Hidden in Plain Sight

Disclaimer: I do not own SkipBeat! or any of the characters from the Manga.

Summary: LME has seen better days; Kyoko was forced to return home by her mother and Tsuruga Ren has gone back to the States to resume his true identity. So who is the new kid making entertainment news… and why is Saena so angry?

Epilogue

The old rolling metal office chair creaked as Enomoto Eiji leaned back in it. His two-hundred and forty pounds of muscle made the chair, and the office in which he sat, seem very small. Yet somehow, that effect didn't carry over to the diminutive, white-haired Chief of Police who sat on the other side of the large oaken desk. "You break my chair, Eiji, and you'll have to pay for it." The skinny man had wrinkles around his eyes, but those only served to lend weight to his authority. "Now, back to the question at-hand: Did you know the location of Mogami Kyoko when you were still under the employ of the Fukushima's?"

"I did not. Look, Chief, I already told you that. I kept going back to Slow Rising Storm because Miyoko was there. Come on, Boss. You've met her now, wouldn't you have gone back?" Eiji had just been apprised of the rumor that the Fukushima's, despite their own criminal convictions, intended to file a civil suit against him for concealing Kyouko's whereabouts while accepting money to search for her. It was bogus, but the accusation could easily ruin his detective business.

The older man grinned. It had taken two months, but he and his wife had managed to entice Eiji and his beautiful girlfriend over to dinner. Nanomi shared his own view that the young lady was a perfect match for the hulking young detective… but that hadn't been the true purpose for the dinner. "Listen Eiji, among the documents that showed up in my office was evidence that showed that Detective Sergeant Miyami was on-the-take from several different sources. At the time, I suspected that there was some reason behind the trouble you experienced during your investigations… including the botched Shitikawa kidnapping case." He watched a bitter line appear in the young man's expression, and nodded in approval as he schooled the expression. "Miyami is going away for a long time, Detective, and I need someone to take over. You were passable good while you were here, and you've gotten a taste of the streets since. I need you, Eiji."

"I'm confused. Wasn't that a little non-sequitur? What does me returning to the police force have to do with the Fukushima's?"

The Chief's eyes gleamed and his expression had a cat-that-ate-the-canary look, "Simple: you were in the middle of an undercover investigation, working for us the whole time. The assignment was deep-cover, requiring you to step away from the police force altogether." When he saw Eiji's incredulous look, he leaned forward and said, "Look, Detective, the information that you provided to us has already resulted in thirty arrests. We currently have eighteen convictions and we've managed to blunt one entire wing of the Yakuza family. It would be easy to make this plausible."

Eiji frowned, not entirely sure of his own feelings. He had loved working as a police detective up to and until he began working for Miyami. After that… The Chief's voice intruded on his thoughts and he looked up. "Eiji, you're born to be a policeman. You know it and I know it. And though I like most of my detectives, not one of them is prepared to step into the position of Detective Lieutenant. You are the only…"

"Lieutenant?" Eiji interrupted, "I thought that you wanted me to come back as a detective?"

"Well," the smaller man said with a triumphant grin, "After the stupendous coup of our own undercover detective, the powers-that-be have decided to expand the scope of operations. Not only that, but they've decided to make your promotion retroactive to the day that you 'went undercover'."

Enomoto Eiji leaned forward, grimacing as the springs of the old office chair creaked under him, "Chief, is this even legal?"

The older man shrugged, "It is standard practice for pay to be suspended for deep-cover operatives. It helps to make people think that the person has terminated his employment with us. After the officer returns, it is only right for him to be properly compensated. I fail to see any legal issues."

Twenty minutes later, Eiji put the phone to his ear as he walked down the steps of police headquarters.

"Hi Eiji. What did the Chief want?"

"Me," Eiji grunted sourly. He felt like he had just been chased down and hogtied, "He's using the Fukushima thing to pull me back into the force."

"I hate to say I told you so…"

Eiji snorted, "Yeah, right. So… you really don't have a problem with me re-joining?" He waited, grimacing at his question. He hadn't worked up the courage to ask Miyoko for her hand yet, so the question was a little…

"Eiji, I want you to do what you want. I love singing. You like private detective work, but it is second-best. What you really want is to be back in uniform. And besides… I think that you would look handsome in a police officer's uniform." Eiji smiled because he could almost hear Miyoko blushing over the phone line.

"Actually… I wouldn't be a police officer… or detective… or a even a sergeant… I would be a lieutenant." He smiled for the first time at Miyoko's exclamation of surprise.

"You jerk! You were just playing at being upset! A Lieutenant! Congratulations!"

"Calm down, calm down. So anyway, I think that a celebration dinner is in order, what do you think?"

"You bet! And I'm buying! I'm so proud of you, Eiji."

Eiji smiled as he finished the arrangements and said goodbye. His hand lingered to the small, box-shaped lump in his suit coat. Tonight he would ask.

oOoOOoOo

Kyoko Hizuri stood nervously before a crowd of over one-thousand young college-aged ladies from colleges and universities all over the area of the Eastern seaboard of the United States. According to Amamiya Chiori, there were also attendees from colleges in several other countries. She fought the urge to cringe, but she felt it necessary to make this speech to thank the young ladies who, without knowing her, had done so much to help protect her.

The Ivy League Girl's Penmanship Club had not only created a false trail, but they had drummed up support, started web-pages, and championed her cause all over the world. Though Kyoko's mother had not been entirely deceived, there had been other results. The biggest result was that Mogami Kyoko had become internationally known, even while she was trying to be invisible.

Ren was currently finishing his work in the States. By mutual consent, they intended to spend the next several years in Japan. Later they were still open to the idea of Hollywood, or anyplace else, as long as they were together… or as together as their schedules would allow. After Kyoko's epic self-revelation, television and movie producers, as well as recording companies, had come out of the woodwork in the hopes of signing her. Ren even teased her that she had not only surpassed Fuwa Sho, but she had also left him behind.

Kyoko hated it when he said that, but she also knew that it was partially true. While Kyoko had been living and breathing as Z, her true name had become iconic. It had required a great deal of coaching and a team of managers to help her to whittle down the offers into something reasonable. Kyoko had only insisted on two things: she had to fulfill her previous commitments that she had abandoned, and she wanted to work, at least part of the time, with Slow Rising Storm. She knew that they probably only had one more season in them before the individuals were picked off by other groups, but she didn't want to leave them quite yet.

SRS was already recording a second album. The first wouldn't stay on the shelves and they were giving Fuwa Sho a serious run for first place on the national charts. Miyoko's sultry voice, Kyoko's guitar, and the demonstrated talents of the rest of the band were keeping them on the top. Still, it was only temporary. Once Kyoko was assured that the others would have their place in the industry, she wanted to return to her first love: acting.

Currently Slow Rising Storm was performing a short tour in the Americas. It was the perfect opportunity for Kyoko to voice her thanks for all that this group of strangers had done for her. She looked over at her dear friend, Chiori, and smiled. Then, steeling herself, she turned back to face the smiling young ladies. "Ladies of the ILGP, I am Hizuri Kyoko, and though I have never met you before, you have been, my greatest allies for the past year…"

Kyoko added many admirers and friends to her credit that day. More than that, she added a new goal for her future: she was going to earn a university degree. She patted her stomach lovingly. She had another goal, a goal secret to everyone but Ren: she wanted to be a mother that her own child could be proud of.


Notes: That's all, folks. I hope that you have enjoyed this story. It has been bouncing around in my rather empty cranial cavity for a long time now, so it is good to have finally gotten it out. Now I shall attempt to finish my other stories, while restraining the urge to create any more before they are all complete.

Wish me luck.

To all who have read, reviewed, favorite, or simply refrained from throwing spitballs, I thank you.

LFU

One other note to a guest reviewer with the pen-name Nupuroo: In your review of chapter 9 you were disgruntled with my usage of the phrase "East Indian." Because you reviewed as a guest I am unable to reply directly. I am hoping that you will read this when you read the end of the story. First, your criticism was that India is a country and Bangladesh is "east" of India, therefore rendering the term incorrect. While you are geographically correct, your interpretation of the term is not. In North America the Native Americans were first labelled "Indians" by the European explorers. These explorers thought at first that they had found the Atlantic passage to Asia and India. They were wrong at numerous levels, but the name "Indians" stuck and has been accepted vernacular since the 1500s. Therefore, in North America at least, the term "East Indians" was coined to distinguish between Native Americans and Indians. This might be offensive to the true citizens of India, but I will remind you that the term "India" itself, like "Japan" and many other country names, is not original to the country. India originally described a very small area in modern India, yet the European peoples who began trade and eventually tried to take over the country applied the word to describe all of modern day India. Words and language grow over time as do the meanings of words, even formal names of people and states. Such is the case here. If my use of term offends, then I can only apologize. I meant no slur; however the distinction is important for the majority of my predominantly English speaking readers.