Memories

"It's strange to have the heart remember something the mind cannot." -A Little Princess

.

She opened her eyes. The ceiling was a white blur.

"...Shouldn't have let her perform those stunts..."

"What was Director Miahatsu thinking..."

Words, meaningless words.

She closed her eyes.

A gentle, rythmic sound, like the purring of a cat, lulled her back to sleep.

.

Finally, when she got her eyes to unglue, the light of a lamp made her want to close them again, but as she turned her head, they revealed the source of the purring.

A man sat in a chair next to her, far too long-limbed for such little furniture, leaned back, legs out before him. His head was turned to her, partially resting on his shoulder, snoring gently. It looked uncomfortable.

She blinked at him, vaguely surprised. Was he in her house? His longish dark hair obscured his features, but the frame of his body was one she felt she was intimately familiar with, because she knew instinctively that each line of it, each contour was correct, though widely out of norm for a Japanese man. His clothing, her practiced eye could see, was good material. Expensive.

What was he doing in her room?

She went to move but could not. Weighted down? Tied?

Belated panic jerked her heart-rate up, beeping loudly on the monitor-monitor.

The man stirred, abruptly sat up. She looked into the eyes of her visitor, then away at her surroundings.

This was not her room.

"Mogami-san?"

She stopped trying to move her sluggish limbs as she realized she was merely very tired, and in some pain, but not restricted in any way. Her mind, calming somewhat, took in her room for the first time with full details, and noted immediately that it lacked...something...on the wall before her.

Pictures?

The man was trying to talk to her, leaning over her, but she stared determinedly at the far wall, trying to make sense of the elusive belief, until she noticed the IV in her arm, irritating, and the large curtained window, and the flat hospital bed she lay in surrounded by those plain walls.

"Where am I?"

"You're in the hopsital, Mogami-san," the man replied, his voice tense with worry. His expression gentled as she brought her eyes back to him.

"Why?"

He sat himself at her side, taking her hand in his. She noted the action but did not look away, trying to read his face. It was warm, and tired, and uncertain.

"You were injured performing a motorcycle stunt for Director Miahatsu," he began.

The name sounded familar for a split second only. And...a motorcycle stunt? It made no sense. He was shaking his head. "We should not have let you...but you've always been so determined to do your best, to experience new things..." He went on, displaying a detailed and thorough knowledge of what had happened to her, and the personality he claimed would not be denied this chance to...experience...that dangerous but thrilling event. It didn't sound a thing like her.

"Who are you?" she cut him off, frightened at his incorrect assumption of what she was like combined with all-too-true sounding details, like her favorite food and her love of make-up and how she liked to cook.

He stopped mid-sentence, eyes widening. Perhaps unconsciously he tightened his grip on her hand and she struggled to pull away. He released her, stepping back.

The light blinded briefly her as he un-blocked it with his large form, and shone in his hair for just a moment to give it blonde high-lights. 'How odd...'

"You don't know me."

She went to shake her head, but it hurt...she touched her fingers to her face, winced at the puffy skin, going still as she touched the bandage. "Do you...know me?" she asked finally in a small voice. "What's...my name..." He'd addressed her, how had he addressed her? And why hadn't she realized until now that she didn't even know her own name?

.

She was pulled back down into that gray abyss in between sleeping and awake, and was unresponsive to the voices above her, even the one from earlier that tried to rouse her, reaching her briefly with warmth, touching her. The drugs were wearing off again, but hadn't quite released her from their grip. The pain was coming back.

"Traumatic...acts like fugue...her declarative memories...probably temporary..."

She rode the wave closer to the shore of consciousness, was pulled back away, drifted again.

"...Due to the shock of the trauma. I'm sure..."

She tried to sink deeper into darkness, to evade the pain, but the doctor's voice was getting louder and louder, thwarting her efforts.

"Mogami-san?" The husky-built doctor said gently, and she realized her eyes were open, squinting at him. Well, one eye was. The other refused to open.

He wasn't native, she thought inanely, with that blonde-red hair and pale green eyes. Eyes like jade.

"Good afternoon, Mogami-san," he said in the same patient, soft voice, with a touch of an accent she didn't recognize. Not English. But she understood him well enough.

"My name is Doctor Olsen."

'O-san...' Liked tou-san. Like father.

"You've been injured in a motorcycle accident, Mogami-san. Your helmet saved your life, but you still took quite a blow. From what your friend says, you are suffering from some memory-loss." He waited, but she didn't say anything, eyes tracking to the face of the man from earlier, and then noticing two other men, one with lighter hair and glasses and an impeccable suite, and another with long black hair and a thin mustache and narrow, perceptive-looking eyes. He was dressed in plain dark clothes she felt instinctively were wrong, and then was upset she couldn't say why.

Her gaze went back to the first man, who was looking at her with a quiet intensity that was more upsetting than the mystery of the last man. Why did he look at her that way?

"Do you remember anything, Mogami-san?" Doctor O-san asked softly. "Do you remember your first name?"

Scared, she shook her head a little, and flinched regretfully.

"Your name is Kyoko," he said in that same slow, measured tone, waiting for her to calm, matching her pace. She relaxed under his gentle concern, feeling as though she could trust him.

"You do not remember this now, but you are an actress. You were injured on-set."

What? "Where is my mother?" she asked finally. "Is she...has she been told?"

All three men shuffled in place, making uneasy faces at each other. Doctor O-san turned to them expectantly.

Finally the first man spoke up. "Mogami-san's mother...has not been heard of for some time. She left Kyoko in the care of her legal guardians, the Fuwas. Both they and her caretakers at the Daruma-ya have been alerted to her condition."

Here the man hesitated. "The Fuwas could not leave their business at this time because they had no one to take over, but they have asked to be updated frequently, and will try to arrange a visit."

The sharp-eyed man murmured, "I will see to that."

The first man nodded and continued. "The Taisho and Okami-san will be by to visit Kyoko as soon as they can. I believe they are closing down the restaurant as we speak."

She just looked up at him as the doctor nodded, a new kind of pain in her chest. There was no surprise; someone called mother had continually expressed her disappointment in her, that she could recall clearly. Perhaps it was just as well she didn't remember her leaving...

"Where am I?" she asked abruptly.

They looked at her, astonished, and she realized they believed her short-term memory that far gone. "I mean, what city?"

"You are in Tokyo, Mogami-san," DoctorO-san said.

"...Do I have any money?" Restaurant...she worked in one, right? No, wait, she was an actress...was she successful? "Who's paying for this?" Hospitals were expensive.

"I will be," the sharp-eyed man said. The first man frowned at him but held his tongue as the other man held up a hand. "Ren, think of your reputation. It's natural for her agency to cover her expenses." There was a warning there, somehow she knew.

Something dark flashes in...in Ren's eyes. Ren. His frown deepened. "I don't care," he said flatly, with anger in his clenched fists at his side, in his tense shoulders, "what anyone thinks."

O-san and the glasses-man shifted uneasily, but sharp-eyes did not, steady as a rock-column before a driving wind. "I do happen to care. And so will you, if you sabotage your own goal...Tsuruga-san," he said with a strange, special emphasis. "Do not do damage to both of your reputations for the sake of a..." he paused, "...friendship."

Glasses-man cleared his throat diffidently. "Will Kyoko-chan be staying with the Daruma-ya couple?" he changed the subject. Doctor O-san looked on with interest for the answer.

Sharp-eyes still held Ren's...Tsuruga-san's gaze as he shook his head. "Mogami-san will stay at the one of my mansions, away from prying eyes so she can recover. Maria will be glad to see her."

"Don't push her," Doctor O-san warned. "Don't foist friends and relations on her. Stress will only set her back."

Sharp-eyes nodded, and seeing Tsuruga-san's unhappy face, relented a little. "You're due for a little vacation time, aren't you?" Tsuruga-san's head came up slowly, alertly. "It would be best if Kyoko is around someone she's known for a long time." Again, that special emphasis.

Everyone wore a baffled expression-including Tsuruga-san, who's face bore a most unflattering completely stupified look, his mouth hanging open. If she hadn't been so wearied and confused, she'd have wanted to laugh-no, that would be impolite. Why did she care?

Doctor O-san looked between them, gripped his chart, a-hemed. "Well. I'll see to it she gets more pain medication, get her those prescriptions and we'll talk more about..." his words drifted away as the group-she tried not to think of them as a mob, all those men-left and a female nurse entered to bring more morphine.

The pain receded again, and she drifted drowsily in a fog, wondering at those people who knew her, fighting a deep thirst she'd forgot to mention to the nurse but too tired to reach for the assist-button beside her on the side of the bed. As her head dropped to her chest, she heard soft footsteps echoing a heavier treat, felt a hand brush her hair as a feminine voice, turned alto and softened with age, whispered her name with great relief. She relaxed into the unhurried strokes that tenderly smoothed her hair away from her face, and sighed, falling back asleep.

.

"I'm glad you're safe," the little girl had said, turning away with tears in her eyes but a smile on her face.

She didn't remember having a sister...but then, there was a lot she didn't remember, and had felt guilty at the hurt look on the blonde's face. Takarada-san, her grandfather, she'd learned his name was, had then explained that Maria was not her biological sister, but more of a soul-sister.

Belated anger rose up, that he hadn't told her that before. There'd been no warning as the girl burst into the spacious room, maneuvering around the elegantly carved low wooden table as easily as she'd dodged around the robed-assistant's surprised, out-stretched arms. To his credit, Takarada-san had seemed taken aback as well, then resigned. All in moments these emotions had passed in his eyes. His mouth had not changed the shape of its simple lines once, as he explained to them both.

She could not be cold to the girl, whose relief was palpable and smile infectious. She'd given Kyoko a hand-made doll of her little blonde self, to protect her, she'd claimed, and it had made Kyoko exclaim softly with praise for the delicate stitching, the skill and effort. If she was ever to have a sister, she'd want her to be like Maria-chan. Her reaction had pleased Takaradan-san, judging by his smile... but she did not know why.

Thinking about siblings drew a image of a scowling woman's face to her mind, and though she felt no particular emotion tied to the memory, she nevertheless turned her thoughts away, feeling instinctively such a look had not been accompanied by any loving words.

"Your friend called," Ren's-Tsuruga-san's voice said from behind her, making her jump. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."

He joined her on the...back-porch would be too simple a term, she decided, folding her hands in her lap and scooting over a bit she he could rest on the blanket she sat on with her slippered feet on a lowered step. Takarada-san hadn't let her go outside until today, and it was just as well; even the act of lowering herself to sit tired her. She'd lay a long time sleeping for most of many days, and had been somewhat overwhelmed when she'd awoken. Mansion, indeed.

"You look better," Tsuruga-san offered, looking her over.

"The swelling's gone down," she agreed. "I'm weaning myself off the pain meds."

A knowing smile touched one side of his lips. "Don't push yourself."

She frowned at him. Another secretive smile, words that seem to mean something-they were surely a reference to something she couldn't remember. People gave such looks and phrases to her constantly and she was sick of it. "What does that mean?" she said a bit snappishly. Good manners dictated she apologize for her tone. She didn't, instantly overwrought. It was the lack of morphine that had her on edge—logically she knew this-in addition to some unavoidable disorientation.

He leaned back, and only then did she realize how close he'd been. His expression closed off, becoming bland and uninformative, the way it had been when he'd arrived last night and Takarada-san had invited him to simply stay.

Turning his face from her he looked out at the expanse of green before them, and she followed his gaze, catching sight of one of the security men making a walk of the perimeter in the distance. Such unobtrusive men were always around, and she knew from talk that they watched the airspace as well, looking for reporters in their helicopters. Only yesterday had she learned why.

"They finally decided to simply wait for Mogami-san," Tsuruga-san had announced over dinner with her and Maria and her grandfather. "The director claimed he wouldn't work with anyone else, and even his backers agreed-provided she recovers quickly. The reporters are falling over themselves to speculate on her condition."

"They still do not know about the amnesia," Takarada-san concluded. A nod was his answer, and the older man sighed, taking a bite of his fish. Her mind, for some reason, named the dish and came up with an alternate recipe for something like it.

"Can't we just tell them?" little Maria asked in confusion, setting down her drink. She sat next to Kyoko, across from the men. Kyoko had learned quickly Maria was her fiercest fan, unquestioningly loyal and as unwavering in her affection to her as she was to Tsuruga-san, whom she seem to have a girlish crush on.

"We don't want to add fuel to the fire." Tsuruga-san hesitated, glancing at her for a moment. "And if this is as temporary as Doctor Olsen says it is, I don't want to be the one to lose her a job. She might recover in time to reclaim her role." Kyoko had frowned but asked no questions, more concerned with the intensifying pain, gripping her fork tighter than was necessary, and downing a lot of water and just wanting to return to her room and take her next pain pill. A lesser dosage, with more time in between, would still blunt the edge of her agony.

Mulling over the chance she'd missed to gain new information, as exhausting as processing it was, she ran her tongue over her lower lip to moisten it and relax her tightly clenched jaw, and tried again with the infuriating man beside her. "What friend?"

"Kotonami-san. Kanae," he added. "She's on location right now, but you are from the same...section of the agency."

"The acting section," she offered.

"...Yes."

"The same as you," she pointed out. "Takarada-san said you are my sempai. Is he my agent?"

Did he know he was looking at her like she was speaking another language? "Of sorts. For all practical purposes, yes."

She thought this over, and considered his face, his presence, the way he'd been at her side when she'd woken up that night. He was the greater mystery, of the two men. "Are you my lover?" It would certainly explain those hungry looks.

A deer-in-the-headlights look crossed his face, and he seemed to stop breathing. "It's okay," she offered. "You don't have to feel guilty for telling me, I figured it out on my own." Awkwardly she touched the back of his hand, palm-down on the smooth sealed wood.

"You...remember me?" he asked cautiously.

She bit her tongue, sorry to disappoint him. "No...but I thought...from the way you were looking at me..." her voice grew fainter as he failed to confirm this, and her cheeks heated up. 'Stupid!'

He let out his breath, and just as she moved to pull away, mortified, he took her hand in his own. "We...have a strong affection for each other," he admitted. "I'm...not opposed to a deeper relationship with you...Kyoko." His tone had gone wary, searching out her reaction, fingers tightening.

She digested this information, wondering if he was giving her small tidbits of truth in order to jog her own true memories, and chewed her lip, scarcely noticing the faint breeze playing with her bangs and the wavy hem of her skirt. Her short shirtsleeves revealed the hairs standing up on her arms, reaction to the wind.

'He's probably doesn't want to tell me how he feels because he thinks I'll think he expects me to remember right away.'

"I'd like that," she confessed finally. "Even though I can't remember everything...I feel...better, with you around." His presence brought with it a strong sense of comfort too great to be that of a mere friend. All the nuances of his expression, his mannerisms, were achingly familiar to her, and she wondered how deep her feelings for him had been previous to her accident. Deep, surely, to be so ingrained into her heart. And his were undoubtedly as strong, to keep him at her side when she barely knew his face.

He moved to her side, so close as to allow no space between them and took her in his arms with great care, and she hugged him back.

"I was afraid I'd lost you," he breathed into her hair, voice gone husky with emotion that brought answering tears to her eyes and made her forget the pain ever so briefly.

"I'm glad you didn't," she admitted, and her head, pressed to his chest, felt the pace of his heart. What would it be like to be lost without even the warmth of his heart next to her now?

When he kissed her hair it felt right. When he pulled back enough to press his lips to her forehead, it was soothing. His mouth, lowered to hers, brought a thrill of unfamiliarity, because she didn't remember this. And his hands, previously gentle, gripped her shoulders possessively, raising a mix of uncertainty, shyness, and longing she didn't quite know how to handle, but she didn't stop him.

She made a sound deep in her throat as his lips moved firmly against hers, parting her own and drinking deeply of her. His tongue flicked the corner of her mouth, questing, and she automatically met it with her own, even as good sense rebelled. They weren't married! There were no rings, and she was still sensitive, injured. This was no time to let suppressed, forgotten longings get a hold of her!

She stiffened, and they pulled away simultaneously, and he immediately apologized.

"No," she said, hand to her rapidly rising and falling chest, catching her breath, "it was me..."

A little huff of air escaped, an odd laugh. "It's always you, Mogami...Kyoko. But I shouldn't push you when you're...like this." Hands, run through his hair, mussing its perfection. "I didn't expect you to say..."

"Yes," she agreed, and they lapsed into silence as the afternoon wore on, now more than warm enough to counter-act the slight chill creeping into the wind. She wondered at this combination of propriety and confidence she felt, as though part of her wanted to hide all the time but part of her was ready to burst. And whenever he was around, she was nervous and jumpy because she didn't remember so much-and yet, she wanted so strongly to be next to him it could only be because of their prior relationship. She trusted him.

Half-forgotten love, she decided, would mess with anyone's emotions.

.

"I remember where I grew up," she told him as she chopped vegetables.

This obsessive need to cook! Where did it come from? Still, it was soothing in its mindless repetitiveness, even if she didn't remember learning these recipes. She knew where every utensil would be found, but that was to be expected; most people left their kitchens laid out in the same way, with pots and pans in lower storage-areas, utensils in narrow drawers and so on. Takarada-san was no different, though it was usually his chef who cooked for him, she suspected, as he'd dismissed the man with an air of excitement that was hard to miss.

She'd smiled apologetically at him, getting an understanding look in return that left her wondering if she'd done this before. Certainly, the gentleman had not been put out to give her free reign when she decided to fix dinner for everyone.

"Do you?" he asked with an unreadable expression, interrupting her musings. He was so overly-cautious, never trying to force-feed her memories the way she felt compelled to force-feed him nutritious food when she saw that store-bought junk he'd come in with. The urge to knock some sense into him was as familiar as the sheepish smile he'd worn when he'd seen her reaction, and she channeled that energy into fixing him a proper meal.

She shrugged, lifting the cutting board to slide the vegetables in the pot. "I remember it was near the woods. I had two friends. Both blonde." She checked some sauce. "I wonder if they were brothers?"

A chink sounded, and her eyes widened to see Ren had cracked the glass in his hand. He smoothed out his face, a tiny hint of red in his cheeks. "No, they weren't," he said calmly as he discarded the broken glass and got a new one. "Remind me to apologize to Takarada-san. I don't know my own strength."

'You're lying to me about something.' Her eyes narrowed. 'Lying by omission.' "Ren," she said in a dangerously sweet, low voice, stalking over to look up at him. "What are you not telling me?"

An innocent look. "You know I don't want to push you," he uttered with aggravating concern.

Her eye twitched. "No one reacts like that to something unimportant," she accused, the pot behind her boiling in time to a temper she hadn't known-hadn't remembered-that she had. Oh, this felt right. Felt natural. It was a certainty she hated being lied to, and some part of her recorded that fact in its life-log.

"React, Kyoko? I don't know what you mea-igh!" She had her hands on his shoulders shaking him back and forth so hard his head bobbled and her feet slipped off the drawer she was standing on to reach him properly, dropping her into him with an ungraceful "Oof!" as his arms slid around her, steadying her.

"Such behavior," Ren chided, his shoulders twitching as he tried to contain his laughter.

She slid down to her feet and raised her face, her glare melting into an embarrassed smile of her own, unable to maintain the irritation when he looked at her in that fond way. It made her forget everything else, like she'd never seen such a look before, no matter how many times he looked at her that way.

'He's so beautiful,' she thought, lips parting to tell him so, and losing her nerve. But her face must have said it anyway, because the humor died away, replaced by awareness, in turn covered by that shuttered expression he got whenever he was going to distance himself from her for her own good.

A pang of loneliness hit her hard, 'No, don't do that,' and she reached to tilt his head down. He did not resist, and soon they were melting into one another, kissing fervently.

The sound of a man clearing throat pointedly had them leaping away from each other, and for once, Ren was as red-faced as she, smoothing at his shirt as she busily tended the water boiling happily along without her.

"Dinner will be ready soon?" Takarada-san asked her back. She hunched her shoulders, feeling his eyes, and confirmed this weakly.

"Perhaps, Ren, you'd care to join me in the living room as we wait," he continued, that naturally room-filling voice booming with false joviality over an air of tension she could feel as clearly as the steam hitting her face now.

Ren did not say anything, but after a moment, she heard his footsteps retreat from the kitchen, and wondered guiltily if he was going to catch heck from Takarada-san for kissing her that way when she only still partially remembered him. Overcome with despair over him taking the blame for her, she hastily removed the pot from the burner and shut the stove off, letting it simmer and running into the living room.

Takarada-san, dressed rather more astonishingly tonight in a formal-ish black suit she wouldn't hesitate to go out next to in an evening gown, had a tight grip on Ren's arm and was talking in a low, angry voice. Ren's jaw was clenched, but he made no move to yank his arm back, or defend himself.

She dropped into a dogeza so naturally even she was suprised, let alone were the gentlemen before her astonished at her interruption. "Please, Takarada-san, don't blame this on Ren!"

"I-"

"It's not his fault!"

Takarada-san let go of Ren, and, by the turn of his shoes, all she could see with her forehead inches away from the floor, turned to her. "Mogami-san-"

"It was me who kissed him!" she blurted out before she could lose her nerve. There was silence above her for so long her face had time to cool off and turn pale. What were they thinking? Was he surprised?

Was this, somehow, normal behavior for her, her true personality returning?

Kami-sama...was she a hussy? Her face heated again.

"Mogami-san, please get up," Takarada-san sighed. Shakily she rose, lifting her eyes just long enough to the empty spot on the couch that she could see Maria had been sent away.

Her manager was regarding her with an air of disquiet that made her stomach tense up. She considered another dogeza, and then grew confused that such a brazen minx such as herself could perform such an act so gracefully and naturally. Her manners were evident despite her emotional turmoil, and now she saw her posture, too, was overly-correct, as though she came from an extremely well-bred family. But what rich young lady would need to know how to cook the way she did?

'Why did my mother leave?' Ren had not spoken as to the reason for her departure, that night, she realized, nor answered her question about her childhood friend. He was down-right evasive. She tried to read his expression, but he would not meet her eyes.

"Mogami-san, I have waited for you to regain some memories on your own, this past week and a half," Takarada-san began slowly. "The doctor seemed hopeful this amnesia was very temporary, brought on by trauma. But some events," his eyes narrowed but did not flicker over to Ren, "have evidently caused some confusion for you."

'Everything has caused some confusion for me.'

"I feel it's time I spoke plainly to you." He gestured her to the couch and she put one foot in front of the other, hesitantly. "Please come have a seat." He did so, and waited for her, not saying one word to the younger man he'd been so angry with.

Ren, for his part, eyed the hallway beyond them as though escape was a real temptation. Alarmed, she stopped next to him and took his hand. His face gradually lost that defensiveness, though the tension remained in his body-she could feel it in his arm. "Stay?" she pleaded.

He smiled weakly, for just a second. "If you want me to," he said almost inaudibly. "You may not want me to...after."

She shook her head, unconcerned with that, her hand holding firmly to his, and led him to sit beside her, snuggled as close as she could get without him tensing up further.

Takarada-san eyed them with some regret. "I should've told you more much sooner," he apologized.

"Mogami-san, Kyoko, you are an actress that belongs to my agency. You grew up in Kyoto with your legal guardians, the Fuwas. As I understand it," he said, laying the foundation of his current events, "your mother abandoned you some time ago."

Her throat went tight. She'd expected so-no one had come to visit her claiming to be her mother-but it still hurt to hear it confirmed.

'Be like stone,' something told her. 'They can't hurt you anymore with words.'

Anymore? They?

Her whole body tensed, her legs pressed together to keep from trembling and her back straight. If Ren hadn't held one hand, she'd have pulled that into her lap too, to grip her fingers tightly, painfully. Her free hand bled slightly from the palm cut into by her nails, but they didn't know that. Surely Ren could feel the chill in her fingers, though, spreading over her skin.

"You moved here from Kyoto with a friend, a musician, who also abandoned you when he got his first record deal."

This she did not remember, but perhaps that was one of the blonde boys she'd recalled earlier?

'The jerk,' she thought scornfully, a little startled it didn't hurt more, but a decidedly rage-filled reaction tried to well up, tied to a blurry picture of his face. Maybe it had hurt more then.

"And you decided to be become an actress, and joined my agency."

She blinked, her hand unclenching. "Why?" That was it? No mention of her hopes, her dreams? "I mean," she excused herself, "not that I don't appreciate your...taking me in, but...I don't remember ever wanting to be an actress." Not that that said a lot right now.

Ren, beside her, was staring off to his left, not looking anyone in the eyes, radiating the-worst-is-yet-to-come. Alarmed, she returned her gaze to Takarada-san.

Wait...

"Are you my manager?" she verified. He'd said 'his' agency. Her eyes widened.

"In a way, yes," he shrugged a shoulder. "As you do not have one at this moment. I am the President of the agency," he confirmed the suspicion in her eyes.

Kami-sama! She'd been getting chummy with the president! She put her hand to her head, resting her fingertips on her forehead where a headache was pounding, then grimaced at the red on her palm and quickly put it down again.

"Ren is indeed your sempai. I," here he hesitated for the first time, "I won't pretend to fully understand your complex relationship." This was no help to her, nor was Ren's carefully blanked-out expression. "In fact, if Ren hadn't talked in his sleep as a teenager, I'd know even less about it than I do," he revealed, shocking Ren out his careful silence and meeting that wide, angry gaze.

"So...Ren lived with you?" Kyoko asked. "Are you related?" And, "We met as teenagers?" Takarada-san's pointed look finally broke Ren's protective bubble of silence.

"No," Ren said slowly, "we met when you were a little girl. In Kyoto."

"Oh."

"I was...blonde then."

She turned to better take him in, fully, looking him up and down and shaking her head. "I'm sorry, Ren, I just can't see that." Though that did explain the other pretty blonde boy in her memories.

Ren made a face at Takarada-san, whose eyes were laughing over his otherwise perfectly straight face, Kyoko saw before she dismissed the fact as unimportant. She didn't even notice the misdirection leading away from her questioning of Ren's own connection to the president.

"I dyed my hair when I moved back to, to Tokyo and began my career. No one knows about that," he added with a sense of urgency.

"Okay," she said helplessly. "I can see from my own roots I dye my hair too, but if you want to keep it a secret..."

"I think you can take it from here, Ren," Takarada-san said, shoulders twitching as he quickly removed himself. "Don't give her too much to process at once," he warned as he left. They could hear him laughing softly as he exited.

Ren let out his breath, finally relaxing just a bit.

She watched him worriedly. "Ren...it is all right, if I call you Ren?" she asked timidly.

His hand tightened on hers. "Yes, it is. I want you to," he said rather forcefully. Her head tipped back, alarmed at the emotion in those words before he got control again. "I'm sorry...Kyoko. The last few days have been very stressful for me."

"Yes," she agreed simply, warming again. Things couldn't be so bad, if the news of her mother and friend's abandonment was the worst she'd receive. Of course, the emotions had yet to reattach to the memories...

Her limbs were starting to regain sensation-except for the hand Ren was crushing. "Ow!" she said with delayed reaction, pulling her hand free and shaking it with a grimace.

He recaptured her hand and kissed it, apologizing once more.

Longing and confusion swept over her again. "Ren?"

"Mm?"

"Were we...lovers?" That word embarrassed her so much more now that she actually sort of knew this man.

"Not...in the physical sense," he offered, rubbing the back of his neck uneasily.

She raised her brows, looking him over. He was as forthcoming as a rebel spy, but if the way he hovered over her when he wasn't kissing her senseless was any indication, he certainly didn't object to that. "But we loved each other?"

"...I certainly loved you." It pained him to say it, oddly, she could see that.

Amazing what she could see so clearly without any memories to blind her. He was as evasive as ever, but she knew with an inward certainty that she'd misunderstood his words that one afternoon. He'd never claimed they dated; only that he'd wanted to, and that they had cared for each other. Stupid her, she'd jumped right to the assumption they'd been much closer than they might actually have been.

She sighed. Had she always been this dumb?

"Did I love you?" she finally asked, seeing that he wasn't going to volunteer anything he didn't have to. Had HE always been this annoyingly reticent? She forced back a smile, getting the feeling the answer was yes. He was lucky he was so cute.

"I don't know," he said in a small voice, and would've pulled away had she not gripped his hand. "I know you respected me, I know you trusted me. Ya-others certainly thought so. You were not so...frank with your feelings about our relationship."

"So we're a matched set," she murmured.

"I'm sorry?"

"Nothing," she lied. "Well, bits and pieces are coming back. I don't know how long that will take, or if I'll lose that job I don't remember having. I'm sorry," she added, uncertain as to why she felt the need to apologize.

"You weren't injured on purpose," he said forgivingly. "I'm sure they'll understand."

She offered a twitch of her lips, but at the moment that wasn't her main concern. "I don't remember what I thought when we met, or how long I've known you, but...I'm glad you're here now." She blushed, for the first time in his presence-or rather, the first time since she'd woken up in the hospital. "Can we...what are we now?"

He titled his head, regarding her hopefully. "What do you want us to be, Kyoko-chan?" She remembered the glasses-man calling her that, but there was so much more...intimacy...in Ren's voice.

She shook her head. "I asked first."

He was quiet so long she didn't think he'd answer, and she reached out to touch his face, to drawn his attention outward again, away from his evidently bleak thoughts. She ached for him when he looked like that.

"I'd like to be the only man in your life," he said finally. "The most important one in your heart, as you are in mine." He didn't react to her trace his features until she touched his lips. Then his eyes grew dark with wanting. Somehow that expression was familiar to her too.

"I think you already are," she confessed, and surprised him by closing the distance to press a chaste kiss on his lips. "I don't want you to go, tonight. Ever."

"Then I won't." He gathered her in his arms and buried his face in her neck, dropping little kisses on the exposed skin and making her shiver. It wasn't until a little girl's plaintive voice asked after dinner, somewhere out in the hallway, that they remembered where they were and separated. She didn't let go of his hand as he followed her to the kitchen to salvage dinner, even as she wondered about the self she'd lost, and hoped she was someone worthy of his affections.

She turned to him with a hesitant smile as she paused in her preparations. "I know how I feel about you now," she said softly. "I need you...very much. And I...think I loved you."

The way he kissed her threatened to put dinner off for another few hours, but she didn't mind at all.

Deep inside, she knew wherever he was, was home, and she'd be okay as long as he didn't leave her side.

.

.

A/N: Do you guys think Ren took advantage of her, or her of him…? I think Kyoko is a little ooc, but eh oh well. I had more planned, but apparently didn't save it or it got eaten by the mystery virus. My computer is slowly dying, so I'm posting this without any more revision, so I hope it's decent. I don't have any medical expertise, so forgive errors, please, as well as any typos. Also, I'm not sure if the quote is completely correct...but that's it in a nutshell.