Nani? Nande? Doushite? Chapter 3: [BLAZE]
[A/N: I thank everyone who has read this story, and wanted the third chapter to come out.]
"You want me to…what?" There was a vague twitching of her eyebrow that Kyoko was sure would get worse. In a minute…or so. Ren, for his part, sat calmly drinking his tea, not seeming to mind the fact that the girl before him was in danger of spontaneously combusting.
"I want you to move in with me. Here." He said, gesturing around the apartment.
"But – But -" Kyoko sputtered, very well aware indeed of the ludicrous expression on her face. Not even Shou had asked her to move in with him – well, he had, but he'd thought of her as his maid. Ren had proposed to her – even if it was forced, even if he might be taking advantage of her…he saw her as a woman. Even thinking of this, Kyoko's face lit up in a flush of shame, making her want to bury her face in her hands just to hide it.
"Of course you'll have your own room," Ren watched her changing expressions with interest. "I won't insist that you move into my room that quickly-" Even Yashiro sensed danger here, his mouth opening in a panicked gasp.
He's joking, right? Right? He can't expect her to take things in this easily, even though she's Kyoko – wait, it's exactly because she's Kyoko…!
Ren's faced was fixed in his Emperor of the Night expression when Kyoko spoke, not daring to look into his eyes. She could feel the pain from where her nails dug in to her palm, and even more – the pain in her heart. This pain was from the slow melting of something that had been frozen for too long, for much too long.
"Give me a little time." Was the only sentence Kyoko could grit out as she took up her bag, heading for the apartment entrance. No-one stopped her; Kyoko didn't know if she should be relieved about that. Maybe she did want to stay – to stay and thrash things out with Ren…
Just as her fingers touched the doorknob, Ren called out to her, and her heart jumped.
Turning, there was a metallic jangle as she just barely managed to grab hold of the brand-new set of keys he'd tossed her.
Kyoko could've sworn there was a hint of something in his voice as she stared at the shiny new metal, then up at him. Something glimmered in his eyes even as that fixed smile remained pasted on Ren's face. Loneliness? Yashiro hovered anxiously in the background.
Without hesitation she stepped out, letting the door close behind her.
I'll be back.
It was not a common occurrence that Kotonami Kanae approached a door with caution. Usually she would fling it open, and stride right in, confident and ready to face whatever lay behind it. But this was an exception; there was an unearthly crashing and banging going on behind it, mixed with howls and sobs. Sure, it looked like a normal dressing room door, the one she'd been assigned to at the TV station, but waves of bad karma rolled off it.
Kanae knew bad karma when she saw it.
She stood there in a daze for a while, just staring at the door and slackly wondering if it was a good idea to open it. A lone cat walked past her at some time, causing her to jump out of her skin. She looked around, making sure no-one had seen her do that.
Hahaha! It's just a door…just a door…it doesn't matter if I open it…What am I doing?
But her fingers had already wrapped themselves around the handle, and pushed in on the dismal scene inside.
Kyoko was curled up on the floor, bawling in chorus with the many Kyoko demons that flew in desperate circles around her, knocking into objects around them. An air of despair hung so thickly around her that Kanae believed if you walked into it, you would probably never come out alive again.
"Kyo…Kyoko…san…" she began in a hesitant voice, gripping the doorframe in case she needed to escape.
Said person's head lifted, and her eyes filled with gratitude so genuine that it generated sparkles which would make anyone go blind.
"Mo~~~~~ko~~~~!" was the joyful cry.
It was a strange sight to behold, Kyoko crying with sadness and joy at the same time, above all the chaos waving a hand upon which something glinted.
Kanae's eyes narrowed. "What?"
Now she infringed upon Kyoko's island of dread, and grabbed onto that hand. A…diamond ring? On the fourth finger… "What have you gotten yourself into this time?" she demanded.
Ren knew that Kyoko wouldn't have accepted him that easily. He saw it, the fear in her eyes when she suspected he liked her. If she did, that just…wouldn't be her…
A bitter smile curved his lips.
Why should he, who had lived a life of lies, be allowed to pursue such an untainted and innocent being such as her? What a paradox…Ren took another swallow of cognac, setting the already half-full bottle down on the glass-topped coffee table. Why should I…be able to…?
Yashiro knew these moods of his; black moods that made Ren drink even more – the man already drank like a fish. The manager watched his charge through slitted eyes, leaning against the living room wall. The soft atmospheric lights that lit the room only seemed to further highlight harsh reality. Yashiro waited for the other half of the hard liquor to disappear before speaking.
"Ren. Stop it."
"Of course I will."
That fake, bright smile again. Yashiro had to wonder if the troubled young man was getting too good at his job. And that fake smile was going to get stuck on his face one day, if he wasn't careful…
"Why should I be allowed to pursue happiness, Yashiro-san?" this in a soft voice, dangerously veiled.
Ren's face was shadowed, his eyes two dark windows no-one could look through. "Why should I be able to touch it with tainted hands, and twist it into what I think it should be?"
"Ren -" Yashiro's face was despairing. How many times had he tried to counsel this man out of depression, out of destroying himself? "I'm afraid you'll have to think this out yourself. No-one can help you if you won't let them."
He left, closing the door on the air of depression behind him.
Moko had never had such an illogical event happen to her. Therefore she was unable to even imagine how something like this could happen…it was beyond her comprehension.
"You…what?" she asked with a serious face, even though she'd made Kyoko repeat the situation at least five times. The girl was now sitting upright at the kotatsu, but was getting visibly more agitated.
"He forced me to accept his proposal!"
Moko examined the ring, trying unsuccessfully and quite painfully to get it off. Kyoko bore with it, knowing that the best option was to submit; at the risk of Kanae's wrath, and for her own good.
"No good." Moko announced solemnly, sitting back on her haunches. "He must've installed something special into it."
"That bastard Ren…" Kyoko growled, prepared to curse him to hell and back.
"Kyoko…deal with it." was Moko's response, calm and short. "It's not like you don't like him, right? And the fact that he went to such lengths to get one on you means something…you might not see or understand it now, but it's definitely there." Kyoko fidgeted, more or less uncomfortable with all this talk about love, the emotion she'd gone to such lengths to forget.
"Just go ahead with it. You know his character – he won't treat you badly, and I can assure you that you won't regret it. He…loves you Kyoko."
The incredulous gaze Kyoko shot her was dimmed when she saw the gentle smile on Kanae's face. "Oh…oh, right…" the teenage girl fiddled with her fingers, staring at the floor.
"Go on now." Moko all but pushed her out of the room. "I've got to change."
"Ummm…oh…thank you!" Kyoko managed to give a quick bow before the door was closed on her. She sweatdropped.
Was that…even her?
Ren had washed up as best he could, at least enough to remove the stink of liquor. The actor, coveted idol of many women, paced his apartment nervously, his mind blank and his mouth spewing random muttered thoughts. "She's just a seventeen year-old girl…I must have frightened her…Oh, I'm the worst…!" It was these times that his old demons came back to haunt him – they whispered tauntingly in his ears, mobbed him till he was sure that he'd be unable to breath. Ren slumped on the sofa, attempting to fight them.
You don't deserve her…you know you don't…you're greedy, tainted…
You'll taint her, too, with your stained hands…
Minute droplets of sweat had started to gather on his brow.
Yes, you do, And you know it. That voice whispered. You know yourself well, Ren…
Yes, was the silent admittance he gave with his bowed head. Eyes closed, Ren let them take him over, like he always did.
"Tsuruga-san?" A gently questioning voice, which he knew to be hers. Her presence…always managed to dispel his fears. She was the only one he needed; so unlike all the other women he'd been with – those that had left him, those he hadn't stopped…
"Kyoko?" His eyes inched open slowly, as if to better take in the bright hazel ones that glittered before him. Worry and concern was what he saw in those beloved eyes. Unthinkingly, he caught her around the waist, burying his nose in her scent. This girl, who was so unlike all the others…
"Kyoko, I love you." Said girl's eyes widened a little in shock, and she drew away a little.
He wouldn't have that, and just held on tighter, his soft hair tickling her chin. Kyoko eventually gave in, wrapping her arms around his head, stroking his hair. The muffled words reached her heart, and she let them, a few tears streaking down her cheek as she smiled.
Maybe it was time to let it all go.
To let go of all the bad things that happened with Shou—
That was all she needed.
Finally, over with all that angst! I felt it was essential, though, before I could move on with the next part of the fic. Don't worry, it won't be this depressing. Hope y'all liked it.
EDIT: And I'm sorry about the formatting. screws it up. Removes my column breaks and stuff…ugh.