Spring Has Come For That Plain Girl With No Sex Appeal
Acknowledgments: Runadaemon and Jhiz for beta-reading. I really appreciate all the work you've put through in the chapters you've worked on.
Dedications: To Cactus2008 who has been reading my fics since, like forever. I never dedicated a chapter to you before, amirite?
I don't own Skip Beat!
A Few Weeks After White Day (Early April)
Ren ended his workday with the anniversary episode of Yappa Kimagure Rock.
He was excited to attend the show. Work has been busy since White Day and none of them brought him near TBM Studios so he never had the opportunity to tell the chicken that he had won the heart of the girl he was in love with. He really didn't have to, but since the chicken was the only one who was there to listen when he had problems back then, he really wanted to. Then again, Bo The Chicken would probably laugh at him for being so lame and taking so long and still failing to make Kyoko truly his, as implied suggestively by the mascot.
Well, the chicken will just have to excuse him, he thought a little defensively. He wasn't the one dating a difficult girl and dealing with a horrific father figure who were both rather handy with a knife.
Unfortunately, he hadn't found time to seek out the chicken. Because it was an anniversary episode, everyone was busy. Bo was also on the clock, so he couldn't interfere with his work.
A week ago, he and Kyoko were seated together in L.A. Hearts when Yashiro-san ran through the checklist of preferences for appearing on the TV Variety - an exception given only to VIP guests, which was pretty much every one on the show's guest list for the evening..
He agreed to have Bo screw around with him before curtain - something the show used to hype guests up. Ren had a great laugh when Bo played around with him before escorting him to the stage. He didn't talk though, because Bo, as he learned, spoke with a white board.
Apart from the usual interview, he had also agreed and signed up for one of the show's most popular segments, Cheers To Gluttony - the part where Bo would cook up things that the guest disliked and Ishibashi Hikaru-san would make them eat it. He wasn't really looking forward to it, but Kyoko dared him to when they talked about it. He remembered the indignation he felt when he accepted the challenge. She teased him that it was going to be easy because any food would do for him.
Now that he thought about it, there was something oddly familiar about the taste and manner of presentation of the food.
There were several more things that happened - a look back on the show's year, highlights, and more interviews with the other guests. After, Fuwa and Matsunai Ruriko performed their new single to be released on the following day.
Apart from sitting on the same stage during the interview part, Ren had little interaction with the singer, which suited him fine. Though a small prideful side of him wished that Kyoko was there so he could have rubbed in the singer's face that the treasure he once had and carelessly threw away was now his. Their dressing rooms were in opposite ends of the guests' hallway. He heard some crew members snickering about how hard it was to fit all these big egos in the same area at one time. Fuwa even refused interaction with the chicken and made a condition for appearing on the show. Something about the first time he was at show and how he and the chicken didn't get along, but Ren didn't listen much to what he heard.
Now that the show had ended, Ren cleaned himself up and prepared to head out, but he wasn't cleared to leave because there were still a lot of fans lingering outside the studio. Either way, Kyoko wouldn't be able to meet him until eleven at the TBM lobby because she would be coming from work.
"Where are you going?" Yashiro-san grimly asked just as he was about to move towards the door.
He couldn't very well tell him about the chicken because it would turn into a long discussion that would just waste time. "I'm just going to take a walk around," he sheepishly answered. "We've been cooped up in this dressing room all evening."
Yashiro-san started at him for a moment. "Fine, but don't cause problems. Don't go wandering around outside the studio or you'll be squashed by fans. Everyone's busy so you'll have to die alone."
"I won't," Ren promised before stepping out.
The hallways backstage were very busy as everyone hurried to finish their day. Props were being put away, costumes were being hung on portable racks - everyone was in a flurry of activity.
Tentekomai, Ren joked to himself.
"Excuse me," he approached a crew man who set down a box of props. "Do you know where I can find the chicken?"
"Bo-kun?" he replied. Then he pointed to the end of the hallway. "Make a right at the end. Bo ought to be at the end of the hallway. They're all sharing the dressing room tonight."
Ren gave his thanks and made his way to the room.
It was calmer and much more quiet in the main cast's hallway. Actually, it was quite isolated and makeshift, even temporary-looking considering the leftover props that littered the corridor. There was a little nook at the end of the hall with no door. It looked like the idol group gave up their dressing room to accommodate guests like Fuwa, Ruriko-chan, himself and several other popular celebrities for the episode. Even from a distance, he could hear them talking and laughing. As he neared, he heard grunting.
"Stop it, Hikaru-san, it hurts!"
Ren stopped. That was Kyoko's muffled voice.
"It's just too tight, Kyoko-chan. Give me a minute to loosen it up and it won't hurt as much," Ishibashi Hikaru-san said. "Please hold still and let me do this."
"Hurry up, you two," Ishibashi Shin'ichi-san said in a scolding tone. "Stop playing around. We need to assemble on the stage for pictures."
Ishibashi Yuusei-san laughed. "Maybe you're just getting fat, Kyoko-chan."
Ren's anger started simmering as he stalked towards the end of the hallway.
Because he and Kyoko were so busy, the only time they spent together so far was when they were in LME together or late evenings after their work. He really didn't have much of an idea what Kyoko did in between which was obviously school and work. He always assumed that she stopped coming to TBM Studios because they didn't exactly keep their relationship a secret, not to close friends anyway. Anyway, he'd assumed that Ishibashi-san has given up inviting her over to Kimagure Rock because Kyoko was taken. They were supposed to her friends, damn it. He and the rest of the idol group who were just standing around watching whatever was happening. Ren never thought in a million years... with so many people around...
He reached the end of the hallway. There was no door so the first thing he saw was Bridge Rock with their backs turned to him. Then Ishibashi Hikaru-san stood up with a mascot head in his hands.
"She's not fat," the idol said matter-of-factly. "She's just been cooped up in the costume much longer than she's supposed to. And don't call her that! Her boyfriend's around and he may not like hearing that."
Ishibashi Yuusei-san crossed his arms and said, "That would be more convincing if she was showing herself in his dressing room rather than slumming here with us."
As the idol moved to put the chicken head on a nearby table, Ren felt his world stop as he found Kyoko in the chicken costume sinking down to sit on the floor, gasping and panting as one of the other Ishibashis held out a bottle of water to her mouth because her hands were still not freed from feathered costume. "You would think," she said with a breathy giggle in between sips from the straw, "that I'd be used to this after playing Bo for a year."
A year? Ren's hand clammed up and he was sure that blood drained from his face.
So that chicken from the hallway... That chicken who went to TV Japan just to talk to him... he thought as realization hit him. That chicken... was her?
"Well then," Hikaru-san said. "We'll leave you to get dressed-"
"What's going on here?" Ren demanded in outrage.
Once the stage area was empty of fans and all the backstage work was done, pictures were taken on the stage - for press release, personal pictures, group shots. The producer made a long speech about everyone's good work for the year, handed out gifts from the sponsors and hyped everyone up for the second year.
When it was finished, Kyoko waved to the onii-sans. A lot of the crew were going to a party. She wanted to come along with the guys but she already committed the evening so she marched toward the spectator seats where Ren and Yashiro-san were waiting for her.
"Goo-good job tonight, Ren," she bowed low as the two men stood up. "Sorry I took so long."
"Nope, it's fine." Ren took the presents she was balancing in her arms, freeing one so they can walk hand-in-hand as Yashiro-san walked beside them towards the audience door.
"I'm really surprised, Kyoko-chan," Yashiro-san opened a topic she'd been dreading. "I didn't know you were part of the Kimagure Rock main cast."
She let out a humorless laugh. "Yeah... it would have been hard to know since I look nothing like Bo." She looked up at Ren nervously because she felt his hand twitch in hers. "I got the job as part of Love Me Section work a year ago."
As she and Yashiro-san continued talking, Kyoko noticed that Ren was being usually quiet, even if he was still affectionate. He didn't seem angry about it, but he didn't look too happy either.
"Well then," Yashiro-san stopped once they reached the main lobby door. "I will leave you guys here. Have fun on your day-off tomorrow." He turned around and waved as he bolted out the door. She and Ren waved him off until he disappeared into an awaiting taxi.
"Now then..." Ren turned to her and she stiffened in reaction.
"I'm really sorry for not telling you about Bo," she started bowing repeatedly in apology. "I didn't think you're be too happy to know that the person you confided in about love problems and acting was your kouhai and a newbie." Now she'd done it. Damn it, she berated herself. This was the first time since they started dating that they had the same day-off! She had planned to stay over his place so they could hang out all day tomorrow. The last time they did something like that was on their last day as Cain and Setsu. They would only spend time in LME and at some evenings, he would take her out, go to the Daruma-ya or his apartment. She didn't want to start their first day-off together with him angry. "I promise I never told anyone-"
She stopped mid-bow when he started laughing.
"Ren, you're not angry?" she asked as she raised her head and straightened up. He looked so stunned before in the hallway then just literally walked away. She was even sure he left TBM without her.
Ren was still sputtering as he wrapped an arm around her and led her to the elevators. "No," he answered. "Well, I was, but not as much as you think." He looked left and right before leaning down and pressing his lips on her forehead.
"What was that for?" her face heated up. They already talked about this random kissing thing! Especially since the President caught them once in an isolated private hallway and never let them forget it... Moko-san even shouted at them that the Love Me Section office wasn't a kissing booth... Even poor Yuusei-san looked like his innocent self was traumatized in the stairwell... And the taisho was his usual silent self, but scarier..., Kyoko thought as she pressed the button to go down..
"A thank you," he answered as he held the door for her when it opened as she stepped it and said, "It's just kind of funny about how things work out, don't they?"
"Well..." She wasn't about to stir a dying fire. "Since you put it that way..." At least he was feeling solicitous and was in a forgiving mood.
"Besides..." Ren wrapped an arm around her shoulders and kissed her temple. "I have thought about it..."
"What do you mean?" she asked, not understanding the leading statement.
"Well," Ren moved his mouth to her ear and whispered in a tone that was totally different from his current demeanor. "It just so happens that the chicken happened to have suggested something that I had been thinking of doing for some time now."
"Like what?" She turned her gaze on him and froze at the sight of Ren's changing eyes as she found herself staring face-to-face with the Emperor of the Night. "You're not talking about going wild on me, break me apart and turn me into omurice, are you?"
"No," he laughed. "Don't you remember? You said something about how I should make the girl I love mine."
They were already going out, not for a long time yet, so he'd already done that. She couldn't think of what else there was to it. She loved him and he loved her - in essence, she was already his. Then her eyes widened and her face heated up as the Emperor of the Night leaned closer towards her. NOW she knew what he meant! "I-I didn't mean it that way!" she protested as she tried unsuccessfully to slide away. "Ren? Where are you...What are you...REN!"
- Thanks for reading.