Chapter 18

Sebastian stood at the door, handed them both hats and sunglasses; he then motioned for them to follow him. Reaching the lift, they were surprised by the sudden appearance of the President, dressed in a rather nifty black suit with dark sunglasses. The two stepped inside and the usual elevator music changed to that of the James Bond 007 theme tune. Although the presence of Kyoko's canvas bag rather than a sophisticated gadget or martini (shaken not stirred) slightly ruined the overall effect, Lory still somehow managed to pull it off, as only he could. He said nothing until the elevator doors closed.

"We're going to the basement; in there are three cars and 2 body doubles for the both of you. We will all be riding in the silver Toyota. There is far too much to get through in too short a period of time for me to separate you, so I'm afraid you'll have to get over the fact that it isn't fancy or particularly big."

Neither Ren, nor Kyoko replied as both considered the smallness and sombreness of the Toyota a blessing, rather than a curse, in comparison to Lory's usual grand and bright limousine.

In the basement a large group of bodyguards were holding back a small army of reporters and paparazzi. With their heads bowed the 2 fake Rens and the real Ren used their height to provide some cover for the fake and real Kyokos as they made their way to Lory's limo, a large 4x4, and the Toyota. Ignoring the loud barrage of questions shouted out, one of the fake Kyoko's took a moment to whisper something into the real Kyoko's ear, which caused her to blush bright red. Ren noticed this and made a mental note to ask her about the blush later as he opened the car door for her and watched her duck in. He quickly followed suit and closed the door forcibly behind him.


Being roused at 7.23am after heavy drinking the night before, having achieved only roughly 4 hours sleep rarely puts the person being woken up in a nice or forgiving mood. Therefore, when Hielberg was woken by a stern looking Tina he was already prepared to commit murder or at the very least grievous bodily harm. His mood had not improved upon learning the reason he'd been roused, and although painkillers, food and coffee dealt with some of his immediate distress, he was in no way cheerful. So once Ren finally got in and closed the door to the Toyota, where Hielberg had been waiting, he snapped.

"Do you two idiots have any idea of the damage you've caused?" He uttered in a deathly whisper, both for effect and because of a persistent underlying headache.

A sudden feeling of inadequacy flooded Kuon, the guilt and fear of his dream demolishing the barriers he'd put up, reverting the calm and mentally prepared Ren to the 13 year old Kuon, hurt and angry before the director who was about to fire him. Memories of his final firing clouded his judgment, the unfairness and the fury it had caused that…that had led to Rick's death. The immature brat of his youth replied before any filter of maturity or greater experience could be put into place.

"As we have not been given the full brief, no, we don't have any idea of the damage we've caused…Director." Kuon defensively snapped back, the title of 'Director' spat out almost like a certain four letter word. At his response Hielberg looked ready to breathe fire. Kyoko's demons were in sensory overload from the dark auras surrounding both Hielberg and the long missed Demon King.

"Henry, Ren." Came the stern reprimand from the passenger seat.

Both of the men turned to see a severely irritated Lory giving them a look very much akin to the one he'd given Maria in the Actors centre after her interference with 'The Angel's Words'. The look of a father/grandfather figure expressing deep disappointment in his charge. Given the debt both men owed him, his reproach was successful and they both bowed their heads in chastisement, falling silent.

Kyoko's confusion and discomfort was great as she sat squashed between them. The uncomfortable silence that reigned over the car as it exited the garage and headed to LME building forced Kyoko's sincere and self-faulting nature into action. Despite the moving vehicle and the seatbelt restricting her movement, Kyoko performed a dogeza to the best of her ability.

"Gomen…I mean" Kyoko stopped, changing to English so the whole of the car could understand her "I am terribly sorry for my actions last night and this morning…"

"Mogami-san" Lory tried to interrupt politely.

"…I shouldn't have let Tsuruga-san be captured by cameras and let his reputation be put under such scrutiny."

"Kyoko-chan" Lory attempted again, a bit more forcibly.

"…I apologise with apologies, I completely understand that I am to be fired but I am so sor…"

"KYOKO!" Lory shouted, finally getting her attention.

Frozen like a startled rabbit, Kyoko neither blinked nor breathed as she awaited judgment. Satisfied that he wasn't going to be interrupted by anyone in the car, as the backseat was too chastised to speak and Sebastian…well Sebastian would never ruin his fun without good reason, Lory started to speak once more.

"I don't blame anyone for last night."

Hielberg 'hmphed' at this but restrained himself from further comment by pulling out a hip flask and taking hair of the dog that bit him. He felt he deserved it if he was going to get through the day, even if it was just after 8 o'clock.

"It is naturally unfortunate that neither of you noticed, otherwise we'd be better prepared. Be that as it may, we shall do the best we can given the situation. Luckily it will be a while before we will be building up anticipation for 'Jump Note', so it shouldn't be negatively affected by this. The main issues are to ensure both your characters come through this as cleanly as possible. Usually this wouldn't be an issue for you Ren." The tone of this final statement was of slight disappointment, causing Ren to subconsciously roll his eyes and Hielberg to snort. Only Lory would be disappointed that someone has a squeaky clean public appearance, they both scoffed.

"However, Tanaka Hideki was the reporter behind the scoop, and he has been accusing things that even a magazine like 'Boots' wouldn't publish." At the name Kuon growled, his hands forming fists. Hielberg noticed and asked, annoyed.

"So what's his beef?" Lory opened his mouth to respond but an unrestrained Kuon let rip.

"He's was a two-bit wannabe actor until he lost the role of Morinozuka Takashi to me four years ago. After that his acting career hit a nose dive and he became an entertainment reporter for the main purpose of being able to criticise me whenever I show Japan how a real actor works. Nobody believes him but they keep him because the controversy gets viewers."

"Well they may believe now." Hielberg commented, pressing play on the DVD player attached to the head of the front passenger seat and bringing the nearby screen to life. The broadcast viewed by Ren's manager, Yashiro, earlier that morning flicked on, showing, among other things, Tanaka's attempted interrogation of Kyoko.

The next 12 minutes were spent in complete silence from the car, the crackly sound quality of the handheld camera and the smoother professional recorded 'interview' the sole noises echoing around the Toyota. Kuon's attention was divided between the clip from last night on the screen - I suppose I should be grateful that I held back on him, although the response to this is probably going to be as bad as going fully after him, and Kyoko - can she see it, does she realise how much she means to me yet? Vacillating between anger and concern, Kuon gave the two items of his attention a critical eye. Kyoko watched with a studious gaze almost as if she was reviewing one of her performances as Mio. Kuon came to the depressing conclusion that she was, once again, completely oblivious to his feelings.

She was, of course, oblivious, but not to her usual extent. Having come to some sort of terms with her own feelings, she was, instead, getting confused at Ren's actions, misinterpreting them and vehemently trying to restrain and reprimand her own. Oh no, oh no, oh no! You can see me blush, oh no it's obvious. I'm such a terrible kohai, looking like I'm enjoying his concern too much. The whole of Japan is going to think I'm nothing more than a Ren-otaku, one of his insane stalker fans! But it's not like that, I know I have no more chance than any other girl, actually I have a lot less of a chance, so why would I ever try and ruin the tiny part I have in his life by throwing myself at him?

At the appearance of Tanaka and his slanderous behaviour, Kuon lost any of Ren's composure and started firmly clenching his teeth and fists. That S.O.B.! How dare he enter the Daruma-ya? Because of him I've no doubt lost any faith Taisho and Okami-san have placed in me.

Kyoko lost the ability to watch once she appeared on screen; instead she stared resolutely at her knees in shame. I should have done something or said something to exonerate Ren…Tsuruga-san. Wincing at the faux par she'd mentally committed, she couldn't help but glance through her eyelashes at Ren when Tanaka suggested that Kyoko was a 'fan'. The twister of her own demons that surrounded him upset her - I knew he'd be angry. He won't accept my apology from earlier. Why should he? I didn't say anything and as a result let him be considered as that type of an actor. This is just another perfect example of why I'm good enough. She took a moment to strengthen the chains around the box deep inside her with her most devastating reason yet – I'm not even a complete a person yet.

Hielberg cut through Kyoko's self-recriminations and Kuon's ponderings (of whether he could cause an 'accident' where Tanaka lost firstly the ability to speak, and then possibly the ability to breathe) to address the situation at hand.

"Luckily 'Jump Note' is still fairly under wraps, so we'll have enough time for your reputation to recover before we begin publicity."

As he spoke the car came to a stop in the LME basement car park and he swung the door open, stepping out quickly and slamming the door behind him to relieve some of his frustration. Lory and Sebastian soon exited as well, with greater grace, giving Kuon a moment of privacy with Kyoko. Alone at last, Ren quickly covered one of her hands that were tightly gripping the edge of her school skirt and gave it a comforting squeeze. Her surprise at this caused her to involuntarily turn and look him full in the face, and he took the opportunity to give her a true smile, accompanied with a soft promise.

"We'll get through this Kyo…Mogami-san, and don't worry, I'll protect you from any more reporters. I swear it."


Hielberg continued his stern reprimand of Kyoko and Ren as they made their way with Sebastian to Lory's office, as Lory had managed to suspiciously disappear. The reason for his disappearance became obvious once Kyoko stepped into the office, only to be greeted by a fanfare, confetti and a group of cheerleaders all cheering "Kyoko number one, Kyoko number one."

Frozen due to shell shock, Kyoko merely stared as Lory appeared from behind the cheerleaders, wearing the costume of a renaissance court messenger. He guided her inside, a brilliant smile plastered over his face.

"Kyoko-chan, this is just a small show of how proud I am of you!"

Bewildered, she allowed herself to be kindly forced into a small throne and handed a glass of non-alcoholic champagne. She sat stiffly glancing at Ren, her eyes screaming 'WHAT, what on earth does he mean? Save me, Tsuruga-san!'. As Ren didn't have a clue, he could only offer an 'I'm sure he'll explain soon enough' look. Once Lory was satisfied that he had everyone's attention, he read his proclamation.

"Be it known, that on this day, Wednesday 17th of October, in the year of our Lord 20XX, did this young maiden, Mogami Kyoko, successfully get the too clean, too boring gentleman, Tsuruga Ren, involved in a piece of showbiz gossip. Not only will her actions encourage more interactions between himself and others, but also help him to one day better see people's good points and foster closer relationships; while also making him someone of interest to the public and his fellow workers in general. For this heroic and noble act we do unto her offer praise, and the reward of 500 Love Me points."

To end this dramatic declaration another fanfare sounded.

Unsure of how to respond, Kyoko continued to sit, not moving a muscle, on the throne. How can the President say these sorts of things? Why is he so happy at such a damaging video and what people were saying about it? While Kyoko sat anxiously, Ren and Hielberg just sighed in exasperation. Only Lory…they thought, sharing a moment of collective annoyance before realising this and looking pointedly away from each other. Turning from Hielberg, Ren noticed a slightly uncomfortable Yashiro in the corner, no doubt displeased with the enthusiastic cheerleaders that were praising the very situation he was positive was going to give him a stomach ulcer.

"Now to business." Lory stated firmly, once the cheerleaders had cartwheeled their way out of the room and left Ren, Kyoko, Hielberg, Lory, Sebastian, Yashiro and Tina (who had been in the corner too shocked by the whole palaver) behind.
"I need to know exactly what happened with Chojiro-san after you removed him from the restaurant Ren. I've already spoken to Taisho, Okami-san and the young man in question, however, he hasn't been particularly useful as he was too frightened - muttering incoherently about some swine for some reason." At this declaration Ren, who'd managed to regain control of himself, graciously allowed Kuon to indulge in a nefarious chuckle. Lory joined him with a dark smile. As an employer he naturally disapproved of such behaviour from Ren, but as he knew of Tashio's little invitation to eat the chef's special dish, he couldn't deny his or Ren's pleasure at the fear it inspired in Chojiro. The boy certainly wasn't on his good list; no-one messed with his Love Me girls and got away scot free.

"I'm afraid, Kyoko-chan, you won't be attending school today." Lory continued. Still sitting on the throne, Kyoko's posture slumped slightly in disappointment. Noticing this, Lory immediately tried to remedy her downcast mood.

"I am sorry my dear, but you cannot maintain a low profile with the media in that school. Your class will be rife with people attempting to get any information from you, or strike a false friendship with you, to gain some reputation as being close to the girl who was saved by Tsuruga Ren."

Seeing sense, Kyoko nodded in acknowledgment, although she struggled not to turn strawberry red with embarrassment at the thought of being 'the girl who was saved by Tsuruga Ren'.

"I have more bad news I'm afraid. With the media's knowledge of your current residence, you are going to have to move. I already have an apartment set up for you. I wanted to put you in the same building as Ren…" at this both Kyoko and Ren hid their looks of pleased embarrassment, "…but that would put you at greater risk at the moment. Maybe in the future though…" He tailed off and looked pointedly at Ren, - the future where you've finally got your act together and declared your feelings for the girl. He pondered briefly what the possible combinations of Kyoko and Kuon's genetics would result in, and when they would finally provide him with more grandchildren to dote upon (he would be their Ojii-san whether he was their grandfather by blood or not) before catching a glance of Kyoko's false look of happiness and returning to the issue at hand.

"You will be able to move in this evening. Okami-san is already packing your things, and they'll be ready and waiting for you when you arrive. In the meantime you can spend your time working on Cara with Tina-san."

Thank you for all your support and your reviews, you are wonderful, amazing people and I wish I could fulfill my duty to you as a fanfic writer you seem to enjoy and spent my life chained to my desk and laptop until I have written to your satisfaction. 1000000000000000000000000000 LoveMe point to you all.
Instead I must beg for forgiveness. I didn't realise how long it had been since I updated until I just tried to update this and I realised I had forgotten my password. I am truly sorry I've been so negligent but I'm afraid I can't offer promises of another update for I while. I unfortunately am failing to be organised at the moment and when I have moments of clarity I am failing to have the right inspiration for writing. So GOMENASAI multiplied by a million, dogeza multiplied by a billion.
n.b. I have decided that Ren played Mori-senpai in a production of Ouran High School Host Club some time before Kyoko arrived in Tokyo because I think he would be an awesome Mori, after all he is tall enough ;) It is this part he 'stole' of the TV reporter. There is no reason to this I just really love Ouran and wanted to include it somehow. Maybe I should have the host club make a guest appearance...or maybe...just maybe I should focus on actually writing the story as it is before adding in random extras that would just delay story progression.