Disclaimer – I do not own Skip Beat or its characters, etc. blahbitty blah…
Another one shot I thought up. A few spoilers since it doesn't make much sense if you don't know who Corn is but most people should get it if you've been following along. Meant to be more sweet than funny but I did enjoy making Ren come out of the closet more than I should. lol Hope you all like it and please review if you feel like it! Happy readings!
The actors of LME weren't a tight knit group by any means and often busy with their own agendas. It wasn't even slightly surprising if an actor wouldn't meet up with another LME member aside from their managers for months and months. It really boiled down to fate and chance (or the president's whim) on when two people's paths would cross.
Ren Tsuruga wasn't a man to leave things up to fate or chance (and especially not the president). He'd grown weary of listening to old phone messages and videos. He wanted to see her, talk to her, just share the same space with her. Today if possible.
He had a plan. Actually, he had craftily devised two plans depending on who answered the phone. He punched in the number on his cell phone.
After two rings someone picked up and growled, "Love Me hotline. Kanae Kotonami speaking. How can I make you – ugh - love me?"
Damn, he thought over the choking sounds coming through the line, looks like it's Plan B then.
Ren was early for his appointment with Ms. Kotonami and had decided to wait in the girls' new office. He had told her that he wanted a few minutes to investigate their office for an upcoming role. He wasn't quite sure if she actually bought the story but it would have to do. He should have just called Kyoko but the hotline seemed less personal. He sighed.
He opened the door to the Love Me Section office and was stunned. Yes, he had often seen the horrifying uniforms and had heard about their specially designed closets/lockers so that when you opened them you would see the uniform's hideousness in all its glory. Yes, he had even listened to the president enthuse on - and on and on - about his plans for the Love Me members but this…
"This" included furniture and tables in that same shocking pink as the girl's uniforms. Then, on the ceiling dangled giant plastic hearts with the Love Me logo and even the walls were painted with quotes from gushingly sweet poetry in various shades and sizes. Finally, in the very center of the sickly chaos was a big neon light twisted in the shape of a heart. It blinked on and off atop its pedestal in such a way that made Ren certain it was designed to resemble a heartbeat. He gagged and forced himself to walk further in the room. That's when he heard Kyoko's voice behind him.
"That's strange. He didn't seem to be the type. I wonder if something happened."
"What's that, Moko? What's wrong?" Kyoko asked. "You're making a weird face."
Kanae slammed the locker door closed. "You can go on ahead, Kyoko. I'll catch up to you later."
"Don't be silly. I can wait for you!"
"No, go on ahead. I'll catch up!"
"It's okay! I'll wait …"
"Mo! I said go already!"
Silence followed by a soft sniffle. "I'm sorry, Moko. Of course, I was being rude. I'll leave first." In the quiet that followed, there was a faint door click followed by sniffling sounds echoing away down the hall. These were then drowned out by sharp, banging sounds on a metal door.
Kanae, sporting a red spot on her forehead, swung the locker door open to glare at the occupant within. "Mr. Tsuruga?!"
Ren stepped out of sizeable locker and rubbed his sore neck. "Thanks for not saying anything. As I explained earlier, I'm doing research for a role. I'm on orders not to tell anyone the details though so please don't ask."
"Why not just ask Kyoko then. She thinks you're the god of acting."
"Out of curiosity, which one is Ms. Mogami's locker then?" he asked ignoring her question.
Kanae opened the locker next to hers and pointed. As she is about to speak her face took on a panicked expression. She somehow managed to shove the tall man into the space slamming the door before the familiar paralysis begins to take hold and there is a knock on the door.
"Mooooooooookoooooooo. I'm sorrrrrrrrry to bother youuuuuuuuuu but Mr. Sawara told us to meet at the second training hall in 20 minutes. I'll leave you alone. Pleeeeeeeeeease forgiiiiiiiiiive meeeeeeee." Kyoko was still wailing outside the office but her grudge sprits were out in full force.
"Mo!" Kanae gasped as she struggled against Kyoko's spirits. "All right, already. Let me go! You're forgiven! You're forgiven! Just give me a few more minutes and I'll meet you there."
When a puzzled Ren opens the door a few moments later. He found Kanae on her knees gasping for air. "God, she gets so scary sometimes!" she panted before she noticed his bemused smile. She glared up at him.
"Why are you really here? Does this have something to do with Kyoko?"
"No way. I told you I'm doing research." He smiled dazzling at her.
That's when something clicked and Kanae remembered something about this man's smile. Kyoko told her a long time ago that he smiled when he lied. Why was he lying to her and why was he here? Obviously it had something to do with Kyoko but what? Filming for the drama was over so they haven't had anything to do with each other for weeks. Could her suspicions be correct? Maybe he did like Kyoko in that way.
She went straight for the jugular. "I don't know how much you know about her past but Kyoko isn't interested in anyone like that. She's focused on beating that guy." She thought she saw the actor flinch before fixing a bored expression on his face. She sent him a pitying expression. He was really easy to read once you knew his tricks.
"I know about Fuwa but I told you that –"
"Ah!" Kanae cut him off then, her face full of realization. "Maybe it's not hopeless! I'd forgotten! There is someone."
"Someone?" Ren forgot his mask as his thoughts spiral.
"Yes, someone she said she would marry. She laughed about it but I could tell it was special so I didn't toss it even though I really wanted to." Kanae then opened up her locker and pulls out a box. "Where is he?" she mumbled. Ren tilted his head to the side while he watched her rummage around what looks like toy key chains.
Kanae then let out a sigh. "Here. You can have this one. She modeled it after the only man she would even consider marrying." She hands him a lifelike figure of a young boy with wings. It fitted neatly in his hands. It's a remarkably well-crafted fairy with its arms spread wide and a sort of determined look on its face. Something about it tugs at Ren…
"A fairy? She would marry a fairy?" He didn't know why he was surprised but he was.
"That would be too easy. No, that one is a fairy prince but never mind that. Look at his face!" She told him off hand while stuffing her treasures back into her locker. She grabbed her uniform before closing the door. She took pity on him and explained some more.
"Funny, I didn't notice it at first but if you look closely his face sort of looks like yours only with blond hair and the crown of course and wings and that horrific outfit." She said, as her face gets more and more sour as she is forced to notice yet again just how sappy the trinket was. Ugh, Kyoko…
So familiar somehow… Oh! Ren looked closer at the keychain finally recognizing a face he hadn't seen in years. It's Corn. She made Corn with… wings.
Quietly Ren then asked her, "Ms. Kotonami, when are you two returning?" He didn't lift his head when he spoke but kept tenderly stroking the fairy's wings.
"Huh? We shouldn't come back until after lunch. Why?"
"Nothing. It's nothing. Can I have your book please? I'm done." She handed it to him and watched him strangely as he stamped and signed it before giving it back. She didn't know what happened but it suddenly seemed like all the energy was sapped out of him. "Please keep today a secret and thank you, Ms. Kotonami, for this." He held up the keychain. "I really appreciate it."
Shocked, she quickly stepped away. His face! Never in her life had she seen such a face. Aghast, she managed to nod but was unable to speak. What do you call such a face? It was a face as hideous to her as the room they were in.
"Excuse me then." Ren smiled ruefully at her and stepped back into Kyoko's locker before closing the door.
Kanae stared dumbly at the closed locker. She had often thought that LME was full of idiots and was now certain she was the only sane one. She didn't understand them at all! Ren heard her mutter, "Mo! So weird!" before she stomped away to find Kyoko leaving the man alone with his thoughts, a girly keychain, and the blinking neon heart.