YOUR AUTHOR RETURNS: I played around with various versions of an epilogue for this story and none of them seemed fitting conclusions. I was happy to leave the story as-is until this popped into my head around midnight last night and I stayed up to write it out before I forgot it. Hope you like it!


"In a move that surprised no one, but finally put an end to two years' worth of speculation, superstar actors, Tsuruga Ren and Mogami Kyoko, officially announced they are now in a relationship," the chipper voice of the news reporter blared from the television. "The famous couple repeatedly dispelled rumors of their involvement over the years saying that they continued to remain as good friends only."

"We've been trying for ages to get them together," Ogata Hiroaki began in a video clip of an interview with a number of familiar co-stars and directors. "They always brushed us off saying they preferred to just be friends but we could all tell they were meant for each other."

"Those two got along so well, I wouldn't be surprised if they finished each other's sentences," Marumi said.

"Actually, I'm pretty sure they did that," Kijima's voice chimed in laughing before the camera panned to him.

"Remember that one time Kyoko fell asleep on set waiting for Ren to finish a scene? He had lost some silly bet they made and had to buy her dinner that night," Momose reminisced with a smile. "The way he picked her up without a word and carried her off to take her home was so sweet."

"I can only imagine what hell awaited him when she woke up," Michika added. "They teased each other so mercilessly at times."

"Their banter with each other was infamous," Director Shingai agreed. "Everyone thought they argued like an old married couple."

"Fellow celebrities, and fans alike, were all relieved to hear their favorite pair have finally become an item," the reporter continued. "And to the happy twosome, we say 'congratulations' and 'it's about damned time!'"

Kyoko turned the television off once the report ended and turned to her companion with a smile.

"That went well, I think," she said with a relieved sigh.

"Well this was your plan, after all," he shrugged and returned her smile. "There was no way it could fail."

"It was our plan, Kuon. Don't let me take all the credit."

"I don't need credit when I've already got you," he pulled her towards him and softly kissed his way from her shoulder up her neck and ending on her lips.

"Oh, you charmer," her smile became a grin and she patted him on the leg. "Now, help me decide who gets to do our official first interview."

The plan they concocted was actually quite brilliant in its simplicity; they played the role of best friends until the populace begged for them to be something more. They flaunted their 'friendship' in public by going shopping, having meals and attending awards ceremonies and parties together. Everything seemed blissfully platonic on the surface while the heated embraces and furtive kisses stayed exclusively behind closed doors. Essentially, they hid in plain sight and no one was any wiser.

Those closest to them were let in on the conspiracy fairly early on as the need for people to corroborate their stories became apparent. While Kanae and Ren's parents were told almost immediately, Yashiro was strung along due only to the fact that his frustration amused Ren greatly. By that same token, President Takarada was one of the last to be clued in. Everyone agreed he was better off with plausible deniability as his fervent enthusiasm over their relationship would prevent him from ever effectively lying about it.

With one revelation out of the way, Ren began to think seriously about his own remaining disclosures. Was the world ready to find out about Hizuri Kuon? Would people accept him for the man he strived to become? He planned to find out soon as there was a carefully hidden ring box in the back of his top dresser drawer. It had been sitting there for months, after it arrived from his father, itching to see the light of day and bestow an eternal promise upon the woman, with the sparkling golden eyes, who sat beside him.


FAREWELL: That was so sweet it made my teeth hurt a little. But, it was a fitting follow-up, I think. Thanks, as always, to everyone who enjoyed this story and shared their thoughts with me in reviews. I can now direct my full attention to my new story and I hope to see you over there!