up, and her gaze quickly caught Kyoko's.

"Can we help you?" she smirked. "The TV talent is next door." Turning back around, she resumed her whining.

"Actually," President began walking toward them. Their manger stood up, recognizing such an important figure. "I am the president of this agency. And this," He extended an arm toward Kyoko "Is the inexperienced rookie you speak of."

Hana immediately shut up, and the other members stood up.
Kyoko bowed. "Nice to meet all of you."

The band's manager smiled with excitement and bowed politely. "Well you are prettier than expected!"

Hana snorted. The blonde girl glared. The shy girl stared.

"Th-Thank you."

"Well, I have some affairs I need to take care of, but I will meet up with you guys later. Please take care of Kyoko." President Takarada gave Kyoko a final look before exiting.

The whole room was staring at her, analyzing her looks, flaws and reactions.

Hana was the first to approach her. "Can you dance?"

Kyoko blinked "Um, not really."

"Can you sing?"

"Umm…."

Hana smirked at her. "Get her out of here."

Manager looked at her, panicked. "Hana, she is our only choice and a lot of people recommended her."

"She is an actress not a performer." She stated matter of factly.

Kyoko stared at them, watching them exchange opinions about her.

Inner demons: Are you going to let them talk about you like that?

Yes. I can't sing or dace, so I cannot really defend myself.

Inner demons: then act like you can.

"That's right!" Kyoko blurted out! They looked at her.

Crap I said that out loud.

"I can act. So, if you teach me the steps and song, I can at least act like I know what I am doing."

The blonde girl stood up, facing Kyoko. "It's not that simple. Just because you act like you can, doesn't mean that it will actually look good."

"Besides," Hana continued "Our routines are no funny business. They are difficult and require talent to master. "

" Play ' Flower Garden!'" the blonde girl instructed. Their manager fumbled around some CD's before finally finding the song. He inserted it into the CD player, and the music immediately blasted through the room.

The quiet girl stood up, getting into position behind the others.

The music obviously had hip-hop roots, the dropping bass and up beat drums hinting it so. But it also had a lot of pop, and rock, pop because of the electronic techno beats, and rock because of the lingering electric guitar. It was an upbeat song, but it had a sexy and dark aftershock.

Kyoko already knew it would be a challenge.

Their dance moves began 8 counts after the beginning intro, and she could immediately tell Hana wasn't joking. Jagged arm bends and complicated leg combinations, twist and turns that took place in under two seconds. Kyoko's head spun.

They continued, their dance so perfectly coordinated and robotic, but yet smooth and mesmerizing at the same time. They each had their solo parts, and Kyoko was utterly surprised at how well the quiet girl sang and dance, her shyness completely gone. But about a minute into the song, Hana stopped, grabbed her ankle in pain and collapsed on the floor.

Everyone, Kyoko included ran to help her.

Once the song finally stopped she looked up at her.

"I told you it was no joke. You can't do it. Get out."

"Hana!" the manager protested.

"Give her a chance!" They all looked at the shy girl, surprised she had spoken.

"What, Kanae?" Hana stood up, towering over Kanae.

"I just… I just think you should give her a chance."


Kyoko sat on the stairs, sulking.

I can't do it. I can't do it.

The final proposition given to her was impossible; she didn't even know it was worth it.

Inner demons: Your pride is on the line.

I don't care.

Hana's final proposition had been that if Kyoko didn't learn the dance by noon the next day, she wouldn't be accepted and Hana wouldn't get the surgery.

But I have to do it, for Hana- chan.

Her eyes teared in frustration.

"Mogami-san?"

She looked up.

Ren looked down at her, Yashiro at his side.

She was actually relieved to see He was O.K. after that morning, she didn't even have the chance to explain herself.

"I will be right back," Yashiro informed before marching away, "I need to fix some things really quickly."

They nodded.


Seeing Kyoko was a relief. He didn't know what had happened with Sho, but now, seeing her with his own eyes, He is relieved.

"Are you okay?" Ren sat down next to her.

She nodded, but the trace of tears on her cheeks told otherwise.

"What happened?"

"I am sorry about this morning," She blurted, ignoring his question. "I didn't even have a chance to explain myself—"

He held up a hand. "Did he hurt you?"

She shook her head. "No but—"

"Then, that's O.K." He sighed.

Kuon: what do you mean 'it's O.K? ' I wanna know what happened!

Shhh.

Kyoko smiled a true smile of relief. "Still, I don't know what his problem is. It won't happen again."

No it won't.

" Do you need a ride?" he looked back at her. She blinked a couple of times then looked down at her watch.

"6:20 p.m. already!?" she exclaimed. "Today went by really fast. And sure, thank you."

"Really?" They stood up and began walking towards the lobby. "It went by quite slow for me"

"Yea, well I had I really busy and surprisingly weird day."

Yashiro said he would catch a ride from another co-worker, due to the fact he had to stay really late. But Ren suspected he just wanted to leave Kyoko and him alone.

I don't understand him sometimes.

On the ride to drop her off, she told him about Onnanoko no Kaikaku and its puzzling members. Also, about her assignment to learn a whole next dance in under 24 hours.

"I am sure you can do it," he assured.

"No, you don't understand." She sighed into her hands. "I can hardly walk without tripping."

Ren chuckled.

That's too true.

He looked at her.

She had a worried expression, one that made her honey eyes deepen into a dark brown. Her eyebrows her furrowed and you could tell she really was nervous about this.

He parked the car in front of Daruyama.

Kuon: comfort her. Do something!


Kyoko really tried to mask her nervousness in front of him. But, she couldn't help but show her true colours around him—He just did that to people.

"Think of it as an acting assignment." Ren said. "Just build your character based on what they want you to be."

Her eyes instantly lit up. "Acting?" she looked at him. "You are right! I can just think of this as acting practice!"

For a moment, they just stayed like that. Gazes locked.

Ren's gaze was unusually soft, the kind of softness he only seldom used. Strangely, it gave Kyoko comfort and she wanted to just melt into those forest green eyes. And she almost really did when he began leaning over toward her.

Inner demons: PANIC! Panic! Panic…panic.

He leaned closer, and closer, his seat belt stretching with him.


Ren enjoyed the light blush that caressed her cheeks ass he unbuckled her seat belt.

"You better get going, it's getting late." He pointed to the setting sun.

She nodded and opened the door, obviously flustered.

Oh god.

Kyoko couldn't understand why her face had gotten so hot. For a second, she thought he was going to kiss her.

Her face burned even more.

" Mogami Kyoko?"

She turned around, recognizing the female voice.

"Kanae?"

Kanae stood there, sitting on the bench right outside Daruyama.

"I…I thought it was mean of them to challenge you like that without even lending you our choreographer…"

She stood up. "So I am here to teach you the dance."


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