Skip Beat! and its characters, locations, terms, etc, do not belong to me.
A fake date is all well and good, but when both sides want it to be something more, what will come of it?
"I don't care if we're late for your filming, you're going to tell me what happened to make you so cheerful today."
Ren checked his watch again, picking up the pace. Yashiro was having to struggle to keep up, but Ren was hoping to get the man so out of breath that he wouldn't be able to keep up the barrage of questions.
For the first time since he started his acting career in Japan, Ren was running late. After his last-minute confession to Kyoko the night before, his adrenaline had been coursing far too fast for sleep to overtake him once he got home.
If anyone had witnessed the exchange outside of the Daruma-ya, they might have thought that Ren was worried over Kyoko not reciprocating his feelings. But the thought had never crossed his mind, much less caused him to lose sleep. Sure, she hadn't thrown her arms around him or even really answered him back, but the soft smile that graced her face when she said goodbye was all he needed at that moment.
He had tried to calm himself down, especially during the car ride home when his pulse was racing a mile a minute. 'She didn't say that she cares about you, Ren. Even if you think she does, it could take months before she's ready to accept your feelings along with her own.' Even his own rebuking thoughts hadn't been enough to discourage him, though.
And, according to Yashiro, the 'love-struck' smile was still on his face when he answered the door in his pajamas that morning.
Ren had showered and changed when he got home, but after an hour of tossing and turning in his bed, he had gotten up to try watching some TV in the living room. But after sitting on the couch, his mind started going over Kyoko's soft words and the way she had smiled at him, and that was more than enough to keep his mind occupied until he finally fell asleep sometime around 6 AM.
But he had lied when he told Kyoko he didn't have an early job the next morning, and he didn't wake up until Yashiro called his phone from outside of the door to Ren's apartment around 7:15. The man was in hysterics, thinking something had happened to Ren since he wasn't waiting for him to get there, and hadn't opened the door at the first knock.
Ren had ignored Yashiro's prodding questions as he changed faster than he had ever gotten dressed in his life. A few quick brushes to his hair while hurriedly brushing his teeth, he slipped on his shoes and they were out the door, nearly sprinting through the hallways.
Yashiro had stopped talking for a good portion of the ride to check through the day's schedule. Yashiro figured that if Ren ignored the speed limit, which he had, they would be able to make it to the studio on time. Possibly. With a little help from above.
Because Ren had asked for the previous night off, his schedule for that day was jam-packed. Yashiro had juggled and re-arranged everything without so much as a clue as to why Ren needed off so badly. The only thing that made it worthwhile was the hopes that the night was going to include Kyoko somehow.
And, judging by the smile the still appeared on Ren's face every few minutes, the manager guessed he was right. But he still wanted to know for sure.
They exited the car and entered the building, weaving through the hallways. Ren suddenly took a right turn, and Yashiro almost ran into the wall while checking the clock on his cell phone. The traffic had been bad, and they were now a total of ten minutes late. And it didn't help that TBM was jam-packed with people, and they were trying to maneuver through them at high speed. He was so focused on worrying over the time that he ran into Ren's back when the younger man suddenly stopped.
Yashiro raised his head to question Ren, but stopped when he realized that Ren was staring intently at something. Following the direction Ren was looking, he saw Kyoko talking to a young man while walking down the hallway towards them. At that moment, Kyoko looked up and spotted Ren, her eyes widening slightly.
Yashiro cringed, expecting Ren's sparkling, gentlemanly smile to be in place. But when Ren spoke, his expression and voice were even more gentle than his tone normally was with Kyoko.
"Good morning, Kyoko-chan."
And at the small smile that spread across Kyoko's face, Yashiro Yukihito was almost certain he could have died a happy man at that moment. Only 'almost' because he wanted details. Badly.
"Pick your jaw up off the floor, Yashiro-san." Ren didn't hold back a smirk as they once again picked up their pace to sprint towards the studio Ren was supposed to be at fifteen minutes ago. Kyoko had hurriedly introduced Ren to Ishibashi Hikaru, and he could have sworn that the boy looked like he was writhing in envy when he had to crane his head back to greet Ren.
Their conversation had been a quick one, but there was something different in Kyoko's eyes. Ren assumed he had the same look, since Yashiro hadn't left him alone about his face all morning prior to the meeting. Kyoko explained that she had sudden LoveME work come up, and Ren claimed emergency work as well.
"B-B-But you called her Kyoko-chan! And she called you Ren-san! WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?" Yashiro was nearly delirious with excitement already, but after Kyoko had used Ren's first name, he worried that he might have been dreaming. "You were with Kyoko-chan last night, weren't you?"
"I'll leave it to your very overactive imagination, Yashiro-san. I need to go apologize to the director." Ren's untarnished, never-late reputation now had a smudge. But judging by the smile on his face, Yashiro was guessing that Ren didn't mind at all.
"Kyoko-chan, you seem like you've calmed down some." Ishibashi Shinichi was walking down the hallway with Kyoko, as they headed to the studio to film a new commercial for Kimagure Rock. "Are you ready for your date with Hikaru?"
"I supposed so, Shinichi-san. It should be fun, Hikaru-san is nice." Kyoko's obvious dismissal of it being anything romantic made Shinichi wince in sympathy for his short friend.
After Shinichi left Kyoko for her to change, she sat on a small couch in the room, fiddling with her cell phone. She knew she should have called Moko-san, but couldn't quite bring herself to do it. 'What will she say? She'll probably think I'm an idiot for getting mixed up with someone again, but I…'
Kyoko's thoughts trailed off, and she stared at the opposite wall. It all seemed like a dream, starting from the moment Ren told her that he cared for her. After they had said goodnight, and Ren walked back down the icy path to his car, she had finally went into the house and made her way quietly to her room.
She had been in shock, to say the least. Her brain had been functioning enough to reach for Ren's hand before he left and tell him goodnight, but that was it. Afterwards, all she had done was just sit at her kotatsu and stare into space. Part of her, the part that still told her she was an idiot for falling in love with Ren, tried its best to make her believe that he was teasing her again, as he often did. Or that he was simply mistaken about his feelings.
But when she had remembered the beautiful smile on his face, and the warmth in his eyes, she couldn't help but want to believe his words. And the feel of his lips on her cheek still warmed her heart, even the next day.
The problem was, Kyoko didn't know what she was supposed to say to Ren now. Until she had seen him in the hallway earlier that morning and he called her Kyoko-chan, she didn't even know how to greet him. She wanted to tell him that she felt the same way, but she had no clue when she would have the chance to speak with him alone. Especially with her upcoming date with Hikaru.
Kyoko sighed, looking down at the Bo head sitting by her feet. She knew that there was no way a date for Kimagure Rock could compare to her night with Ren. No way at all.
"Is this restaurant okay with you, Kyoko-chan? The management said they didn't mind the cameras and filming crew running around." Ishibashi Hikaru held the door open for Kyoko, his palms sweaty. He was finally getting his chance to go to dinner with Kyoko, and they were being filmed.
"It's fine, Hikaru-san. It looks like a very nice place." Kyoko didn't mention the fact that it was the same restaurant that she had visited with Ren less than a week ago. "I'm sure we'll have a good time."
When she smiled up at Hikaru, he felt his pulse quicken slightly. It seemed to him that Kyoko had been treating him more friendly over the last few days, and he was enjoying every minute of it. Of course, she had treated the other Bridge Rock members the same way, but he chose to ignore that.
The whole dinner obviously wasn't going to be aired, only bits and pieces of it, but Hikaru still wanted to make the best impression he could on Kyoko while he had the chance. When they reached the reserved table, he pulled Kyoko's chair out, and slid it towards the table once she had sat down.
"Thank you, Hikaru-san." Kyoko felt embarrassed by all the attention Hikaru was giving her, but she was doing her best to keep the mood light and friendly, just like Ren had said. When Hikaru had taken his seat across from Kyoko, she began asking him questions about Kimagure Rock.
They were both careful to not say anything that would implicate Kyoko as Bo, but their conversation became very animated, and before Hikaru realized it, his nervousness had gone away. His heart still beat faster every time he looked into Kyoko's golden eyes, but he was able to keep it at bay.
Hikaru couldn't have been more pleased with how the evening was going until, right before they were going to order dessert, Hikaru heard his co-hosts talking loudly near the doorway.
"Hey, that's Tsuruga Ren, isn't it?"
"Whoa, dude, do you know how high our ratings would be if we could get him on this segment one night?"
"Speak to him, man! Tell him who we are!"
His and Kyoko's eyes met, then both turned towards the door in unison.
As soon as Ren walked through the familiar doors, he spotted two of the members of Bridge Rock. Thanks to Yashiro's involvement, he had been able to find out where the 'date' filming was to take place, and how he could go about 'observing' it. He had planned on quietly asking the guys where he could stand, out of the way, and watch the dinner wrap up.
What he didn't count on, however, was the two young men running over to where he stood, and excitedly introducing themselves. In loud, enthusiastic voices.
"Excuse us, Tsuruga-san, but I'm Ishibashi Yuusei-"
"And I'm Ishibashi Shinichi."
"We're from LME's music division, I hope you don't mind us introducing ourselves."
Ren smiled, reaching out a hand to Shinichi. "Not at all. I'm Tsuruga Ren, it's a pleasure to meet you both."
"Are you here by yourself, Tsuruga-san?"
"Well, I'm actually here because Kyoko-chan told me about her filming tonight. I was in the area, and thought I'd check in to see how it was going." 'Well, that's not an outright lie. She did tell me about the filming, after all.'
The two Ishibashis saw their chance, and they jumped at it. "You know Kyoko-chan? Feel free to say hello to her, this is an open segment of the show!"
Ren started to turn down their request, but then he noticed that both Kyoko and Hikaru had turned in their seats, staring in his direction. At the flush that spread across Kyoko's cheeks when he caught her staring, he turned back to the Ishibashis, smiling brighter than ever.
"Actually, I think I will say hello."
"Good evening Kyoko-chan, Hikaru-san." Ren appeared at the table before Kyoko could quite figure out why he happened to stop at that exact restaurant at that exact time.
"Good evening, Ren-san." Hikaru answered, feeling slightly downtrodden at the interruption to his 'date'. "Would you like to join us?"
"That's quite all right, Hikaru-san. I wouldn't want to intrude." Kyoko felt the slightly tense atmosphere between the two men, shrinking back in her chair a little.
"Oh, it's no intrusion. Do you mind if Tsuruga-san joins us, Kyoko-chan?" Both men turned towards Kyoko, waiting expectantly. Hikaru was hoping she would say yes, though he doubted it. She obviously knew the man well, depending on their interaction in the hallway of TBM earlier that week.
"N-not at all." Kyoko straightened in her chair. Before Hikaru could move to add another chair to the table, Ren had pulled one up and sat in it.
The conversation was a little stilted at first, but Kyoko watched as Ren, like the amazing actor that he was, was able to put Hikaru at ease within a few minutes. They discussed events that had happened at LME before Kyoko joined, and told her about different antics the president had preformed.
Meanwhile, the producer of the show, who was watching the filming, was happier than ever at the outcome of their trial show. For once, he had a very special guest on that Kyoko wasn't attacking. 'Maybe it's just the chicken suit that does it to her?'
After getting more interesting footage, the producer signaled for the cameras to be cut off, and he stepped up to the table. "That's a wrap, we have all the footage we need to put together the segment." He turned to Hikaru and Kyoko. "Good job, both of you." Turning to Ren, he reached out a hand. "And thank you for joining them, Tsuruga-san."
Ren stood up, dwarfing the man. He accepted the handshake, bowing his head slightly. "My apologies for not asking before I entered the filming. The Ishibashis near the door assured me it would be fine."
"And it was, don't feel the need to apologize." The man turned back to Hikaru, waving his hand towards the shorter man. "Hikaru-kun, come with me. We'll get the cameras and look over everything outside."
Hikaru looked dejectedly from Kyoko to Ren, and back to the Producer. "Of course." He wasn't an idiot, he had seen the way Kyoko's eyes had lit up when Ren talked, and how Ren seemed to pay special attention to every word that Kyoko had spoken. 'If I was taller, I wouldn't lose against him. …Right?' He stood up, pulling out Kyoko's chair. "Thank you for the enjoyable evening, Kyoko-chan. Do you need a ride home?"
"No, but thank you for the offer, Hikaru-san." Kyoko bowed, clutching her small purse. "And thank you for tonight, I had fun, as well."
Waiting until a helpless Hikaru had been led away by the older man, Ren turned back to Kyoko, smiling down at her softly. "Well, Kyoko-chan, since I interrupted your date, will you allow me to make it up to you?"
Kyoko's face flushed , as she folded her hands in front of her. "How?"
Ren, who had expected that he would need to coerce Kyoko into accepting, was taken back for a moment. But he recovered smoothly, pulling the chair away from the table for Kyoko. "By allowing me to buy you dessert."
Although she had no intention to turn him down, Kyoko pondered it for a moment, as if she had to think hard. When she answered, it was Setsu who had taken the lead. "But it's so late, Onii-chan. Do you really think we should?"
At once, Ren's face changed to Cain's dejected, abandoned puppy look. That one god-forsaken expression that Kyoko had never learned how to refuse. "I simply want to spend time with my adorable sister, but if you'd rather not…" He moved to push the chair back in, but Setsu quickly stopped him.
"Fine, fine! One quick piece of cake, then you go home and go to bed so that you can get up early tomorrow!" As she plopped into the chair, Kyoko realized that Setsu had been taken in once again by Cain. Holding back a sigh, she scooted her chair closer to the table as Ren sat across from her. "Ren-san, are you ever going to let my Setsu win, just once?"
"Of course, it just depends on what she's after." Ren's tone was dangerously close to that of the Emperor, and Kyoko felt a slight tingle run down her spine.
They ordered their desserts, and didn't sit around talking for long. It was late, and Kyoko knew Ren had a job the next morning. As they walked towards the entrance, Kyoko didn't flinch when Ren enclosed her hand in his. He wasn't quite sure that he was awake, but he was hoping his dream wouldn't end anytime soon.
When the car ride was over, and Ren walked Kyoko to the door of the Daruma-ya, it was Kyoko who took the initiative. She stood on her tiptoes and kissed Ren's cheek softly, despite her heart beating erratically. When she pulled away, Ren turned and caught her lips with another kiss, just as gentle as her own.
After they broke apart, Kyoko looked into Ren's eyes, neither wanting to say goodnight so soon. "Thank you for everything, Ren." She whispered, their faces still close together.
Ren smiled, brushing a piece of hair out of her eyes. "It was my pleasure, Kyoko. But I have to ask you one thing…" He waited until her eyebrows knitted together, a puzzled look coming across her face.
"This wasn't your first time, was it, Kyoko-chan? You seem… experienced."
Kyoko looked confused for a moment, then an embarrassed blush came across her cheeks. She shoved Ren slightly, but he leaned in to steal another kiss before they said goodnight, with promises of more dates to come.
Well, this may not have satisfied all of the rules by some's standards, but I think it worked. It's up to you to decide which date was really their first. This challenge was a lot of fun, thanks to everyone who read and reviewed! Hope you enjoyed it!
Also, I know Ren would do everything humanly possible to not be late for work, but I really think his feet would be floating a little too far off the ground to care about his 'punctual' reputation in a situation like that.