Mary-Ann grunted in pain as she clawed herself up the stairs. Everything hurt, so much, and she tried to fight back the tears.
She needed to get out, away from what was behind her.
She would give anything to be able to rest when her whole body protested against moving even an inch further. But she couldn't stop. She knew that if she didn't move, it would destroy them both.
Her nails dug into the wood at the top stair and she forced herself upwards again. The blood that covered her made it easier to pull her body forward but she winced in pain when the wounds reopened. She used ten percent of her body's hidden powers to fight the pain and hold back the scream that threatened to slip past her lips.
'Keep moving.' Mary-Ann cried out in her head.
"Honey?" A sickly-sweet voice sounded from behind her and her whole body tensed. Adrenaline coursed through her systems and she used the railing to pull herself up on her feet. "Where are you going?" The voice sounded hurt, betrayed even, but she couldn't give in.
Heavy footfalls made the wooden stairs creak and Mary-Ann swallowed the blood in her mouth. She pushed past her limits again and threw herself across the hallway to grip the other wall for support. The front door was in sight, tantalizingly far away and she knew that she wouldn't make it.
Pain, fear, and hopelessness coloured her face. She could see him from the corner of her eye and she could almost feel the cold hand that reached out for her neck.
She pushed forward but her knees buckled and she tried to grab anything to keep standing. Several frames fell to the floor as they couldn't hold her weight. Glass and wood filled the hallway as he caught up to her.
She was halfway down to the floor when his body slammed into hers. She fell without time to brace herself and she fought the black spots that danced for her eyes. She could hear her own pulse and the short desperate breaths that were the only tell that she still fought for something. She was sure her body hadn't given up completely or it wouldn't fight that hard for oxygen.
Everything moved as in slow-motion. She could see his body hovering over her in the hundreds of pieces of glass that littered the floor and she knew she was trapped. The front door seemed to move further away, her salvation that she knew no longer existed.
The cold hand gripped her shoulder and turned her around before his weight trapped her completely. She groaned in pain when his thighs caged her hips and he pulled her hair to turn her face towards him.
Mary-Ann couldn't fight back when his dark eyes and cold body pinned her to the floor.
"Justin…" She gasped in pain before his hand finally found his goal at her throat. She could feel the steady fingers wrap around the frail structure, waiting, like a warning about how easy it would be for him to snap it.
"Where are you going?" He asked as he moved his face closer to hers. She could see the madness and sadism colour his green eyes.
Sorrow rocked her body and she sobbed as her useless hands gripped his arm, trying but failing to lessen the tension on her neck.
He seemed to take her in while the sadistic smile grew on his lips. The blood on her face, the fear in her eyes and the nails that dug into his arm.
"You can never leave." Justin smirked with satisfaction when he saw her hopeless gaze. "Your body is mine."
'This isn't Justin.' Mary-Ann sobbed in her head as her legs tried to find traction on the floor. But she had no strength left and she knew that the end was near. He was enjoying chasing her and the moment she stopped fighting back he would kill her.
"Please Justin…" She sobbed and the fire in his eyes burned stronger with satisfaction. "Wake up. Please." She begged him but the words died out as his face twisted in anger.
"He is too weak to fight me! I'm the new Justin. And your body is mine." He growled and used his free hand to grip her ribcage. Desire and anger mixed in his eyes and Mary-Ann sobbed again.
"Please Justin. Wake up. Fight it." Tears filled her eyes as she begged him with all her being.
"No!" The man growled and dug his nails into her body. A pained whimper left her as she felt the skin break on her neck. "The old Justin is nearly gone. He is watching me do this to you. His mind is crumbling faster and faster the more I destroy you. The moment I kill you, his body is completely mine."
'Justin... No! I can't let him kill me.' She tensed her grip of his wrist, fighting with renewed strength to keep it in place. She reached out the other hand, searching for anything. Her bloody fingers swept through the glass and wood beside her until she found something to grab.
She stabbed hard and the piece of glass cut into her hand when it met his skin. She didn't know if the blood that poured over her hands were hers or his until she pulled her hand back and it still pulsated around the piece of glass stuck in his shoulder. The hand on her neck twitched once in pain and she moved quickly while the grip weakened.
"I won't let you kill me then." Mary-Ann said and slammed her arm against his elbow to make it bend. But he was too strong and the smirk grew on his face again.
"How cute. But there is nothing you can do." He said and he gripped the glass with the hand that had been on her ribcage and pulled the shard out. His navy-blue shirt quickly darkened around the wound but the tension in his hand that gripped her neck only grew stronger.
Dark spots began to dance over her eyes and she quickly tried to pull another breath. He hadn't cut out the flow completely and she saw the twisted smile grew wider as she fought for her life.
"Justin." She gasped and one of the fingers on her throat twitched again. She felt the slight difference and she looked up into his eyes. Only darkness greeted her but the slight turn of his brow was enough to give her hope.
'He is still there. He is fighting.' Mary-Ann didn't know if it was her own imagination or the truth but she couldn't give up. Adrenaline fuelled by hope made her twist her neck in a try to lessen the pressure. Her feet fought to gain traction on the floor and she clawed at his hand with everything she had.
She fought and he pushed his other hand next to the first until the tension on her neck doubled. She used the last ember in her body to grip his wrists while she arched her back and kicked her legs.
The pressure suddenly changed and she felt her head lift from the floor for a moment. Hope flickered in her heart but when she met his eyes, only anger looked back.
Her head impacted heavily with the floor and her eyes rolled back into her head for a moment. Her body relaxed against her will and the flicker of hope died in her chest.
She couldn't fight. She couldn't win. She was barely conscious and the man above her was no longer her husband.
"It's useless." The man relaxed slightly and she was allowed to breathe again. Shaky breaths lifted her chest but his hands still stayed around her neck. "There is nothing you can do but let me kill you. Let Justin watch the light die from your eyes." The man said and adjusted his grip slightly. She could feel her pulse hammering against his fingers and knew he could finish it for real.
'At… at least I can see his face.' Mary-Ann thought. 'We will both die… but at least we are together.' Tears rolled from her eyes but a small warmth entered them too.
"Justin… I love you. Y-you… you were m-my future." She whispered and tried to will her hand up to stroke his cheek. The dark eyes burned with anger and the pressure on her neck increased. The dark spots immediately began to dance over her eyes but some merciful god let her focus stay on him. She could see her hand stroke his cheek even if she couldn't feel it. Her vision narrowed and she saw her thumb trace his lips shortly before everything turned black.
"No!" The tremble that started in his lips quickly travelled to his heart and the crystal roots spread it over his whole body in a moment. A dark veil lifted from his mind and he caught the last ember of her eye flicker. Justin flinched and his hands quickly moved to cradle her face.
"Mary! No!" Justin cried out and his whole body tensed up in fear. Her eyelids closed as the last flicker seemed to disappear.
"No… Please no." He blinked the tears away from his vision as the crippling fear descended on his heart. He waited for her to open her eyes again but she seemed to get paler for every moment.
He felt like she was getting more and more distant and his heart began to crumble under the pressure from the fear. His trembling hands stroked her cheeks and her lips in a try to feel the heat or her breaths but found nothing. A sob ripped from his chest as his heart wittered into a thousand pieces.
"No. Wake up, Mary-Ann." His body rocked forward, unable to handle the agony in his chest. His forehead met hers and his hands moved into her hair.
"Wake up. Please…" His voice broke with another sob that seemed to originate from his very soul.
He sought her face for any sign of life but it stayed bloodied and still under his own. Pictures from the broken frames littered the floor around them and his broken heart cried when her smiling face on the photos clashed with the broken body beneath him.
He felt like the world was falling apart and he gripped her harder in a try to keep her together. She was his world and he held her to him as some part of his body still hoped that everything would be okay if they stayed close.
The tears rolled from his eyes to her cheeks and the ice-cold pain made something else break inside of him. He couldn't think. Justin cried out in grief and then fitted his lips against hers.
He didn't know if some part of him hoped to transfer his life to her or if his tormented soul sought for the comfort her lips used to give him.
He didn't know, but he didn't care. Her lips were still warm and he could almost imagine her breaths mixing with his own. It felt almost as real as the hand on his cheek. A hand wet with blood but still warm.
He angled his lips slightly to press into the hand while hurt cries sounded from his heart.
He knew he had died of his grief when her lips parted and met up with his own.
The world suddenly made sense again. He had died and he could meet her again in the afterlife. The choked cry of grief spilled over his lips when her chest filled with air and pushed against his. His cries of pain and her sobs of relief mixed with their tears. He didn't know that his eyes were open before he met her golden warmth.
All air left his body in a disbelieving gasp when his mind began to understand what his body already had. Her eyes flooded with tears but the warmth was still the same as they convinced him of the truth.
'She is here… she is still here.' His soul cracked and healed in the crushing pain and relief that ripped through him.
A miracle had saved her but it couldn't hide the fact that his hands had almost extinguished her. His body didn't know what to do with the emotions and he cried like a wounded animal as he clung to her being. His hands stroked her face and collected her tears as they were proof that she was alive. It still wasn't enough for his heart.
He gathered her into his embrace and her hands found his face to cradle him. He pulled her up until he didn't know who was holding who. He could feel that she would fall if he let go of her but it was only her hands that kept him upright. Their foreheads met again and they let their breaths flow through their mouths to let the proof of their lives soothe the other.
The trembles rocked them both for a long time as they desperately grasped each other. Holding each other together while the fear and grief in their bodies slowly exchanged for the relief.
"C-cut." The sudden voice cut through the silence like a whip.
Mary-Ann recoiled into her mind and Kyoko stumbled to the surface.
'An act. It was an act.' She firmly stated in her mind as she fought with the feelings that still trashed around her body. She relaxed her arms slightly to be able to turn towards the voice that had spoken.
Kurosaki's brightly coloured shirt made him easy to spot but his face was turned away so she couldn't see his expression.
"Everyone. Take twenty. I'll be back." He suddenly said and walked out the front door without another word. Kyoko used the feeling of surprise to push away some of the lingering emotions around her heart. She glanced around the set but no one was looking at them.
The mood was strange and she saw several people stiffly walk away, abandoning their equipment on the spot. It didn't take long before she found herself alone with the co-actor in her arms.
She turned to him and flinched when his eyes directly met hers. She had never seen him look so lost. Even the times when his soul seemed to have left his body couldn't compare to the look in his eyes. She could see the fear slowly grow in the green depths and knew that she had to do something.
"I'm alive. It was just an act." Kyoko firmly said and she could see him flinch and the pain spiked in his eyes. "What you are feeling is Justin's feelings, not your own. Remember, it was just an act. It was not real, even if it feels like it."
Confusion began to seep into his expression and Kyoko smiled softly.
'He is waking up.' She thought and decided to wait for him as she let the characters inside her head carry Mary-Ann to the crystal chest in her heart to recuperate. She had no idea if the take was cleared or if they had to redo it. The married woman would be needed either way as they still had to shoot some angles that were impossible to get in one take.
"Who… am I?" Ren's quiet voice made her turn her focus outwards again and she smiled when she could see his confused expression. She let out the sexy smirk that seemed to work well on him and she saw his eyes widen. Kyoko steeled her heart and leaned into his ear.
"You are Kuon Hizuri, working with the stage name Ren Tsuruga. A-and, you are the boyfriend of Kyoko Mogami." She whispered and finished her words with a stream of hot air over the shell of his ear. She fought the blush on her cheeks as she knew he still needed her attention.
Her words seemed to wake something inside of him and she felt the trembles in his hands die out before he suddenly pulled her closer. She exhaled in relief as he nuzzled into her neck. She felt his lips pause at her pulse point and his body seemed to relax further.
"Are you okay?" She couldn't help but ask as she dragged her fingers through the hair in his neck. She felt his mouth open against her skin and she hummed in delight when he pushed a kiss to her neck.
"Yeah. Except that I just accidently ate some of your special makeup." Ren coughed and moved back to be able to spit out some latex and fake blood. Kyoko couldn't help the laugh that spilled from her lips but it only took a moment before Ren joined her.
Their arms slowly relaxed until they could sit down comfortably on the floor. The fake glass crumbled under their feet as they both moved to rest their backs against the wall.
Ren laughed but still felt the fear that swirled around his heart.
Acting had never scared him as much as it had done that day. Justin had completely taken over his body and he had felt everything that the character had felt. The sadistic pleasure, the anger, the crippling fear, and grief. Everything was still imprinted in his heart and he knew that it would take some time to sort out the mess. Because every feeling had been 'real'.
Ren couldn't help but glance towards Kyoko when the laughter ebbed out.
'Did she feel the same?'
"You sure you are okay?" Kyoko asked with a gentle smile his way and Ren thought about it.
"My body is exhausted. Justin took over everything and I still feel the lingering emotions inside me. I have faintly felt that before but never as strongly as this." Ren said honestly and he could see Kyoko nod.
"I feel the same. I have also felt it a few times before. As Natsu and other characters. It took me forever to wake up the first time it happened. Natsu completely took over my body and I felt joyful in my heart as she bullied a poor girl. I knew they weren't my emotions but they still stayed for a long time. I felt both fear and pride when I realized what had happened." Kyoko said and put her hand over her heart. Ren felt a shiver travel down his spine at her words.
"It felt like I killed my wife. My heart believed it, and even if my brain tells me that it was an act, it seems to take longer for my heart to accept that." Ren said and put his hand over his chest too. Only voicing the words had made it twitch in pain again.
"Do you think we have to redo the scene?" Kyoko asked and Ren felt his heart tremble again with two contrasting emotions. Fear and excitement.
'I want to do it again. It felt horrible, but I have finally reached this stage as an actor. I'm no longer acting but living as my role.' Ren thought and the fire in his eyes burned stronger.
"I don't know. We need some more angles but it will just be short segments. I don't think we have to redo the whole scene." Ren said and glanced at his co-actor.
"I think so too. But the director walked out so it is only a guess." Kyoko frowned and Ren glanced around. He saw piles of equipment spotting the floor but no other person.
"We have to wait and see then. He will be back." Ren nodded and then turned his head towards the front door when he heard footsteps on the porch. Kyoko seemed to hear it too as she followed his gaze.
The door opened and Yashiro walked inside with a pale face and a dark smile on his lips. He chuckled for himself as he closed the door behind him but stopped when he caught sight of the two actors looking at him.
"Great work today." Yashiro stopped and bowed their way, still with the strange smile twisting his face.
The two actors glanced confusedly at the beautiful, but rare gesture from their manager.
"What happened?" Ren couldn't help but ask, even if Yashiro's face somewhat scared him.
Yashiro's smile turned into a smirk as he glanced between them.
"I should ask you that. I was only on a short errand but found the whole crew going crazy on the yard outside when I returned." Yashiro chuckled as he walked in front of his charges and unceremonially slid down to the floor opposite them in the hallway.
Ren glanced at Kyoko but only saw the same confusion that he felt. Her eyes suddenly snapped towards the opening for the kitchen and he could see her eyes widen.
He followed her gaze and it was easy to find what had caught her attention. Ren felt his jaw drop slightly when he saw the shirtless Kurosaki running around the yard outside the large windows.
Ren heard his shocked gasp being mirrored by Kyoko when the Director suddenly stopped and the whole house filled with his happy yell.
"I LOOO~VE MY JOB!"
Kyoko stared at the strange display beyond the kitchen windows until she heard the soft snickering from their manager.
"He is VERY happy." Yashiro said and Kyoko tore her gaze away from the director to aim it towards the manager. He glanced up at her and she could see that he could read the question on her face.
"He was by the front gate when I arrived. I couldn't even get out of the car before he gripped my shirt and kissed me on my lips." Yashiro said with some darkness entering his voice.
"He kissed you?" Kyoko gasped and had to force herself not to turn towards the yard again.
"Why?" Ren asked by her side and she could hear the confusion in his voice.
"He was very happy. He said something about world-class acting and then something about him crying for the first time in twenty years. Then he thanked me for supporting you and ran off like a madman." Yashiro sighed but the smirk still stayed on his lips. "I was obviously really confused but I found one of the camera crew that was somewhat sane. He told me that he had never seen an act like yours. Or rather that it no longer could count as an act. He said that he had been completely convinced that Justin and Mary-Ann were alive and that he had been in the front row to watch the disaster happening to you. He said that he barely had been able to do his job as he wanted nothing more than run onto the set to save you two." Yashiro's smile turned gentle and Kyoko could feel her heart jump around her chest.
"I guess the scene passed then?" Kyoko chuckled slightly and felt Ren's hand grip hers. She turned her head towards him and felt like she melted when she locked eyes with him.
"Thank you for doing this project with me." He said and gently lifted her hand to his lips. She could see the fuzzy warmth in his eyes turn into a hot fire as he pressed a soft kiss to her knuckles.
"Thank you." She smiled back and couldn't resist the temptation. She gripped his shirt and pulled his face down to hers. He melted against her lips as she hungrily tasted his mouth.
The kiss was short but she knew he could feel her sincere emotions in it. Kyoko loved how quickly she had adjusted to kissing him as herself and thought about deepening the kiss before a choked sound startled her.
"Humm." Yashiro embarrassedly cleared his throat and Kyoko's smile turned guilty when she broke away from Ren's lips as she turned to the manager.
"Congratulations." Yashiro said with wide eyes and she could read the poorly hidden excitement on his face. "I will try harder in the future to give you two some time off together." He managed to say clearly as he fought to keep control over his features.
'Maybe it wasn't a bad idea to let him know…' Natsu purred in her head and clenched the momentarily panic in Kyoko's chest. She couldn't keep the blush from her face but decided to be honest.
"Thank you. We don't want the world to know for some time and we need your help with that." She said with a careful smile and saw the manager fidget slightly with his hands.
"I will do my best." Yashiro said and she almost thought he would succumb to squealing before he suddenly caught sight of the watch on his wrist. "I should probably begin with reminding you they will be back any moment." Yashiro seemed to fight with his expression as he glanced at their joined hands. Kyoko guessed that he would burst with emotions at first chance and promised herself to be far away when that happened. She however let go of Ren's hand as their time of peace soon was up.
Ren still tried to gather his mind after her kiss when he heard them speaking.
He had swooned badly with her sudden display of affection and had forgotten everything else. Only the excited tone in Yashiro's voice brought him back.
He could feel Kyoko's hand slip out of his relaxed grip and he had to swallow hard to not pull her back.
The approaching crazed laughter of the Director made him give up his ideas. The three of them turned towards the door and got up on their feet when they could hear footsteps on the wooden porch.
Ren bowed slightly to the thankfully dressed Director when he entered the hallway.
"Good job, really good job!" The low rank yakuza laughed and patted both Kyoko and him on the shoulders with almost painful strength.
"Thank you." They both said as one and Ren glanced at the Director's puffy eyes.
'He really did cry.' Ren thought and bit his lip to not let the smirk grow on his face.
"I mean it. I have sometimes felt actors touching the border of living as their roles but never two actors at the same time for such a long and emotional scene." Kurosaki said and tears seemed to well up in his eyes again. "Shit I'm still crying!" He laughed and Ren couldn't hide the smirk on his lips anymore.
"I look forward to shooting Mary-Ann and Justin for the first chapter to set the stage for this scene." Kurosaki said with a faraway look and Ren could only agree. He knew Justin was dying to act lovey-dovey with his wife again.
"But first. Off to make up again so that we can finish the additional takes for this one. I expect you to make me tremble again." Kurosaki laughed out loud and pushed the two actors towards the door.
"We will do our best." Both actors said as one and Ren felt his heart jump again.
Ren knew he was in trouble when they had finished dinner and Yashiro had stubbornly followed him to his room. Kyoko had glanced at the manager with increasing fear and Ren almost felt betrayed when she took her chance and parted outside their rooms.
Ren barely heard the door close behind him before a high-pitched wheezing started to sound from the other man. He knew then that there was no way to avoid the conversation he knew his manager was dying to have.
"Yash…" Ren began in a calming tone as he slowly turned around.
"THE SHIP HAS SAILED!" Yashiro cut him off with a happy squeal and Ren flinched when he realised, he had severely underestimated the manager's excitement. He was even talking nonsense.
"Wha…" Ren began again but the manager had no time to wait for his question.
"She kissed you! On her own! And she has the bracelet! As soon as she was done for the day she put on the bracelet." Yashiro giggled and finally gathered enough sense to move away from the door. It was only a slight improvement as he walked past Ren to make a little skip and then grip his face with wide glimmering eyes. Ren flinched back when they were directed against him.
"Yashiro. Please calm down." Ren said but it seemed to flow into one ear and out the other.
"Ren. This is BIG. Not something small and insignificant. But big!" Yashiro said as he looked like he was starting to grasp how big it actually was. Ren could only stare as the manager seemed to panic slightly. It took a while before he realised that the man was breathing erratically and he quickly walked up to him when he noticed.
"Breathe Yashiro! Slowly." Ren ordered worriedly and he trapped the manager with his eyes as to force him to obey.
Yashiro pulled in a shaky breath and seemed to calm down quickly.
"Wow. I'm really happy for you Ren. I can hardly believe it and I guess you are even happier than me." Yashiro said a bit more collected and Ren wanted to groan.
"As it is MY relationship. I think I have the right to be happier than you." Ren said pointedly and Yashiro smiled brightly his way.
"Of course you are!" He said and patted Ren on the shoulder. It ticked the taller man somewhat but as it was an improvement from before, he let it be.
"Why are you this happy?" Ren asked instead and Yashiro's smile turned a bit smug.
"Because I have rooted for you two so long. I thought I would turn grey before the first love me girl and my romantically disabled charge would reach this stage. But you suddenly made a big leap! If this keeps up, I have hope to attend your wedding before I need a walker." Yashiro teased and Ren rolled his eyes in irritation.
"She is still under-aged." Ren said pointedly and Yashiro gasped.
"Parental consent! I doubt you will be able to get it from her mother." Yashiro suddenly said and Ren had to search his brain for what the manager was talking about. "Good thing you are keeping it secret for a while. I doubt you would go to jail but the press would go mental if they knew."
"What are you talking about?" Ren gave up and asked directly.
"Parental consent to date. As you are a legal adult you need their consent to date a minor." Yashiro dead-panned and some repressed memories uploaded from Ren's brain. His father had mentioned something about parental consent the first time he had realized that Kuon dated. Julie had stopped him before Kuu had tracked down the girl's parents but he had heard a bit about the laws in Japan then.
'Even two minors might not be able to date without consent if they differ even slightly in age. The laws seem strict but they are there to protect minors from getting preyed on.' Kuu's words uploaded and played inside his head.
'Japan has some complex rules to date.' Justin gasped.
"You have to be careful on set, Ren." Yashiro said and Ren snapped out of his head to focus on the troubled face of his manager. "The first chapter will begin to shoot and you will do a lot of romantical scenes with Kyoko-chan." Yashiro looked like he pitied him and Ren fought back another groan of irritation.
"We will manage." Ren said curtly and Yashiro's face crumbled some more.
"As a fellow man… I somehow pity you." Yashiro said and Ren felt that he didn't want the manager to further elaborate on his words. It had been bad enough when he had found out about the Heel siblings staying in one room.
"By the way." Ren decided that it was time to change the topic. "Did you get what I asked for?" Ren asked and saw Yashiro pout for a moment before he gave up.
"Of course." The manager dug into his bag and pulled a small package. He handed it to Ren that felt the small lumps inside.
Ren used the package as an excuse to push the manager out of his room, however, their earlier words stayed with him and he couldn't help but pound over them.
Kyoko stumbled inside her room close to ten in the evening and quickly turned the lock on the sliding door to red. She could hear Yashiro's loud voice from the other side but she blocked everything out.
Her heart and brain were a mess and she needed some downtime to sort some things through.
'Ren loves me.'
'And I love him.'
'Mutual feelings.' Mary-Ann sighed happily inside her head and Kyoko glanced at the woman. They had finished shooting chapter three that day and Mary-Ann hadn't waited for more than a moment before spitting out the grudge she once had swallowed. The grudge in question had dived into the dark parts of her brain to join its comrades.
Kyoko glanced at the character inside her head. Mary-Ann had taken some emotional abuse that day but Kyoko sighed in relief when the married woman looked perfectly fine.
'Where were I? Mutual feelings…'
'No more secrets.' Mary-Ann sighed in happiness.
'Well, there are a few. Bo… and what happened with Morizumi for example.' Natsu helpfully provided and Kyoko froze up.
'Bo! Of course. I have to tell him about that.' Kyoko felt her heart drop but was surprised when she realized why. 'I will take away one of his friends.'
'You idiot. I guess he will feel the same as when you figured out he was Corn! Extra toppings on the mental cake.' Setsu sighed with a shrug and Kyoko bit her lip. She needed to tell him. Regarding the Morizumi incident, she had no qualms about that. The girl had retired from the business and she doubted Ren would meet her again. He would probably be furious when he realized that neither Kyoko nor Yashiro had told him about the incident but she knew he wouldn't be angry for long.
'So, soon no secrets. What else do I need to figure out?' Kyoko thought as she found that her mind was still buzzing with something she couldn't put her finger on.
'Well, we don't doubt his feelings.' Mary-Ann pulled out paper and a pen and began scribbling with a serious face.
'No, we don't.' Kyoko firmly stated. Mary-Ann crossed the words she just had written but then moved on.
'Have we accepted the reason why he loves us?'
'More or less.' Kyoko frowned but then shook her head. 'Yes. We have.'
'Good.' Kyoko watched the married woman cross the next line.
'Do we know what to do now?'
'I guess not.' Kyoko frowned. 'We are taking it slow.'
She had to stop and think. The buzz in her head swirled and she glanced towards it. The question had made something move.
'Am I worried about the future?' She wondered and tilted her head. Nothing happened to the cloud and she guessed she was close but not spot on.
'What is our future?' Kyoko asked but the buzz stayed still. 'I guess I don't mind waiting to find out.' She deadpanned.
'Okay, we are closing in. But if it wasn't the future. Then how do you feel about taking it slow?' Mary-Ann asked as she analysed the cloud by Kyoko's side.
The brown-haired girl was more than pleased with the mood between Ren and her and the shooting had proved that they could still act opposite each other. It even seemed to have improved slightly.
But a small voice inside of her pointed out that she had kissed him feverishly the same morning and something else had stirred inside of her. Something impatient.
'We kiss and hold hands.' Kyoko tried to pacify herself but she didn't fool the married woman.
'And you are satisfied with ONLY that?' Mary-Ann asked and glanced over the papers towards Kyoko.
'For a while.' Kyoko blushed as the conversation with her Mom repeated itself in her head. She wasn't clueless anymore and her curiosity was sparked. But she didn't feel any rush. The cloud twitched and turned in their head and Kyoko gave it a mean look for the hell of it.
'Okay, I will pretend to buy that. At least there isn't any talk about walking the white aisle.' Mary-Ann giggled and crossed the line in her list.
Kyoko exploded in a blush and she crumpled on the floor to hide her own face.
'Mary-Ann!' She whined, not completely sure if she was more embarrassed about the topic or the fact that she seemed to have forsaken her childhood promise to her newly found cravings.
'I'm just teasing you.' The woman said with a happy giggle and she moved the pen lower on the paper. 'Well then. I'm running out of angles to tackle the mess in your head. Maybe you only need time and stability to process it?' Mary-Ann asked and tossed the papers behind her back.
Kyoko mumbled slightly and sighed. She needed a long bath.
Ren glanced at the red indicator on their door and he pulled calming breaths repeatedly.
'She just needs some room to breathe. We were together for almost 40 hours.' Ren said to himself and impatiently played with a can of beer in his hand.
'Could you stop fidgeting? Tomorrow is the big day you know! I want to be in the best condition for it!' Justin cursed inside his head and Ren rolled his eyes.
'Stop whining.' Cain snorted from a corner of his mind and Ren glanced at the brother. Warmth erupted in his chest as he took in the cold character.
'I didn't thank you for what you did.' Ren said and saw the brother glance his way.
'I might be a separate soul, but I'm still you.' Cain said and shrugged. 'If you broke our body, I would suffer too.'
'Still. You didn't change the question. I could figure out the whole truth after that. You left me with no doubts.' Ren said and lifted the can to his lips. He knew the brother liked the taste and he gave the man a small toast. The smirk on Cain's face grew and Ren took it as a thanks.
The time moved slowly and he almost finished his third can before the soft sound of a lock turning made him choke on the liquid.
The beer almost flew out his nose while he fought the cough that tried to push the fluids from his airways.
"Ren?" Kyoko's worried voice sounded from the other side of the door.
'Come in." He gasped between breaths as he pounded his own chest in a try to free his windpipe.
He saw her slide the door to the side and he pulled a few breaths to make sure the fit would pass.
"What happened?" Kyoko asked worriedly and Ren smiled her way when she walked up to the sofa and took a seat beside him.
"Wrong pipe." He said and coughed once more before his body calmed down completely. "I'm fine now." He smiled and turned in his seat to give her his undivided attention. The soft smile on her lips greeted him and he felt his heart pick up some pace. Her hair was slightly damp from being cleaned and he could smell the faint fragrance from her shampoo. She had changed into a soft pyjama and the calm blue colour highlighted the blush on her cheeks.
"It is time for your question." Kyoko said and Ren nodded. He was prepared.
He had been halfway through the second can when he had realised the true meaning behind Yashiro's words. Justin had been happily reciting the scenes they soon would shoot when everything suddenly fell into place and Ren realized that he was in trouble.
"Would it be okay for you to put a limit on our intimacy until your birthday?" He asked seriously and he could see her eyes blow wide in surprise.
"What?" Kyoko asked and Ren smiled softly.
"I said our relationship wouldn't change too quickly. However, Justin has gained a soul inside of me and I know that his feelings will linger in my body after I act. We are moving on to chapter one tomorrow and he is ecstatic." Ren couldn't stop the small snort as it was the understatement of the year. "I think it will be harder for me to separate his emotions from mine, as they aren't that different from each other in this part. I need some sort of anchor to hold onto to not move things from their relationship into ours." Ren said and exhaled when he found that he had delivered his words well.
"But why until my birthday? It's half a year away." Kyoko asked and tilted her head slightly. Ren mused over her cute gesture but suddenly felt his stomach slam into his gut with the force of a small nuclear bomb.
He knew he tensed up and that the girl by his side flinched in response. But he couldn't help it. Because she sounded unwilling.
'What?!' Ren felt dizzy when her expression registered to him. The small frown on her brows, the sexy tilt of her head and the small pout on her lips.
'She is pouting! No wait a moment. Maybe it is because of the opposite?'
"I won't have a problem if you want to put the limit to when you turn twenty." Ren said probingly and he almost fell off the sofa when her face paled in shock.
"Until I'm twenty? That is even worse!" Kyoko wailed and Ren gasped for air.
'It was worse? Meaning that the first option was too long too?' Ren couldn't help the blush from climbing his cheeks.
He felt giddy with joy and want but it only made him firmer in his convictions. He had learned her rough time limit for going slow and it was far less than he expected.
"Ren!" Kyoko's voice cut into his dizzy brain and he couldn't help the divine smile from growing on his face when he turned towards her again. "Why do you want a time limit that will continue even after you are done acting Justin?" She asked and he didn't imagine it when she sounded disappointed.
"Kyoko, I'm 20 years old. Japan regards me as an adult. It's rare but I could go to jail if our relationship gets out. I want to do this right as I'm aiming for the long run." Ren smiled and had the pleasure to see her cheeks blush and her pout growing larger.
He watched as she opened and closed her mouth twice and then fell against the backrest with folded arms. Her forehead was twisted into soft lines of concentration. He didn't rush but soaked in the bliss inside his mind.
'She wants me.' Ren wanted to yell it out loud but instead let the two spirits in his head suffer the assault. Justin and Cain mirrored blank faces as they lifted their hands to slowly clap in mock celebration.
'Woo.' Justin said without even a hint of enthusiasm.
'Spring has arrived.' Cain snorted and then returned to his relaxed posture.
'Shut up, you two! Your women clearly want you two. I felt happy for you! Ahhh! Never mind.' Ren gave up but his mood couldn't dim even the slightest.
"Ren?" Kyoko suddenly asked and he turned his focus towards her again.
"Humm?" He tried to sound neutral but failed miserably. Kyoko didn't seem to want to comment on his poorly hidden bliss but continued.
"Do you know how to eat a whole fried fish?" She asked and Ren blinked slowly as he tried to process the meaning of her words.
"Maybe not neatly." He decided to wait for her to explain and only answered her question.
'Neatly… Wait a minute. There is a bell ringing…' Ren thought and suddenly remembered the plate with a fully fried fish that had been placed in front of him the night when he had given Kyoko the stamp for her work in Guam.
"I will teach you then." Kyoko said firmly and her arms relaxed.
"Why would you want to teach me?" Ren asked but a hint of the answer had already sprouted in his mind. If he was right, he feared if his restraints would last even a week.
"Mother will never sign the papers for parental consent. But Okami-san and Taisho are registered as my guardians and I think they would sign the papers if they got to know you a bit better." Kyoko thought and then nodded to herself. "We will start with the fish." Kyoko smiled and Ren fell into the land of bliss again.
'The papers for consenting a minor to date. She really wants…'
"Should we ask for consent for marriage too while we are at it?" Ren grinned and Kyoko gave him a questioning lift of her eyebrow. The colour climbed on her cheeks again but he died a thousand small deaths of happiness when she began to smirk teasingly.
"I will only marry one man. Ask me again when you take back your one and only name." Kyoko grinned and Ren couldn't help the fighting spirit to begin to burn in his eyes.
"It's a deal." Ren grinned and Kyoko's blush burned stronger. "Do we have a deal with my first question too?" Ren added and Kyoko pouted again.
'I want to nibble those lips so badly… And she wants me to.'
"Can I change it slightly?" Kyoko asked and Ren feared he would burst at the seams if he spoke. He gestured for her to continue.
"We won't do more than we have already done until the papers are signed?" Kyoko asked timidly and Ren only needed a moment to think.
'They could be signed next week, or in two years. It's a gamble but it doesn't matter to me. I would wait for her forever if it meant she was happy.' Ren thought and then nodded.
"Deal." He said and Kyoko exhaled in relief. It triggered him to no end, but the shackles were firmly fastened around his restraints. He mirrored her exhale and both smiled brightly.
The haze in her brain had evaporated into nothing.
'It was YOU!' Kyoko pointed accusingly towards the married woman in her head.
'How would I know?!' Mary-Ann gasped in anger and the two women threw heated glares towards the other.
'I subconsciously knew how dangerous you would be to my reasoning. Your feelings would have made me push things with Ren and I could have gotten him in jail!' Kyoko threw her blame and Mary-Ann rolled her eyes.
'I was born in the US. How would I know your complicated system for consent?' She asked and Kyoko felt her mouth fall open. 'I doubt the President would let anyone be put in jail because of love either way.'
'Well.' She couldn't argue with the woman about that.
'Either way, we agreed on the deal. Ren will hold his end of it and you won't risk his career. We can move on to the topic we need to talk about now.' Mary-Ann stated firmly and crossed her arms, like to dare Kyoko to argue.
The young woman didn't but sighed loudly and turned her face towards Ren again.
He seemed to have heard her sigh as he looked at her with surprise.
"What is it?" He asked curiously and Kyoko twitched a small smile.
"I have another topic to discuss." She said and glanced at his face to read if he seemed unwilling. She would have liked to keep the good mood for a bit but he only smiled encouragingly towards her. Kyoko sighed again and lowered her face towards her hands.
"It was never with bad intentions but there are two things I have kept secret from you." Kyoko said and Ren's face fell slightly.
"Do you want to scold me about deceiving you or my ability to attract trouble first?" Kyoko asked dejectedly and glanced towards him in a try to read his reaction. His eyes were wide but he studied her face closely and some of the tension in his shoulders melted away.
"What have you deceived me about?" Ren obviously made his choice and Kyoko nodded slightly.
'What has she deceived me about?' Ren couldn't help the fear that trembled in his body but he relaxed when he remembered her words.
'It was never with bad intentions.' It couldn't be that bad then. Her face told him otherwise but the confidence she still projected calmed him somewhat. It was something big, but she was confident he would accept it in the end.
"I have another identity in your life too. Like Ren and Corn. You know me as two different people." Kyoko quickly said and locked his eyes with hers.
'Another identity? Who?' Ren didn't have a clue. She seemed to read it on his face and he stayed quiet to let her explain.
"I have an ongoing task for the Love Me section. I have had it for over a year." Kyoko began and Ren tried to fight his frown.
'A year and still ongoing? But didn't Yashiro say that she had some secret work at TBM?'
"When I started this work, we barely knew each other. I was still filled with hate and I had earned your anger for an improper gesture." Kyoko said and Ren immediately recalled what gesture she was talking about.
"I wasn't innocent either. I recognised who you were then and triggered you to drop the subject about how I knew you were from Kyoto." Ren provided and got a gentle smile in return.
"I understand." Kyoko smiled. "But well… The next time I appeared in front of you, I pretended to be someone else. It was partly out of fear but also because I wanted to help you. I knew that you never would have accepted help from me, a strange, hateful junior. So, I changed my voice." Kyoko said and Ren felt like something was tickling his mind.
'Voice? Only her voice? Did I speak with her on the phone? Or why wouldn't I recognise her if she just changed her voice?' Ren was still caught in his thoughts when she suddenly pulled a deep breath and began speaking again at a rapid pace.
"I met you several times and helped you with your script, about tentekomai, and I tried to answer your questions about love. I had no idea you were talking about me at that time, not at all. I also visited you before the acting test for Katsuki because I was worried. I don't think I helped but my intentions were to give you someone to ventilate your thoughts to." Kyoko said in one long breath and Ren felt his heart jump when the truth began to dawn on him.
"I'm Bo, the chicken, no the rooster!" Kyoko said and he could see her adjust her seat to a seiza. She looked ready to fall into a full dogeza at any time but kept her eyes on his face like to read for hints of his reaction.
Ren didn't know what to feel.
'Bo? THAT chicken?' Well, there wasn't much doubt in his mind as only Bo would know about Tentekomai, and he hadn't spoken about love with anyone except the President or the chicken before the acting test for Katsuki.
"You are Bo?" Ren couldn't help but ask and Kyoko tensed like a rod beside him.
"Yes!" She said directly and the shock inside his heart had to give away for some amusement.
"You made me realize I was in love with you?"
"I had no idea it was me, but if you realized it then, that was me!" Kyoko's face slowly turned into a firm mask, like a soldier awaiting the judgement from her superior. The humour in the situation didn't go amiss and Ren had to school his face to not give him away too early.
"You told me you hated me?"
"It was me!" Kyoko said strongly and Ren couldn't help but play with her a bit.
"You hated me when I was so kind to cheer you up when you were fired?" Ren tilted his head and Kyoko's eyes half closed like to be ready to shield her from something.
"No! I didn't hate you then. You accepted my apology and I realized I didn't know enough about you to hate you. I didn't hate you when you cheered me up! I even felt my heart jump and warm up when you honestly smiled and thanked me in the end!" Kyoko reported with a stiff voice and Ren stilled in shock.
"What?" Ren couldn't help but ask.
"I didn't hate you then! You accept…"
"No, your heart jumped then. And felt warm?" Ren clarified and saw when the girl in front of him seemed to realize what she had said.
"It did!" She gasped in shock. "The seed of love! You planted it in me then!"
'Oh god. Can she be more adorable?' Ren asked himself and the laugh finally spilled his lips. It grew in strength every time he caught sight of her shocked face and he soon crumbled against the backrest clenching his stomach. Her face quickly returned to normal and she gave him an unimpressed glance instead.
"So, I guess you aren't angry with me?" Kyoko asked and Ren shook his head while he gasped for enough air to speak.
"How can I be? Bo allowed me to plant my seed of love in your heart." Ren said jolly before his laugh simmered down into a chuckle. Her scandalised face almost made him crumble again but he was too tired to continue to laugh with full force.
"You playboy, even roosters are on your radar then?" Kyoko murmured and Ren would have felt bad if he couldn't read the embarrassment on her face. He gave in to his desires and pulled her into a hug.
"I'm glad you are Bo. You gave me the friend that I needed and I'm happy that I now can speak with him every day." Ren grinned down at Kyoko's face that rested against his chest. She twitched a small smile and then wrapped her arms around his waist.
"Good. I'm happy too." Kyoko smiled gently and nuzzled closer into his shirt.
Ren soaked in the feeling as his mind replayed every memory he had with the chicken. It was obvious now that he knew. Their banter had the same wit that Kyoko always used.
"Wait a minute. You didn't admit your feelings to me because you thought that I loved another. Was that because of what I said to Bo?" Ren suddenly realised and Kyoko chuckled slightly.
"I thought for a while that I had figured out who it was. Kimiko Morizumi." Kyoko said and Ren frowned.
"Who?" A small bell rang in his head from his repressed memories but he needed more to be able to dig out what it was. He felt like an archaeologist with how much he had to dig into his brain that day.
"You played together with her on purple dawn. She was the director's daughter." Kyoko said and glanced up at his face.
The repressed file opened like an avalanche and Ren immediately knew why he had pushed the memories down.
"That girl." He said with a displeased snort. "She couldn't stop making trouble for everyone on set. She knew how to twist the truth to fit her perfectly." Ren said as he forced Justin and Cain to start shovelling the irritating files back where they belonged. "How do you know her?"
"She auditioned for Momoji." Kyoko said with a sigh and then told Ren about everything that had happened with the girl.
"She drugged you and tried to push you over the railing on the third floor?" Ren repeated the words back to her for clarity. She trembled slightly at the tone in his voice but seemed to know that the anger wasn't directed at her.
"She tried to kill you? To get the role that would impress Cedric D Bennett?" Ren said and felt the parts of him that came from Kuon tremble in dark fury.
"I felt so ashamed!" Kyoko suddenly cried out in anger and Ren stumbled in his mind.
"Why do YOU feel ashamed?"
"Because I realized that I did the same! I entered the business to get revenge, to get his attention! I felt so enraged when I learned her reason and remembered what I did. You had every right in the world to be angry at me then!" Kyoko said with the face of a devil and Ren felt a bit of his rage cool down.
"You quickly grew to love the job. I could see it and that's why I believed you when you told me." Ren said and remembered when she had spoken about her decision to join the acting section. But the emotions in his heart hadn't been stilled and he frowned again.
"Did you press charges against her?" He asked and Kyoko shook her head.
"She would have twisted the truth around. She proved to be resourceful but Erica has a hold on her now. I doubt we will see her again." Kyoko said and Ren tried to bite back the panic in his chest. He had been close to losing her. Justin mirrored his feelings and their heart ripped open with the force of their emotions. The anger was gone and fear was the only thing left.
"Y-you could have died." He gasped and his grip on her tightened. She flinched in his arms and glanced up at him.
"Ren! That was Justin's emotions! Don't let them get you!" Kyoko said and Ren shook his head.
"I promise you Kyoko. This is my fear." Ren said through clenched teeth. He knew he was trembling as he pulled her closer but she slowly relaxed and returned his embrace.
Ren held her with trembling arms and every time he pulled a shaky breath, she felt her heart ache.
He hadn't reacted like she had thought and she could suddenly understand many things in their past. He had always reacted with anger before but she realized that it had been a cover for his real emotions. Jealousy, fear, doubt. He had thought that he couldn't show it to her and had pushed her away with anger.
'Every time he was mad at me… He hid his real emotions…' Kyoko thought and she unconsciously held him harder.
'Probably not the first time. But since the improper gesture and after.' Setsu said with a smirk and Kyoko felt her heart pick up pace. Ren had fitted his lips against her pulse point again but the angle was strained and she had an idea.
Ren looked halfway ready to crumble when she slowly climbed out of his arms. She smiled sweetly towards him and his eyes regained some of its fire when he realized she wasn't leaving.
It didn't take more than a slight pull on his hand to get him to stand and she pulled him from the sofa. Kyoko let go before she laid down on his bed on top of the comforter. He looked at her with pained eyes but she only needed to reach out her arms for him to follow her. She steered him to lay on her left side until his head rested on her chest. He seemed confused only for a moment before her loud heartbeats seemed to catch his attention. Ren relaxed against her and she stroked his hair slowly without a word.
She could feel the tension melt out of him for every strand of hair she twirled around her fingers and the trembling soon stopped. His arm hooked under her shoulder blade and he nuzzled slightly into her shoulder before he rested his weight on her. The closeness made her heart beat stronger and she caught a soft smile on his face before he closed his eyes.
Kyoko let her hand play with his dark tassels without pause and was lost in the feeling for a while.
His breaths had levelled out beneath her magic touch and Kyoko wasn't too surprised when she glanced down and saw his relaxed face.
She smiled but didn't stop her hand from playing with the soft strands in his neck.
'Just a few more minutes.' She told herself but when she felt sleep closing in, she made the choice to stay.
He immediately thought something was wrong when the sound of his heartbeat echoed in his ear and he snapped his eyes open. Everything was blue in front of him and he blinked to focus his gaze.
The blue slowly moved up and down and his eyes followed the curves until it spotted a slight irregularity in the fabric. He glanced at the creamy skin and his mind slowly caught up to the situation. It wasn't his heartbeat, but Kyoko's.
The smirk grew on his lips and he tilted his head slightly upwards until he could see her relaxed face above his.
She seemed to notice his movements as her hand began to twirl his hair again. He just wanted to soak in the feeling forever but a short vibration from his phone disturbed his peace.
He took the arm he had over her stomach and carefully pulled the phone out of his pocket. His eyes widened when he caught sight of the time and wasn't too surprised when he noticed the message from their manager.
"I have bought you some time by ordering food to your room. It's in the hallway. I will wait in the car by the front in an hour. If you don't respond to this message, I will wake you two up in half an hour." Yashiro had typed and Ren frowned at the message.
'He must have seen us…' Ren thought as he couldn't find any other reason for Yashiro to know about them sleeping in the same bed. He fought the embarrassment and irritation and tried to convince himself that it was better to not have been awake when the manager had caught them.
'He will be a pain later…' Ren sighed but the other characters in his mind had woken and the jubilant joy that Justin projected couldn't keep him in a foul mood for long.
'Today is the day!' The married man sing-songed in their head and Ren smiled.
The time was running out and Ren glanced on the sleeping girl again. His repeated shuffling around had made her close to waking up and Ren reached up his hand to push away her fringe.
"Good morning beautiful." He said and heard her breathing pick up pace. It only took a moment before her warm golden eyes met his and his heart trembled when the smile grew on her face.
"Good morning Ren. Feel better?" Her sleepy voice said and Ren only felt a slight prick of pain when he remembered the evening before. Kimiko would be in trouble if he ever met her again but his heart had healed by her clever embrace.
"Yes." He said and let her read his expression until she was satisfied. Kyoko nodded and Ren felt her hand move into his hair again.
It had quickly become one of his favourite feelings but he held back from melting into the touch completely.
"I have a gift for you." Ren said instead and Kyoko tilted her head slightly.
"I have nothing for you." She said and he laughed a bit at her cute pout.
"If you accept them, I will be more than happy." Ren said and moved before she could protest.
"Them? As in more than one?" Ren heard her pull herself up to sit as he reached over to pull out the drawer at his nightstand.
"They are small." He said teasingly and returned with the package in hand. "I didn't have time to wrap them." He handed her the small but thick envelope and sat down in front of her.
She glanced at the label at the front and knew she would read that it had been addressed to his home in Tokyo.
"Yashiro picked it up yesterday. I had it forwarded to the hotel but didn't want to leave it in the reception for too long." Ren explained and felt his heart pick up pace when she nodded and reached for the taped edge.
It was well secured and when she finally was able to open it, the content spilled on the bed between them. Five small packages fell out and Ren gathered them in a small pile.
"Open them." He pushed her on and Kyoko smiled and picked up the first.
She unwrapped the bubble wrap and soon caught the charm within. He only needed a glance to know what she had found first.
Ren smiled and let her inspect the crystal heart in her hand before he carefully took it from her and fastened it to her bracelet.
"This is the charm for when you received my heart." Ren said and glanced up on her slightly open mouth.
"It's beautiful." She whispered and Ren wanted to pump his hand in a victory gesture when she didn't seem to realize the material. There was no way he would let the charm that symbolizes his love to her to get scratches or dull in lustre. He had paid a hefty price for it.
He saw her admire it more closely on her wrist and he fought back his victorious grin.
"Open another one." He said and Kyoko chuckled slightly at his enthusiasm but picked another charm. He saw her move more comfortably and guessed she was a bit more relaxed when she could guess what the gifts were.
The next one was a small daruma and Kyoko laughed when it was placed among the other charms.
The next one was a white rose but with almost too many petals. Ren grinned when he saw her confusion.
"I heard about your acting test for LME." He chuckled as he saw her bright blush. She quickly picked up another and Ren felt his smile soften when he caught the purple colour.
Kyoko didn't conceal her gasp when she realised what it was.
"Corn!" She said and Ren couldn't help but chuckle. It was indeed a cob of corn, made out of the same type of stone as her Corn.
"Yes. I had to order someone to make it in this type of stone. That's why it's a bit late." Ren said and carefully took the charm from her hand to place it on the bracelet. He couldn't help but stroke it gently as it found its place among the things that symbolize their time together.
"It's amazing. Thank you so much Ren." Kyoko said with a thick voice and Ren felt his heart jump happily and send endorphins through the crystal roots. It was too long ago since he had felt such complete ease. A teasing grin began to play on his lips as he leaned forward.
"I think I need to search for a rooster charm too." He smirked and Kyoko's eyes widened before he saw her determination and answering smirk.
"I definitely need a charm symbolizing Bo. I think I will need his protection with me always. And as you know, roosters eat corn for breakfast." She said and Ren laughed out loud.
Kyoko had quickly dressed after opening the last small package. It had been a small kunai that now rested among the others around her wrist.
'At least it wasn't a shuriken.' Momoji snorted but Kyoko could feel the character preen a bit inside. She had been happy to be remembered.
The bracelet jingled softly when they ate their breakfast and the sound had quickly turned into something that made her feel good. She only had to look for the sound to find the small charms that reminded her of her achievements.
Kyoko glanced to the side and saw the heavenly smile on Ren's face as he had watched her admiring the bracelet.
"Thank you again Ren. I really love it." Kyoko smiled and Ren's smile grew until it could compete with the sun.
"Feel free to add more to it yourself. I thought about asking Kotonami-kun and Amamiya-kun to choose one each to represent themself but I didn't have time before this project."
"That's an amazing idea!" Kyoko smiled and almost began to worry about her complexion as she ought to get sunburned by his smile.
They happily ate in silence when the alarm on her phone suddenly cut through the air and both actors jumped. They quickly gather their things and Kyoko moved to the slide door.
"Ready for the last chapter?" Kyoko asked and Ren smiled widely towards her.
"As long as you are there." He said and Kyoko fought the blush on her cheeks.
"Always." She said and met his eyes with confidence.
I'm not too pleased with the ending but I had to break it off somewhere before the last stretch.
I stumbled on an article about rules to date in Japan. I have no idea if they are true anymore or if they are outdated. I figured it wouldn't be outdated in Skip Beats timeline at least but I might be wrong. Either way, it was a somewhat logical part to incorporate. I needed some hint to give to Ren about how far I have taken Kyoko's mental growth before the next chapter.
I love the fangirling Yashiro! Expect more from him next time.
T75BT – I had a plan for Corn for this chapter. Hope you like my little pun.
Sukimina20 – I love your ideas! I might take some inspiration from them in the future. Hope you don't mind.
Guest- Thank you. That's like one of the best compliments you could ever get. Thank you!
Erlynn Dela Cruz – Thank you for reviewing every time. You have no idea how much happiness it brings me to see people return to my story. Another shout-out just to let you know how much it means to me. Hugs
MissRose01 – Thank you so much. Don't faint! Hihi my take on KyoRen don't do that well from getting their breaths stolen.
H-Nala – Thank you. I hope you like this one too but I apologise for the end. It felt a bit messy to me but nothing I did made it turn out better than this version. I hope you liked it.
Goodtome- I went full out with separate souls and I think Setsu and Cain wouldn't have been tiptoeing around like Kyoko and Ren. I'm really glad you liked their input! And supermanager went full on fangirl in this one. I love Yashiro and couldn't help to add this. Hope you liked it!
Mimagfan- Thank you so much for that amazing review. I agree on all your points and the next one will be so sweet you will get toothache! I love dorky Ren and fluff. And swooning. And everything with this fandom.
Misherukuro – Thank you for giving me confidence. Slow build and suddenly I had to deliver. It was hard and your quick review made me cry a bit in relief. Thank you.