Reconsidering the obvious

So he gets involved in a conversation that might change their lives.

Disclaimer: I do not own Skip Beat! No matter how much I wish I did. Enjoy! Oh, and thank you so much Violet Flutterbyfor helping me edit this story. I owe you!

It had been a long day, and he could finally relax. He was currently standing in the kitchen, his mind completely distracted by the presence of the person in the other room while making two cups of hot chocolate. Something he hadn't done in years.

Ren went back to the living room with the two cups in his hands, though he was surprised to not find the person in question sitting on the sofa in front of the TV anymore. Apparently she had completely lost interest and moved to the far window in his living room, looking out into the pouring rain.

There were no lights in that part of the room, but you could still see her face because of the street lights outside. She was sitting on the red couch Ren had bought not long ago, and Ren was just about to break the silence and make her aware of his presence, but there was something about the look on her face that made him stop. She was frowning, obviously in deep thought about something, and it bothered him.

He knew he was selfish, but he couldn't deny that his love for her had gone so far that he wanted to know everything he possible could about her; so naturally, he wanted to be able to read her thoughts right there and then. It slightly bothered him, because it reminded him of something he had overheard some girls talk about. Some kind of fantasy book, or similar. There was a mind reader involved anyway.

But since that was entirely impossible anyway, he settled for watching her beautiful face for a good while… while standing there stupidly with the cups in his hands.

After about three, fleeting minutes he knew he couldn't stay like that, just staring at her forever. He felt that it was kind of wrong, so he decided to break the silence before she noticed him and accused him for being a stalker or something similar. Even though he doubted she would say anything like that, he wasn't willing to take the chance. Again, there was something about that book, or movie or whatever it was.

He stepped forward with the cups still in his hands.

"Mogami-san?" he asked, acting as if he'd just stepped into the room. She spun around with wide eyes and blushed profusely. She was just about to say something, but Ren was faster to react. "Oh, sorry if I startled you." He apologized, smiling at her reaction "Here's the chocolate. Sorry it took so long."

He handed her one of the cups, praying that the chocolate wouldn't be cooler than it should be. She took the cup with a shaky hand, her cheeks still red and while avoiding his gaze.

"N-no, you didn't star- …um, well yes you did, but I'm okay." She replied with a nervous laugh as she pulled her hair out of her face.

Ren sat down beside her with his own cup and took a sip, still smiling. She did the same and her eyes widened again, this time looking at the cup in her hands. "This… is really good, I didn't know you could do this kind of thing!" she praised him, astonishment written all over her face. Then she laughed. "Sorry, that wasn't meant as an insult."

Ren laughed as well. Of course she didn't. He was pretty sure that her experiences with his cooking weren't the most… enjoyable, to say the least.

"Actually… my mum used to make this when I was little. I was thinking that since you've started to spend so much time here I thought it was about time I did something more special for you."

Like the oblivious girl she was, Kyoko should have missed his true intentions and just brush it off the moment he uttered the words. But that wasn't the case this time, not entirely at least.

She blushed yet again. "Wow, thank you, it really is very good…"

The reason why she wasn't her usual oblivious self was very simple. They had known each other for almost two years, for Heaven's sake, and they were just much more comfortable around each other at this time.

But despite this, Kyoko couldn't still let herself even try to say his first name, barely even think it.

Ren had tried to make her, trust me, but she just wasn't comfortable with it. And Ren didn't want her to be uncomfortable with him, so he even dropped the "Kyoko-chan" and went back to the usual "Mogami-san", even though he wasn't happy about it at all.

Anyway, after all this time, she could actually believe that he cared for her at least a bit more than a mentor cares for his student. Just more like… a friend. However, that didn't mean that she understood his true feelings, and sometimes that almost killed the guy.

A tender smile played on his lips as his heart swelled from the knowledge that she didn't completely ignore his attempt to make her feel special. Though he knew better than letting his hopes up.

His smile suddenly faltered a bit, and Kyoko noticed this.

"Is there… something wrong?" She asked with a concerned look on her face. He shook his head.

"No, I'm fine. To be quite honest, I'm actually the one who should ask that question." He replied, slightly amused by her suddenly puzzled expression.

"Why's that?" she asked with a furrowed brow, tilting her head slightly to the side.

"When I stepped into the room and saw you here by the window, it looked as if you were thinking about something very troublesome…"

She looked down in her now trembling cup, and bit her lower lip.

"It… it's nothing, really… nothing important." She reassured, suddenly trying to look nonchalant like it really didn't matter. But when he answered her with a doubtful "…Really?", she failed miserably.

Tsuruga Ren was known to be a gentleman, who's humble and respects other people's private lives, and who would never, ever even attempt to force anything out of a girl.

However, people didn't know about the Tsuruga Ren who's in love, who's willing to risk almost anything for this one girl, and even take advantage of moments where the girl was vulnerable just to know more about her feelings and thoughts. Only to help and understand her, mind you, no stalker intentions like some certain other people.

This was one of those moments.

He didn't believe her at all, and he wouldn't, as said, let this moment go away unused.

"Alright, but if it isn't very important, why don't you tell me about it?"

She realized she wouldn't get away with this, and the pout on her face clearly told him she wasn't happy about it.

When he noticed her reaction he spoke in a much softer, yet determined, voice. "You do know that you can trust me with anything, don't you." It wasn't a question. "But if you don't want to tell me, you don't have to." He added with a sad smile, really expressing disappointment in not being trusted a secret.

Kyoko thought it sounded like a school girl being let down by her best friend.

Kyoko shivered, because the look he gave her and from the parallel she'd just made with the great actor in front of her. She shook her head.

"It's nothing really terrible or anything like that, it's just… embarrassing." Her cheeks turned even redder than before.

"Really, then what is it about?" Ren asked curiously.

She didn't answer right away. In fact, she even looked away from his face.

"I was just, well, thinking about…" Her voice got quieter for every word and not even a bat would be able to hear her last word.

"What was that, Mogami-san, I couldn't hear." He encouraged her to repeat herself. She finally decided to face him again, her cheeks flushed, and tried to stay calm.

She said it once again, just so it was audible, and Ren was convinced he heard wrong.

They stared at each other like that for just a few seconds that seemed to last for an eternity. Ren had a mouthful of chocolate in his mouth, and it took some time before he was able to swallow.

"Excuse me, could you repeat that?" He could not believe that she had just said what he thought she'd just said. There was no way, he must have misheard.

Kyoko became more and more embarrassed by the minute and thought that all this was just awkward. She really didn't want to repeat it once again. It was hard enough to admit it to herself.

"Love. I was thinking about love." She stated this time very clearly so she wouldn't have to do it all over again. She looked at her hands, her face red as a tomato. He just continued to stare at her.

"Love?" he repeated with obvious doubt and surprise in his voice.

He dreamed. He had to be dreaming. There was no way this girl, the number one love-hater in the entire world, would think about such a thing so calmly. There. Was. No. Way.

"Yes, love." She confirmed, a bit irritatedly this time since she had to repeat it all over again anyway. "I was thinking about what it really is."

"Why?" He asked in the same baffled tone as before.

"Because I've started to doubt myself."

When she saw his eyes widen even more than she thought was possible, she quickly added. "But just the slightest bit! I still think I'm right about it. Most of the time at least…" She trailed off.

Ren's heart finally calmed down, and instead of looking shocked he settled for a frown. He did not know what to believe, let alone say. It really seemed like she was serious. At the same time the fact still remained: she was after all Mogami Kyoko.

How long had she been thinking about this with him not knowing about it? And could he change her way of looking at the subject?

No, it was definitely too early to ask that, let alone assume anything. He didn't even know how deep her thoughts about this were.

He sighed and shook his head, though regretted it as soon as it happened. He could hear her gasp when she noticed his reaction. It was obvious that she had misunderstood his reaction, not especially weird considering that he hadn't moved in at least a minute.

"I-is that bad?" She suddenly stuttered out with wide eyes. She started to bow with her head several times (she couldn't use her whole body since she still held the cup) and tears formed in her eyes. "I'm so sorry, I just thought that perhaps I should try to change my view on the subject, and the president has told me for such a long time to find it again and…"

Now Ren only stared at her because of her sudden outburst of words he could barely understand. That part of her had certainly not changed.

He chuckled and put his hand on her shoulder, and for a split second he thought about how many times this kind of scene has happened in their relationship. Him comforting (and laughing at) her when she goes overboard with her apologizes.

"Mogami-san… Mogami-san!" he had to say her name twice before she stopped and listened. "There is nothing wrong about it. To be honest, it's rather on the contrary."

She blinked and just looked at him, still worried about his sigh, but it seemed like he told the truth so…

"I was just so…" shocked? Astonished? Overjoyed? "…surprised… that you were thinking about love so calmly, it's not really your… how to say, favorite subject to talk about…" When he was sure she believed him, he relaxed a bit more. "And I was so full of disbelief that I automatically shook my head and sighed."

Everything he said was true. He just skipped the middle part of his inner conversation.

Kyoko closed her eyes and sighed in relief. She had thought he was mad at her because she'd once said that she'd sworn not to love again and all that, and then suddenly changed her mind; behaving like the stupid average teenager. But when she was thinking about it, it was a very silly thing to be mad about, considering he had been supporting her in the different direction of her thoughts, so now she was embarrassed because of that instead. But she wasn't going to bring it up.

"Oh, okay, sorry…" She apologized with a sheepish smile.

"There is nothing to be sorry about; it's rather my fault for behaving so strange." He chuckled, partly because the whole situation was hilarious… and partly because the level of adorableness was a bit too hard to handle.

"But now that we've started this, I must know exactly what you were thinking about, you've made me curious." He would not let this go.

Kyoko was embarrassed about his childish behavior, no, it was almost girly… She got the school girl picture in her head once again; pigtails seemed to emerge on his hands and she suppressed the shiver that threatened to return. But she did obey and started to tell him about her thoughts, mostly to get the nightmare out of her head.

"Well… I was just thinking if it all really is false, I mean… is it? Of course I see a lot of couples on the street, young girls clinging to their boyfriends, and I barely believe in those kinds of relationships at all, they're going to break in just month, or if they're lucky, a year. But then something happens and they break up, end of story."

She took another sip from the cup and just from the small light that came from the window that made both of them visible, Ren could clearly see that this wasn't just something she had come up in the moment; she'd given this a lot of thought. He already knew all this and she had barely started.

"But lately I've started to notice other couples; those that are only in the background and that you don't really think about when they pass by…" She made a small pause, whether it was hesitation or if she was trying to collect her thoughts he would never know. "… And that is the old ones. The old people who have been together for a very long time, those who still stand together no matter what.

You see them in the park, or helping and supporting each other over a street or on a bus. At first, my theory was that real love existed, at least did exist, but that was back then when these people were young, and there was more thinking before "falling in love", when it wasn't as easy to get your love.

Then I started to think about that there are some people that don't meet their soul mate before they are old, and then I thought that perhaps real love comes when you've become older, wiser, and when your hormones are as good as gone, so you can see the real beauty in the person you meet."

She paused, thinking about what she'd just said. Ren was waiting anxiously, and he couldn't help but to feel a spark of hope in his chest.

"And I really think that is correct and that I was just born in the wrong century, or at least a few decades." Ren felt his hope falter, and he scolded himself for being so foolish in thinking that she could have changed that much in such a short time. Even though she'd realized this much, she still had this very negative attitude towards love.

Kyoko looked out of the window, trying to ignore Ren's intense gaze and the quietness lay like a heavy blanket upon the two. The only thing you could hear was the rain tapping against the window, and the cars that drove back and forth on the road outside. Every now and then you could hear someone walk past below them, oblivious to the tension just a few meters above their heads.

Suddenly Ren started to wonder, was this really everything that she'd been thinking about? Was it only this, that had made her wear that worried and thoughtful look on her face? He was just about to ask if this was it; but before he even got to open his mouth she turned her head towards him and started to talk once again, like she had read his thoughts.

"That is what I first thought." Ren stopped breathing. "And I was happy with that explanation for a while until I discovered other things.

The couple I live with at the Darumaya is a very good example, I hadn't noticed this before even though I've been living with them for such a long time. What I mean to say is; they are very tightly bound to each other. I know they aren't directly young, but they aren't really old either, but they found the other person and they love each other a lot. But the real breakthrough was about two months ago, you know when I found out about your parents. I'm still kind of shocked by the way…" she laughed and Ren smiled, not really daring to let his hopes up again.

"And the way Otou-san looks at Julie-san and vice versa is just… breathtaking. It's very obvious that they will never leave their significant other's side. And after all this I've started to wonder about it all, have I really been right all this time?

And if love, romantic love, really does exists, will it only happen to a very few people, or are there actually more people like this that I've been, and are still too blind to see?

And if it comes to a person, will it cost a painful price? Like how bad it went for you Tsuruga-san, and how much it pained them to see you leave…?" Ren grimaced painfully at her statement, which she noticed. "Oh, I'm so sorry… I shouldn't have said that!" She apologized and gazed worriedly at Ren.

"No, it's fine, I was the one who wanted to know about your thoughts, so I have no reason to blame you. Besides, what you said is true." He smiled reassuringly at her, and she sighed in relief, though the guilt wasn't completely gone. "Now, what were you saying?" she looked up at him, surprised.

"Oh, yes, um… what I was saying… um, what did I say…? Yes, the price! Or is it possible to even have a 'live happily ever after' in real life?

That is something I'm pretty sure won't ever happen. But can you at least have a 'live with difficulties and problems, but you are still happy and safe with the one you love ever after' ending? That sounds more likely.

Before, I would think that even that would be impossible, that there was no way that would happen, but now… I don't know." There was another quiet moment, but this time, Ren could feel how his heart pounded hard in his chest, hope glowing like a candle in the dark within him.

"Besides" she suddenly said "What is love, you know, what is it really? Is it something real, something bright and good that can heal anyone's scars? Something that leads you through the hard times and helps you find your way back to sanity?"

She paused, looking up into his face with very intense eyes, but as quickly as her sudden outburst of feelings and words, the light that had burned in her eyes faltered and disappeared and she looked down on her lap with hunched shoulders, on the now empty cup. "Or is it, like I've always thought it was, only a blindfold.

A blindfold that makes you blind of the reality, that makes you stupid and slowed down, that stops you from doing everything you really want to do. And with time it loses its grip around your eyes until it falls.

And when it's off, you see how everything really is, how cruelly you've been let down, and how the person you thought you loved doesn't care for you anymore, not the slightest bit!

And some people are perhaps lucky enough to have it on for the rest of their life, some kind of, oh, I don't know… blessed curse?"

Her eyes were wild and her breathing was heavy, and her voice was filled with the despair and… it almost sounded as if she wanted someone to tell her she was wrong, but no one did. In fact, the only person who could was stunned into silence.

She stared into his eyes, trying to find any kind of answer in his face.

"I… I'm very confused, Tsuruga-san, I don't know what to believe any more, and all this is giving me a headache…" She didn't know why, but for some reason she believed that he knew something about this, that he had the answers to her endless questions.

Even though she did remember her Bo experience with him and his so called "wisdom" about love, so she felt rather ridiculous at the same time, expecting anything big from the actor.

Ren looked down into her amber eyes while he registered her every word and every meaning she'd just uttered. He didn't dare to move his hands, because he knew they would shake. His heart pounded recklessly in his chest, and he even had to wait for at least one minute before he dared to open his mouth.

While this happened, Kyoko had once again withdrawn to sitting and looking down on her lap, and sigh, this time in defeat. There seemed to be no answers then.

"I think…" He said after a while. Kyoko's moved her head up so quickly at his directions that she got dizzy, and she wondered for a split second how animals could do the same thing even quicker without getting sick.

"… That everything you just said is true. It is something very wonderful, something that keeps you warm and safe from the storm, but at the same time makes you oblivious to everything else, though not always in a bad way.

But sometimes it does hurt people, very deeply; even so hard that it can scar someone's heart for a very long time, like a wonderful person like you." Kyoko blushed beet red at this, but he didn't give her time to stop him with her denials.

"But even if it is love that hurts you, it's the love that heals you and makes you happy. It doesn't necessarily need to be love from a boyfriend or a girlfriend… just ordinary friends that cares and love you and help you recover."

Ren wasn't only thinking about her, he was reflecting on his own situation as well.

"And the only times where love comes with a price is when people make bad choices. And the sad thing is that sometimes it only takes one person to make one poor mistake to make a lot of people suffer, but that mistake can lead to something good in the end. Take you for example."

Kyoko was shocked by his statement, what did he mean? Was it a good that Sho had broken her heart?

"Now… you've lost me. What do you mean by that?" She felt betrayed that Ren would say anything as mean and cruel as that. Ren noticed her disappointment as soon as he had uttered the words, and he was quick to tell her what he meant, but he was slightly sad by her reaction at the same time. It was a bit disappointing that she believed he would say such a thing.

"What I mean is," he smiled gently. "How would you be right now, where would you live and work if… he'd never done what he did? Would you really ever have this chance to, no, this opportunity to show your true talent? Would you ever have the chance to meet your present friends and all the people all around you? Would you ever have the chance to meet… me? "

He let the words sink into her head. "Or would you still be stuck with him?" Ren decided to say "he" instead of the real name, just to stay calm.

Then it suddenly hit him, he was the same as Kyoko. He couldn't stand the blond singer's name without clenching and see red. He was better at covering it up than Kyoko though, but the feelings stayed the same.

He had to smile darkly at the fact that the singer influenced people so easily. Kyoko on the other hand didn't notice his inner discovery; she was too caught up in her own world. And suddenly, she realized that… everything he said was true.

"You're… right. I've never thought about it in that way. It's almost as if I… owe it… to him." She paused for a moment, and then cringed at the old, bad memory of him. "No. I don't. I won't go that far." Ren secretly let out a sigh in relief. "But still, what you said is true."

When that was said, they both fell into a comfortable silence, just listening to the rain. They were both reflecting on the conversation and they were both in deep thought. Kyoko was the one who had the absolute most to think about. She was fighting her instincts to shut it all out, go the easy way, and simply not care.

But she fought it with all the power she had inside her.

But then, as if the world had decided to stop and go the other way around, maybe the most important words Kyoko has ever uttered emerged from her lips. She didn't even realize the meaning of her own words.

"Tsuruga-san?" She asked. "Do you think… there really is no hope for me? Maybe there is someone out there. I mean, I've never felt as comfortable and safe with others before. Especially you, so I what says I couldn't open up to others as well if I can find so much trust in my closest friends. Perhaps there is, I mean maybe, just maybe, there is someone for me as well."

She didn't know why, but her words made her heart heavy. Not because she didn't believe them, but they seemed wrong in some way.

She then looked into his stunning brown eyes that swallowed her whole, that made her feel whole. That made the entire world disappear from her mind.

He looked back at her with the same intensity, and she could clearly see how all of his thoughts were swirling around in his head without finding the proper place to land.

"Someone… I can actually… love…?" Kyoko added in a very quiet whisper.

I don't know if it was the rain, the weather, the light or just pure magic that made this next thing happen, because suddenly a breathtaking smile graced Ren's face, and with a smooth movement, he removed their empty cups so he could move closer to her, but they never broke the eye contact.

"Someone you can trust, like me, feel safe and comfortable with, like me…" He chuckled and caressed the embarrassed girl's cheek and looked at her with a tender expression. "Kyoko… don't you think you just answered your own question?" Kyoko gasped.

A/N: Well. Finally. Sorry it took such an eternity to edit this story. And thank you, yet again, so, SO much Violet Flutterby for the help with the editing. A lot of the things, like accidently writing too instead of to, or he's instead of his etc. was simply "lazy mistakes", and yes, I cringed when I read them. Not only did I attempt to correct errors, I've added some, and changed a few lines etc. I simply updated it.

And I just have to say that I'm amazed at the feedback I've got from this story, with all its faults and everything. Thank you everyone for everything!
I hope you have a lovely week, and until next time, cheers!/RDC