Disclaimer: As always I own nothing but the original characters and the situations I put them in. Everything else belongs to somebody else and that's just the way it is. Thanks so much for reading, hope you'll review and tell me what you think!
Always Call Me
Turning his head at the sound of his name being called by a familiar voice Ren naturally hid his delight as he turned around to wait for her to catch up, watching her weave between the various show business people miling around the front lobby to get to him. Shoving his hands into his pockets Ren absently wondered if perhaps she was having problems with a job or just wanted to chat for a moment or two. Thankfully he wasn't in any hurry, since he'd had a cancellation due to weather conditions. His next three hours were completely free and hers if need be.
"Sorry to keep you waiting." Kyoko announced as soon as she reached him, bowing low in apology. "Am I keeping you?" She added, looking horrified at the very idea.
"No, I'm actually free for a while, so it's no bother. What can I help you with, Miss. Mogami?" Ren asked, doing his best to appear as at ease and calm as was possible as she mulled over whether or not it really was true that he had time to give her. As if. Even if he hadn't been free, he'd have found some way to etch out some time for her, Ren thought ruefully. He was stupid in love with her that way. Hello Kyoko, good bye work ethic.
"Uhmm...well..."Shuffling her feet it was obvious from her face that she was embarrassed and nervous, which automatically had Ren giving her his complete and undivided attention. "I sort of have a favor to ask you. You can decline if you want though, I would perfectly understand. In fact, it's stupid, I shouldn't be bothering you with it, I should never have promised Taisho I'd ask you. Please forgive my impudence in asking you!" Looking ready to beg forgiveness, Kyoko was going overboard with her need to apologize, as per usual.
Grabbing her arm to keep her from running off Ren didn't want her to get away before she'd explained. "Please ask, Miss. Mogami." It would drive him nuts if she didn't, he knew his mind was sure to come up with millions of possibilities anyway, ones that were sure to keep him up all night worrying. Deliberately using the smile that seemed to unnerve her best, Ren hoped it would throw her enough off balance to have her spilling.
Her cheeks going pink it was obvious Kyoko didn't want to say, but knew better than to think she could get away with not spilling her guts to him, especially when he was aiming his evil Heavenly Smile at her, which made her naturally want to spill her guts just to get away from its brilliance.
"Taisho called me this morning at work and asked me to ask you if you'd give me a ride home tonight." She finally blurted out. "Apparently a girl from our neighbourhood was harassed by some guys late last night and Taisho is worried about me maybe running into them when I walk home because I won't get there till late and Taisho can't come and get me because the car is in the shop and I don't have the money to blow on a cab because I had to-."
"I'll give you a ride home." Interrupting whatever else she might have said Ren's grip tightened. There was no way in hell he was letting her walk home by herself, especially if there was even the slightest chance she might run into these men. Not that she was weak, but she was also remarkably unobservant sometimes, which tended to be her undoing in dangerous situations.
Her face indecisive, Kyoko was reluctant to accept if it would remotely put him out. "You don't have to work tonight?"
Crap. Mind frantically reviewing his work schedule Ren barely hid his wince from her. "What time are you done work?" He countered, to give himself more time to try and discover a loophole in his itinerary.
"I'll be done a little after nine."
Double crap. He was working until at least ten thirty, and that was if everything went according to plan. Shoving a hand through his hair Ren tried to figure out how he was going to work this out. "I'll have Mr. Yoshiro pick you up from your last job and bring you to mine." Ren finally decided. "Will your Taisho be all right with you not getting home until around eleven? I have to appear on a show that doesn't end until ten thirty." If it was too late he'd just pay for a damn cab and guilt her into taking it for his peace of mind. He was a professional actor after all, he knew how to manipulate someone better than a king's entire court.
"That should be okay I think." It was really late but she knew her guardians would really worry if she didn't call them to assure them she had a safe way to get home. She didn't have to work until ten too, so it wasn't like she wouldn't be able to get enough sleep, though she was usually always in bed by ten thirty. "It wouldn't be a big problem for you? Really?" She asked hesitantly, not wanting to be a bother to the man who already did so much for her without asking for anything in return. She knew he could just be pretending it wasn't a problem.
"It's fine, call him and tell him I'll see you home."
Cheeks going even pinker Kyoko sent him a grateful look. "Thank you very much, Mr. Tsuruga!"
"No problem." Letting her arm go he gave her head a quick, what he hoped seemed brotherly, pat on the head. "Now tell me where to send Yashiro for you."
Standing backstage Ren absently checked his watch, noting that Mr. Yashiro should have arrived at the set to pick Kyoko up by now. Fifteen minutes to show time for him as well. Looking around Ren absently nodded to a colleague of his, one of the five men that were appearing on the show tonight. Apparently they'd taken a poll as to the top five men in the entertainment industry their viewers would like to see, and some moron had thought it would be a brilliant idea to put them all on at once. Unfortunately, he hadn't been able to get out of it. Not that he had a problem with three of them, it was the forth that he wanted to personally push out a twenty story building window onto a bed of glass and nails. Sho Fuwa. Never had he hated another human being more. He disliked the man even more than he did his former self, which was definitely saying something.
The feeling was entirely mutual.
Standing on the opposite side of the room Sho was also thinking just how happy he would be if Ren Tsuruga were to meet an unfortunate end, preferably one he himself had a hand in causing. The slick, 'I'm So Cool' bastard. What Kyoko saw in him was completely beyond Sho's comprehension. Sharing a dark, message filled stare with the older man, it seemed that the room got colder from their animosity alone.
"Please don't pick another fight with him." Sho's manager Shoko quietly begged, a massive headache already forming. She'd begged the president to step in and stop Sho from appearing with Ren Tsuruga, but all to no avail. Apparently the president thought that an out and out brawl between the two would only boost Sho's record sales. Yeah right. Tsuruga would beat the crap out of Sho. Most people would probably assume that the pacifist Ren wouldn't stand a chance again Sho, but given how much she thought the older man cared for Kyoko, Shoko wasn't so sure Ren wasn't entirely capable of hauling out a can of whoop ass that would reduce her poor Sho to road kill. That aside, Ren's face really was too beautiful to marr, she thought with female appreciation. She might be tempted to stop Sho, which would not end well for anyone.
"Please." Sho scoffed, shrugging her plea off.
Sighing, Shoko could only hope the host knew what she was doing.
When the show did get underway everything seemed to be going relatively smoothly. The host sat in the middle, while two couches had been situated on either side of her, Sho on one side and Ren on the other. The host payed equal attention to all their guests and did a good job of boosting all their egos without treading on anyone else's. They were asked the usual questions, about jobs they were working on, what they considered their greatest piece of work to date, who they admired in the industry and so on, and so forth. The sparks didn't fly until twenty minutes into the questions, when the questions turned to their personal lives. Each man was asked about the special someone in their life or lack there of. As was typical, the men answered casually, listing off some of the well known beauties they'd dated recently, each trying to make themselves seem to be the head Cassanova of the group. Than it was Ren's turn to be asked, and the host dropped her little bomb with ill disguised glee.
"So we've heard about our other guests lovely ladies, now it's your turn, Mr. Tsuruga. Care to tell us all about YOUR Kyoko chan?"
"His Kyoko?" Sho repeated, looking like he'd been flicked hard between the eyes.
"The girl from the drama? The one who injured herself?" One of the guests, Director Seiji Shingai asked Ren. They were from the same agency and he had seen the actress with Ren a time or two. He had been very impressed to see how she'd progressed as an actress since she'd challenged Ruriko, particularly her portrayal of Mio in Dark Moon.
Knowing exactly what a deer caught in headlights feels, Ren didn't know what to do but play dumb. "I'm sorry, my Kyoko chan?"
The host was all ready with a sweet return. "Awww, don't be shy, Mr. Tsuruga. I happened to hear you remind your manager to pick her up, and I distinctly heard him reassure you that nothing would happen to YOUR Kyoko chan and that he'd have her here in a jiffy."
A number of four letter words coming to mind Ren struggled to remember that he wasn't supposed to know them, much less say them. Swearing didn't fit his image, and would only draw the reporters down on him like vultures on a fresh carcass. Denying would get him nowhere, so he had to try and dampen the fires and pray the host lost interest. Putting on what he hoped was a calm, reasonable smile, Ren did his best to answer with all the diplomacy of a seasoned diplomat. "Ah, I see. Miss. Mogami is a friend of mine. My manager misspoke." And when he got the four eyes alone he was going to unleash some serious rage on his ass, Ren thought darkly, feeling his inner bad ass straining for some exercise. If this in any way jeopardized his relationship with Kyoko there was going to be hell to pay and Yashiro was paying it.
"Hmmm." Making it clear she didn't believe him while pretending to placate him the host decided to find out about the others' reactions before she circled back in for the kill. "So Sho and Director Shingai, you know Mr. Tsuruga's.....friend?"
Since Fuwa seemed busy glaring at Ren from across the stage Seiji decided to try and help Ren out, since he liked the guy and Kyoko. They'd make a pretty cute couple, now that he thought about it. He'd have to quiz Ren about it later. Putting on his most charming smile the director did his best to generalize Ren's supposed relationship with Kyoko. "Well she belongs to our agency so of course Ren and I know her. Kyoko is an amazing actress, and Ren always does what he can to help new talent improve their acting abilities. They really look up to him."
Seeing how easily Sho could screw this up Ren hastened to speak up for the furious singer. "And Miss. Mogami appeared in one of Mr. Fuwa's promo clips, which is where he knows her from."
"So it is the Kyoko that played opposite you in Dark Moon?"
Uh oh. This was one wily fox, disguised as a simple talk show host. And she was out for blood.
"Yes, Miss. Mogami played Mio in the drama. She did an excellent job."
Moving in for her next possible kill shot the host neatly put all sorts of illicit thoughts in the heads of the audience with her next query. "So the two of you have plans for this evening? Seems sort of late, doesn't it? A special occasion?"
Instantly everyone in the audience began to think the host was on to something here. After all, it was late in the evening, far too late for simple friends to be getting together, especially during the work week. Neither actor or actress were known for their partying or clubbing, so those seemed unlikely as well. Mr. Tsuruga wasn't involved in a project with this Kyoko as far as they knew, so what reason could there be for the two to be getting together for professional reasons. The most logical assumption was, therefore, that the two were having a late night rendezvous which could signal not only a romantic entanglement, but a possibly sexual one at that.
The blood had been scented, the hounds were giving chase.
"I'm simply giving her a ride home." Even he knew how lame that sounded. Ren was in a world of trouble and he was fast coming to the conclusion that he must have massacred this woman's family in a past life, for her to be coming after him this enthusiastically. She was all but licking her chops with a fork and knife in hand. He was going to have to elaborate and lie really, really well. "You see her guardians ask me too, as they were worried about her walking home by herself tonight."
"So you're on familiar terms with her guardians, enough that they trust you with her well being and safety. You must be very close, since they don't feel it problematic or rude to ask someone like you to play chauffeur."
Oh but he'd walked right into that one. He wasn't used to being on the defensive like this, and he'd gotten rusty, Ren thought, trying not to wince as he recalled the blood bathes of past L.A. interviewers when he'd started out in the industry. "As Director Shingai stated, Miss. Mogami and I belong to the same agency, I've given her rides home upon occasion and so they knew I wouldn't consider it too much of an inconvenience to do so again." There, that sounded okay. Hopefully.
"You give her rides home?" Sho repeated, forgetting himself and the fact that it wouldn't do for anyone to know just how well he knew Kyoko and their history together.
"I'm a gentleman," Ren shot back, also forgetting himself in his eagerness to put his hated rival in his place. "of course I see nothing wrong with looking out for her welfare, especially in a city full of unsavory men who would only attempt to cause her harm."
Looking between the two glaring celebrities with interest, one of the other guests, a famous action star, leaned over to whisper in Director Shingai's ear. "I got five hundred yen that says Tsuruga kicks pretty boy's ass."
"Please. Do I look like a sucker?" Was the whispered return.
Annoyed with both of them and himself Ren did his best to pull himself together, and ignore his basic urge to take advantage of this chance to rake Fuwa over the coals a little. "Anyway, we should get back on topic, shouldn't we? You were asking everyone about their love lives earlier as I recall. For myself, I'm not seeing ANYONE at the moment. I'm afraid I'm just too busy with work. My schedule would drive even a saint crazy."
"Because she'd never date someone like you." Sho muttered, nobody missing it either thanks to the mini microphone attached to his collar, picking up every sarcastic syllable.
"Well we'll get a chance to ask her." The host interjected, before anyone could comment on the singer's reaction. She'd counted on boosting her ratings with news of Tsuruga's honey, but she certainly hadn't realized she'd stumbled into a love triangle, with two of the three already on set and the third in the wing. "I've been informed that the lady is question has arrived, what do you all say we invite her out here for a quick hello?"
The cheering of this idea was downright deafening.
Standing off to the side off set Kyoko looked up at Mr. Yashiro with something akin to terror. They'd arrived at the station only to be practically attacked by a horde of assistants, all seeming to know her name and wanting her attention for some reason. She and Mr. Yashiro had been herded up to the set's backstage, whispers all around them suggesting that something big was going on. It wasn't until a few moments ago that they'd gotten their answer. Apparently the host of the show believed that Mr. Yashiro had left the station to pick up Mr. Tsuruga's girlfriend...and now everyone wanted to meet her. It didn't matter that he denied it, it didn't matted that Mr. Yashiro denied it. It didn't even matter that she denied it and would do so to her dying breath. They'd just said onstage that after the break she'd be appearing, and if she didn't want to, well that was her problem.
"Mr. Yashiro....what do I do?"
Rubbing the back of his neck Yashiro wished fervently that Ren would come over and fill them in, but he was stuck out on stage. The people in charge weren't letting them near him unless it was under their terms, the bastards. If only he knew how this whole mess had gotten started. Had Fuwa, that bastard, said something to tip them off? But how would he have known Kyoko was even coming here?
"Don't worry, what you're wearing is fine. You look great." One of the assistants assured her, thinking her nerves were because she hadn't been expecting to go on television and therefore hadn't had time to physically prep for it.
Thank God she hadn't taken off her make up, Kyoko thought, having not even thought about that part until the woman mentioned it. She was still dressed and turned out like Natsu, her latest role, and therefore looked like the calm, sophisticated young woman she most definitely wasn't. Thankfully she hadn't wanted to keep Mr. Yashiro waiting by taking the time to change and wash up after the shooting, and that choice had definitely saved her butt big time. Now if she could only find the courage to face the audience and Mr. Tsurgua. He must be so embarrassed and insulted, people thinking he'd ever be interested in someone like her. He could have anyone after all. He was considered the coolest and sexist celebrity in Japan for a reason.
"I think you're going to have to go out there." Mr. Yashiro finally announced with a sigh, after they were informed she was on in one minute. "You'll look like a fool and only make things worse if you don't go out there."
"Why do these things always happen to me?"