Spoiler Alert for chapter 135.

Disclaimer: If Skip Beat belonged to me chapter 136 would be up now.


Continuous Palpitations


Yashiro Yukihito was flabbergasted. So stunned was he, that he couldn't even bring his hands to his cheeks. No, he stood there with his mouth agape like a fish, eyes brimming with unspoken horror. Random passerby on the street carefully made a wide curve around him, throwing curiously disturbed glances his way. One mother even rushed her kids past, carefully tucking them to the folds of her skirt so they couldn't stare at him.

Ren was worried. Sweat dropping, he regarded his manager. Some men just couldn't take shocks well. For some reason he got saddled with one as a manager. Not that Ren could fault him for his work; Yashiro was an even better manager than Kuu's and Julie's. President hadn't lied when he said he found a manager who was as dedicated to his work as Ren. For all that, Ren supposed he could forgive Yashiro's melodramatic tendencies, but sometimes he over did it. Like now for instance.

Poor man was still frozen in shock. Glancing back to the display window, he saw an advertisement running on the large screen TV. That was good. Maybe Yashiro would shake off his stupor. In fact the slight tremor in his arms was promising. Quickly glancing around, he grabbed Yashiro and pulled him over to a nearby traditional restaurant. Upon entering he was greeted by a middle-aged Okami, who nervously stared at Yashiro, but just nodded her head at Ren's smile. As she was about to seat them near the windows he shook his head and pointed to one of the secluded corners, away from the cluster of high school girls. Throwing him a questioning look, she nodded walking him over to the corner booth. Before taking his seat, he ordered two green teas, pushing Yashiro to sit in the booth visible to incoming customers.

Observing his manager he was glad to notice Yashiro finally managed to close his mouth, though his eyes were still zoned out. Probably replaying the horrifying scenes he'd witnessed. Given Yashiro's mild fanboy tendencies regarding the roles Kyoko played, he figured this reaction should have been expected, especially since she'd been cast for this role based off her performance as Mio. But knowing Yashiro the moment he'd heard that Ren had taught her how to cat walk he'd been lost to fantasies of a normal popular girl high school drama. To be honest Ren hadn't even really considered what was going to happen in the drama except some minor bullying done by Kyoko's character. Neither of them had been ready for what they had seen.

"I c-can't believe it. No no no! That was not Kyoko-chan we saw! Kyoko is a sweet, driven, homespun girl! That was a narcissistic pain loving evil devil we saw. It was not Kyoko!"

Sighing and sweat dropping at Yashiro's sudden exclamation, Ren regarded the suddenly disenchanted man. Eyes brimming with fiery denial he held his fists on the table. His shaking mouth gave proof that he hadn't quite convinced himself of the last statement. Neither saw the eyes of two people fixate on their booth.

"Now Yashiro-san be reasonable. We both know Mogami-san is a very innocent, talented actress with an unheard of ability to depict the most terrifyingly wicked characters out there. Just because she acts the role in a spine chilling manner doesn't mean she is anything like the character. Especially the nasty character of Natsu we just witnessed."

"How can you be so calm about this R-yuu?" Yashiro managed to catch himself before yelling out Ren's name in a public place that he just realized they were in. "They were bullying that poor girl to the point of torture! She was going to be lit on fire! And Kyoko just smiled, in fact, it wasn't even a real smile until they held the flame to the girl! That actress is going to be scarred for life!"

Watching the panic stricken manager, Ren couldn't find any way to reasonably disagree with that claim. Natsu was a cold-hearted character. He was surprised Kyoko had managed up enough love to play her role at all. No wonder she had been struggling. Sighing, he thought of some way to calm his manager back into a rational state.

"It's called acting Yashiro-san. That actress that was being bullied was most likely prepped about what to expect in the scene, and was told how to avoid being seriously wounded by the other actresses."

Though given that this was Kyoko they were talking about: the actress probably hadn't been anywhere near prepared for what she had experienced when they were shooting. Likely it was ten times worse than her expectations.

"The director would not be able to let her get hurt or it would cause a lawsuit and all the actresses' reputations in the scene would be ruined. Plus the drama would receive a lot of bad publicity."

Though bad publicity still held to the free press and advertisement rule. Inadvertently raising the popularity of the show.

"Did you see Kyoko's character do any of the bullying either? It was all the cute pigtailed actress's doing. Actually I think that girl came up with that stuff herself. The way the scene went, there was no way that was a retake, so it must have been like the ad-lib scene I did with Istumi-san for Dark Moon. Kyoko's Natsu just reacted to what was occurring. After Mio in Dark Moon can you really be this surprised by Kyoko's talent to act the villainous role?"

Because Ren just didn't know whether or not he would be able to.

Yashiro stared at him pouting mildly, obviously not comforted by his arguments. Good. Seems as if the melodrama was over.

"I suppose. But the way this role is acted, I don't think she's ever going to get to play a non-antagonist role. She's going to be forever cast to the role of the mean, cruel, heartless, jealous women!"

Or not.

"Yashiro-san as a veteran manager I expect better of you. Anyways do you really think with the President taking as much interest in her roles as he does, that she will only ever play mean roles? Knowing him, he'll write her a gaudy romance story just because she never gets to play a character that can love. If you haven't figured it out yet, at some point, every LME actor, talento and singer has some role or song that deals with love. That's his number one rule. It's in the contract."

Having flabbergasted his manager, he watched the gears in the man's head work as he tried to think of an instance where any LME idol had gone without at least one job without love being involved. Observed the man's eyes go wide as he realized Ren was right.

"How come I didn't see this before?"

I do not know.

"It's understandable. Love songs and romance dramas are the most popular entertainment out there. I doubt most LME idols realize the President has this rule. So I wouldn't worry about Mogami-san always being an antagonist, though President might be waiting until he feels the Love ME pair can believably do a love drama."

Which might not be for a very, very long time.

Yashiro's cringing face told him he had come to the same conclusion. The sound of someone clearing their throat caused them both to turn their heads to see the Okami holding out a tray of tea for them.

"I'm sorry Okami-san. Thank you for the tea."

Her eyes twinkled a bit at Ren, no longer apprehensive now that Yashiro had come out of his shell.

"It's my pleasure sirs. If there is anything you need please signal me and I will get it for you."

"I think we're fine. We only came here for a short break before we head off to work again. But thank you again."

Ren said increasing his smile. Attempting to get out of here without having to eat. He froze hearing Yashiro speak up.

"Is there something you wanted Okami-san?"

Ren opened his eyes to see the woman still standing there slightly nervous. Clenching her hands on her tray she spoke.

"I was wondering if you could tell me the name of that drama you were speaking about. The group of ladies over there were curious; they also wanted to know if either of you are actors, because you know so much about the drama."

Her speech was hesitant at first and then rushed towards the end. They both blinked. Yashiro answered.

"The drama is called Box R. It's really new, only airing this week. No, neither of us are actors, we just work as finance managers at the studio."

"Thank you then."

She said bowing lightly, before turning away towards where the girls were sitting. Ren let out a sigh of relief. Sipping at his tea, he enjoyed the silence for a few moments before his manager giggled. Edgy, he cautiously looked up at the smirking Yashiro.

"Don't you think Kyoko was stunning? I have to give both of you credit, if I didn't know better I would have thought she was a model myself. Just think of all the young men watching that show and thinking they want to date that gorgeous actress from Box R."

And as he let his head slide into his hands, Ren thought 'He's back'.


Omake

As it was time to leave the restaurant, Ren made Yashiro go up to the counter to pay, wanting to get away from all the man's teasing. Waiting outside the doors for a few minutes he wondered where Yashiro was. A moment later a ghost came out of the Darumaya restaurant. Ren's shoulders tensed as it walked up to him, before he recognized it as being Yashiro.

"Yashiro-san what happened?"

The ghost looked up lifelessly at him for a moment before recognition hit it.

"When I went to go pay for the drinks, the Okami-san wasn't there. So I paid the Taisho instead. He was sharpening this knife and when he went to take the money it 'slipped' thudding deep into the counter next to my hand. Grinning he apologized, and handed me back the change. Some regulars whispered something about Taisho being such an overprotective father. What do you think that meant?"

Ren's lips twitched as he quickly went to his car and slammed the door shut. Yashiro rushed to do the same before he was left by himself. Only to be stunned by the sight of Ren laughing uncontrollably. Eye twitching he asked,

"What?"

"I don't think he liked you talking about men fanboying pretty young women. A-and-d y-your hair is white!"

And that is the day Yashiro Yukihito became a blonde.


Hahaha. Sorry, this fic was a spur of the moment one. I couldn't get chapter 135 out of my head after I read it, and I just kept thinking: How would Yashiro react to this? Though it turned out nowhere near as serious as I originally intended. I also couldn't resist writing the omake. Yashiro just keeps on annoying Taisho he does. Tsk tsk. Will he ever learn?

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False Sourires