Tsuruga Ren sat back against the polished leather sofa of Studio 5. His ankle flexed unseen beneath dark slacks and his gentleman smile was on full blast. "Ahh, can you repeat that?"

The evening talk show host beamed in response to Ren's sharp smile, unaware of the cold aura exuding from her guest. "Well, there have been whispers about you and a certain up-and-coming actress. Various sources have reported seeing you driving her to and from sets, enjoying lunch together, and one source even swears they overheard this actress speaking to you on a private phone call during a break. Then we have this picture," the host gestured at the giant screen behind her to the image that had appeared the first time she gave her spiel.

Ren glanced once again at the screen, barely managing to hold back a grimace at the expression on his face displayed for all of Japan to see. Image-Kyoko appeared to be frozen in the middle of a dynamic conversation. Her gaze appeared to be directed towards something off-screen, her arms spread with enthusiasm, and her wide eyes shone as if full of diamonds. It was Image-Ren, however, that was incriminating. He stood slightly behind Kyoko, clearly engaged in whatever she was saying. His gaze was soft, full of emotion, and the realest smile that any of his fans had seen was directed genuinely down at Kyoko. Unfortunately, Yashiro had not been around to warn Ren that his mask was slipping. To make matters worse, Kyoko and Ren had been walking along the crowded street in front of LME at the time the photograph was taken, so Ren's hand was seen ghosting the small of Kyoko's back. Not enough contact for her to notice and run from the intimate touch, but near enough to ensure he would be able to react if she was jostled on the crowded sidewalk.

The host cleared her throat, causing Ren to drag his gaze from the screen to the viciously determined glint in her eyes. "Tell us, Tsuruga-san. What exactly is your relationship with the actress Kyoko?"

Ren swallowed dryly. "Mogami-san is a fellow professional in my industry. I'm sure you're aware that we are both from the agency, LME. I have been lucky enough to co-star with her in Dark Moon and we have since developed a senpai-kohai relationship."

The host looked once again at the image on the screen behind her, which had at some point been blown up to showcase the incriminatory hand brushing the fabric of Image-Kyoko's denim jacket. "That hand does not imply a simple senpai-kohai relationship, Tsuruga-san."

Ren silently cursed to himself. Having his love broadcast across all of Japan before he's even had to opportunity to confess to the object of his affections had never been part of the plan. He should have known that they would not be able to continue in their current stasis without anyone noticing, especially considering his own profile and how quickly Kyoko's star was rising.

Ever since their stint as the Heel siblings, Kyoko and Ren had grown closer. She was much more prone to accept his gentle touches – though he knew she dismissed them as a side effect of their time as siblings – and he'd finally got Kyoko to accept his offer for car rides without (much) complaint. Unless Ren was traveling to a remote location for filming, they talked on the phone almost every day. Whenever they were both at LME around lunch time, they and Yashiro would eat together at L.A. Hearts. Though Ren had yet to confess the reality of his past, Yashiro had engineered Ren's schedule to ensure that Ren would have at minimum one free evening per week for Kyoko to cook dinner at his apartment.

But what was he to say to the host? That he was in love with a seventeen-year-old but was too incompetent to make her reciprocate those feelings? No, that wouldn't do.

Ren shot a smile at the camera before speaking. "You're right, I no longer see Mogami-san simply as a kohai." The host was on the edge of her seat, eyes wide and eager at a potentially huge scoop. "In all honesty, though our interactions started as co-workers with a deep mutual respect for one another, Mogami-san has become one of my best friends. She is someone I truly care deeply about."

It wasn't as juicy as a love confession but something about Tsuruga-san's tone indicated finality, and the host nodded and moved on to a different line of questioning.

Kyoko sat with her hand frozen in mid-air. The TV screen continued to flash in front of her, but her eyes were unseeing and her ears detected only undecipherable noise. The words "someone I truly care deeply about" echoed through her mind.

Since the end of Tragic Marker, Kyoko had noticed herself spending more time with Re— Tsuruga-san. Even with the daily phone calls and the weekly dinners, however, she missed the near constant contact sharing a room as the Heel siblings had provided. Despite what he may have thought Kyoko was not oblivious to his touches and glances, but she had dismissed them quickly. There was no reason for Tsuruga-san, the number one bachelor in all of Japan, to be close to a boring, plain seventeen-year-old. He was so above her league and surely thought of her only as a kohai. The only reason he allowed her to cook for him every week was surely because Yashiro worried about his eating habits and he was too much of a gentleman to turn her away. Any lingering glances were surely a side effect of playing her brother, a character who was meant to look after her well-being.

Someone I truly care deeply about.

But being his best friend? Her? That was different. Was it possible that Tsuruga-san actually enjoyed the time they spent together? That when he called and asked about her day he was genuinely curious, rather than simply being polite?

Kyoko wasn't sure what it meant. No one had ever checked in and asked about her day because they cared before.

If he truly cared about her, did that change things? Kyoko shook her head vigorously. It didn't. It shouldn't. It couldn't.

His words echoed once again.

Someone I truly care deeply about.

Deep inside, the last lock on the chest around Kyoko's heart – the one that had been barely holding on as it was – exploded.

The chest was open.

Hey all! I haven't written anything in forever and decided I go for it. I'd love any feedback you guys have!