I really said the next chapter wouldn't take that long to come up about a year ago, huh. Haven't given up on this story just yet!
"I'm ready," Kyoko responded.
Ren nodded, taking out his phone and opening the camera app. "As with when I taught you how to do the catwalk, men and women have a few different rules to model, but I can help by telling you what I've seen when modeling with other women. First, your body has to look natural and relaxed. If you're too stiff, it will show in the picture."
Kyoko nodded, immediately relaxing her body. It was easier when she already had experience drilled into her head from the last time Ren helped teach her how to do the catwalk.
"Good. Now for posing, often you are trying to draw attention to a certain aspect of your outfit. There are different poses that you can make for each article of your outfit that you are trying to present. However, first I can show you some basic poses that work for casual photos."
Through a mixture of explanation and some demonstration, Ren went through a few basic modeling poses that would work when standing. By crossing her legs one in front of the other, Kyoko could bring attention to the elegant lines of her body. Instead of looking head on at the camera intensely, looking slightly past it would create a more thoughtful look. Leaning in a certain direction would give more definition to the image. Moving around and laughing would make the photos more candid.
Throughout the lesson, Ren took photos with his phone and showed them to Kyoko, pointing out what she was doing right and things she could improve on. A few hours later, he finally deemed her photos model-worthy. As she looked at the successful photos compared to some of her earlier ones, she was really surprised by how different she could look just from posing correctly.
"Thank you so much for teaching me!" Kyoko bowed. Ren coughed, trying not to look at how her chest was exposed by Setsu's top.
"It was no trouble."
"We must have taken a lot of photos! You should delete the practice photos so that you don't waste storage space on your phone," Kyoko reasoned.
"They're not a waste of space. My phone has plenty of storage," Ren replied.
"But there's so many bad photos of me from practicing!"
"You look beautiful in every photo."
Kyoko blushed from head to toe. "I…I'm not…"
"You're always beautiful to me, Kyoko."
"There must be something wrong with your head then! No one can always be beautiful."
"There's nothing wrong with me. I just find you beautiful, Kyoko," Ren smiled, making Kyoko blush even harder.
"Then…I find you handsome!" Kyoko exclaimed, trying to beat him at his own game.
"Handsome?" Ren smirked. Oh, Kyoko would not back down to him!
Kyoko closed the distance between them and pressed a hand to his chest, smoothing down a slight wrinkle in his t-shirt. She smirked at him. Kyoko felt Ren's heart speed up under her hand, and it gave her a little thrill to affect him like this. Maybe she wasn't as bad at flirting as she thought.
She licked her lips unconsciously. Ren's eyes immediately flickered down to the movement. Oh, he really wanted to kiss her, didn't he?
She realized that she wanted to kiss him too.
However, there was still that little part of her that was terrified. Love wasn't easy. Sure they both knew that they loved each other. But was that truly enough to ensure that a relationship between them lasted? Was that enough to assume that their love would always last?
There were just so many questions about what would happen if they did end up having a relationship together. Would they be together in secret? How would their fans react if they found out? And what came after the initial honeymoon stage of their relationship? Ren had said he had thought about marrying her! And they had spoken about kids briefly…
At least he was serious about pursuing her. Kyoko had always thought that a relationship was the main precursor to marriage. She wasn't like other girls who dated simply to gain experience. Kyoko wanted something lasting. It was good that her and Ren would be on the same page.
However, a relationship would not be easy. So despite all the hardships they would definitely go through, was Kyoko willing to be with Ren? She didn't know what to do.
She pulled away from Ren. "I'm sorry."
"Don't apologize. I've told you before. Whenever you're ready."
Kyoko took a deep breath and smiled at him. He was just so understanding. How could she be so lucky to have someone like him fall in love with her?
"Did you see them?"
Shoko looked up to where Sho had suddenly burst into the room.
"Who?" Shoko asked, although she had a faint idea since there was only one person that could get him to act like this.
"There's a whole bunch of LME people in the lobby of the hotel."
"Oh? I heard a little about this from other managers. Apparently LME sponsored a vacation for all of its employees."
Shoko didn't realize that the LME vacation would coincide with Sho's tour dates in Osaka, so she hadn't thought it worth mentioning.
"Then that means Kyoko and that guy are both here."
Shoko watched as Sho's face soured, and she hurried to correct it. "But you said that they had a falling out when you last talked to Kyoko-chan, right?"
Sho smirked. "Yeah, last time I visited her I heard about it. She wouldn't tell me everything, but I know that she got really mad at him."
"Are you going to go look for her?" Shoko wondered.
"Well, yeah. I need to tell her how she finally made a good decision in making an enemy of that guy."
And like that, Sho was out the door. Shoko went on her phone to see if she could text any of her LME contacts and figure out what floor they were all staying on.
Sho waited in the lobby in his disguise until a guy who looked familiar walked by. Sho vaguely remembered him to be a talk show host on something Rock?
When he headed towards the elevator, Sho followed him in. He absently checked his phone to avoid suspicion, but it seemed that the guy wouldn't suspect him anyways as he was in conversation with a girl in the elevator.
"Mo, I already told you, she's not feeling well."
"I know, that's why I wanted to bring her something to make her feel better. I bought this soup down the street."
"I'm sure she'll appreciate it, but she's probably sleeping in the room right now. We shouldn't disturb her. I'm just going to pick something up from the room myself and then leave her be."
"Does Kyoko-chan need anything else? I'd be happy to get her anything she needs to feel better."
Sho's ears suddenly perked up. Was he really so lucky to have followed the guy looking for Kyoko too?
"We have it covered," The girl said. Now that Sho was seeing her, the girl in the elevator looked familiar. She must have been in some advertisement with Kyoko.
The elevator doors opened, and the duo stepped out. Sho followed them, seemingly going in the opposite direction until they turned a corner. He then hurried over and peered down the hallway to see them stopped in front of a door.
"Thank you for the soup, but I really don't want to disturb her. I'll set it on the table and let her know who brought it."
"Okay. Please let me know if she needs anything else."
After taking a bag from the guy, the girl went inside her room, and the guy came down the hallway back towards Sho. Sho ducked into an alcove with vending and ice machines as the guy walked past to get to the elevators. Once the guy had passed, Sho went back to his corner and waited until the girl with long, raven hair came out of the room about a minute later. He hid in the alcove again until she passed him and then stood in front of the door which she had come out of.
Sho knocked. "Hey! Kyoko!"
After a few moments, the door opened to reveal a person that he was definitely not expecting.
Sho gaped as he was met with Ren Tsuruga's manager. Why was he here? Wasn't Kyoko supposed to be here?
"I'm looking for Kyoko," Sho said after collecting himself.
"I heard that she's sick. Let me see her."
"I don't know where you heard that from, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave."
"I know she's in there."
"Fuwa-san, I don't know why you're at my door, but please leave, or I'll have to call security."
"Tell her I'm looking for her."
The manager shut the door in Sho's face. How disrespectful! He was Sho Fuwa!
Why was Tsuruga's manager in the room? If Kyoko was really as sick as her roommate made her out to be, then why did they let Tsuruga's manager visit her? And why did he make it sound like it was his room?
Something fishy was going on. And Sho was going to find out what it was. Straight from the source.
Kyoko hummed as she put a shirt in her suitcase, packing up everything in preparation for their departure. Ren wasn't in the room right now since he was fitting in a morning workout in the hotel gym before they departed.
Kyoko just finished putting a pair of pants in her suitcase when her cell phone started to ring. She picked it up without checking the caller ID, expecting it to be Ren.
"Hello?" Kyoko answered.
"Oi. Are you in Osaka right now?"
"Are you in Osaka now or not?"
"Um…yes?" Kyoko responded, too surprised by his sudden question to lie.
"Are you sick?"
"Then what was that girl saying about you being sick in your room? What room are you staying in?"
Kyoko finally collected her bearings and stopped mindlessly responding to his questions. "How do you know about all of this?"
"Because all of you LME people are crowding up my hotel!"
"Wait, you're staying in which hotel?"
"Royal Osaka! Same as you!"
"I see. Goodbye, Shotaro."
Kyoko ended the call and turned her phone off. A few moments later, the door to the room opened and Ren came in. Kyoko's phone rang again, but she immediately declined the call. When another call immediately came in after that, she turned off her phone.
"Hey. You alright?" Ren asked as he stepped into the bathroom to grab a towel. "All packed for Kyoto?"
"Just a few more things…" Kyoko responded, tapping her phone to her chin. When Ren came out of the bathroom he stopped in front of her.
"Anything wrong?" Ren wondered.
Kyoko bit her lip. Should she tell him? She knew how much Ren didn't like Shotaro.
But then again, wasn't she the one that said they needed to be honest with each other? If she was willing to lie about this to Ren, that would be hypocritical. No. She had to tell the truth.
"Shotaro called me. He's in Osaka."
She saw Ren stiffen.
"Not in our hotel, though," Kyoko quickly added. Ren's shoulders slightly untensed.
"Was Fuwa trying to bother you again?"
"I hung up on him and shut off my phone."
"We're on vacation right now, and I don't want him to bother me. If I want to speak to him, it'll be on my terms, not his."
Ren's lips tilted up. "I'm glad to hear that. I'm going to take a quick shower, but then we can head out?"
"Hai!" Kyoko smiled back, setting her phone face-down on a side table and resuming her packing.
"We have a problem," Yashiro said once Kanae entered the room.
"Sho Fuwa. He's staying in the same hotel. Right after you came back here to grab some things earlier, he knocked on the door, and I answered. He was looking for Kyoko-chan and heard that she was sick and staying with you. He must have followed you."
"Mo, what kind of coincidence is this that Sho Fuwa is staying in our hotel?"
"What should we do?"
"I don't think it matters what he thinks. It's not like he's going to be able to find Kyoko here, and we're moving to a hotel in Kyoko tomorrow anyways."
"Are you sure it won't cause any trouble? What if he finds out about Ren and Kyoko-chan?"
"I don't see how he would. Just don't talk to him, and I think we'll be fine."
"I hope you're right," Yashiro responded.
Although they had checkout out of their hotel, the honeymooners' tour group had one more stop to make in Osaka. They boarded a bus and after about half an hour, they arrived in Nara Park. As they got off of the bus, Kyoko saw tourists surrounded by groups of deer.
"Welcome to Nara Park. In addition to visiting Todaiji Temple, we'll also be walking through an area where we can see Nara's over 1000 deer. If you want to try to feed them, there's deer crackers for sale around the park. They're very tame, but if you have any food, they might become more aggressive. You'll have some time after we visit Todaiji Temple to make some new friends with the deer if you want," Mari smiled.
As they walked through the park towards Todaiji Temple, Kyoko held onto Ren's hand. It was starting to become a habit, but one that Kyoko enjoyed. From the smile on his face whenever she reached out for him, it was also one that Ren enjoyed as well.
Along the way, they passed under a large wooden gate watched over by two fierce statues. Mari explained that it was called the Nandaimon gate, and the two statues represented Nio Guardian Kings. The three entrances of the gate symbolized the three gates to enlightenment, and by passing through the gate, visitors to the temple would be cleansed of three evil passions: greed, hatred, and foolishness.
Kyoko marveled at the sheer size of Todaiji Temple. It was a beautiful wooden building, and probably the largest temple that Kyoko had ever seen. Before heading inside, her and Ren were able to get a picture together in front of the temple. It was nice that Kyoko was able to put the modeling skills that Ren had taught her into good use.
Entering the temple, the group was greeted by a large Buddha. One of the pillars to the side had a large hole in it, and Mari explained that the hole was supposed to be the size of the Buddha's nostril, and any who could squeeze through the opening would be granted enlightenment in their next life. A few in their tour group got in line to try, but Kyoko and Ren decided to use the time to stroll around the temple grounds instead.
After some walking, Kyoko saw a restroom and went to use it while Ren sat down on a bench in the park. As he waited for Kyoko on the bench, three deer approached him without caution. He reached out to pet the closest one on the head, causing another one to butt in to be pet as well. Ren chuckled, petting both. Soon, a large group of deer had surrounded Ren, asking for head pats.
As a child, Ren had always had an affinity for animals. He used to have so many pets, and he would frequently be surrounded by them whenever he went into his family's backyard. Thus, he was used to the animals surrounding him, even though he hadn't gotten the chance to hang around so many animals as before when he moved to Tokyo.
In addition to the deer, a blue bird flew down from a tree and landed on the bench next to Ren. He smiled at it and held out a finger. The bird hesitantly inched forward until Ren's finger softly brushed its chest. He scratched at its chest softly, earning its trust. The bird hopped onto his finger, and Ren laughed.
This was the sight that Kyoko returned to. Bystanders were looking at Ren quizzically, wondering why all the animals were so magnetically drawn to him. When Kyoko approached, the deer cleared away, and the bird flew off Ren's finger. Ren raised his eyes to meet with hers, and Kyoko huffed, sitting down next to him.
"Why were you bringing so much attention to yourself? I was only gone for a few minutes!"
"I was just sitting here. Animals have always been drawn to me ever since I was young. We used to have a garden at my house, and I would often sit there and spend time with the animals."
Kyoko tried to picture Corn surrounded by animals in his home garden. For some reason, the first image that came to her mind was Snow White singing while the woodland creatures helped her clean up, but instead the princess was suddenly replaced by a young Corn.
"I thought you were a fairy prince, but maybe you're actually the princess singing to all her animal friends," Kyoko laughed. Ren pouted at her, which only made her laugh even more. She poked a playful finger at his cheek when he continued to pout at her, and suddenly realized how close she had leaned in. Rather than backing away like she had in the past, she let herself lean in further and kissed his cheek softly, before pulling back with a blush. Ren looked at her in shock, bringing a hand up to his cheek where she had kissed.
"I just found you cute," Kyoko explained, not meeting his eyes. She felt Ren's hands take her own, and looked up to see him smiling at her with that smile that took her breath away.
"Then I hope you find me cute again."
Kyoko's blush grew even darker, but she didn't draw away. Although her heart was beating wildly, she let herself experience the feeling of being in love.
It's really funny, but I actually gained some photo posing tips from researching for this chapter. I hope you enjoyed!