Title: The Ride
Latest Summary: In which Kyoko gets some time to think in the train, or tries to, if Koga would only let her. Reaction to chapter 268. If you're a die-hard Ren fan, skip this.
"Oh hey," a body suddenly collapsed at her side, making Kyoko jump. "It's the fangirl."
"Excuse me?" she looked around.
She was on the train. The train to the Royal Palace. Somehow, she'd gotten from her shower to this seat on autopilot.
"Hmm, isn't 'fangirl' a good enough of a description?" Koga scratched the stubble on his chin. "Maybe you're higher up in the ranks. Fanclub President? Number one Tsuruga fan? Tsurugarette?"
The casual name drop hurt.
"Senpai, you can just call me Kyoko."
He shook his head thoughtfully and fluffed a cat-shaped neck pillow.
"Too hard to remember." He turned to face her. "Names are easy to forget, but fun facts stick, you know? Like, I'm Koga, but I'm also the best at backflips you ever saw."
She closed her eyes, counted to ten, and smiled brightly.
"I'm sorry Koga-senpai. I realize the staff seated us together, but I'm afraid I'm feeling under the weather this morning." She coughed twice for emphasis. "Do you think perhaps they could find you another seat?"
"Aren't you afraid of getting sick?"
"I've got a great immune system, and it's probably nothing major. You look fine." He sounded casually disinterested.
Koga positioned his pillow with the feline face towards her, found a comfortable position, and closed his eyes. Still, she couldn't shake the feeling of being watched.
"I would rather not make you sick too." She coughed again.
"If you're sooooo worried, kohai," he replied with closed eyes, "then you should move."
Kyoko sighed and stood up, looking around the car.
It was the first train to Chyoda. Apart from her and Koga, there were hardly any passengers. No one else from the crew was there since they'd gone the day before to set up. She sat back down and fiddled with the hem of her coat.
After last night she really wanted peace and quiet, but... but... The seats were numbered. What if someone else boarded at a later stop, and she was in their place? What if one of the conductors performed a check? If she caused trouble, would that affect the filming?
"Fine then," she mumbled.
He replied with a snort.
After that, they didn't talk anymore.
It was curious. The bullet train had the perfect amount of silence to drive an idle mind insane. Kyoko decided to count the seconds between each incline. Smoothly to the left for thirty-four, and to the right for one hundred sixty-two, before back to the left. Never losing speed. Never changing pace. Why did Tsuruga-san have to appear on set at that time? In front of the whole crew, making a scene like that?
"You should spend some time in a hospital," Koga suggest. "Studying. That cough was super fake."
"Sorry." She jumped again, startled.
He didn't respond. Surely Koga had seen it too. He was on set at the time. Kyoko went back to the hem. Smoothing it. Repeatedly.
"Aren't you going to ask why... why I lied?" she breathed.
"I couldn't care less, kouhai."
"Unless it's related to Tsuruga." He opened an eager eye. "He did behave abnormally this past week, but anyone would hardly… Unless you really were crying your eyes out because of him last time in the break room! So, instead of a one-time thing, it's actually an ongoing squabble?"
"What? How did you… Why are you so obsessed with him?"
"Maybe Tsuruga's rank could fall a little." His eyes began to sparkle. "If only the paparazzi knew about you…"
Paparazzi. Her whole body went stiff at the word.
"Please, senpai, it's inconsiderate to make assumptions about things you don't understand."
He eyed her thoughtfully.
"Forget it, you're probably too far down in the Tsugarette's ranks for him to notice you anyway." He closed his eyes again. "It was just my wishful thinking."
She couldn't believe Japan's no. 2 actor was so rude!
Kyoko gave up on staring out the window. She decided to hunt for her headphones, but no matter how deeply she fished, they weren't her bag. It was unlike her to forget something so crucial. When did she pack anyway? Was it before Shotaro's call or after Tsuruga-san's text? And how...
How did Shotaro's call manage to be less upsetting than any of her recent interactions with Tsuruga-san? When did the world flip completely inside out and upside down?! And why, why did Tsuruga-san always have to jump to the worst possible conclusion and then lash out at her like that?
"I thought you didn't want to talk about it," Koga interrupted.
Kyoko slapped her hand over her traitorous mouth.
"I-I was just, just thinking out loud."
"Tsuruga-san, he, doesn't do it on purpose. It's... just that sometimes his anger can't be contained, and it's hard when he thinks it's my fault."
"He worries for me because, things like that, rumors like that… a newcomer and a famous guy kissing in public, could ruin the newcomer's career. And taint LME's name."
Koga nodded in a perfect image of a polite skeptical, and her lips wouldn't stop moving. They were as restless as ever when it came to defending Tsuruga-san's reputation.
"I just wish he stopped bringing up Shotaro every time something goes wrong. It wasn't me who kissed him from the start! At least, I think so. I don't even remember what happened that day because, because… but Tsuruga-san should know. He was there. Maybe it really is my fault. Maybe I wasn't clear enough with him. I had more important things on my mind but I absolutely won't forget my past; fall in love and give up on my dreams because of that narcissist. I'm not even doing this because of him, but Tsuruga-san can't see that, so he lectures me, and I'm just so tired."
"Are you finally done?"
She blinked. She did it again. Why was she always exposing herself to him like this?
"Ah," she fumbled. "S-sorry. Again."
Koga tapped his lips.
"He's pretty manipulative, that Tsuruga. And everyone thinks he's such a gentleman, huh. How fake."
"What? No, he-"
"He what?" He looked at her accusingly. "Don't defend him, I'm annoyed now. Why am I even getting involved in your relationship drama anyway? So bothersome."
He clucked his tongue at her.
"So, you got kissed by your ex, and Tsuruga found out, and hey, what is it with you and these super famous guys anyway?" He narrowed his eyes, looking her over suspiciously. "I really don't get it, but that's not important. Why is it his business? Is he your father or something? Are you two dating? Now that might actually be interesting."
"He's just concerned as my senpai!"
"What kind of senpai cares who you kiss?"
"It's only because I promised it wouldn't happen again!"
He raised his eyebrows.
"...Tsuruga made you promise not to kiss that guy?"
"You, you… stop trying to distort everything!" Kyoko crossed her arms over her chest. "It doesn't matter what I say, no one ever listens to me!"
"Oh, Tsuruga is listening all right," Koga lifted his index finger and pointed at her. "You are the deaf one. A deaf and blind fangirl for that Tsuruga you love so much. And he has you right where he wants you."
"You! You are SO rude and FULL of yourself," Kyoko exploded, smacking her hand against her thigh. "First off, you're not the best at backflips just because you're better than Konomari-san. Second, I'm not in love Tsuruga-san just because I care about his opinion. And third, Tsuruga-san is not a manipulative person just because you misunderstood the situation."
Koga stared at her.
"So why, instead of enjoying this beautiful train ride to the magical imperial palace, are you busy crying again?"
She rubbed a hand against her wet cheek.
"When did it..."
"Look," he interrupted, poking her in the forehead, "you're obviously too slow to understand this. If someone hurts you, you have to tell them. If they don't apologize or change their behavior, then they're not worth having in your life."
"At this point, I don't even know if you are really an incredible actress, or if your life is just miserable by default." His eyes hardened. "Someone who makes you this miserable, and even gets in the way of your work, that's not someone who cares. Let alone about your reputation."
At that moment, Kyoko didn't trust her voice.
"But, I don't know why you'd listen to someone who's not even the best at backflips."
"It's not that you're bad at them, Koga-senpai," she rubbed her eyes. "You're just not as good as me."
His mouth dropped open.
"What a rude, rude kouhai." He hit her repeatedly with the cat head. "Who taught you such bad manners?"
"I can help you, but you still wouldn't be the best." She shielded her face with her hands. " And I... thanks for listening to me."
Koga got up and rooted around in his bag.
"As I said, I don't care at all about some forgetful fangirl." He tossed a pair of headphones onto her lap. "Now, please take this and leave me alone."
Honestly, canon… I hate Ren right now and my Kyoko x Koga ship is sailing.
The theme of this prompt was how traveling gives me so much time and my mind wonders so much that I just get out of the vehicle with actions items to solve my whole life.
(Apologies, this was less of a story and more of me making characters say what I want.)