Skip-Beat: The Morning After

Enter: Saena Mogami

It could have been the noise that woke her up, a stifled ruffle, followed by a hushed silence. A silence nearly impossible at Daruyama, hinting she definitely wasn't there. Next, was the smell. A scent so peculiar, so deeply and intoxicatingly familiar, that as soon as Kyoko realized it, she shot up from her slumber.

Ren.

Panicked, she looked around, half expecting to see Ren lying next to her. To her relief, he wasn't. She looked down at herself. Yesterday's clothes. Her eyes traveled across her surroundings, struggling to recognize where she was. Beige, clean carpet. Mahogany ceiling fan and dresser…amazingly comfortable queen sized bed.

Kyoko darted off of it and leaned against the wall.

Oh my god. What did I do yesterday? What—what happened?

A sudden noise outside the room made her jump. Eyeing the door cautiously, she eased it open to reveal a relieving, familiar scene.

Ren's house.

She supposed that made sense; at least his scent hadn't been her imagination. She stopped, a little shocked at her own thoughts.

Scent? Since when does he have a 'scent'? Have I actually…. Sniffed him before?

She felt her cheeks begin to heat. Even unaware of how she got there, it was a relief to be somewhere familiar.

Somewhere safe.


Cooking was something Ren didn't even dare attempt. So, he just bought something instead. Some tamagoyaki and miso soup, since he didn't know if she would really be up to eating after yesterday. He wondered if she really would be up to anything.

Subconsciously, he glanced toward the guest room's closed door, only to find it open.

"Huh? I didn't even hear that."

From the kitchen, he peeked into the living room.


It had taken her about 20 seconds to remember what had happened. 5 to remember her mother was in town, and the rest for her to remember how exactly she felt about that.

Nervous. Afraid. Perplexed.

The list goes on, really.

Instead of doing any further investigation in the house, Kyoko simply sat on the couch, staring aimlessly at the wall.

What does she want? Why? Is she looking for me? No, probably not…

She sighed, mood glooming and deteriorating any possible trace of happiness. Kyoko didn't want to see her mother. She really didn't. Maybe she was a bit curious, yes, but more afraid of her reasons for appearing so suddenly, that was for sure.

"Mogami-san?"

Kyoko looked up.

Ren looked pretty relaxed, not dressed up as usual. He wore simple sweat pants and a T-shirt, and his hair was wavy and natural.

Before standing up for a polite bow, her eyes flickered to his neck, and she felt her face flush immediately.

Gosh, I am an idiot.

"Good morning!" She masked her mood with a warm and cheery voice, quickly avoiding eye contact.

"… or at least I think it is." Kyoko continued, finally looking up.


Ren was watching her closely, examining, and waiting for any reaction at all. If she remembered anything from the day before, she really is a natural actress.

"I…I don't quite remember how I got here?" Kyoko smiled her usual innocent smile. Though, Ren saw through it. Just like she can see through his gentlemanly approaches, he saw straight through that forced gesture.

And it bothered him a lot.

"Well," he began, regaining his composure. "What do you remember?"

Kuon: Are you her freaking psychiatrist? What kind of random question is that?

It is not random…I…I just don't really want to be the one to tell her about her mother. Or, actually, re-tell her.

"I remember enough." The way she said it, the dark over tone of her voice hinted that she did remember, proving his senses correct. He cringed.

It mostly bothered him that she had to pretend to be okay in his presence. She should be comfortable enough around him that she could express her true feelings.

Kuon: How can you expect that form her if you can't even follow your own advice?

"After that," Ren continued nonchalantly, "I took you home. But you fell asleep on the way over and wouldn't wake up. So, I just brought you over here?"

"I wouldn't wake up?" she asked a bit surprised.

"Oh, don't worry; I checked to make sure you were breathing and everything."


He smiled, his fake gentlemanly smile. Kyoko frowned internally.

I thought we were past that.

"Thank you. But, I really should get going."

She shuffled toward the door, struggling not to look back or plead to stay. No matter how much she repressed it, she couldn't help but feeling safe there, even if he was hiding his true feelings.

Her hand was already on the brass doorknob, about to twist it open, but a firm tan hand stopped it from opening. She blinked and tightened her jaw, still fighting to keep her tears and anger in.

"Are you O.K?" Ren towered over her, his forest green gaze pouring into her's, urging her, tugging at her to reveal that she wasn't. To stop the lie.

"I am fine." She smiled slyly. "But I should get going to check the band schedule and stuff."

He leaned closer to her, covering the door with his body. Kyoko got a sense of déjà vu from the day before, when Sho leaned over her in a similar way. But unlike Sho's cold and icy gaze, Ren's was the opposite; his was warm, open and obviously concerned. She wanted to melt into those eyes, into him. She wanted to drop everything and just have him hold her. The chains around her heart were slowly untangling, and she wanted him to be the first one to catch her.

"Really?" he inched even closer, face breaths away. "Are you really O.K?"

It might have been the way he said it. Or the fact that she could only take so much before breaking.

Kyoko fell to her knees. She was a bit surprised at her own actions, considering how out of character it was. But she couldn't help it.

"I am afraid. I don't know what she wants or why, it scares me."


Ren looked at Kyoko for a moment before kneeling down next to her.

" She was the scariest person in my life and then left. Why is she back? I hope I don't run into her…"

She went on for about five minutes, ranting about Saena. Ren didn't blame her. He remembered from his times as Kuon how much pain that woman caused her.

"Hey," He touched her shoulder. "Even if you do run into her, I will not let anything happen to you."

She looked up, a stray tear suspended on her cheeks.

"I promise," he finished, wiping it off.


A sudden phone alarm burst through the silent room, making them both jump.

It took Kyoko a few seconds to realize that it was Ren's phone. He looked down at his pocket before retrieving it and answering it.

There was mumbling on the line, and as the mumble stopped, Ren's face grew darker.

"How did you get my number?"


"Well it wasn't easy, But it really doesn't matter. Do you know Kyoko-chan's number?"

His blood boiled. Not only did he call Kyoko in such a friendly way, but that he actually had the nerve to call after all that's been happening. That Sho Fuwa needs some straightening up to do.

"That's none of your business." He shot back, standing up, away from Kyoko.

"Yeah it is. I need to talk to her."

She doesn't have a phone at the moment, he said silently. Ren pondered just hanging up, but decided that maybe he cared about what Sho had to say. Not in a personal way, but maybe it was about Saena.

"I'll pass on the statement."

" I know she's around you."

Ren looked back at Kyoko. She sat against the door, looking down at her hands.

"No she isn't."

"Yes she is. You sound super stressed and keep whispering. Pass her to me."

"No."

"You are going to regret it if you don't."


Kyoko listened for a while, but zoned out after a few minutes. Whomever Ren was speaking to was obviously keeping him entertained.

I have no idea where that came from.

Kyoko didn't know if she should feel ashamed that she broke down like that. Or relieved that he actually did make her feel better. She didn't know. And honestly, she didn't care. She didn't regret what happened, so pondering on it wouldn't do anything.

"Mogamai-san?"

Kyoko looked up.

He extended the phone toward her, a glum, defeated look on his face. "Phone call."

She blinked a few times and grabbed it, hesitantly putting it to her ear.

"Hello?"

" So I was right. You are with him. At this hour, too. You know Kyoko, people are going to start rumors..."

She scoffed. "What do you want?"

" I just want to give the extravagant news that I will be doing a duet with a band called 'Onnanoko no Kaikaku,' during their debuting concert."

Kyoko stayed silent.

"Name ring a bell?"

"No, not at all. How old are they? Maybe I'll check them ou-"

" I know you are going to be posing for Ayuzawa Hana. They told me when I agreed ."

So much for confidentiality.

"Great. What song?"

"I am almost done writing it. Wanna know what its called?"

"No."

"It's called-"

"Is this why you called?" she said irritably. "I have stuff to do."

"Oh like what?"

"None of your business."

"Wow..." he said "It's strange how much you are like him."

"Hey, Sho." Kyoko said, changing the subject. "How did you find out my mother was here."

There was a moment of silence and a long sigh.

" She came into the agency yesterday."

"What was she doing?"

"Not sure."

There was a beeping on the line.

"I have to go."

She shut the phone without any further farewell.

Ren was sitting on the couch, looking out through the open windows.

"I think you have another call." She handed the phone back.

He wordlessly took it.


Sho shut his phone, exasperated.

This girl…really. How dare she hang up on me!

He sat back down on his dressing room chair. Even though he couldn't give her a straight answer about her mother, he was determined to get one. She had no business being in town. Not after how much Kyoko cried for her. She didn't need history to repeat itself.


Yashiro had called Ren, informing him of his day plans. A few interviews. Nothing outside the normal. He was a bit disappointed; he secretly hoped to be able to spend the day with Kyoko.

Who, by the way, was still sulking in the corner.

"I have an interview in a few hours. Do you want me to take you home?"

Kyoko looked up.

"Oh? No, that's okay. I'll get a cab. Thank you, though."

Ren slowly leveled himself with her, kneeling down further with every word.


"You know, it's quite impolite to refuse a ride from your senior, right?" he smiled.

That horrible faux smile.

Kyoko looked down, flustered at his distance, but confused at his attitude.

"Oh?"

"Besides," he got up, grabbing his car keys from the counter. "Daruyama is on the way."

"Actually," She got up, dusting herself off from any lingering moods or emotions from the past few minutes. "I need to go to LME. I still need to know the band schedule and stuff."

"Even closer." Smiling, he held open the door.

The sky was cloudy, rain threatening down on them at any second. It was also fairly chilly, but Kyoko enjoyed it. She watched the buildings and cars pass, smiling at some children playing on the street. A few moments later, though, a woman came and dragged them away. Their mother, Kyoko supposed.

The car ride was fairly quiet. That is, until, Kyoko began to get hungry. She tried to distract herself by thinking. Though, it was in vain, since her thoughts redirected back to food.

A fluffy pair of omelets….orange juice….

Her stomach growled even louder.


Ren bit back a smile. He remembered the first time this had happened. What had she asked to eat? Steak with eggs, was it?

He couldn't help but smile.

"I'm sorry. I forgot about breakfast." Looking at her, he pointed to some café a few streets away.

"How about there? I've heard it has the best omelets in all of Tokyo."

Her eyes lit up. "Really?!" then, she quickly composed herself. "No, no really. I can eat at LME."

"Are we really going through this again? Should I offer frog legs again?"

Without hesitation, she shook her head. "No, No! Omelets sound great!"


He really was not kidding. The omelets were just as she imagined, fluffy and moist and very satisfying.

"Enjoying that?"

Kyoko looked up, swallowing a mouth full of juice.

"Yep!"


It was like a dream to be able to be with her like that. They joked and laughed, and he wondered if as time passed, they would still be able to go out like that. Or would something come between them? No, Ren didn't think so. If they found each other after so long, destiny surely wouldn't tear them back apart.

After dropping her off, Ren went on his way to the interview.

Unaware, unprepared for what was to come…


Sho was relieved he was done for the day. Lately, he had been overworked and stressed, and manager Shoko really wasn't being very cooperative.

He burst through the Akatoki agency, obviously exasperated.

" Ms. Kawazaki!" he called. The woman at reception stood up and bowed politely.

"Yes, Mr. Fuwa?"

"I need tomorrow's schedule. Please print it."

She bowed a second time. "Yes, Mr. Fuwa."

Sho proceeded into the elevator and up to his dressing room to pick up his belongings. Then stopped, realizing his stuff was already in the car.

"Damn, this stress is messing with my head."

As he walked back into the lobby, he spotted Ms. Kawazaki , looking very agitated as she talked to a middle aged woman.

Sho stopped cold.

The woman had jet black hair and a gaze that matched, she held her head high and no trace of serenity was even sprinkled on her face. That expression and icy aura can only be expressed by one person in Sho's mental address book.

Saena.

She did a final nod before turning around and out the door.

Sho shuffled toward the counter.

"Who was that?" He asked .

She shrugged. "Some lady. She came by yesterday too. She keeps asking about some 'Kyoko?'"

Sho leaned closer to her, his gaze narrowing. "What did you tell her?"

"I said the only Kyoko I know in the industry is at LME agency."

A shiver ran down his spine.

Oh. No.


" Great job, Ren." Yashiro handed him a glass of water. "You were obviously more cheerful than usual. Did something happen?"

Ren smiled internally. "I guess I just slept well or something."

Yashiro smiled, understanding making its way into his mind. "'Oh?"

Their conversation was interrupted by Ren's cell phone. Yashiro handed it to him, frowning at the unknown number.

"Expecting a call?" He asked.

Ren shook his head. "No."

Pushing it open, he answered: "Hello?"

"Where is she?"

Ren looked at his phone screen, confused.

"Who?"

"You know who."

"Sho Fuwa?"

"We have no time. Where is Kyoko-chan?!"

Ren had enough "It is none of your business. Stop calling."

"If you guys are at LME, get out."

Ren stopped walking. "Why?"

"Get her out now."

"I am not at LME."

"Is she?"

Ren began getting antsy. "Yeah, she is."

"Go to her. She will need you soon."

And with that, the phone shut off.

Ren doesn't know how long he stood there. A few seconds? Minutes? It felt like an eternity. Was Sho serious? Was Kyoko in danger?

Ren didn't plan on taking chances.

"Yashiro," He turned to his manager. "We need to get to LME. Fast."


Kyoko looked at her schedule. That day would be her only day off. Starting tomorrow, she would have to be at practice for at least 2 hours, and then voice lessons for one more. She frowned.

"Cheer up!" Kanae bumped her shoulder. "You made it! You totally kicked ass."

Kyoko smiled. "Yea, I guess so. I just hope Hana-san is okay."

Just as she finished saying that, Hana walked Into LME.

Kanae and Kyoko walked down the stairs to meet her.

She looked terrible, she couldn't even walk anymore. Instead, she was on crutches.

"Hey." She said looking down.

"Hey," Kyoko and Kanae replied.

Hana looked up, facing them. "I guess I should thank you for holding my spot. I was selfish. I'm actually kind of known for it."

Kyoko smiled. "That's okay. I just want you to get better. Are you getting the surgery soon?"

She nodded. "I am actually on the way to set a day."

"That's great!" Kanae said, echoing Kyoko's own thoughts. Hana nodded, and then pointed at her.

"I am watching you. You better not mess this up!"

Kyoko bowed politely. "I won't!"

Waving, Hana left with Mioko.

Kane looked after them. "See, Hana-chan can be nice. In her own way."

They turned away, heading back to the studio to practice song lyrics, when there was a sudden hand on her shoulder.

Kyoko flinched, the touch sparking something inside her.

Recognition?


Ren couldn't get there fast enough. He had just entered LME when he bumped into Sho.

"Where is she?" he demanded.

"I have no idea. She said she had business here." As Sho turned away from him, Ren grabbed his arm "What's going on?"

Sho looked at him, then down at his arm. "It's about her mother. I think she may be here."

"That is me. I am Mogami Kyoko."

They both looked toward the lobby at the sound of Kyoko's voice. They were only a few feet away, so they could clearly see her shocked expression. Her tense hands…her will fading.


Sho never thought he would ever see Saena stand in front of her daughter again. But there she was, hand on her shoulder. Even from afar, he could see their similarities. The way they stood, tall and proud. Though, Kyoko had a more childish atmosphere to her, opposite of Saena's classy, serious one.

I wonder if she is O.K.


Ren wondered if she was okay. He wanted to run over there, to pull her away from her mother, to protect her from any further hurt. But he knew he couldn't; he didn't have the right to break such a moment. Only she could.

Only she could choose what she did next.


Kyoko had longed to see her face. Longed to be acknowledged by her. Longed to be loved.

But that all changed. She wished those foolish dreams when she was little. Why her mother was there, she did not know. But one thing she did know is that forgiveness was a long way from their current relationship. Nothing Saena could say would possibly mend the secret wound in her heart.

"I am looking for a Mogami Kyoko. Is it possible for you to help me?"

Kyoko blinked.

She doesn't even recognize me.

Naturally she wouldn't. Koko did dye and cut her hair, and they hadn't seen each other in years.

She looked at her mother.

"That is me. I am Mogami Kyoko."


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