Hello and welcome back to selfish fanfic! I own nothing but hope y'all enjoy this.

The Ishibashis flinched as Kyoko slammed the door to Bo's upgraded nest open and stormed inside. The three had been relaxing in there on the large, egg-shaped bean bags they stored in there, so to say that they were startled was an understatement. She shut the door behind her and collapsed, grumbling darkly, onto the last free bean bag. Hikaru opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, but before he could, the door burst open again.

To one irate Fuwa Sho. "Goddamn it, Kyoko, listen when I'm talking to you!"

Kyoko dug in her bag and made a great show of putting on a pair of butterfly-bedecked headphones.

Leaving Sho to storm forward and yank them off her head. Kyoko glared up at him and then - with the speed borne of her Momiji training and leverage from her hands on the floor - delivered a pair of punishing kicks to his shins with her heeled boots. She caught her headphones and snapped them back into place over her ears before Sho hit the floor, swearing about always the shins, you lunatic.

The Ishibashis exchanged baffled looks. They had never seen Kyoko act like this; she never ignored people who spoke to her. And even with that first disastrous show, she was never quite this dark. Hikaru was the first to speak. "Um, did you need something, Fuwa-san?"

"Yes!" he snapped, sitting up and pointing at Kyoko. "For this idiot to listen to me for a minute!"

"Hey, there's no need to insult-"

"Yes there fucking is! She knows she's mine, so what the hell does she think she's doing running around with that platform-wearing Ken doll reject?" He glared at his childhood friend, who was inspecting her nails.

"What do you mean, she's yours?" Hikaru asked, eyes narrowed. "From the looks of it, she doesn't want anything to do with you."

"Like hell. She's been mine since we were kids!"

Kyoko slowly removed her headphones. "Say that again."

He either didn't notice or ignored the threat in her words. "You've always been mine."

She moved too quickly for anyone to see what happened, but the next thing they knew, her heeled boot was on his chest and pressing him back onto the floor. "I am only going to say this once, so shut your damn mouth for once in your life. I am not yours. I was once, because I had no one else to cling to, Sho. You were my only human friend until I was sixteen."

"Like that's my fault!" He struggled, trying and failing to throw off her foot. In the background, the Ishibashis exchanged worried glances.

"Actually, it was. You didn't call any girl but me by their first name at school, Shotaro." When he made to protest her use of his name, she dug her heel into his ribs, cutting him off. "You've always been popular, and that tiny bit of special treatment made me a target. You should know by now how intense fans can get. But I never told you, because I didn't want to bother you." Her voice dripped with venom. "And because I didn't want to cause any problems for you or your parents, I never told anyone. I just endured, worked hard, and kept my mouth shut. Sure, it had nothing on what Natsu pulls," a touch of sadism flashed through her eyes, "but she works in the short term. This was my entire school experience in Kyoto, Sho. Every damn day."

"And how the hell is that my fault, if you never told me?"

"Because I know you saw it happen. And sure, we were kids. But you never tried to help, never even tried to comfort me. Not with that, and not with anything." Her heel dug into his ribs again. "Or do we need to talk about how I stopped crying in front of you because it bothered you? Did you really think I was happy, Shotaro? Did you really think I got over my mother's hatred? Her abandonment?"

He flinched, and stopped struggling for a moment.

"Or what about once we came to Tokyo? You don't know the hell that is a service job, and I worked three. You have no damn clue what it's like to work back-to-back shifts, then come home to that cold, empty apartment to make dinner, and then never even have the person you were waiting for show up. Or if they did, it was only long enough to eat and sleep. And with never so much as a thank you for working myself to the damn bone." Her heel dug into him harder, then relented, her foot only applying enough pressure to keep him in place. "Honestly, Sho, you throwing me away like a used tissue that day was probably the best thing to happen to me at that point in my life."

"The hell?"

The Ishibashis' faces mirrored Sho's statement, though with confusion mixed into the anger. Hikaru pulled out his phone and made a quick call.

"Because you made me realize how damn empty I was." Her golden eyes flickered with a strange light - not anger, but something akin to madness. A light drawn from finally putting years of pain into words. "All of my life up to that point had been for my mom, your parents, or you. Never for myself. And I realized that, so I'd thank you if you weren't such an insufferable prick."

"You're still trying to beat me! Your whole career is for me!" He resumed his struggles and got a heel to the rib for it.

"It stopped being about you the moment I started acting, Sho." At the look of disbelief on his face, she added, "Sure, I said it was for a while longer. But looking back? No way. The only time I ever thought about you while acting was before I got into character during your PV, and then only because you were in front of me. Any other time I'm acting, you're nowhere near my mind - hell, I only think of you when you're making a nuisance of yourself these days."

"As if." His sneer had less of its swagger than usual. "You've always been obsessed with me."

She leaned forward, resting her arms on her bent knee and pressing her heel deeper into his ribs. "If anyone's obsessed, it's you, Shotaro."

"What the hell does that mean?" He pushed himself up onto his elbows, finally unseating her foot. She stepped off of him, and he scrambled to his feet.

She glared at him, but kept her voice calm. "You are the reason I have had to change my number three times, because you somehow keep getting my number. You call me at god-awful hours of the morning to yell at me. You come to my place of residence to force me to talk to you. You have forced two kisses on me-"

"What?" yelped the Ishibashis.

She waved them off, continuing, "-one because you thought I was dating someone else, and the second one because you wanted to make me pissed after my mother denied my existence on TV. Do you even realize how messed up that is? Trying to add more pain when I was obviously devastated?"

"I wasn't-"

She held up a hand, silencing him. "What about the time you had Nanokura-san handcuff my ankle so you could force me into your car and yell at me about the Dark Moon party? Or the time you pinned me to the wall of a parking garage to make me promise to never fall for Tsuruga-san?" She held her hands above her head for a moment, positioned the same way he had pinned them.

"Shut up! Stop saying stupid things out of context!"

"Or what, you'll hit me again? At least you're wearing a smaller ring this time."

Sho was saved from having to make a retort by the door opening again, this time to security - followed a few seconds later by a panting Shoko. Her eyes went wide in panic when the security guards gestured to Sho and asked Hikaru, "Is this him?"

"Yes. He chased Kyoko-chan in here, screaming at her. He seems like a dangerous stalker."

"I'm sure this is a misunderstanding," Shoko interjected, reaching out and gripping Sho's shoulder tightly in warning. "Fuwa Sho isn't a stalker. These two are childhood friends."

While the guards were preoccupied with Shoko, Sho leaned over and hissed at Kyoko, "I can get this show cancelled with a single message to my fans, Kyoko. You had better watch your damn mouth."

"And leave you with one less variety show to watch? Please." She crossed her arms over her chest, her tone matching his. "Besides, Shotaro, you forget that I have enough information on you to burn your whole career to the ground. I can rip your precious image to shreds with what I know."

"Like I couldn't do the same to you."

"But I could come back from it, Sho, and you would never even know it was me."

"What?" He blinked at her. "What the hell does that mean?"

"Three times. Three times you didn't recognize me. Two of those you only realized it was me because I slipped information no one else in Tokyo knows. But the other time? You looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and didn't realize it was me." A cruelly satisfied grin crept across her face. "You will always be Fuwa Shotaro, but I can be anyone. One thing I learned from both you and my mother was to build myself up from ashes, Sho. And doing that means I can sculpt myself however I please."

"Don't compare me to that woman," he growled.

The cruel grin grew even wider. "That's true; I can have a civil conversation with her, and I can understand her reasons, even if I wish her actions had been different. We've reached an understanding. But you, Sho? You have no excuse for treating me the way you do." Her grin vanished. "So grow up and leave me the hell alone."

He gaped as she turned around, sat back down on the bean bag chair, and put her headphones back on. Did she just say that I'm worse than her mother?

"We're very sorry for the mix-up," one guard said.

"Of course." Shoko smiled, her nails still digging into Sho's shoulder. "I understand your desire to keep everyone safe. But if you'll excuse us, my charge and I have an appointment."

Once Sho, Shoko, and the guards had left, Kyoko looked at the Ishibashis. "Thank you for trying to call security on him. I appreciate it." She gave a small bow, then looked up sheepishly. "And I'm really, really sorry about the trouble he caused."

"We're sorry we couldn't do more. We wanted to stop him, but then you seemed to have a good handle on the situation, and then - yeah." Hikaru rubbed the back of his neck. "It sucks that they didn't believe us."

"I expected as much. I'm just glad that I didn't get thrown out of the building this time." She sighed. "Okay, go ahead and ask. I know you're wondering."

"I was more wishing I'd helped you strangle him during the first show, actually," Hikaru muttered. Shinichi and Yuusei nodded, overwhelmed by their coworker's tragic past.

Kyoko laughed, breaking the tension in the room. "I bet that would've made the producer happy."

"I don't think anything makes the producer happy," Shinichi quipped.

"Anyway, I think we got the gist of it," Yuusei gestured to the door, "but mind if I ask what he was so pissed about?"

She bit her lip, thinking hard for a moment before saying, "He saw my necklace."

"Why would that piss him off?" Shinichi asked.

Kyoko slid the pendant out from under her shirt, blushing. She couldn't look at them. She and Kuon had agreed it was alright to tell their friends, if asked, at this point - but this was somehow more embarrassing than when she told Moko and Chiori. Those two had rolled their eyes and told her it was about time before they started teasing her, but here…. The silence pressed down on her.

Finally, Hikaru let out a strangled, "Oh."

She nodded and slipped it back under her shirt, her blush intensifying. "Yeah."

"How long have you guys been dating?" Shinichi asked, tossing Hikaru a sympathetic look. If it hasn't been long, maybe the leader still has a chance.

"A little over a year. We figured that it was okay to start telling people who we know now. But, um, please don't tell anyone else yet. We're still working with the PR department to keep the president from doing something really, really stupid and over-the-top." She fidgeted, still not looking at any of them. "I'm not ready to deal with that type of scrutiny from the press yet. And he's worried about what his fans might do to me."

"Fangirls are scary." Yuusei nodded. "You can come to us if anything happens, you know. We don't want anything to happen to you."

She finally looked up at them, a complicated look on her face. "You're not mad at me?"

"Why would we be mad at you?" Hikaru asked. A bit devastated, sure, but not mad.

She opened and closed her mouth a few times before saying at last, "I don't know. It just seems like someone should be? I mean, his fans definitely will be, but like - no one but Sho has been mad when I've told them, and he doesn't count because he's an ass. Not even taisho and okami-san were upset. I've been waiting for someone we know to point out the mismatch. To say that I'm not worthy."

"Does Ts- does he know that you feel this way?" Hikaru hated seeing her like this, hated hearing her talk about herself as less than. Hated Tsuruga for letting her feel like this.

She nodded, her cheeks darkening further. "He keeps insisting that it's the other way around. But that's part of why we didn't tell anyone for so long."

"You're definitely worthy of him, Kyoko-chan," Hikaru said, the other two nodding emphatically, all three deliberately ignoring the arrows through his heart. "You're an awesome actress, amazing cook, and all-around great person. Any guy would be lucky to have you."

"You sound like Ren," she mumbled, her face burning ever brighter.

Stab. Another arrow.

"Good!" Shinichi declared. "If Tsuruga stops sounding like the leader here, dump him and come straight to us. Deal?"

She giggled, thinking of Kuu's tendencies and how Kuon seemed to take after him. Even she could tell them how unlikely that was. "Deal." Then she made a face.

"What's wrong?" Yuusei asked.

"I need to warn Ren and possibly PR. Sho's going to pitch some sort of fit about this. I can only hope that Shoko can keep enough of a leash on him that he'll do it in private." She dug her phone out of her bag and sent messages to Ren, Yashiro, and the PR representative with whom they were working. Just as she finished sending the third message, her phone rang. She shot an apologetic look at the Ishibashis and made to stand, but they shook their heads. It was time for their pre-show meeting with the producer - one for which Bo was not needed. She waved to them as they left and she answered. "Kyoko speaking."

"Are you okay? What did he do?" Concern and anger warred in his voice, the former for her and the latter at Sho.

"Hello to you, too," she laughed. "I'm fine. He was in the hall at TBM and started spouting nonsense at me the minute he saw me. I ignored him, so he tried to grab me. I guess I spun away too quickly, because your necklace slipped out of my shirt." She plucked at her wrap shirt, cursing its treachery. "He saw it and flipped out. Chased me all the way to Bo's nest. The Ishibashis were there - I told you how much they like the bean bags they got me, right? - so I figured I was safe, so I sat down to try to ignore him."

"But…" She could feel his apprehension through the phone.

"But I lost my temper, kicked him in the shins, and pinned him to the floor with my foot while I told him off. When he finally got back up, Hikaru-kun called security. He didn't get thrown out, because Shoko-san showed up, but she did drag him away. And I told the Ishibashis what prompted all of this, so, um… they know now, too."

He let out a breath of relief. "I'm glad you're okay. I was so scared when I got your message - I knew Yukihito should've gone with you today."

"I'd rather have him be there to fend off your grabby co-star," Kyoko teased. "I'm just sorry that he found out. I'd have rather had him wait like the rest of Japan. At least then we wouldn't have to worry about him blowing our cover before we announce anything."

"I'm sure PR will send a strongly worded warning over to Akatoki." In the background, she could hear someone calling for Ren. "I need to go. Are you sure you're okay?"

"Absolutely. See you at nine?" Her fingers played with the leather strap of the necklace.

"Yeah. If I'm lucky, I'll get to watch the last few minutes of your show. It's been a while since I've seen my chicken friend in person, after all." She was glad to hear the smile back in his voice, but there was still an edge of worry to it.

She laughed again, hoping to lift his spirits. "Alright. If you run late, I'll probably be with the Ishibashis in Bo's nest or the blue room. I'll see you later."

"I hope you fly freely," he murmured - their code for 'I love you' when talking in public. "Bye."

"You, too. Bye, Ren." She hung up, then smiled at her phone for a moment. She tucked it away, locked the door, and got changed into the light cotton clothes she wore under Bo. It was almost time to don the chicken suit.

vVvVvVvVvVv

While Kyoko was talking with her honorary elder brothers and then her fairy prince, Sho was getting his biggest earful yet from Shoko. They were in an unused, dead-end hallway of TBM. He was slouched against the wall, hands in his pockets, trying to ignore his manager. It wasn't anything he hadn't heard before anyway. Stop bothering Kyoko in public. Stop insulting her. Don't chase her into her dressing room (he scoffed; mascots hardly needed dressing rooms). Imagine what would the press say if they caught him yelling at a girl the same age as so many of his fans. "And for crying out loud, Sho, if the thought of her dating Tsuruga Ren bothers you so much, just ask her out yourself!" Not that it would make much of a difference, if they're far enough along that they're not exactly hiding it.

Okay, that one was new. "As if I would want to date that plain, boring woman! I just didn't want her to forget who she belongs to. Walking around like a dog with her master's collar around her neck…." He trailed off, grumbling.

"You don't own her, Sho. But we don't have time for this. We're going to be late if we don't head upstairs for your interview. Come on." She grabbed his arm, forcing him to walk. That interview was not Sho's most charming.

vVvVvVvVvVv

Sho stormed back towards the stage where Yappa Kimagure Rock was being filmed, having lost Shoko again, ready to properly give Kyoko a piece of his mind this time, and determined to cash in on their bet. She'd clearly gone and fallen in love with Tsuruga, so it was back to Kyoto with her. Why else would she be wearing his necklace like a damn dog collar? Stupid, love-obessesed woman. Didn't she know what people would say about her if they saw her wearing that? She'd been pissed at him for how his middle-school fangirls treated her, but there she was letting herself be claimed by that Ken doll! Didn't she realize that far, far more dangerous fans would have it out for her when they saw that? He had to get it off of her and ship her back to the ryokan, stat.

Unfortunately for no one but Sho, an iron grip caught his arm halfway down a particular hallway. "Fuwa. What a coincidence."

"The fuck, Tsuruga?" He wrenched his arm out of the grip and spun to face him.

Kuon simply leveled a glare on him. "You need to leave Kyoko alone."

"Like hell I do!" He glared, frustrated that he had to tilt his head up. "She's mine."

Kuon closed his eyes and took a deep, steadying breath. Kyoko would be upset if he punched this idiot. Kyoko would not want him to leave marks on this idiot. This was Kyoko's prey to destroy. He opened his eyes and smiled. "But were you ever hers?"

"Like something this good could be hers," Sho scoffed. "Stupid, love-obsessed woman."

"Excellent," Kuon said, his full gentlemanly smile in place. "You're not hers, and she is no longer yours. So you can leave her to live her life." He stepped around Sho, forcing him to move out of the way, back the way he came.

"Who says she's not mine? She's got a promise to keep, asshole!" He smirked up at Ren. "She's on the next train back to Kyoto."

He raised an eyebrow. "Oh, really? Do tell."

"I saw her wearing your little dog collar. Didn't she tell you? She promised to go work at my family's ryokan for the rest of her life if she ever fell in love with you." He mimicked Ren's relaxed stance. "Or do you just give out those necklaces to every girl you're trying to bang?"

"Was this the so-called 'promise' you extorted out of her when you had her pinned to a wall? Because it's generally understood that agreements made under threat aren't valid." The sparkliness of his smile increased. Besides, that promise concerned Tsuruga Ren, not Hizuri Kuon. "Or did you never manage to learn not to threaten women?" He took a step forward.

Sho's back hit the wall. When had he started backing away? "She was out of line!"

"Wrong as usual, Fuwa. You are out of line." He dropped the smile, now glaring openly at the singer. "So leave her the hell alone."

"Or what?" Sho sneered back, trying not to be intimidated.

"Or I will use every resource at my disposal to make sure you never see the light of day again." Including telling Mom. And you will know her wrath, unstopped by Kyoko, because she doesn't know how to say no to Mom yet. "On or offstage."

"Are those resources good enough to keep your fans from ripping her to shreds?" Sho hissed back, glaring to hide how badly his body wanted to shake. "Or are they going to kill her the minute they see her wearing that dog collar?"

"Don't pretend to care, Fuwa." Even though I don't think you are. Your acting sucks.

"I'm not-!" He bit back the rest of his sentence. "Just answer the fucking question!"

It was taking every ounce of his control not to pick up the cockroach - Shotaroach, he thought with a relish - up by the collar and slam him against the wall. But something, maybe understanding that this prick did care in his own, god-awful way, held him back. And made him speak. "For the record, Fuwa: Yes. Yes, they are. And she's going to have a bodyguard on top of that." Not to mention how much she's been studying martial arts lately.

"Tch."

The sparkling smile was back. "And to prove that, I plan to get rid of what is currently the number one threat to her well-being."

"What?" Is the Beagle back?

"Oh, there you are, Tsuruga-san!" Hikaru jogged into view, followed by the security guards from earlier. "I see you caught him."

"He was trying to come harass her again." When Sho tried to argue, Ren's hand clamped down painfully on his shoulder. Ren directed his speech to the guards. "Gentlemen, please ensure that the staff knows not to let this man near Kyouko-chan. He has been stalking her for several years now, and has been known to get physical."

Sho tried and failed to throw off Ren's hand. "I am not!"

"I remember a cut on her face that says otherwise." He turned back to the guards. "President Takarada mentioned that someone would be calling the head of security later to coordinate proper protection. Until then, could you please escort him to wherever he's supposed to be, and make sure he stays there? Kyouko-chan will be leaving soon, so you won't have to babysit for too long."

At which point Sho snapped and swung at Ren. "I don't need to be fucking babysat!"

Kuon dodged easily, of course, but it was more than enough for the guards to step in. "We understand," one said solemnly. "And please pass our apologies on to Kyouko-san for not removing him earlier. His manager said that they were childhood friends."

"They were. It's a pity how these things change." He bowed. "Thank you for your help, gentlemen."

The two guards led Sho away. Now that that was handled, Hikaru let out a sigh of relief. And then remembered who was standing with him: Kyoko-chan's boyfriend. Kuon would have been tickled to know that was his first descriptor.

"Thank you for getting the guards," he said.

"No problem." Hikaru turned and started walking down the hall, gesturing for him to follow. "C'mon, she's waiting for you. Shinichi and Yuusei are distracting her."

Kuon fell into step beside him. "Then I'll have to thank them, too."

"Congratulations, by the way." The words were bitter in his mouth, but sincere. He had seen Kyoko grow happier over the past year, and Ren had to be part of why. And her expression when she had talked about him… she was definitely very much in love. "I hope you two are really happy together."

"Thank you," he said, with a sympathetic smile that Hikaru almost missed. Their eyes held for a moment before Hikaru looked away. "I plan to spend my life making her as happy as I can."

"You'd better." He was silent for a few moments, then added, "And, uh, I'm sorry for asking her out this past year. I wouldn't have if I'd known."

To his surprise, Ren clapped him on the shoulder. As if they were friends. "I know. You're a good guy. I hope you'll still be her friend." He paused, as if psyching himself up - but Hikaru shook that off, it was ridiculous - then said, "And I would like to be your friend, too."

Hikaru gave him a weird look. "You don't mind that I've been crushing on your girlfriend for years?"

Kuon glanced over at him. "I mean, a little. But I trust her and I know you wouldn't do anything she didn't want you to." He let out a huff and shoved his hands in his pockets, letting go of a little more Tsuruga Ren. "Unlike some people."

"Fuwa."

"Got it in one."

"At least he's gonna have a nasty bruise on his chest from her stepping on him," Hikaru muttered. "Sucks that the guards didn't believe us the first time."

"They almost never do. He got her thrown out of a building after he cut her cheek open back during Dark Moon." He clenched and relaxed his hands a few times, trying to calm himself down. "At least Boss knows now, so he can do something about it."

"Boss? Oh, you mean -?"

"President Takarada, yeah." He blew out a deep breath, making sure not to sigh. Maria had trained him well. "I don't think it'll actually get as far as a restraining order, not if Akatoki has anything to say about it, but one can hope. Maybe they'll finally bring him to heel. If not…." I tell Mom and Dad the full, unedited version of the story. And let them destroy him from there. That'll make Kyoko upset, though, so I hope it doesn't come to that.

"If not, let us know. She calls us her onii-sans, so we'll show him what happens when he messes with our family." Step one of getting over Kyoko: start trying to think of her as a little sister.

"Deal." He extended a fist to Hikaru, which, after a moment of confusion, he bumped with his own.

"Deal!" And then they were at the green room, where Shinichi and Yuusei had Kyoko laughing so hard that water was coming out of her nose. They patted her on the back as she sputtered, but she didn't stop laughing. Hikaru forced himself to look away - and caught the look on Ren's face. Rather, the look on the face of the man behind the mask.

His expression was so horrifically tender and joyful. Like there was nothing he'd rather do than watch the girl with water and snot down her front laugh. Like he couldn't believe his luck to just be in her presence. Like he wanted to spend the rest of his life making her laugh exactly that hard. And gods, it hurt to see. Because Hikaru knew that what he felt for Kyoko was a candle in comparison to the bonfire that was Tsuruga Ren.

But what hurt more was how her entire body seemed to light up when she stopped laughing long enough to notice who was in the room. How her eyes danced like fireflies at dusk when they met his. How she smiled - oh, how she smiled, like she could see that her future would be a fairy tale. How her voice practically sang out, "Ren!"

"Hi, princess." He kissed her cheek (making her turn a vivid red) and offered her a hanky.

"Thanks." She hurried to dry herself off, her cheeks growing a little darker. Then she looked up at Hikaru. "And thank you for finding him, Hikaru-nii-san!"

"No problem." He dropped into the chair next to Yuusei. "Thanks to this guy," he pointed at Ren, "we got Fuwa dragged away by security. It was pretty funny. They promised to babysit him."

Kyoko giggled. "I bet he hated that."

"Yup. The guards had to practically drag him away." Kuon grinned at her. "So hopefully they can keep an eye on him until we get home."

"Don't say it like that!" Somehow, Kyoko's face got even darker. She turned to the Ishibashis, her hands flailing. "You guys know I still live with Mo- with Kanae!"

"Chill, we get it," Shinichi laughed. "Now get out of here before that asshole gives security the slip."

"Yeah, 'cause this time we might not be able to stop ourselves from punching his stupid face," Yuusei added. "We're your nii-sans, remember?"

Kuon chuckled, making Kyoko pinch his side. "Well, then thank you all for your hard work today!" She stood and bowed, as proper as ever. "And especially for the help with Shotaro."

"Shotaroach," Hikaru offered. "Since he's such a cockroach."

Which sent Kyoko into another gale of laughter. Kuon grinned at him. "I thought that exact same thing earlier."

"Great minds think alike," Shinichi offered.

"But fools seldom differ!" Yuusei chimed in, earning him an elbow to the side. "Ow. Okay, yeah. Good work today, Kyoko-chan, and we'll see you next week."

They all exchanged goodbyes, and the happy couple made their way very properly (and carefully) to Kuon's car. Once they were both buckled in, Kuon asked, "Are you really okay, princess?"

"I am," she reached over and placed her hand on his, "really. The Ishibashis were there practically the whole time. And I got to really yell at him for all the shit he put me through, which was pretty cathartic. I just wish he hadn't found out about us yet. I wanted him to wait like the rest of Japan."

Kuon smiled softly. "It would have been funny to have him try to fight through the crowds of press to have his temper tantrum."

She huffed out a laugh before her expression turned serious again. "What about you? I know you don't like running into him."

"I didn't hit him," Kuon said, looking for all the world like a puppy waiting to be praised. "I just threatened him a little."

"Good boy," Kyoko cooed, scratching him behind the ear. He barked out a laugh. "Now, do you have groceries at your place, or are we going back to mine for dinner? Moko's not getting home until ten, so we won't be bothering her."

"Your place it is," he said, and started driving. Kyoko just rolled her eyes and smiled.

vVvVvVvVvVv

Sho sat fuming in his apartment. Shoko had dropped him off, claiming she was too fed up to look at him a minute longer. After that lecture she'd given him, he was sure the only reason she'd left him alone was because she knew he didn't know where Kyoko lived anymore. And that the meat cleaver incident made it clear that he was not welcome back at the Daruma-ya, so he couldn't even try to charm her location out of the okami. Not that he wanted to get anywhere near the taisho. Kyoko had clearly fed him lies, because he'd been holding the same type of knife his dad did to cut through bones.

Which left him alone in his apartment. Fuming. At Shoko, for not taking his side. At Tsuruga, for collaring Kyoko like that and getting him carted off by security. At those dumb Bridge Rock people, for calling security on him twice. At the security guards, for listening to Tsuruga and treating him like a stalker. But mostly at Kyoko. Stupid, foolish, love-obessessed Kyoko.

"Why Tsuruga?" he grumbled. "Out of all the fucking people in Tokyo, why him? You traitor."

He got off his couch and went to the kitchen. Dammit, I'm out of beer. Soda'll have to do, I guess. Not like this day can get any shittier. He cracked it open and took a swig as he made his way back to the couch. He threw himself down on it, not caring when some soda splashed onto the cushions. Kyoko would have cared about that. She would have scolded him for it, before going to go get something to get the stain out. Or she would've gotten him the soda in the first place, so he didn't have to get up. Hell, she would have gone to get him beer. Or pudding. Gods, he missed pudding.

"Why fucking Tsuruga?" He glared at his soda. It didn't answer him.

She had to be doing it to get back at him. He didn't believe a damn word she'd said about being over him. This whole thing was a ruse. She'd probably just made a fake of the necklace - she was handy like that. And she'd used her creepy magic on Tsuruga and those Bridge Rock guys to make them play along - or maybe they just wanted to drag him down. He was Fuwa Sho, after all. Or maybe Kyoko had fed them a bunch of lies about him to get sympathy. Or she could have used her shape-shifting demon powers to ensnare them.

"What an idiot," he muttered to the ceiling.

Did she even realize what could have happened if the press had seen that necklace instead of him? She'd be all over the tabloids in no time flat. For all she'd gone on about how his fangirls treated her back in Kyoto, she should know better. But no, she just had to wear it. To flaunt that she and Tsuruga were… what, fucking? No, Kyoko wouldn't do that before her wedding night. Tsuruga didn't deny it, but that asshole wouldn't have. So were they dating? It didn't make sense. Sure, Kyoko's star was rising (even he could see that), but she wasn't on their level yet. And if she wasn't putting out (because she was Kyoko, she wouldn't do that), then what would Tsuruga have to gain? Unless the prick actually lo- liked her.

"What would a top guy in show business want with a flat, boring girl like her?" His soda was halfway empty.

Kyoko, he could see. Stupid girl had always been obsessed with love, fairy tales, and happily ever afters. So of course when she realized she'd never be good enough for him, she'd gone to the next best thing. Someone almost his equal - someone she knew would make him notice. Someone he conveniently already hated.

"Like she could ever make me jealous," he scoffed.

He was just… concerned. Because who would she go to next, when Tsuruga dumped her? Would she have sense and come crawling back to him, or would she move on and use the next hot thing to try to get his attention? Maybe that Koga guy - Hiromune, was it? That guy with the good hair in her ninja thing. Sho took another swig of his soda.

"She could just apologize, and I'd let her come back."

Idiot didn't even realize the danger she was in. Tokyo was a-whole-nother-level from Kyoto in terms of fans being crazy. And she was walking around with Tsuruga's dog collar around her neck. What happened to miss prim and proper? Wasn't she a proper Japanese woman? She shouldn't be wearing that type of thing, letting that asshole mark her like that. What a skeezy way to get revenge.

"How far are you gonna take this, Kyoko? All for a little revenge? Isn't this taking it too far, even for you?" His soda can was empty. He tossed it on the floor, not caring where it rolled.

Why didn't he have any beer? This day would be easier to end with beer. But instead, he was sitting on his sofa, staring at the ceiling, his mouth tasting like aspartame. He hadn't even meant to run into Kyoko today. It was just luck; he'd been at TBM for an interview, and she was there for - something. Bridge Rock worked with that chicken, right? So that was her.

"Some actress." His ceiling ignored him. "It's been how many years, and she's still playing that stupid chicken? Have some self-respect."

Never mind that the chicken was hilarious. She was still a mascot, and was… dating?

No, pretending to date one of Sho's only real pieces of competition. Yeah, right. If they tried to tell the press that for publicity, she'd get eaten alive. But it didn't seem like they were using it for tabloid drama, so that meant it had to be for him, right?

"Everything she's done has been for me." He smirked. "Even if she tries to deny it."

And deny it she had, violently. But that was Kyoko, wasn't it? She raged and fought and was so wildly alive. That's how she showed she cared. And gods, did Kyoko care. Even if she denied it, he knew she did. Because she fought him. Because he could still get emotion out of her. She had to care, or else she wouldn't do that. Even her telling him to get lost was part of that.

"Because she'd never want to get rid of me." He leaned over to grab his phone and winced. She'd left bruises on him when she'd stepped on him. Right over his ribs - and heart. "Subtle, Kyoko. Subtle." Because his heart was all she'd ever wanted.

Wasn't it?

And that wraps up this fic! I hope you enjoyed what I described to the fic discord as "pissy Sho." Lol. Let me know what you thought!