After Ren hung up the phone with Kyoko, he turned to find Yashiro behind him.
"Well?" Yashiro asked.
'The filming is going fine."
"But you're still uneasy about leaving Kyoko with Kijima unsupervised?"
"Not really. I know Kijima flirts indiscriminately."
"Yes, well, Kyoko-chan can see right through him, so don't worry. Hasn't she called you a playboy countless time?" Yashiro asked with an evil smirk. "Besides, Kyoko-chan isn't the type to be charmed so easily. And its better that she managed to get through the scenes than delay filming, which is what you were worried about."
This guy…he can still see right through me, Ren thought. First I was uneasy about whether she could film those intimate scenes, and now I'm uneasy that she had no problems doing it.
"If Kyoko-chan becomes more used to flirting then that would be a benefit to you," said Yashiro. "Or is it that you want to be the one to rehabilitate Kyoko-chan?"
"Tsuruga-san! We're ready to film whenever you are!" A crew member called out.
"Coming!" Ren said.
"Saved by the bell," Yashiro said as Ren passed him.
Ren put the thought of Kyoko responding to Kijima's flirting on the backburner until he returned to his apartment that night. Just because a man pays her a few words of flattery doesn't mean her heart will be swayed. Instead of thinking about the imagined threat of Kijima, Ren recalled the real threats that were out there. First is Fuwa, but I doubt she'd view his approaches as genuine and will be on her guard. However, there was that one moment in Karuizawa where it seemed his feelings were about to reach her…Next is that Vie Ghoul 'beagle' that seems to know how to threaten and blackmail her. He wanted her homemade Valentine chocolates, but she didn't seem to realize the meaning behind that. When compared to Sho and Reino, Ren felt ridiculous for feeling threatened by Kijima.
The next morning, Ren and Yashiro pulled into the studio parking lot. As they exited the car, Ren recognized Kijima's car driving up and stopping nearby. To his astonishment, Kyoko hopped out of the passenger side seat.
"Good morning Tsuruga-san, Yashiro-san," Kyoko greeted.
"Good morning Mogami-san," Ren greeted. "Good morning Kijima."
"Good morning Tsuruga, Yashiro," Kijima said from inside his car.
"Thanks for the ride Kijima-san," Kyoko said.
"No problem Kyoko-chan. If you need a ride home send me a message or call," with that said, Kijima drove off while waving at the 3 remaining in the parking lot.
"I had to drop by the LME offices this morning and ran into Kijima-san. Since he was heading in the same direction, he offered to give me a ride," Kyoko explained without prompting.
"I see. What's that you're holding?" Ren asked, bringing attention to the wrapped bento box she was holding.
"It's a bento I made last night. I wasn't sure if there was going to be one provided for today so I made one myself, just in case."
Ren smiled, that's so like her, he thought. But he wasn't to be distracted, "Mogami-san, you exchanged numbers with Kijima?'
"Yes, he asked to exchange infrared."
"Did he say why?"
"Not really," Kyoko said, confused as to why she was being questioned about it so thoroughly. "Maybe so he can ask me for information about Moko-san like he usually does."
Ren felt a wave of relief rush through him, and managed to ignore the way Yashiro was smiling knowingly at him.
"So filming went well yesterday?"
"Yes, we finished without any problems, even with the cooking scenes. When I was preparing this bento, I think Taisho became concerned that I had forgotten how to cook," Kyoko said with a laugh. "He offered to take over but I explained why my food looked as if an amateur had prepared it."
"I look forward to it," Ren said.
"Good morning," Director Shingai said to his actors. "I see you brought a bento for the scene today Kyoko-chan. If you hand it to one of the stage hands they'll hold onto it until it's time to film. One of the producers found a location for the lunch scene so we'll head over there after you two are done with wardrobe and makeup."
As Kyoko changed into the gray suit with sea foam green blouse, she felt the usual sense of happiness at wearing stylish outfits. Although she wore nice clothes as Mio, they were mainly dark in color while her outfits as Kagami were colorful and feminine.
Kyoko was hanging her street clothes onto the hanger when there was a knock on the door and the stylist came in.
"You have such a great figure Kyoko-chan. All these outfits always look amazing on you."
"It's because you pick such great outfits Suzuki-san."
"I'm not the one wearing the clothes, but thank you. Do you mind if I take a few pictures of you in your outfits today? It's for a fashion portfolio."
"Should I put on my wig?"
"No you're fine as you are, but I'll take a few pictures after you get your hair and makeup done as well."
"I've been meaning to ask who the designer of these outfits is. I don't see any labels; only sewn images of a jasmine flower."
"It's my friend Jasmine. She's a designer for the Rudretina brand. All the suits are samples; that's why I want to take pictures. If the clothes are approved, they'd get the Rudretina brand label on them."
"They're very nice. All the business suits have been professional but still feminine."
"Jasmine will be so glad to hear that! I thought the designs would fit Kagami's image. Her personality still comes across even though it's a business suit."
"Have the casual clothes been designed by Jasmine-san as well?" Kyoko asked as they walked towards makeup.
"No, those were regular Rudretina clothes."
"I think it'd be interesting if Jasmine-san created a more casual line too. Things like what Kagami wore when she went out with Hideyoshi. A sort of dressy casual for when she only needs to do paperwork in the office; not jeans but not suits either."
"That's not a bad idea."
While Kyoko had her make up done, Suzuki was on her phone sending a text message about Kyoko's suggestions to her friend Jasmine. As Kyoko headed towards the set, Suzuki fell into step next to her. "Jasmine would like to meet you during lunch time if that's alright with you? She wants to see her clothes on a real person and see if she can get some more inspiration that way."
"I'd be happy to meet with her, but I don't know how much inspiration she could get from me."
"I wouldn't say that. You have a good figure and your own sense of style. Even if you were wearing your Love-Me uniform, Jasmine could get inspiration to dress you in something else entirely."
"Yes, I'm sure that's the common reaction to my Love-Me uniform. It's deemed as an eyesore by everyone," Kyoko muttered darkly.
"I meant that Jasmine has a great eye for fashion and everyone is her model. A lot of the designs she creates has been inspired by office ladies and flight attendants in an attempt to dress them in something that would be more flattering. I have a feeling you'll spark her creative side." Suzuki went off the clear her friend Jasmine's visit with Director Shingai and security.
Kyoko reached the set and pulled out her script to review her lines but simply flipped the pages of the script distractedly. Yashiro noticed the heightened color in Kyoko's cheeks and her quiet restlessness and came over.
"Are you okay Kyoko-chan? You seem distracted," Yashiro said.
"I'm fine. I was talking to Suzuki-san and she said that the designer of my suits wants to meet me."
"Does she want you to be your model?"
"No, of course not; Suzuki-san said that I might inspire Jasmine-san, but I don't think that's possible."
"Why not? You have a remarkable power over people," Yashiro said, thinking about the emotional roller coaster Ren has been on due to Kyoko.
"How do you mean?" Kyoko asked.
"Well you got Ruriko-chan to start acting professionally again on one of your first Love-Me assignments. And Maria-chan certainly has been helped by you as well."
"That's right...I wonder how Ruriko-chan is doing?" Kyoko said in a bemused way. Director Shingai had just walked up as she said this and gave a guilty flinch at the name, remembering how he had played the two actresses against each other.
"So it seems you're going to have a visitor today, Kyoko-chan," Director Shingai said, changing the topic. "Are you branching into modeling like Ren?"
"That's a shame. I think it'd be a good opportunity for you. You're getting better known and if you became a model it's another way to get recognition. Your face would be on billboards and in magazines so you're in the public eye."
"That's true," Kyoko admitted thoughtfully. "But Jasmine-san just wants to see the clothes on me and to talk to me about it."
"It sounds like she's trying to see if you'd be a good model for her line," Director Shingai pointed out. Kyoko couldn't argue against his logic. As she mulled the idea of modeling in her head, Ren had walked up to the group. "Good timing, Ren. As Kyoko-chan's mentor why don't you encourage her to accept a modeling offer," Director Shingai said.
"You received a modeling job offer Mogami-san?" Ren asked.
"No, not really" Kyoko replied, unsure. She wasn't 100% sure it was a modeling offer but the idea had grown on her quickly. "Suzuki-san's friend Jasmine-san designs the outfits I've been wearing and wants to meet me."
"That'd be a good opportunity for you. Modeling could open new doors since everyone in the public, as well as entertainment world would see the advertisements," Ren said. "Which brand does Jasmine-san work for?"
"They're a fairly high end brand name with retailers everywhere, so people could associate you with the image Jasmine-san creates for her line. This is a very rare opportunity Mogami-san, you shouldn't let it pass."
Kyoko gives a nod of assent and Director Shingai ends the conversation by telling them to get ready for their scene. Both Kyoko and Ren take their positions.
Kagami sits in her office, chin cradled on top of her intertwined fingers, staring down at the bento box on her desktop; she glances at the phone on her desk then heaves a sigh.
"Narita-san said he'd be my taste tester, but as I thought, it's too embarrassing to call him up and say I made a bento for him to try," Kagami said putting her face in her hands and slumping forward. Her phone rings and she picks up the receiver still slumped over.
"Hello. This is Kagami."
"Good afternoon Hirohata-san."
"Narita-san!" Kagami exclaims as she sits upright. "Good afternoon," she says regaining her composure and manners.
"I was calling to see if you were free to have lunch with me."
"Yes, I am free. The thing is…um…I made a really basic bento and brought it today. It should be enough for two people if that's alright with you," Kagami said in a rush.
"I'd be honored," Katsutoshi says in a kind voice.
Kagami released a breath she hadn't realized she was holding and gives a relieved and embarrassed laugh. "Where shall we meet? Your office or mine?"
"There's a small park a few blocks from my office if you'd like to meet there." Katsutoshi gives Kagami directions to get to the general direction of the park.
"It'll take me about half an hour to get there."
"That's fine. I'll see you soon," Katsutoshi said. After hanging up the phone Katsutoshi heaves a sigh. "That was close; if she came here and let slip where I work to her father, I'd be in a bad situation." Shaking his head at the close call, Katsutoshi stands up from behind his desk. As he's putting on his jacket, Katsutoshi's assistant Usui walks in after knocking.
"Do you have a lunch meeting?" Usui asks.
"In a way; I'm meeting up with Hirohata Kagami."
After a moments hesitation, Usui said, "I'm not sure it's a good idea to establish a personal relationship with Hirohata Kagami. When news comes out that you're buying up her company stock in order to get on the board of executives..." he let the rest of the sentence go unfinished.
"I'm well aware of the risks Usui. But thank you for the reminder." Katsutoshi had never heard Usui express a personal opinion without prompting so he knew that Usui was genuinely concerned. With a nod that showed he wasn't upset, Katsutoshi walked out of the office.
Director Shingai cleared the scene and had everyone get ready to go on location. As the crew began loading cameras and equipment for the outdoor scene, Kyoko decided to call Kanae and get her opinion.
"Just because the designer wants to meet you, doesn't necessarily mean it's a modeling offer," Kanae said bluntly.
"You're right," Kyoko said, disappointed; she had allowed her ego to get a little inflated at the thought of meeting a clothing designer.
"If the meeting goes well, she could ask you to be a model or promotional spokesperson for the clothing line," Kanae said. "But don't get your hopes up, this is an informal meeting."
"You're right," Kyoko said again, this time with conviction.
"Of course I'm right! I'll come over tonight to hear all about the meeting."
"Okay!" Kyoko said happily and hung up. Kyoko practically skipped to where Ren and Yashiro were standing near the tinted SUV they would take to the location.
"Did you speak to Kotonami-san?" Ren asked, recognizing and knowing the flowers blooming and floating around Kyoko could only be due to one person. He also idly wondered what kind of face she made when he called her.
"Yes! I was reminded that a plain girl like me wouldn't get a modeling contract so easily."
"Did she really say something so harsh?" Ren asked, wondering why Kyoko said it with such obvious affection towards Kanae.
"Not those exact words, but the general idea. It's Moko-san's whip of love; to make sure her best friend stays grounded in reality."
"I see; Kotonami-san has a point. It wouldn't be good to jump to conclusions. However, you should treat this meeting as a possible business connection and opportunity."
"Yes, I will." Kyoko couldn't help the small smile that appeared unconsciously on her face at the excitement of the interview and the fact she could relay what happened to both Kanae and the Darumaya couple this evening. Ren saw her smile and couldn't help a small smile himself.
A/N: Sorry for the long wait. When the weather turns good I tend to be outside playing rather than inside writing. Rudretina is a brand from one of my favorite mangas, the manga Five by Furukawa Shiori, and yes I named Katsutoshi's assistant after Usui from Kaichou wa Maid-sama.