Author's Notes & Assumptions:
- I don't own Skip Beat! I'm just an impatient fan who waits weeks on end for a new chapter to be published.
- Again, this was part of another fic I'm working on but it seemed out of place to put it there so I just wrote this as a one-shot.
- The events of this fanfic takes places after the Natsu arc. Kyoko is still in Box-R and Ren is working on his new movie where he portrays the serial killer BJ.
- I used the subbed version of the anime for some lines on the middle part.
- As for the last part… for someone Asian like me, what it looked like in Chapter 66 was flavored and seasoned rice so I used it.
- Thanks to everyone who has read and reviewed the last two stuff that I wrote. I really, really appreciate them. Please read and review this one too!
Yashiro Yukihito sighed as he watched the halls of the LME Head Office.
Ren is currently in a meeting with the President. Lately, Ren's mood has been fluctuating due to stress of the triple burden of playing BJ on camera, Actor X on set and for other movie-relation promos, etc, and Tsuruga Ren on the rest of his jobs were taking it's toll on his charge.
While it's true that the role and the movie will elevate Ren's status from being the number one idol (man candy)-slash-actor into a bona fide artist, it's not going to do him any good if he starts losing himself. It may not be so obvious to a common observer, but to some like Yukihito who is constantly with him, it seems that Ren is slipping. Ren is just starting to become a little more agitated, edgy and moody every day that passes.
And the only thing that seems to make Ren feel relaxed is a short, chestnut-haired girl clad in a bright pink jumpsuit. But even she's not around nowadays. She's getting busier and busier that she's almost never in the office anymore. No… it's not like she's never there, but even his masterful time management skills could coincide Ren's free time to when she's in LME.
Not that he had a problem with it though… He frowned as he pressed the up button for the elevator. Kyoko-chan is an actress after all, not a gofer. One day, that scary talent of hers is going to get her more and more work making her busier than she is now, which means she'll never have any more time for small favors for him like spending time with Ren.
His thoughts were interrupted by the ping as the elevator doors opened. He stepped inside and pressed for the floor of the Management Department. He continued his thoughts…
But he already has plans for that… When the time comes that Kyoko-chan is busy enough to have her own manager, he fully intends to become his or her best friend. If it was just up to those two, they would be considerate of each other's busy schedule and the next time they meet, they would be old and gray…
…and that meeting would probably be by accident too, not because they agreed to. Really… those two are already in the type of relationship where they're giving each other private phone calls, why are all their face-to-face encounters still on that level where it has to be a coincidence or work or something he has to set up?
…and at that time, they would still be calling each other by 'surname-san'. Really… these two are the hardest to get to know people in show business (because as amiable as Ren seems, he keeps every at arms' length and Kyoko-chan is a complicated, multi-layered girl) but they're extraordinarily close, why aren't they one first name basis yet?
A few seconds later, the doors opened and he stepped out.
But more importantly, he has to find a way to help out Ren now. He contemplated on setting up another seeming dinner/date thing between the two that he doesn't care if Ren would get angry about him meddling with his private matters. If it wasn't for him, Ren wouldn't have private matters and would just work himself to death.
Smiling at the thought of his half-baked plans, he opened the door of the Management Department office and greeted everyone cheerily.
"Ah, Yashiro-san!" Toyokawa Koujirou, Bridge Rock's manager, motioned for her him to come closer where six managers are clustered in the corner where the TV and the DVD player were set up. "Come over here!"
With a puzzled look on his face, he walked up to them after setting his briefcase and jacket down. Yukihito peeked and narrowed his eyes. Ah… it's the recording of last year's newbie audition. Every year, when the video that was used for the panel's assessment during the newbie audition is being sent to the Archives Department, and someone from there would copy and release a leak that would circulate around the office through under-the-table channels. Yukihito wonders why it took so long to reach the Management Department. When he looked around, he understood why, Sawara-san and Matsushima-san, members of the panel, are not around.
He settled for a spot on the side. That time, he remembered that Ren asked him about it while he was in a shoot. Yukihito assumed that it was probably another one of Ren's ex-girlfriends since Ren never really paid much attention to things like newbie auditions. It should be interesting to guess which one of the pretty girls lined up on stage on chairs would be it.
"Wow!" Matsunai Ruriko's manager exclaimed. "She can cry on command? Then why is she in the Love Me Section?"
"Have you ever met her?"
Yashiro Yukihito turned back to the TV and saw the face Kotonami Kanae, the notoriously snappish other member of the Love Me Section who happens to be Kyoko-chan's best friend. Kyoko-chan likes her a lot, which means that she's a real good person, but she's just a little too impatient with people. Anyway, Yukihito continued to watch as she bowed and handed the the phone to the number 61 – Kyoko-chan??? This is the audition Kyoko-chan was in? They've known each already that long and that was only a year ago?
Curiously, he craned his neck and saw…
…the love of Ren's life…
…gave an awesome aura of death.
What the hell?
Toyokama-san laughed. "It's no wonder Kyoko-chan was picked to play Mio." Then he started gape. "Now I wonder why she was referred to us to play–"
"Wait!" a manager of one of the actresses in LME. "This is the best part!"
The pent-up anger that seemed to leak through thte screen suddenly vanished, returning to the source and the chestnut-haired girl gave such a cute smile. "I'm so happy. I always knew that you'll come back to me one day."
If anything was in his mouth, he would have gagged. This is not the Kyoko-chan he knew…!
"That's the best part you were talking about??? That's predictable, all the other girls did the same thing!"
"Wait for it…"
"As… if…" The aura started crawling out, darkening Kyoko's face. And everyone watched in awe as she threw the mobile phone to the floor, destroying it worse than Yukihito would have by just touching it. "If sorry can fix everything in this world," she screamed. "Then there wouldn't be a need for a hell!"
No one paid attention to the movements within the screen anymore because everyone was paralyzed with shock and awe for a few seconds before they all burst out with laughter.
"That was incredible!" Toyokama-san exclaimed, grabbing the remote control to rewind it again.
"Kyoko-san's incredible!" Toyokama-san went on. "That was hilarious. The timing is impeccable! No wonder she's fit to play…"
The sentences of everyone's comments didn't even register into Yukihito's head. He smirked.
That was Kyoko-chan. The girl with a face of a child, the manners of a lady, the disposition of an angel, a temper of a demon, and the logic of a rock. This is the girl Tsuruga Ren, the most sought-after celebrity in Japan, was in love with???
Well, he thought as he pushed his glasses, watching her as she started throwing the phone again. He already knew all of those things. But to see it all in front of his eyes in a span of a few seconds was something else.
"That was a reaction test, right?" Matsunai-san's manager asked. "What was being said on the other line?"
"Something about a cheating ex-boyfriend apologizing and trying to get back with a girl he dumped."
"Eh, really?" I want my daughter to grow up like that!"
"At least she'll have a backbone."
He shouldn't. He really shouldn't. Ren is an actor. And this video is contraband for only office employees – what would happen if the talents within LME find out that all these years, there has always been a tradition of the staff passing around their audition videos to ogle and gush and laugh at? It's not right.
But Yukihito balled his fist and couldn't take it anymore. "I WANT TO BORROW THAT VIDEO!"
* * *
Kyoko was laughing with Makino-san as Marumi-san took a random picture of them when she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket.
Immediately grabbing it, she opened the phone and saw an unregistered number flash on the screen. Thinking, it was the office, she picked it immediately. "Hello?"
"Hey, you didn't tell me you were shooting on location in Kyoto," a familiar, cheerful voice came through the earpiece.
"Tsuruga-san???" she exclaimed, stopping in her tracks, being left behind by Marumi-chan and Makino-san.
"It's been a while."
"Yeah, it has been," she laughed. "I didn't get to tell you because I haven't seen you in weeks. But yes, we're filming the school trip episode so, here I am."
"You're behaving yourself?" he asked in a strained voice.
Odd, she thought. It almost sounded as thought he was stopping himself from laughing. "Of course I am! Um… I'm actually sightseeing with some of the girls. Is there anything you need?"
"No," he guffawed. "I'm actually on my break and just felt like calling you when I heard you were there."
"Ah…" she smiled. "Well, I'm really having fun. So don't worry… there's no need to tell me not to have too much fun and do rash things just because it feels like a vacation." Then defensively added, "I'm not having that much fun by the way."
He didn't answer but heard a muffled laugh. She strained her ears. "Tsuruga-san? Are you still there?"
"Huh, what?" he finally answered. "No… sorry. I'm here. And don't worry. You having too much fun is the last thing on my mind." Then he laughed.
OK, she thought. Now he's just acting really weird. She was about to say so when Makino-san called out to her. "Kyoko-san! Let's go!"
"Tsuruga-san, so sorry," she apologized. "I have to go. I'll see you when I get back. I'll bring you something nice."
* * *
Yukihito stopped on his tracks as he entered "Actor X"'s dressing room with a bottle of mineral water in his hand. Actor X decided that to make his life easier, he placed a personal ban on his dressing room save for his manager.
Rice? He wondered as he stared at the back of Ren as he sat on the chair with the phone on one hand and the remote on the other.
"That flavored rice that you made before when you came over my place and made me dinner," Ren said. "I want to eat that again." He paused. Yukihito assumed whoever he was talking to on the other line was speaking. Rice? Flavored rice? Ren doesn't even like to eat and only does so because he's being scolding into doing it and because it's a basic need for a human being. Then he gave a short laugh. "OK. I'll look forward to it then. I'll see you again soon." Then he hung up the phone.
He clamped his phone shut and turned to the side to put the phone on the table. Yukihito was both relieved and happy when there was a small smile on Ren's face and the knitted eyebrow look on his face has smoothened once again. Without realizing his presence, Ren turned back to the TV as he rewound the same scene again, his shoulders shaking with laughter.
His job was done.
Later on, he has a date to prepare.