A Wink, A Poke, A Gentle Shove
Prologue: A Wink, A Poke, A Gentle Shove
Hizuri Kuu. A gluttonous man with a big heart to match. Strong, determined. He is Tsuruga Ren's father, or rather Kuon's father, who just happens to have become Tsuruga Ren. Their relationship is rocky at best, though the two have certainly moved towards reconciliation. But Kuu's most important characteristic is none of these things. No, what is absolutely essential to Kuu is that he is anything but subtle.
Ren strongly believed that webcams were lame substitutions for real conversations, but President Takarada had insisted. Flamboyant and eccentric as Lory was, he was rarely wrong, so Ren humored him. He allowed the contraption to be set up in a small corner of his vast apartment and once a week, he turned the whirring machinery on and had a "chat" with his father.
It was about as awkward as walking around with a conspicuous stain on your shirt and not being able to do anything about it. Meanwhile everyone thinks you're a horrendous slob. But Ren liked to believe that there was something good coming out of all this insanity and hassle. What that good was he wasn't exactly sure, but the President seemed to approve wholeheartedly and his father was certainly satisfied.
And so, several months into the ordeal, Ren found himself sitting as usual in a comfortable chair in front of the computer and webcam set up, looking at Hizuri Kuu's smiling face on the monitor.
"So," he began awkwardly (also as usual), "how are… things?"
"Good," his father said, nodding enthusiastically like a bobble-head doll. "And you?"
"Same as ever," Ren replied. He disappeared from Kuu's sight for a moment and returned later with a steaming mug of plain black coffee. Kuu could not understand his son's simple tastes when there were so many varieties of flavors to enjoy in the world.
"How's that kouhai of yours, Kyouko-chan, doing?" Kuu asked fondly. He saw his son hesitate for a moment before responding.
"Quite well. Her career has flourished to the point that LME has assigned her a manager. I believe Mogami-san is starring in a new drama soon as well." Ren recited these facts as blandly as he could, but it was hard to suppress the pride he felt at Kyouko's triumph.
Kuu was almost as good at reading people as President Takarada and having raised the boy who had become Tsuruga Ren, he could tell quite easily that there was more to Ren's feelings than the simple pride of a senpai. Indeed he had noticed it before and with these thoughts in mind, he resolved to act towards what he felt would better Ren's happiness.
He spoke carefully, concisely, and of course when Ren happened to be taking a sip of his still steaming coffee. "So, my son, when are you going to make Kyouko-chan my legal daughter?"
Ren immediately experienced the unpleasant sensation of spitting up one's previously ingested liquid, this one happening to be of the warm, slightly burning persuasion. Coffee spattered the foolishly grinning image of his father. Ren considered all the awful things he could say in reply to get his revenge, but each and every one seemed to fall short on his scorched tongue.
He cleared his throat pointedly. "I don't know what you're talking about, father," he said calmly.
Kuu continued to smile infuriatingly. "Of course. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that now that Kyouko-chan has become such a popular actress, her heart will be in demand as well as her talent."
Ren's eyes narrowed as he spiraled into one of his dark moods. "What are you trying to say, father?"
Kuu sighed. Why did his son only stress the relationship when he was angry? "I'm telling you to win her heart before someone else does, Kuon."
"I do not have that sort of interest in Mogami-san's heart," he lied. "I have to go," he added. "I'll talk to you next week." Ren turned off the computer before Kuu could say goodbye or anything of the sort.
Ren was annoyed. His day had been going so well and now his good mood was perfectly spoiled in only a few minutes. He adjusted his theory about webcams to include the fact that all they accomplished was the production of misery and woe, not to mention destruction and despair.
He stalked off to the bathroom. Hopefully a shower would clear his head. On some level, Ren still felt that his love for Kyouko was wrong even though she was eighteen now and he only twenty-one. He felt dirty.
Kyouko was breathing hard when she stepped off the treadmill and wiped the beads of sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand. She was already a fit young thing, but for one of her latest roles she needed to build some real muscle hence the nightly trips to the gym a few blocks down the street from her apartment.
The new apartment was the result of her higher status in show-biz these days. Kyouko missed the Daruma-ya couple. In fact, she often went to visit them when she could, but as her manager said, why live in a tiny room when you didn't have to? Kyouko was enjoying the new things that came along with her rising stardom and she probably would have let it go to her head if it weren't for the people around her keeping her grounded.
First among those people was her best friend, Kotonami Kanae, otherwise known as Moko-san. Kanae was hot on Kyouko's heels in the world of show-biz and quick to note if Kyouko was getting a little too full of herself (though sometimes Kyouko couldn't be stopped when the role she was playing happened to have a large ego and she had certainly had her share of those sorts of roles). Most importantly Kanae reminded Kyouko of where she had begun as a Love Me member.
Second was Kyouko's pragmatic new manager, a middle aged woman named Matsu Sorata. Sorata was like the mother Kyouko had never had. Perhaps it was the impossibly large pocketbook she carried that contained everything but the kitchen sink (but even that exception was doubtful). Sorata's advice could only ever be topped by one person: Tsuruga Ren.
Even without the existence of Kanae and Sorata, Ren could have kept Kyouko thoroughly sane. She had known him for nearly two years now and thought she still could not exactly explain why, she knew that Ren's presence could without a doubt make her feel better no matter what happened.
Kyouko mused over her happy fate as she took a water bottle from Sorata. Her manager had gotten to the point in her life where she no longer cared so much about exercising, but Sorata came to the gym with Kyouko for moral support as did Kanae, though she claimed that it was because she couldn't let Kyouko get in better shape than her.
As Kyouko gratefully quenched her thirst she noticed a young boy staring at her. He was clearly trying not to be seen, though he was failing miserably. Kyouko smiled and waved, which sent him promptly flying behind a potted plant. She suppressed a small giggle at his behavior. A few sips later and the boy poked his head out again. Tentatively he edged closer until he was standing in front of her.
Now that she had a closer look, Kyouko could see that he was probably a middle school student, only a few years younger than herself. "Um, sorry to bother you," he said quietly. "C-could I have… your autograph, Kyouko-chan?"
Kyouko smiled. "Of course. What's your name?"
"Kaito," he whispered, finally looking up from her shoes.
She took the paper and pen from him and scribbled a message. To Kaito-kun, Love Mogami Kyouko.
"A-Arigato," Kaito stuttered and turned to flee.
"Be careful going home, Kaito-kun!" Kyouko called after him. "It's getting dark out!"
Sorata watched the entire exchange with a smile. "Kyouko-chan, better get on the bench press before Kotonami-san finishes her run and steals it from you," she said jokingly.
"Oh," Kyouko said, having forgotten that she was at the gym to exercise already. "Right."
The shower didn't help Ren. If anything, it made him feel worse. He went to bed still thinking about what Kuu had said which caused him to toss and turn. Ren couldn't fall asleep and all he could think about was how Kyouko would scold him for not getting enough rest.
"So, my son, when are you going to make Kyouko-chan my legal daughter?"
"I'm sure I don't have to tell you that now that Kyouko-chan has become such a popular actress, her heart will be in demand as well as her talent."
Ren had never thought about what he would do if some other man was interested in Kyouko. His place in her life had only ever been truly threatened by Shou, but Ren was confident in the fact that Kyouko would never go back to him. Even if she forgave Shou, she was not the sort of person to forget all the hurt and pain he had caused her. And then there had been the stalker, Reino, but it had been over a year since that scary situation and Ren certainly didn't fear him winning Kyouko's heart.
But what would he do if someone handsome and charming came along and made a place for himself in Kyouko's heart? Could he watch as Kyouko walked hand in hand with another man? When she turned her smiles on for someone else? Could he live with seeing her pictures in the tabloids, knowing that her laughter was not because of him?
It was painful to think about. Ren could not bring himself to think that he deserved her, but he would be damned if someone else took her away.
Author's Note: Thanks for reading everyone! Anyone who had already read my oneshot "Operation Help Our Miserable Friends" may recognize Sorata, Kyouko's manager. I decided that I wanted to delve more into that original character. She's rather fun. Anyway, this is just the Prologue, the fun part is yet to come. My standard update time is one week and though I've been breaking that promise with most things lately and writing a random slew of oneshots, I'm pretty significantly ahead with this story and I've been writing rapidly. So I think I'll be okay. Anyway, please review and you'll see more in a week!