A/n: I decided to post this chapter next, completely skipping over he one I had written where Ren tells Kyoko his secret. I just couldn't get the feel of it right, so this seemed to be the best route. And yeah, this chapter is a bit late, but I'm on vacation and my laptop kinda freaked out, so I had a hell of a time trying to find this installment. Urgh.
"Father!" A wide grin spread over Kyoko's face as she finally spotted Kuu. I can't believe it's been so long. I've really missed him. She waved her hand wildly, catching the curious glances of the media who had gathered to see Kuu's homecoming. Many eyes widened as they recognized her, the girl who had stolen the most eligible bachelor, but Kyoko could careless. The only man who had ever felt like anything to a father for her was roughly ten feet away. She had missed him more then she had realized.
Kuu came to a halt a few feet away, his eyes appraising her. "My, how you've grown."
Kyoko smiled widely, greeting him with a deep bow.
He raised an eyebrow, dropping his bag to the floor. "Come now; is that anyway to greet your father?" Kuu gestured to her to come to him and greet him properly.
Feeling suddenly shy, Kyoko inched towards him with her head ducked. In a burst of sudden courage, she jumped at him, wrapped her arms around his shoulders as she hung half a foot in the air, hugging him tightly as her excitement in seeing him overwhelmed her common sense.
But Kuu didn't mind. He hugged her back in kind and even kissed the top of her head. "It's so very good to see you again, daughter."
She pulled back letting her feet return to the floor, laughing. "Oh, I'm your 'daughter' now? If I recall correctly, even when you emailed me, you called me your 'other son', Father."
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders while picking up his bag with his other hand, glaring at her all the while. "Don't sass me, young lady. And, as it is, I doubt you'd ever be asked to play a male role anymore," Kuu teased lightly as his eyes shimmered with pride, flicking her nose. "You've become quite a beautiful young woman. He sure is lucky."
Kyoko had to bite her tongue, not sure what to say. It was a delicate situation.
Luckily, she was spared from having to answer, as the press took this opportunity - now over their shock at seeing such a strange greeting between the two - to converse about them as they walked towards their limo. Kuu drew Kyoko closely to his side and steered her on as his bodyguards tried to fan away the reporters. A fair few tried to break through the threshold, but none where successful. Still, this didn't stop them from shouting out questions for Kuu, and Kyoko alike.
Kyoko had been curious as to what Kuu told the reporters after the last time they saw each other and the scene they had made as he departed from the airport - how had he explained some newcomer girl calling him father in public? But he had told her not to worry about it, so she had let it go. She trusted Kuu, and she hadn't been approached by reporters about it since the incident, so she knew he had taken care of it somehow.
"Your wife couldn't come with you on this trip?" Kyoko asked once they were safely in the limo. She had been quite curious about the infamous Julia she had heard so much about - though the source had shocked her greatly at the time. She wasn't sure what was more shocking: hearing how an actual mother should be or hearing him talk so fondly of his mother - it seemed so out of character. Both were new to her, and had compelled her to ask more about Kuu's wife. Her curiosity, however, melted into concern as Kuu stared at her blankly. Confused, Kyoko asked, "What's wrong, Father?"
But merely Kuu scoffed, an edge of his old self that had once annoyed her so much emerging. "Don't address her as 'your wife'," he reprimanded, shaking a finger at her. "That's disrespectful. When you do meet her, I expect you to call her Mother, or at the very least, Julie. Is that clear?"
She giggled, but nodded none-the-less. "Yes sir!"
"Speaking of spouses, do you plan on honoring me with a meeting with your boyfriend, daughter?"
Kyoko turned a shade of pink. I have to go along with this for Ren's sake. I won't blow this. She took a few deep breaths before answering as normally as possible. "It seems like an awful amount of trouble to arrange. Why do you want to meet him, anyway? You have met him before," Kyoko pointed out, replaying the incident in her head. She crossed her legs under her skirt and turned her gaze out the window. Maybe I can make it easier on both of them, arranging it so they don't have to met face to face during Kuu's stay here. This whole thing must be hard on them, I imagine.
"True, but I've never met him as 'Tsuruga Ren: my daughter's boyfriend'," he reminded her, forcefully destroying any hopes that she could wiggle her way out of this. "This will be our first real meeting, you silly girl. As your father, don't I even have to give my approval or something?"
Kyoko kept her face turned away to hide her slight smile. "Though I don't see how him being my boyfriend will make any difference, you are right." Still, she had to admit she was a bit worried about these two important men in her life meeting for the 'first time'.
It wasn't that she thought Kuu wouldn't approve of Ren - hark; the idea of someone not approving of Tsuruga Ren was laughable - but rather, she was worried about how they would react under the given situations. And she was worried she might let something slip and let Kuu know she was in on the big secret now. As far as Kuu knew, the only ones who knew Ren's true identity, were Ren, Julie, Lory, a make-up artist, and Kuu himself.
Yes, she now she too was in on the truth about Tsuruga Ren, or rather, Kuon. Or even more familiarly, Korn.
Shock had been her primary reaction at first, naturally. How was one supposed to act when learning that their boyfriend was their old friend turned sorta-sibling turned lover? It was a head spinner (mostly the "sorta-sibling" part) but Kyoko was able to listen quietly as Ren explained how Tsuruga Ren came into existence. Parts of it were familiar to her having heard them as Bo, such as his not too successful career in America, but she patiently sat through it, excited that Ren could open up to her. As far as she knew, this had to be the biggest secret in the history of show business, and the fact that he would trust her with it - with himself, in a way - meant everything to her.
She knew she should be hurt that Ren would keep this from her for so long, would keep their friendship and similar connection to Kuu hushed, but she found that she completely understood his reasoning. How would she have reacted if she had learned that Ren used to be her friend? Would it have changed their relationship in anyway? If so, then Kyoko felt it was better off that she was kept in the dark. And about Kuu… well, that was a private family matter in her eyes, and thus, none of her business. But if it was a family matter, did that mean that Ren counted her as close as family now? Like, a fiancée or wife? The thought was mind-boggling, and very blush-worthy.
But this, of course, led things in a round about way back to her current issue of Ren and Kuu meeting. Would it be awkward: no doubt. This was in some way a meeting between a woman's father and their new boyfriend AND a meeting between a man's father and their new girlfriend. Plenty confusing. But, Ren had told her to not worry about that thought too much; "After all," he had teased, "he already allows you to call him father. I think that means he approves of you."
Kyoko raised an eyebrow as familiar scenery caught her attention. It was still pretty early in the day so the sun was just raising, lighting the area up splendidly. Father?" she asked warily. "I thought we were going to your apartment to get you settled in. Why are we headed to the northern part of Tokyo?"
Kuu flipped a card between his fingers with a crooked grin. "Actually, I thought it would be more fun to go out to eat right now. As soon as my plane landed, I called Lory and asked him to reserve us a table at a favorite restaurant of mine. Also, I've had him call Tsuruga-san to tell him where to meet us. I hope you won't mind me going around your back by inviting him." He pulled his sunglasses onto the top of his head, giving her a look that said 'complain, I dare you'. When she didn't say anything, he fell back on track. "Now, tell me a bit about this guy before we get there."
"What do you want to know," she hedged, suspicious.
"Oh, I don't know. Basic stuff. Things you think a father should know about his child's boyfriend."
Kyoko bit her lip, thinking. In truth, she had no experience in this department, so she was drawing a blank. What did a father want to know about the guy his daughter was dating? Career? Criminal records? Hobbies? "You've met him. I'm sure you could tell he is an even-tempered person and very polite. He's kind and supportive; a wonderful boyfriend. I'm not sure what else you want to know," she admitted with a sigh.
Kuu stroked his chin. "Fine then. We'll dig right into your relationship with. My first question: are you living together?"
"Partially. I still live at my other job, but I also live at Ren's apartment," Kyoko explained hastily.
"Then..." Kuu paused. It made Kyoko feel even more nervous. "Are you sharing a bed with him?"
"Father!" Kyoko shrieked aloud, her face completely red. "How can you ask me that! It's so personal!"
"A father has to know," he replied roughly with a shrug. "You're both adults so these things must be asked. If you don't tell me, then I'll be forced to ask him, you know. Now, are you sleeping with him?"
Kyoko, mortified beyond words, could only nod. The very idea of Kuu asking Ren something like that, while in the middle of a crowded restaurant, was the stuff of nightmares. Besides, you never knew who could be listening in a place like that. That was something she would never allow to leak to the public; their relationship was already a scandal because she was in high school, so throwing in her lost virginity would be adding fuel to the fire.
Kuu grunted. "Are you at least being careful?"
"I hope you're getting these questions out of you system," Kyoko whispered fiercely. "Don't you dare ask Ren things like this when you see him. Yes, we are being 'careful'. I'm on the pill, and he," she took a deep breath before finishing in an embarrassed, low tone, "he wears a condom." After the first time, something heated and spontaneous that left no time for thoughts of responsibility, they were always sure to be protected. A pregnancy would not help matters. "Are you happy now?"
"Almost. Now how often-"
"No, stop right there. Not even a parent should know that." Kyoko crossed her arms, glaring at Kuu.
He relented, figuring he had pressed the matter enough for now. "Have the two of you talked about anything more permanent? Such as you moving into his apartment? Or… marriage?"
If Kyoko had been drinking something, she knew it would end up being spat out of her mouth at that. Her eyes wide, she replied, "We've only been together for a month, Father. Isn't it a bit early to be thinking like that?"
He sighed in relief. "My point exactly. I just had to make sure. Julie… was curious about that one."
"Ah." Kyoko left it at that, not thinking it wise to point out that Julie had never even met her. She could hardly be asking about the prospect of marriage for Kyoko's sake. But for Ren's sake, on the other hand…
Finally, they arrived at the restaurant, a fancy little place that Kyoko would have never dreamed of it eating at before. Elaborately decorated to the point of overkill, it looked more like a palace then a place to eat. From the tight security outside of the place, she had a hunch that only the elite dined here. Slowly, Kyoko was starting to get used to places such as this, for they came along with the territory of dating the most famous man in all of Japan.
Thankfully, the meal was a quiet affair. Kuu was polite and asked only simple questions of Ren, much to Kyoko's relief. The chatter between the two men, while polite, was clearly unnatural and somewhat forced. Well, on Ren's part, at least. This was what Kyoko had worried about the most.
Since Kuu counted Kyoko as his daughter, Ren - the Ren how was not in any way connected to Kuu - had to maintain the guise of trying to become friendly with him. But, since he was also Kuon, Kuu's son, he had to prevent himself from getting too close to Kuu or else risk slipping out of his Tsuruga Ren persona and becoming his old self. If this happened, if even for a second, Ren's whole career would be forfeit, he had explained to Kyoko.
Kyoko didn't understand that part so much, but she knew it was important for Ren to keep his two selves separate. So this was another reason to be nervous about how the men would get along.
As she watched them interact, however, she couldn't help but be struck by their acting. Kuu clearly missed his son from the way he had behaved the last time he was in Japan, even going so far as to have Kyoko act out how she thought his son would act. Yet, he was still able to treat Ren as a stranger then, and even now, it seemed as if he was just getting to know him. This was a bit true, as Kuu only knew Kuon, not Ren, but still. And Ren, who seemed torn to Kyoko about what he did to his parents and how he had caused them such worry, still could pretend that everything was fine and well. These two men, legends of acting, acting right in front of her, inspired awe from then teenage girl. And she pledged to try even harder to improve her own skills, she promised herself as a smile played along her face.
When Ren asked her what she was smiling so much about as he drove her back to his apartment, she only leaned over and kissed him. "I'm just so proud of how you handled yourself, and Kuu too. I'm glad then two men I love the most were able to get along, is all." And then she had to kiss him again.