Chapter Three

Kyoko was running late. She had had a hard time falling asleep last night and her body had slept in to compensate it. "WAAAIT HOLD THE LIFT!" she cried out as she ran towards the elevator. If she had known who was in it she may have hesitated in taking the former action. A muscular arm shot out to stop the doors from closing and Kyoko looked gratefully at the man who had helped her. "Thanks Tsuruga-san" she puffed as she caught her breath and stepped into the elevator, pushing the button for her desired floor before moving to stand beside him against the lift wall.

"It's unusual for you to be late Kyoko-chan" Yashiro who was on the other side of Ren observed.

Kyoko blushed and said "I slept in..."

"It happens to the best of us. I remember when I slept in and was late for..." Kyoko didn't hear the rest of Yashiro's story because she was too preoccupied with the hand that was lightly brushing against her own. She was sure it was intentional and when she snuck a casual glance at Ren, he winked at her with a mischievous smile on his face.

Yashiro rambled on, completely oblivious to the pair's interaction. Kyoko was glad when she reached her stop, because the waves of heat were returning to her body. She prayed to god that she was successful in suppressing the blush that was threatening to flood her cheeks. This is why you're undertaking this 'practice' with Tsuruga-san, Kyoko. So you don't overreact when you have to do a touchy feely love scene and screw up your career. She told herself. That's all.

Kyoko hurried along to the room where she was told she was going to be introduced to her new manager. She knocked on the door and entered. There was only one other person in the room who stood up from his seated position on the lounge at her arrival. "Ah you must be Mogami Kyoko-san. My name is Kayuzawa Kyousuke, you new manager. It's a pleasure to be working with you". At the end of his introduction he bowed politely.

Kyoko was a little surprised by Kayuzawa Kyousuke's appearance, her image of a Yashiro-Shouko hybrid had been completely destroyed. The man in front of her was young and handsome, probably around his early twenties. His ebony hair was styled in a messy 'I don't care what people think of me' shaggy cut, which spiked out in all different directions. He wore an earring in one ear and was dressed in a designer suit, however he didn't have a tie and his collar button on his shirt was undone. He looked more the part of a movie star than she did!

Kyoko took all this in, in a few seconds before quickly returning his greeting. "Yes I'm Mogami Kyoko, It's nice to meet you Kayuzawa-san, please take care of me!" She returned his bow.

Smiling at the girl he said kindly "please call me Kyousuke, all my friends do and seeing as we'll be working close together I hope our relationship will be a friendly one too".

Kyoko blushed at his offer of friendship and stammered "o-of course Kyousuke-san".

He chuckled at her reluctance to drop the honorific "is it alright if I call you Kyoko-san? I understand you don't want your last name to be known to the public" he verified with his charge.

"Yes that's alright by me" Kyoko asserted.

"Well I know you have to be on set at ten thirty for one of your dramas. Sawara-san has already transferred you're current schedules to me, and all you're offers will be redirected to me as well" He explained to her. Kyoko nodded in comprehension watching him whip out an electronic planner and sort through the files in it. "Let's head over there now and we should be there in plenty of time" he said.

Kyousuke escorted Kyoko to his car and politely opened the passenger door for her, when Kyoko protested that she could do it herself, he grinned and said to her "it's my job" his expression then turned to one of a sad puppy dog and he asked her "you wouldn't hinder my ability to do my job properly would you?" Kyousuke had just hit Kyoko's weak spot and she obediently let him open the door for her so she could get into the car. Kyousuke jumped into the driver's seat and they were off to their destination. "So, it says in your profile you're from Kyoto, what made you decide to come to Tokyo and pursue an acting career?" He asked her.

Kyoko's expression became bittersweet and she said "it's complicated..."

"Sorry Kyoko-san, I didn't mean to pry" Kyousuke apologised as he gauged her response.

"No it's okay, as my manager you have a right to know" Kyoko stated.

"Look, you don't have to tell me anything that you don't feel comfortable talking about, the time will come when you're ready to open up, we just met after all" he reassured the girl with a gentle smile. "I'll tell you a little about myself instead. I was born and bred in Tokyo" he began. "There's nothing extraordinary about my family, middle class. Not rich, but not poor either. I have a younger sister who's about the same age as you. During high school I loved martial arts but I liked acting in the school productions as well so I joined the Drama Club. I tried to get into acting after I finished high school but ended up doing stunt work instead. I really enjoyed it but the pay didn't compensate the risks and injuries I had to deal with. After that I worked really hard to get into Uni and did a double degree. Business Management combined with Film Industry Studies. I also did some Personal Protection Training, which is basically learning how to do bodyguard work." Kyousuke grinned as Kyoko gave him an impressed look. "Which leads me to where I am today; Mogami Kyoko's personal Manager/Bodyguard" he told her.

"If you don't mind me asking; why didn't you stick with acting? I think you would've been pretty popular if you were still doing it today..." Kyoko questioned him.

"Well," Kyousuke thought about it for a minute "I guess because I loved doing the physical stuff. If I just stuck with straight acting I wouldn't have had an opportunity to do that as much. Also, I wanted to learn more about the inner workings of the industry so that's why I went to University." They had arrived at their destination and Kyousuke shot around to open the door for Kyoko.

"Thank you" Kyoko said. She was puzzling over how she had managed to receive such a wonderful manager. She doubted that someone of her level needed a manager let alone a bodyguard.

"I can't wait to see you in action!" Kyousuke told her. "I've already watched many of your previous works. Your characterisation is incredible! It's like you're a different person!" Kyoko's face flushed at his compliment and his enthusiasm. The pair headed towards the set where the filming was to take place.

At another location Ren was awash with a feeling between guilt and satisfaction. He knew he shouldn't have done that to Kyoko last night. The thing was that when he read the very suggestive script with her in mind his resolve had completely disappeared. He knew she was only seventeen, but he just couldn't bear to keep the professional distance between them any longer. He had fallen for her, hard. He remembered the soft feeling of her velvet skin and silky soft hair beneath his fingers. "Now what kind of a look is that?" Yashiro asked him, pointing slightly horrified at Ren's expression.

Ren schooled his features and faced Yashiro calmly "What look?" he asked in mock confusion.

"I know your face tends to slip when you think about Kyoko-chan, but that look just now was something else!" Yashiro exclaimed.

"I have no idea what you are talking about" and with that Ren sauntered away to resume his part in the action movie they were currently filming.

After completing her scenes at the first set, Kyoko and Kyousuke travelled towards the next location where Kyoko was required for a photo shoot. After checking in Kyoko was told to go to her dressing room and change clothing.

"It will take a while to get the leads outfitted" one of the assistants told Kyoko "so once you're dressed and had your make up done, just relax until we send for you." Kyoko nodded.

"I'll wait here for you" Kyousuke put in, to give the girl some privacy while she was changing.

"Follow me" the assistant said and she led Kyoko away.

Kyoko had the finishing touches of her costume done. She was playing the girly younger sister of the female main character, a tomboy obsessed with sport. She was wearing a hazel brown wig that was styled in two long bunches decorated with pink bows. The rest of her outfit was also very girly, with lace and frills. Kyoko sighed in contentment, although the role was a very small one; it was the closest she had come to being a princess. She was startled out of her musing by a rap on her door. She opened the door and gasped at who was standing there.

"T-Tsuruga-san! What are you doing here?" She asked stunned.

Ren laughed and replied "I've just finished shooting my scenes for the day nearby. I thought I'd drop by and say hello. I saw you arrive earlier, Mogami-san" he explained.

"You shouldn't have gone to the trouble" Kyoko told him. Still not used to his random drop-in visits on her jobs. "I'm waiting to be called for a photo shoot."

"Well, I've got some time to spare. Would you mind if keep you company while you wait?"

"Not at all, please come in" she naively invited him into her dressing room.

Ren shut the door behind him with a click. His eyes drank in the image of the girl before him. "What do you think of your role in this drama?" he asked her.

"Oh I love it!" Kyoko gushed. "I mean just because she's a minor character doesn't mean she hasn't got depth! I play Mimiko-chan, she's so adorable and very likeable! She doesn't even care when she's overshadowed by her older sister's success in sport. She loves her sister a lot and supports her so much, even though she doesn't really get the whole sport thing. She even tries to ignite a spark between her sister and the main boy; who's her rival and childhood friend!" Kyoko's eyes were sparkling now. "She's like a kind-hearted princess!"

Ren looked lovingly at his own real-life princess, reached out his hand to take hers and brought it to his lips. He then pulled her towards him in an embrace and whispered "Hime-sama" in her ear.

Kyoko was getting a little more used to these intimate interactions. A little. She pushed down the feelings she didn't really understand; the racing of her heart, the fear, the embarrassment and the tiny bit of desire that she refused to acknowledge. Instead Kyoko chose to play along with the actor who was currently invading her personal space. She had been the one who had agreed to let him carry out the acting exercise in the first place. Kyoko could definitely not disappoint her beloved senpai after all. So instead of trying to escape the taller man's embrace she let out a giggle and said "Tsuruga-san, I said like a princess. I didn't say I was a princess."

Ren picked up immediately on the girls efforts to compete in the face of his actions. He didn't let her go, but brought his head back to see her face "but you are my princess" he practically purred. Ren was enjoying the situation way too much. He waited for her response.

I will not lose to the co-star killer. I will not lose to the co-star killer. Kyoko repeated in her head. Ren was giving her a look that would definitely vanquish any of her inner demons. It was undeniably intense, passionate definitely, but it was also layered with warmth and love. Tsuruga-san's already improved so much with this acting out love. Kyoko observed to herself. What would be a lover's natural response in this situation? If I was in love with Tsuruga-san and he said that line to me, how would I react? Kyoko suddenly decided to tap into the deep lying feelings she had been suppressing since the start of this encounter. She let these feelings take control of her actions. Sliding her arms up around his neck she moved closer to him, closing the already minute distance between them so her body was flush against his. She nuzzled her head beneath his neck and murmured to him "well if that's the case, you're my prince."

Ren's breath hitched before he quickly regained composure. He hadn't been expecting that. Subconsciously his fingertips drew patterns on the small of her back. "Mogami-san, you are acting right?"

Kyoko looked up at him, unfortunately from her current position all she could see was the bottom of his chin. "Yes of course Tsuruga-san. Why do you ask?" she was puzzled.

"You were very believable just then, well done."

Kyoko smiled brightly into his neck, "really?"

"Yes." Ren placed a kiss on the top of her head. Kyoko assumed it was still part of their acting exercise but couldn't fight her rising blush. Kyoko was surprised how comfortable and relaxed she felt right now in what she would normally view as an awkward position. She felt like she was crossing a boundary of some sort but couldn't find the strength of will to break away.

"Mogami-san I-" Ren was cut off by a sharp knock on the door. At the same moment the pair realised how they would look to someone else and sprang apart.

"Quick! Hide!" Kyoko whispered to him, she didn't want someone to misunderstand why Tsuruga-san was visiting her dressing room and misconstrued rumours to start flying all over the place. The normally oblivious girl had learnt from experience when two of her co-stars had been caught entering a dressing room together last week. The gossiping had flared up, and by the time it had spread around the studio there had been talk of marriage proposals and babies.

Ren seemed to understand her train of thought and with a quick nod he ducked behind a clothing rack in the corner that was almost completely out of view from the door.

Kyoko opened the door to see Kyousuke waiting for her. "They're calling for all the cast on the set now Kyoko-san" he informed her. "Are you okay? Your face is a little flushed" he observed "you're not sick are you?"

"Oh no I'm fine!" Kyoko insisted "it was just a little hot in my dressing room, let's go!" Kyousuke raised an eyebrow as Kyoko practically dragged him back with her and away from her dressing room which, Kyousuke noted, was the same temperature as the rest of the building; refreshingly cool.

After her photo shoot Kyousuke dropped Kyoko back at the Darumaya. "I'll be your personal chauffeur from now on." He grinned. "I'll pick you up tomorrow".

"Thank you Kyousuke-san" she bowed in gratitude after getting out of the car.

"Seriously, call me Kyousuke" the young man tried again "or are you denying me the wonderful gift of friendship?" he pulled his wounded puppy dog look again.

"No no! I think you'd be a wonderful friend... uh, Kyousuke" she was embarrassed by dropping the honorific from his name. Of course it was a result from her formal training being drummed into her in her youth.

"Although, I think I'll stick to calling you Kyoko-san. Anything else would be damaging to my professional reputation" he winked at her before driving off leaving Kyoko standing there slightly befuddled by his meaning.

To Be Continued...

AN: Re-reading this makes me a bit squeamish... Anyway not sure if I'll keep on with this story, maybe if I can overcome my eternal writer's block.