Being ground under Setsu's Heel

Disclaimer: I do not own SkipBeat or any of its characters.

Kyoko has completely embraced her new character as Setsu, Kain Heel's sister. But how is this new character affecting Tsuruga Ren? And what will happen when the pair of them meet up with Fuwa Sho?

Chapter 5 – Bedlam and Improvisation

L'Osier is a large restaurant with an open dining area so that the important people who dine there can take note of each other. On the evening in question, however, everyone was focusing on the table in the center of the room. The drama that was unfolding at this table was even better than watching a soap opera on television, and the evening crowd was captivated.

The crowd was a little frustrated when the tough, sexy young punker dragged off the tall, skinny rocker that everyone recognized as Fuwa Sho. But there was still enough drama to keep everyone suitably entertained at the main table. And it was certainly entertaining. The chef might have been a little disgruntled had he known how little attention was being paid to the food on the tables. The customers were eating, but most of them wouldn't be able to tell what they had eaten that night if they were asked the next day. That was because of what happened next.

While everyone was focusing on the drama at the center table there was a crash as a large plate-glass window that looked out onto the patio exploded and a body clad in white leather rolled across the floor. Even as Fuwa Sho shook his head in bewildered surprise, a long, shapely leg in a black leather boot stepped through the now-empty window frame. This shapely leg was followed by the rest of the punker girl who had been a part of the drama at the center table.

As a side-note: The customers should be forgiven for not realizing that the young lady in question was Kyoko, the rising star. Even though she was becoming popular, she looked so different in each role that she played that people still didn't have a handle on who Kyoko really was.

Fuwa Sho was lying on his back and just beginning to raise himself up on his elbows when Setsu completed her walk toward him. She lifted one of the legs that he had been admiring and placed her boot on the center of his chest. One firm push was all it took for Sho to fall back down to the floor, "I strongly suggest that you remain on the floor, punk. If you get up we may have to finish our discussion."

Suddenly the lights in the dining room went out. The crowd gasped in surprise. Just as suddenly a single light illuminated a tall, mustachioed, dignified looking man standing next to the center table. He spoke in a deep, sonorous voice, "Ladies and gentleman, I hope that you have enjoyed the first half of our evening's entertainment." The customers looked at each other in surprise, and then back at the tall man who looked even taller in his top hat and cape, "My name is Lory Takarada, and I am the President of LME."

While the customers focused their attention on Lory, Saena felt Kotonami Kanae's hand on her arm. "Mogami Saena-san, please stand up next to me. I'll explain later." Saena was overcome by the events of the last half-hour, so she allowed herself to be led by this cool, confident young person.

Lory continued speaking, "Please allow me to introduce the other actors in our little dinner theater drama." Then all of the lights came on and Saena found herself standing in-between Kotomi Kanae and Tsuruga Ren. To the other side of the tall actor stood a very shaken Fuwa Sho. Beside him stood Kyoko (Sho was being supported by Ren and Kyoko). Lory introduced each of them, including Saena and Sho. Not knowing what else to do, they both bowed when their names were given.

"Now, ladies and gentlemen, we have another special treat for you: While Kotonami Kanae, Mogami Kyoko, and Fuwa Sho make themselves available for autographs, Tsuruga Ren has offered to play piano for you."

As if by magic, a baby grand piano was wheeled out onto the floor. The ladies in the room sighed as the man who had been voted to be "Japan's Most Desirable Man" took his seat and began playing. The piano had been strategically placed in front of the broken window so that the customers had all but forgotten its existence. Several men worked silently behind him sweeping up the mass of glass.

Saena pulled her attention away from watching Tsuruga Ren to see her daughter, her raven-haired friend, and even Fuwa Sho sitting at a long table and signing autographs. She walked over to the table and saw that the two young ladies had their promotional DVD's in a stack beside them, while Fuwa Sho, still looking perplexed, was signing a stack of his own CDs.

Saena walked over to where Takarada Lory was smiling benignly. "You had this entire thing planned, from beginning to end." She meant to accuse, but her tone sounded awestruck. "You even brought Sho's CDs."

Lory looked over at her and smiled. "Actually, Ren planned most of it. I just threw in my own little touches here and there."

"And Shoutaro didn't know any of this?" She glanced again at the rock-star. He was still signing away, as if he had planned to do this all along. She could see that he had several cuts on his face and hand that had been treated. "You even had a medical person on standby?"

Lory grinned, "Certainly. Of course, I was afraid that Ren would hurt Sho, not Kyoko. That was… an interesting surprise. I'm just glad that the foolish boy was wearing leather." His eyes became harder, "Our Kyoko has had to learn to be tough, Mogami Saena. I sincerely hope that you understand that after tonight."

Saena tried to out-stare Lory, but couldn't. She looked over at her daughter as if seeing her for the first time. Kyoko was herself now, smiling and laughing with the customers as they waited for autographs. "I do see that. She's actually quite amazing, isn't she?"

She looked over at the handsome man playing the piano, "Is that young man serious about what he told me?"

Lory gave her an inquisitive look, "Ren's usually very sincere. What did he tell you?"

"He told me that he intended to be the person to marry Kyoko."

Lory looked surprised, "He said it outright, did he?" He glanced over at Kyoko, "Well, he's got a hard road ahead, but eventually I think that he'll break down her defenses."

Saena looked surprised, "You mean that my daughter is being chased by him, and not the other way around?"

Lory met the woman's eyes and shook his head sadly, "Mogami Saena-san, you don't know your daughter at all, do you? In the last year three of the most recognizable young men in Japan's entertainment industry have been chasing your daughter." He looked back over at the table where Kyoko was sitting, "And when Ren catches her, he'll consider himself the luckiest man in Japan."

It was another half-hour before the six were able to sit down and enjoy their meal… five, actually, because Fuwa Sho quickly excused himself and went home to lick his wounds. Everyone else interacted with Kyoko's mother as if she had never tried to do anything wrong. The piano was left in place. Nobody in the dining room seemed to take notice of the window installers who worked quickly and quietly in the background.

On the following morning many of the customers would discuss the odd drama. More than one of them would mention the fact that there hadn't actually been any resolution to the play. Several others would make note of the fact that the young rock-star, Fuwa Sho, really did look injured. More than a few would discuss the fact that L'Osier had never offered this sort of entertainment before. But then they would all finish their morning coffee or tea and carry on with their day.

The Momami's stood together silently as they waited for the boarding call. Saena was once again dressed as what she was, a woman executive. Kyoko was dressed similarly, in a similar style that she had worn to meet her mother on the previous morning. The time seemed to stretch as endlessly as the silence. Neither woman knew what to say.

Kyoko had longed for her mother's affection for most of her life and never received it. Now that she had a career and friends, this woman beside her seemed more like a stranger than a blood relation.

Saena had barely slept at all during the night. She had replayed the entire day in her mind over and over again. She had sat and watched her daughter's promotional video over and over again. And she had heard Takarada's words repeating in her head, over and over again: "Mogami Saena-san, you don't know your daughter at all, do you?"

A better woman might have used this opportunity to make a bid for reconciliation. Saena said nothing. She waited until she heard her boarding call, gave her daughter a perfunctory hug, and walked through the boarding gate.

Kyoko maintained her composure until she saw the airplane pull away from the gate. All of that time, while the other passengers were called and seated, she waited. And then, blank faced, Mogami Kyoko turned and walked out to the loading and unloading area to find a taxi. She was so lost in her thoughts that she almost didn't see the very tall man wearing a ball cap, leaning against his car. When she saw him she could only nod. She didn't trust herself to speak at that moment.

Ren opened the passenger door and held it for her. She climbed in, her face still blank. Ren pulled away from the curb and followed traffic out of the busy airport interchange. No words were spoken and Kyoko seemed to be completely oblivious to everything around her. But she did notice when Ren pulled off of the busy highway. She looked up and around in confusion, "Tsu… Ren… I think you took the wrong turn."

Ren turned and looked into her eyes for a brief moment before turning back to pay attention to his driving, "Trust me."

She drifted off into her own thoughts again as Ren followed a circuitous route into the outskirts of Tokyo. Finally he pulled up to a traditional style high stone fence that marked off a large area. Kyoko looked up, "Where are we?"

"We are at the Uesugi family complex."

Kyoko looked confused, so Ren elaborated, "I believe that you have met Uesugi Hiou?"

"Oh, yes. This is his home? But why are we here?"

"I have asked permission to use their dojo this morning."

Kyoko had more questions, but she felt too dull and lifeless to ask them. When Ren got out and opened her door, she followed. There was nobody in the courtyard, so Ren led her to a large, square, wooden building. They stepped into a large entry-area, took off their shoes, and bowed to the scrolls. Sitting on a wooden bench in the entry area were two white gis, one of which Ren picked up and handed to her. He touched her shoulder and pointed toward a sliding door, "Go in there and dress, Kyoko-chan."

She didn't argue. She followed his instructions without protest and without interest. When she came out, Ren was also changed. They slid the inner door open, bowed deeply, and stepped into the dojo. "Why are we here, Ren-san?"

Ren took her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes, "I thought you might need to hit something after seeing your mother off. If you would like to hit a person, then you can take your anger out on me." He pointed to a large punching bag suspended from the ceiling. Taped do it was a picture that he had taken with his phone at the restaurant. It was a picture of Saena, "But if you would rather hit something else, then you can use that."

Kyoko looked up at her sempai listlessly, and then she turned and walked over to the punching bag. She looked at the picture of her mother for a long time, and then she hit it lightly. Then she hit it a little harder… and harder… and harder, until she was using every ounce of her strength to hit and kick the punching bag while tears ran down her face.

Mogami Saena tried in vain to read through her latest business report as the airplane leveled off to cruising altitude. The young man sitting next to her pulled down the tray table, sat his laptop on it, and booted it up. He logged in, plugged in his earphones, and opened his music-video folder.

Saena glanced over and realized that the young man was watching Prisoner, and that the beautiful young angel on the screen was Kyoko. She tapped on the man's shoulder and pointed excitedly, "That's my daughter! That's my daughter Kyoko!"

He looked at the screen and then looked Saena up and down. "Yeah, sure lady," he said condescendingly. And with that he replaced his earphones and turned up the volume.

Ren gave her privacy for half an hour while she hit, kicked, and screamed at the punching bag. He waited until she stopped striking the bag and he saw her shoulders sag. Then he walked up behind her, turned her around, and pulled her to him. For the second time in two days Kyoko found herself wrapped protectively in the arms of this man. She didn't try to resist. She didn't try to evaluate her feelings. And she didn't try to interpret his intentions. She simply let herself bask in his strength, warmth, and protection.

Ren didn't say anything. A thousand words of endearment ran through his mind, but he knew that this wasn't the time. He would wait. It was enough now that Kyoko was willing to let him comfort her and that she was willing to call him by his given name.

When he felt her begin to release her hold on him he gently pushed her back. "Now, young lady, let's get ourselves into character. We have to be at our first cast meeting in about an hour and forty-five minutes. And wipe those tears out of your eyes; a professional actress never lets…"

Kyoko interrupted him with a preemptory hand in the vicinity of his mouth, "A professional actress never lets her personal emotions interfere with her work." She looked up at the tall actor and gave him a challenging smile, "I'm ready when you are, Sempai."

"Call me Ren."






"Just Ren."

Kyoko was walking away towards the dressing room as they bantered back and forth. She opened the sliding door, turned her head, and gave him a look that made his heart skip a beat, "You need to hurry up and change or you're going to make us late… Ren."

And with that she stepped through and slid the door shut behind her.

The End.

Note: I will leave you, the reader, to decide what will happen from this point in the story.

The expanded version of this story (chapters 2 through 5) was written in response to a challenge from La Morraine. LM, I hope that this met your challenge.

I want to thank everyone for your unexpected but very welcome response to this short story. I sincerely hope that it lived up to your expectations.

There have been so many reviews in such a short span of time that I have not been able to reply to them all. Therefore I will use this space to offer my appreciation to you for reading and reviewing.