Yashiro had told Ren over and over again that Adam-san was a daimane, a substitute, no matter what the president said. Right now Yashiro did not have enough knowledge of the American version of the show biz industry or of the English language. But it would take him a year tops to learn. Yashiro did not want to let his "hopeless little brother" out of sight for longer than necessary.
Ren smiled that gentlemanly-like smile when Kyoko mentioned that the president had started to look for a manager for her, a male manager to protect her from her increasingly numerous fans. Though both Kyoko and Yashiro cringed at the sight, only Yashiro caught the subtle but unquestionable command to apply and take the post post-haste.
Kyoko wailed and apologized and generally tried to make Yashiro quit being her manager. She insisted that he should only be preparing himself for Ren. Every subtle and even obvious hint that Ren would kill Yashiro if the brunette man even thought of removing himself from the position as her manager flew right over her head.
Every time schedules would allow, Yashiro would call and report to Ren about Kyoko and would then proceed to grill the tall actor on how his own work was progressing. The calls became less and less frequent as the weeks went by, and Yashiro could not help but notice that Ren never complained about anything about being overseas, not even the daimane. Not that Yashiro spent time worrying about how much Ren really needed him, what with the president to report in on Kyoko and her continual obliviousness to all things romantic. Really, Yashiro never entertained these thoughts. Ren needed him, and that was that.
Even though her acting skills were slightly less awe-inspiring than Ren's, Yashiro could not help but feel more frequently moved by watching Kyoko's scenes than he ever had watching Ren's. Even if some of the scenes moved him to terror, at least they moved him. But perhaps he was more immune to Ren's characters because he was neither female nor an actor. Either way, watching Kyoko was never boring.
After the first few weeks of begging Yashiro-san to leave her with a less capable manager so he could focus on Tsuruga-san, Kyoko grew to see why her respected sempai relied on the man so much. But once she caught him watching her secretly as she practiced her lines and somehow made him confess that he had often done the same to Tsuruga-san, she wondered how Tsuruga-san insisted on practicing alone when he had Yashiro-san. Yashiro-san made a wonderful audience. He knew little to nothing about acting, but that very fact made him ideal. The general audience didn't know a lot about acting either, and so Yashiro-san made the perfect test subject. So Kyoko made it her secret goal to act in a way that would make Yashiro-san react, especially on the days Tsuruga-san did not call. Even if she was worried about Tsuruga-san, she could not be half as worried as Yashiro-san was.
The first time a really persistent mob of fans tried to attack Kyoko, they found an insurmountable obstacle in the form of a man with an aura that made them freeze in their tracks. Kyoko had seen the aura once before, from afar, but seeing it up close made her wonder a bit more about Yashiro-san. The aura was not crippling like the Emperor of the Night's aura or even terror-filling like her own grudge Kyokos. No, Yashiro-san's aura was like a champion fighter or a great King who will not be disobeyed. She begged Yashiro-san to teach her how to do it, but he just shook his head and told her that when he left her to go to Ren, that then he might teach some of it to her.
When Sho first approached Kyoko with Yashiro by her side, the rock star was not prepared for the bespectacled man to react with complete and utter indifference. The stupid manager only glanced at Sho, smiled, introduced himself, and then ushered Kyoko to her next job, all before Sho could get a word in. The fact that the manager did the same thing the second time made the stupid manager number two on Sho's most hated list.
About the fifteenth time Yashiro saw the blue stone, he finally asked what it was. He almost regretted the question as she spent a lot of time gushing about Corn. He worried about Ren's new and unexpected rival, and part of him couldn't help but be a little jealous of this someone, who obviously wasn't a real fairy prince. This Corn had known Kyoko when she was little and even more innocent than she was now.
Kyoko had not realized how much she relied upon Tsuruga-san until he had left. And Corn didn't cut it anymore. A stone could not replace a human being. So when she sat rocking back and forth and felt a warm hand, she had looked up and almost expected to see Tsuruga-san for some odd reason. Upon seeing Yashiro-san, she felt an unexplainable disappointment. However the disappointment dissipated when he asked about Corn.
Lory was a certifiably insane genius. Yashiro had often thought so, but he had even more proof after becoming Kyoko's manager. The strange Love Me assignments that Lory pushed on Kyoko and her cohorts were scarily purposeful despite their undeniable ridiculousness. So when Lory set up a private meeting with Yashiro, the manager wasn't surprised. But the president's simple but meaningful request caught Yashiro off-guard.
"Take care of her."
"O-of course," answered Yashiro. "Ren already asked, though you know Ren. He didn't say it so blatantly."
"I figured as much," said the President. "But she needs to be watched for herself, not for him."
"Is something wrong, President?"
"That girl needs more people on her side, don't you think Yashiro-san?"
"Yes. And I am on her side. I'm her manager."
"So," said the president, and Yashiro could not help but think the words meant something, "take care of her."
For all of one second, Yashiro caught himself looking a moment too long at Kyoko, stepping out in a beautiful white wedding dress. A shudder at the thought of what Ren would do if Yashiro stared a moment longer made the manager turned away. He refused to be sucked in by Kyoko's beauty. He knew better than most the punishment for that.
When Ren had finally gotten the offer to go to the states, Lory had wanted to congratulate and strangle his oldest project. The stupid boy had gone without saying anything of worth to the girl and had even left his manager in charge of her. True, the boy couldn't have chosen better hands, but surely that idiot realized that two people would suffer in his absence. And the president would help his number one Love Me member with or without Ren's help.
The dark brown eyes glared fixedly, frustratingly into Yashiro's hazel. The dark brown eyes turned and looked away, narrowed and darker still. Lips formed words that felt like blows. The emptiness in Yashiro's chest filled with agonizing guilt. With a gasp, Yashiro felt his eyes fly open. He stared at his bedroom wall and clutched his covers. Swinging himself to sitting position several minutes later, he had almost convinced himself that the look in Ren's eyes had been all part of an impossible nightmare. For what reason could Ren ever have to direct such a look at his ever-faithful manager?
Five months of searching, two weeks of bargaining, and fifteen favors used, Yashiro had managed to get Kyoko a subtle, surprise birthday present. Sure, it held none of the class of Ren's gift (how the man got Kyoko to take that music box, Yashiro did not even want to know) and technically he couldn't call it a birthday gift at all, but she liked it and that was what mattered. The dance she was doing as she held the script that highlighted her new role as the princess of a dying land proved her joy, even if it was only for a short music video. Of course, he worried a bit when she threw her arms around him and then, realizing what she had done, threw herself into a dogeza. He was quick to assure her that he didn't mind the contact and pushed the fact he might have liked it to the deepest, darkest corner of his mind.
Kanae found a strange sort of ally in Yashiro. Within six months of the man being Kyoko's manager, he began to be dragged along on Kyoko and Kanae's "outings." Somewhere along the way the poor man had been chosen as Kyoko's best male friend, not that he realized it yet. Kanae might have been jealous if she hadn't felt for the man as he succumbed to Kyoko's puppy dog eyes, and as embarrassing as these outings were for Kanae, they had to be ten times worse for poor Yashiro-san. Even if he was a spy for Tsuruga-san, which had been Kanae's first suspicion when Yashiro had begun joining them, the poor man did not deserve to be dragged into Kyoko's fantasies on friendship. However, he bore it all fairly well in Kanae's opinion.
Maria did not like Yashiro-san. He had spent so much time with Ren. And now he spent a lot of time with Onee-san too. So he was a great manager and had gotten Onee-san her dream role as a princess. So what? He wasn't so great. But…he made Onee-san happy, like he used to Ren, so she'll let him be for now.
"You should call him Yukihito."
Both Kyoko and Yashiro froze and then immediately snapped towards the sound of the voice. Maria sat drinking her ice cream soda unconcerned by their glances.
"W-why w-would I do that, Maria?" asked Kyoko.
"He calls you Kyoko so it's only fair."
"B-but Yashiro-san calls me that because it's my stage name Maria. Right, Yashiro-san?"
"W-well, I-I never thought about it," said Yashiro, putting on a shaky smile. "I mean, Ren called you Mogami-san, but I knew you as Kyoko, not Mogami Kyoko so…well, I called you that…If it's too informal and address, I could call you Mogami-chan if you prefer."
"No," said Kyoko in her scarily determined way. "You are my manager and my friend. Besides, you have to call me Kyoko because it's my stage name."
"Right," said Yashiro, returning to his scheduling agenda for Kyoko.
"It's still only fair you call him Yukihito," said Maria flatly. "Since he's your manager and friend. He shouldn't need a formal address."
"We are friends," said Yashiro. He kept his eyes focused on the agenda and refused to wonder why he was extending the offer. "You can call me Yukihito."
"O-okay," she said, her face bright red. She added in a whisper, "Yukihito-san."
She liked simple things. Make up, fairy tales, and royalty would all earn her awe without any effort. But only a few people could touch her heart positively and completely. The shortest phone call from Ren left her beaming, a half-baked compliment from Kotonami could send her through the clouds, and a hug from Maria could make her smile for the rest of the day. Yashiro had no idea when exactly he had joined her short list, but he had. He knew it when she nearly danced when he agreed to join her, Maria, Kotonami, and Chiori that weekend at the amusement park.
Kyoko sat stiffly across from her manager and friend. Something was wrong with him. He had barely said anything, and his smiles were really fake, even for a non-actor. When she asked him what was wrong, he had smiled, still very fakely, and said nothing. But she pushed and prodded, and finally he had stopped replying. Now he just sat mechanically eating with a blank face. She looked at the floor feeling absolutely useless. Suddenly she felt a slight touch at her elbow. A paper lay half over the edge of the table. He was not looking at her. She looked at the paper and read it.
"She's wrong," said Kyoko angrily, her grudge Kyokos almost coming to the surface.
"She's a professional, Kyoko."
"But she's wrong!" yelled Kyoko, standing up and pushing her chair back. "You're a great manager and super-duper smart! She has to be wrong!"
"Kyoko," he said with a smile that beamed sadness, "that does not mean I can learn English."
"Yes, it does! Yukihito-san can do anything he puts his mind too! And I'll help too. I'm going to take this class with you."
"Your schedule's already full—" started he.
"I need to learn English because I'm going to be as great an actor as Tsuruga-san. And when I go to America I'm taking Yukihito-san with me!"
Kyoko watched as Yukihito-san's face stretched in surprise then settled in to a true blue smile.
Yashiro needed Kyoko to stop. She didn't know what she was doing, smiling like that at her co-stars. In no time, she would "kill" as many costars as Ren, if not more. The only difference is that she would be oblivious to her effect. And all these "kills" made his work much harder. Reporting them to Ren was Yashiro's only reward, and even that was less and less rewarding as time went on.
Okami smiled brightly as Taisho scowled. While the young man who had brought Kyoko shuffled under the intense gaze of her husband, Okami set out the green tea. The man stuttered out an explanation about Kyoko overworking herself and him having to bring the girl home. Taisho's glare became slightly less fierce. Okami got between her husband and the young man and did what her husband could not bring himself to do and thanked the young man. He tried to brush it off and say he was only doing his job as her manager, but he made sure, despite the continually heavy presence of Taisho, that Kyoko was settled comfortably before leaving. Kyoko had such good friends.
Two months. Too much time had passed since the president had given her a Love Me assignment. So when she saw the envelope in her locker, she immediately knew it spelled trouble. She opened it and stared at it, her eyes growing larger and larger. Putting on her most untroubled character, she skipped out of the locker room to meet Yukihito-san, but he noticed her distress anyway. When he scooped up the letter that fell from her pocket, Kyoko dove to try to stop him from reading it, but Yukihito-san's nearly photographic memory made her efforts useless. He cleared his throat and almost did not blush as he deliberately tapped his cheek. Kyoko beamed and thanked God for sending her such a genius manager. She stood on her tiptoes and put her lips to his cheeks, thinking of him as her dear friend. She still felt an unholy heat on her cheeks and missed the redness on her manager's.
Usually when Ren did not call for three weeks, Yashiro made it a point to call Ren several times until the actor either picked up the phone or called Yashiro back. But after the president's outrageous Love Me assignment, Yashiro had broken five phones on purpose. Honestly, Ren knew the president. He would expect that the strange man to order Kyoko to kiss a member of the opposite sex that was her senior by no older than 8 years. And Yashiro had done the actor a favor, by convincing Kyoko that kissing her manager on the cheek counted. The president agreed, which Yashiro had to admit worried him more than the man's vehement refusal would have. Ren would find out sooner or later, and Yashiro wondered how many more phones he could break before the president put his foot down. Hopefully at least one more thought Yashiro as he saw the remnants of his phone in his ungloved hand.
When she saw the caller ID, Kyoko snapped open her phone. She smiled brightly as the voice on the other side of the phone greeted her, and she could not help but chirp a cheerful greeting back. Before he could say anything else, Kyoko gushed out thanks for leaving Yukihito-san as her manager and recounted his amazingly sly solution to the president's order and how the president had to accept it. She boasted about how Yukihito-san had given her a punctuality record that rivaled Ren's now and how even though he struggled, the manager put forth his 210 percent into learning English. She even had the guts to say that they would join Ren in America, though she did not dare think it would be soon. She was surprised that when she finished her excited gushing she heard only silence. She had thought Ren would agree with her about how amazing Yukihito-san was, since the man had been Ren's manager first. She checked the phone. The minutes were still being counted, so he had not hung up on her. Maybe they had a bad connection? But his voice soon came from the receiver, and Kyoko put it to her ear. She immediately pulled it away from her ear, since she could feel the sparkles of a gentlemanly like smile from the other side of the phone. The phone call ended soon after, and Kyoko could only wonder what had made her respected sempai mad.
Upon the news of Ren visiting Japan, Yashiro wondered if he could take his normally ignored vacation days. But Kyoko's schedule was full, and the thought of Kyoko getting a daimane made a very heavy feeling sink into Yashiro. He did however coordinate her schedule so that any chance or planned meetings between her and Ren happened with him on the opposite end of the building. Kyoko misunderstood his intention of avoiding Ren, thinking it might have something to do with Adam-san and did all she could to help. That is until she realized that Ren did not bring his American manager with him on his "vacation," so Yukihito-san didn't need to avoid Ren. And that is how Yashiro found himself face to face with the Demon Lord and wishing he had taken those vacation days after all.
"You weren't here. He was. Though I doubt our Kyoko feels anything towards Yashiro-san but friendship, and he probably did it for your benefit. So next time, please do not scare my employees witless for no reason."
"I know," said Ren, his forehead leaning against his hands. "But he didn't answer my calls, no matter how often I tried. So I wasn't unreasonably worried."
"Seeing how you reacted, it's easy to understand his hesitation," said Lory.
"Yes, it is. But that coupled with her reaction over the phone made me take the first plane over here."
"When I called her, she spent fifteen minutes gushing about Yashiro. It was difficult not to jump to conclusions."
"Oh," said the president. He brought up his glass of wine to hide his smirk, but the boy knew him too well.
"What are you planning?"
"Nothing," said Lory, not bothering to hide his smirk this time. One way or another, his number one Love Me member would experience love. "Why don't you hurry back to America? You are not so known over there that you can come gallivanting back here and ignore your work, and I won't let you. Besides, the quicker you reveal yourself to be Hizuri Kuon, the more it will be to your advantage. The later it is, the more likely she won't be paying attention you know. She might be distracted by something else."