I am not writing to ask for forgiveness, for money or any kind of reconciliation. I am sure in your mind I was a terrible parent and others would likely think the same. Suffice it to say I did what I had to do for my mental health and do not regret the choices I made.
I participated little in your life when you were young, hardly at all as you grew older and all contact ceased not long ago. This is our pattern and I expect it will continue.
Do not hope for another letter from me, do not become overly sentimental about this one or try to contact me in return. I assure you it would not be welcome.
I never thought you ought to have feelings of affection for me, it was impossible for me to have them for you, but I will say that in a small way I am glad for your existence even if it is only because I see a bit of the man who was your father in you now.
I bear you no ill will nor have I ever.
May you reach heights of success I never could,
Lory re-sealed the letter. It had not been his to open or pursue, but he could hardly allow his favorite emotionally stunted talent see it without looking first. Perhaps it was wrong of him to have done so, but it was too late to change it.
Not many hours ago an envelope without a return address had been left at the main desk by a woman with black hair dressed in a knee length, navy blue skirt and a white top covered by a tailored jacket of the same blue. She was mistaken for an agent, quick to ratify the error and left once assured that her letter would be delivered to the addressed.
Within was a plain piece of writing paper with a hand written note. It wasn't tear jerking. It didn't evoke sympathy. It didn't answer many questions.
As the president of LME his interest rested with the knowledge that Mogami Saena knew of her daughter's career and did not disapprove of the situation. As a man who cared for Kyoko as if she were a grandchild his concern was that Mogami-san was sending a letter that could make or break the young actress.
Though it was something rarely spoken of he knew that, as a child, Kyoko had sought approval from her perfectionist mother yet was unable to attain the support she needed. As it was the message confirmed Kyoko's view that her mother didn't particularly care where she went or what she did, but to Lory the last few lines meant the most.
Like all parents Saena wanted better for her daughter. The fact that she had expressed the hope that Kyoko could find prosperity in her career was proof enough for Lory that she wasn't all bad. He would never condone her treatment of Kyoko, and if he ever met her he would have a few choice words to say, but she was human and she had a heart.
The letter was delivered to the LoveMe room and slipped inside the number one member's locker. It wouldn't be found by her for several days due to scheduled commitments.
Of those commitments the most pressing was her role as Setsuka Heel. At that moment she was meant to be in character, but while Cain took his time in the bathroom and she sat alone in the living space her thoughts turned inward.
"What am I supposed to do?" she hissed at herself. "Especially after last time..." She cringed at the thought of the argument. "After that scene!" How could she allow Setsu to do what the director wanted? How could her box stand it?
She knew that lust and love were different things, that one didn't necessitate the other, but they were so close and she had little experience with either. She doubted her ability to tell one from the other; mistakes of that magnitude were unacceptable, but it would also be unacceptable to allow fear to taint her acting.
She cringed as memories of the moments in which she'd lost character resurfaced. From the very beginning she'd had trouble with Setsu and had missed many an opportunity to fully play her character. It was in the little things; she would never follow Tsuruga-san into a male restroom, but Setsuka would trail after Cain without a second thought. Though she understood Setsuka better than she had before, though she felt respect for her and recognized her as part of herself, it seemed too dangerous to relinquish full control.
"Dangerous Mission." She wondered if the president had this in mind when he gave her the assignment. She knew how love-sick he was and how he lamented her lack of the emotion, but with Tsuruga Ren? Really? "Couldn't be..." More likely he just wanted to push her boundaries as an actress by forcing her into roles that required different emotional portrayals.
The question was, was she up for the challenge? It had been difficult enough to find Setsu's soul, even harder to allow her the chance to grow, now she was being asked to give herself over to the control of a punk obsessed with her older brother for the purpose of acting out a graphic role.
Her head was against it, her heart was against it, but her actor's spirit refused to back away from the challenge. To give up would be like handing in her resignation to the president. She'd accepted the role of Setsuka Heel and she would play her to the bitter end.
They'd had dinner, Cain little as always, while Setsu's mind seemed to be elsewhere.
"I'm taking my shower now," she informed him, rising from her seat. Out of her designated drawers she took a nightgown and underwear. "I won't be long."
He gave a nod and turned on the television as she closed the bathroom door. As usual there was nothing to be interested in, but it was good for background noise. He couldn't stand sitting in silence.
After reaching out to open a window he lit a cigarette and took a long drag; it was better to smoke when she wasn't around, he didn't like for her to take in the second hand fumes.
His eyes moved to the wall that hid the bathroom from view. He could hear the water running. How long would she be in there? What would she be wearing when she came back out? More than a towel he hoped.
With a groan he passed his hands over his eyes. The brat! She had no idea what she did to him.
It was to be expected, his fault even. She was not familiar with opposition, especially from him. He felt that he should have foreseen the defiance.
But, that was over and he hoped they had moved beyond it. She'd shown no ill will in the last few hours and it was nearing the end of the day. It was a relief like no other. There were only so many ways to say no; should she come at him again with a similar attack he doubted his ability to refuse her.
Her time in the bathroom was soon at an end, Kyoko could not put off the inevitable. Setsu wasn't one to take much time before bed, certainly she would never avoid her brother and it would be strange to take any longer.
She avoided looking in the mirror, though the nightie was no more reveling than any other, this was still a source of vexation for the modest girl. To be seen by a man this way made her feel vulnerable; knowing that Tsuruga had no ulterior motives helped her anxiety, but it was still embarrassing. If it weren't for the actor's spirit within her she would have never been able to walk out the door to a room she shared with an adult male. An attractive adult male.
"Not the time," she muttered as she pulled herself away from reality. This place did not belong to her or Ren, it was for the Heels.
Setsu left the bathroom to find Cain shirtless and sprawled across his bed, eyes closed.
She watched him for a moment before moving to crawl on top of him. He made no move to stop her as she straddled his waist and leaned down to rest her elbows on his chest.
They remained silent for a time, Cain resting and Setsuka watching his face. She had something to ask, but was unsure of whether she truly wanted to know the answer. It was something she'd thought of before, something that caused her undeniable pain and jealousy. She felt that with the new drama it would be necessary to learn the truth, however she didn't know if she would be able to bear it.
She bit her lip. She didn't want to know. She'd rather continue pretending that it didn't matter, that those things had never happened and never would.
"Nii-san, how many... How many girls have you been intimate with?"
His eyes popped open in surprise to see his beloved sister's face dark with dread and he hesitated before answering. It would do no good to lie to her, they both knew the truth, though it was painful to acknowledge.
"More than you'd like to know about." His answer was evasive.
Her eyes narrowed. "Even one is too many. I'll ask a different way then. More or less than five?"
She looked away from him. "More or less than ten?"
He remained silent and her heart ached. It wasn't that she had expected him to remain untouched, but learning the details was difficult. She had never been with a man in any capacity, he was the only one for her.
"Setsu, look at me."
His voice held a command, one she dare not disobey. She saw repentance in his features, remorse for the things he'd done. He wasn't a patient man and had been less so when young. In hopes of curing his damnable feelings toward his sister he'd tried to use other woman as an outlet. There were a plethora of one-night stands in his history.
"None of them meant anything to me." He touched her cheek.
She knew that it was the truth, that it was supposed to make her feel better, but it didn't. Reality remained unchanged.
"I wanted to change the way I felt about you. It wasn't fair for me to feel that way. You were too young to make any kind of decision!"
He was right of course, but she couldn't remember a time when she didn't love him. She'd always felt the way she did.
"I didn't want to push you in one direction or the other. I was looking for a cure, I thought I had to be sick in the head. How could I feel that way about you? It was all so wrong, but you were so beautiful and so innocent. I didn't mean to hurt you, Setsuka."
She wanted to reassure him, to tell him that she understood because she did. If she had been in his situation she would have done the same. She knew his regret was genuine, but what words could she say? They would never be strong enough so instead she pressed her lips to his, gently, softly, hoping to convey her acceptance and forgiveness.
"I love you so much," he whispered when she pulled away, remaining connected by stroking her cheek. "So much."
"I know, aniki. But..."
"But?" Anxiety crept into his voice. Was this it? Would this be the day he'd feared since they left the house of their parents? Would she end their relationship?
Setsu's concerns weren't as dire as that. "Well, you've done a lot of things I haven't. You have more experience than I do, so I was wondering if we could practice?" She glanced at him from beneath her lashes and drew patterns on his chest with a forefinger. "It's just that I don't know much about physical relationships, you know? Sakura's part is going to call for it and I don't want to seem unnatural."
This was dangerous ground.
"You were fine in the practice take."
"Yeah, but I don't know if I can be consistent. Won't you help me, Nii-san?" Her face hovered above his, her hair creating a curtain. "Please? Just for practice."
He wouldn't say no, but there needed to be a clear boundary.
"This is for the show?" He wouldn't cross that line and she needed to understand.
"Find a specific scene."
Episode # 3
Interiors, Kobayashi Household:
Hallway outside Tatsuya'sBedroom
Exteriors, Kobayashi Household:
Interiors, Sakura's School:
Exteriors, Sakura's School:
Sakura returns home. She is not greeted by anyone as she removes her shoes at the door.
Neither parent is home, they are at a work related function and will be away until late in the night.
As she moves into the house she is met by the Butler who says, "Under strict orders of the master of the house, you are to be taken to your room and remain there until tomorrow," and without giving her a chance to protest he takes her by the upper arm and forcefully pulls her to her room.
She struggles on the way, but is thrust through the door and locked in.
(Sakura's room is on the first floor.)
A maid removes Sakura's shoes from the entrance.
A clock shows hours passing.
Tatsuya arrives home a little past eight. He is told that Sakura is staying at a friends house for the night.
He accepts this information calmly, but is suspicious of its validity.
More time passes and once sure that the staff are away in their rooms for the night he breaks into Sakura's room.
(Actor directed dialogue and movement)
"I want to try this scene," she passed her script to him and sat beside him on the edge of his bed. "There isn't a set time limit once Tatsuya gets into her room, but I don't want it to be nothing more than fan-service. Any show can pull that crap and any talentless hack could do a half-way decent job of it. There could be plot development here."
Cain said nothing; Setsu didn't require a reply.
"Sakura would have been very lonely without Tatsuya, even worried that he wouldn't come at all, so seeing him would be a surprise. I'm sure her eyes would be all red from the crying she'd done. Guys are always making passes at her while the girls are jealous so the day went badly to begin with and then to get locked away the second she gets home? Urgh! Its so unfair!"
She looked to her brother for support.
"Don't you think so too, Nii-san? Don't you just hate their parents?"
He shrugged. His feelings for the characters didn't run deeply enough for him to form a strong opinion. He rarely felt an emotional attachment to a role.
Setsu wasn't satisfied with his lack of involvement in the subject. Normally his disinterested attitude didn't bother her, it was part of his personality, but she was interested in it and his participation was necessary to their success; she would be mortified if the show failed because someone didn't put in their utmost effort and she would be damned before anyone could place blame on herself or Cain.
"Nii-san," she spoke with authority. "You must make yourself care about this part if for nothing else than my sake. If you don't take it seriously it could cause me to stumble. Do you want me to make a fool of myself in front of everyone? To give those rotten wanna be idols a reason to criticize me?"
Emotion flashed in his eyes. No, he didn't want to hold her back from reaching her full potential, but asking him to change his perception of a job was a tall order. He made snap judgments and his opinions were rarely altered; he wasn't one to reconsider things, even in the face of new information.
He held no strong feelings for this part, though he could emphasize with his character, and the story line drew close to their family history. If he thought of it from a personal standpoint, one of a man who'd found himself in a similar situation, perhaps he could do as she asked.
"Alright," he said gruffly. "So this is the part you want to practice. What about it don't you understand?"
She shook her head. "It isn't that I don't understand it, I just don't want it to look fake. When I have to cry about being alone I want the tears to be real. When Sakura is so happy to see Tatsuya that all rational thought flies out the window I want to be able to do whatever she wants to do. Also, I don't want to surprise you too much, but I don't think you understand how much Sakura wants him so I think it would be good to show you." She gave him a sly glance. "It' almost as much as I want you."
He ignored her insinuation and stood from the bed only to have her latch onto his arm.
"Wait! Where are you going?"
"You want to practice this part, right? Sakura was alone for a while before Tatsuya went to her. I'm going out." He took a room key and left.
Kyoko was reminded of the Dark Moon role-play, but quickly pushed the memory aside, she would do a better job this time anyway.
Setsu sat on the bed in silence; it seemed that Cain would take her seriously, but she hadn't expected him to do this and she didn't know how long he would be gone. Be it five minutes or an hour he would be coming back as Tatsuya and she had to be prepared for it.
Ren was less than enthusiastic about acting this scene without witnesses or a director to call for the end of the shot. However, his expression was characteristic of his part so there was no worry about losing face as he stood in the hall outside the door to the Heel's room.
Had anyone come into the hallway they would have met a terrifying sight. A taller than average man with jet-black hair and a frightening countenance leaned against the wall opposite a door. To top it off he was shirtless, exposing his chiseled physique, and he didn't seem to care. His mind was elsewhere.
He deeply hated himself for finding enjoyment in this act, but who wouldn't? The girl he loved was on the other side of that door, dressed for bed and readying herself to act out something like a midnight fantasy.
Unfortunately the love of his life was an emotionally immature teenager who had the tendency to overreact to anything and everything pertaining to feelings of affection or actions used to display fondness. Setsuka would be fine with this, but what about Kyoko?
Under the circumstances he had little fear as to how far the scene would go, Cain was just as against allowing things to get obscene as he was, but what did Setsu want? How far would she push? She said this was about practice, but did she really mean that?
He didn't know what Kyoko was thinking, but he knew that she aspired to be a respected actress and supposed that her newest alter-ego probably did too. Still, he would be hard pressed to believe that there weren't ulterior motives at play. Setsuka had alluded to her desire for intimacy not five minutes ago while explaining her reasons for choosing the scene. Cain had dodged her advances by leaving the room, but he would have to walk back in and she would still be there.
"She'll still be there," he murmured. Still be there wearing her short, lacy black nightdress waiting for her beloved older brother to come to her rescue. Waiting for him to comfort her with long, deep kisses and tight embraces.
Sakura felt as though she had cried herself into oblivion. She'd been left alone for hours and now it was so late that she wondered whether or not he would come for her. Maybe he couldn't. Maybe they'd kicked him out of the house and changed the locks. Maybe she would never be able to see him again.
Her head shot up when she heard the handle to her door jiggle and not a minute later it opened in stepped the person she most wanted to see.
"Tatsuya!" she cried as she sprang from the bed. She threw her arms around his neck, determined to never let go again, freezing in place when she remembered that they weren't the only ones in the house.
They stood in silence, listening for footsteps or voices, but there was nothing to be heard.
Sakura breathed a sigh of relief, but her calm was momentary. The tears returned as she began to speak. "I didn't think you'd come."
He pulled her into a bone crushing hug. "I would never leave you here alone."
She allowed him to led her toward the bed, to sit down and pull her onto his lap. He cradled her in silence, waiting for the tears to subside, for her choked sobs to quiet.
As her crying came to an end she shifted positions, turning to straddle his waist. His arms remained in place, neither encouraging nor dissuading. He wouldn't take advantage of the situation, but he would permit her to set the tone.
She placed her arms around his neck once more and rested her head on his shoulder. "Nii-san, I'm so happy that you're here. Today I had to go to school for an assembly about the changes in scheduling and activities in the new term. They wouldn't stop staring at me." She pressed a kiss to his throat. "I hated it, feeling their eyes follow me like that. I felt so dirty, like there was something wrong with me. Please, help me forget it, I don't want to remember anymore!"
Tatsuya seethed. He didn't want this for her, she was worth so much more.
She clutched at him. "Please, Nii-san, please help me forget!"
"Is that what you really want?" he asked. "To forget it? That doesn't change anything, Sakura. Asking me for this kind of help won't fix things."
"I know that it isn't fair to you, okay? I know that I should be glad that you're here at all, that should be enough, but it isn't. I'm sorry if it disgusts you or if you're tired of me– "
"I'm neither disgusted or tired of you," he interrupted. "I just don't want you to regret it later."
She stared at him, her incomprehension visible. "I have never regretted a single thing that I've done with you. Why would I now? The only thing I regret is that we can't be together all the time, in more ways..." her voice dropped to a whisper as she looked to his lips. "I wish that it could be alright for us to do everything. It wouldn't be so strange you know, for me to be with someone. I wish it could be you."
He bit back a groan. She didn't know what she was doing to him.
"You're the only one I want to give myself to. I want you to have it. Don't you want that too? Why can't we?" Her lips met his. "Why?" She kissed him again. "Please take it. I'm giving it to you."
"Absolutely not," he moaned as her mouth moved to his ear. She drew the lobe into her mouth, licked the outer rim. "And don't ever offer yourself to me again." He shuddered as her hands moved into his hair.
"Then tell me to stop."
How could he do that when her mouth was on his?
His hands found their way to her waist, encircled her and pulled her body flush against his. Her breathing was ragged as his lips moved to her neck, then her shoulder. His kisses followed the length of her arm, his tongue tasted her flesh and his teeth nipped at her inner elbow; she leaned back to give him better access. He sucked on her wrist, kissed her palm and each finger individually before yanking her closer.
They fell backward, his back on the bed, her legs on either side of him.
Before she could attempt another kiss he pulled her head to his chest and held her tightly.
"I wish I could change it for you, that I could make it better, but I can't. Asking me to do things with you..." his voice died and they lay in silence.
Setsu looked to the clock on cable box. "That didn't last very long. Do you think it was good enough?"
"I don't know, maybe we should try again?"
She huffed and sat up, tossing her hair over her shoulder. "Careful, I might start to think you're insulting me."
"I would never."
"Hm. Well, how about a kiss just for me then–!" her sentence ended in a strangled squeak as Cain jerked her face toward his. His mouth met hers for only moments, but it left her dazed. "Oh, wow."
He snorted as he rearranged her and deposited her on the other bed.
Her answer was delayed. "...Goodnight, Cain."
The box had opened.