The Axe and the Tree

Summary: It started out as just the simple act of eating Chinese take-out. But it turned into so much more… RenxKyoko

A/N: I work at a Chinese place, so… The fortunes in here are fortunes that I've gotten myself. XD I got the idea after getting Kyoko's fortune. My mind just randomly wandered towards how it fit Kyoko and Sho, and boom. This fanfiction was born… Enjoy, and forgive me for my crappy attempt of a fanfic that is my first Skip Beat one.

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Kyoko thought to herself for what had to be the thirtieth time: What the hell am I doing here?

Well, she had promised Yashiro that she would get Ren to eat. Honestly, he was just making trouble for everyone – for his manager to have to constantly remind him to eat something, for him to continually go through the trouble of roundabout ways of getting said food into his stomach (which, for some reason, usually consisted of Kyoko eating a meal with him).

She hesitated only a moment before knocking on Ren's door. A minute or passed, and the door opened, revealing a tired-looking Ren. His hair was slightly mussed, his clothes crumpled. He'd probably been sleeping. After all, he'd called in sick for the first time in God only knew how long today.

"Hey, Tsuruga-san," Kyoko greeted, smiling at her upperclassmen. "Yashiro wanted me to stop by and make sure you ate something and to check up on you."

Ren stared at her for a few moments, then looked down at the plastic bag in her hands. "Take-out?" he questioned.

Kyoko nodded. "I hope that's okay… I didn't really have time to make something myself…"

"That's fine," Ren assured her, stepping to the side. "Come in."

Kyoko nodded politely and stepped in, kicking off her shoes. "I'll go set the table," she called over her shoulder as she set the food on the table.

Ren found himself smiling at how comfortable Kyoko was in his kitchen. She still remembered where everything was from when they had practiced acting in his apartment. That was a long time ago… He was surprised that she still remembered.

Kyoko set out two plates and two sets of chopsticks, and pulled out two cans of some name-brand cola, cracking them open. Ren sat down in the seat next to her, and watched as she opened the different types of Chinese she'd picked up. Ren couldn't even remember the last time he'd eaten Chinese take-out.

He took a bite of one of the stir-fries, finding the spicy aroma slightly appetizing. Kyoko went for a milder one, concentrating solely on her food.

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Kyoko finished first, and began cleaning up while Ren finished. Ren believed that this was the first time she'd finished eating before him – he usually didn't eat more than she did… "I can get those later, Mogami-san," he said politely. "Please leave them in the sink."

Kyoko sighed in resignation, but did the dishes anyway. He could hardly blame her… After all, he often said thing and meant another when he talked to her. The whole baggage carrying fiasco from when she'd first become a Love Me member came to mind immediately.

Kyoko whisked his plate away when he was done, and packed the leftovers into his fridge. "Be sure to eat those, Ren," she pointed out. "Let me go find a thermometer, and I'll check your temperature…"

"Top shelf of the medicine closet. It's in the small first-aid kid," Ren said, cracking open his fortune cookie. Kyoko left the room, and Ren flipped over his fortune, reading it out of boredom:

Only a fool looks to a cookie for wisdom.

Ren stared at the words for a few minutes.

Well, wasn't that comforting?

Stupid cookies.

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Kyoko gritted her teeth, standing on her tip-toes. Three more centimeters… two… one…

Got it. She somehow managed to grab the box. Slightly annoyed that (somehow) the bathroom cabinet was more for people Ren's height, even though Japanese apartments were usually smaller, Kyoko took out the thermometer and entered the living room again. Ren was glaring at his fortune cookie's paper fortune with annoyance before he tossed it in the nearby trashcan.

Kyoko handed the thermometer to Ren, scooping up her own cookie. "Under your tongue for three minutes," she said absently, easily ripping open the plastic bag surrounding the sweet treat. She cracked open the cookie, popping half into her mouth as she read the fortune:

The axe soon forgets, but the tree always remembers.

Kyoko stared at the words for a few moments.

The axe caused harm to the tree, but forgot because it had other trees to hurt. But the tree never forgot about what the axe did to it. It was plain as day.

The axe and the tree were Shotaro and herself.

She stiffened, re-reading the words, shocked at how easily this piece of paper seemed to know about her current place in life. Were fortune cookies really what they were cracked up to be, and not some treat that the restaurants came out with randomly to please sweet-toothed customers like she'd thought?

Shotaro hadn't even batted an eye when he'd dumped her, though she was fairly sure that he'd known she was crushed beyond all belief. He'd pushed her aside, leaving her alone and broken.

She'd given everything to Shotaro, and all she'd received in return had been heartbreak and the realization that her entire life had been a complete waste. True, she owed her new life to him – without him, she would have never began acting, never found out what she really loved doing.

But how was it right for her to lose herself in her characters, in Mio and Natsu, when she really couldn't even fit into the most important role she'd ever had – herself?

Shotaro had done more than break her heart. He'd broken her humanity. And this realization hurt her more than anything. Before she knew it, she'd dropped the fortune and was on her knees, crying her eyes out in Tsuruga Ren's kitchen.

She didn't stop crying as Tsuruga-san kneeled down, obviously shocked, asking her what was wrong. She didn't answer him as he tried to get her to move her hands from her face, asking her if there was anything he could do. She continued down her spiral of realizations and depression as he tried to calm her down with calming words, pledges to help her, pleads for her to stop crying.

Kyoko wiped away tears, but they were just replaced with new ones.

To Shotaro, she was replaceable. He had thousands of girls willing to take her place; she was something he could throw away without feeling guilty, like a used tissue. She wasn't anything special, and she really was what he'd said – a plain, uninteresting girl.

"Mogami-san? Mogami-san, please, stop crying…"

Kyoko could hear Tsuruga-san, but his words didn't seem to really sink in. She shook her head, feeling sobs radiate throughout her entire body. Her chest hurt, deep and aching. Just like that night when she had allowed herself to cry after Shotaro dumped her. "I'm sorry." She heard her voice crack as she apologized to Ren, and could barely tell it was hers.

Kyoko let out a small gasp of surprise as Ren pulled her into an embrace, rubbing her back comfortingly with one hand. "Mogami-san… Please stop crying. I hate it when you cry."

"Tsuruga-san…"

Ren picked up the paper and scanned it. And then promptly tossed it in the trash. "Mogami-san. I don't know what happened with you, but…" Kyoko felt her breath catch as Ren's thumb traced her cheekbone, wiping away a few more tears. "This axe cut down a rosebush. A rather stubborn one, I might add… And I'm sure that it'll blossom again, given the time to grow. And it will be all the more beautiful. So please, Kyoko-chan. Don't cry."

Kyoko registered the fact that he called her 'Kyoko-chan'. But she didn't care at the moment. All she cared about was that Tsuruga-san's shoulder was there for her to cry on, and that he was willing to let her cry. And she was grateful for it. In fact, she even took a small amount of pride in Tsuruga-san's caring tone, in the fact that he seemed to care about her feelings, about her pain.

Ren was warm as she knelt further in to him, fresh tears escaping her eyes as she whispered her thanks.

Maybe, just maybe, she'd gotten another important emotion back.