Kanae was not thrilled about the change in plans, but she didn't feel like arguing. Kyoko was so excited, so Kanae sucked it up and agreed. The orange-haired actress was visibly relieved, promising she would make a spectacular dinner and that Ren was an excellent host, which only made Kanae wonder exactly how much time her best friend had spent at the actor's apartment while she was away.
When they arrived at Ren's stupidly luxurious building, Kyoko made a beeline for the kitchen, weighed down with grocery bags that she insisted on paying for and carrying herself. The teen actress then banished both Kanae and Ren from the kitchen, shooing them out while waving a cleaver around like it was a fan.
Based on the size of the main room, Kanae guessed that Ren's apartment was larger than her family's entire house. Begrudgingly, the actress admitted to herself that it was very tastefully (although sparsely) decorated. It took her less than a minute to take in the entire room, mentally estimating the cost of every item and almost choking on the total sum. Obviously Tsuruga Ren was successful — he was the top star in Japan, and was paid accordingly. But it was one thing to know that in the abstract and entirely another thing to experience, Kanae realized as she sat on a beautiful, oversized custom leather sofa and ran her hand over a downy-soft throw blanket that probably cost more than her entire wardrobe. And what riled the actress most of all was how comfortable Tsuruga seemed, apparently unaware of the obscene affluence of his surroundings.
Ren made a polite effort at conversation, despite Kotonami-san's decidedly standoffish demeanor. After his few attempts were met with one word responses, Ren fell silent. He was relieved when there was a knock at the door. Yashiro had brought a bottle of wine, and more importantly, a third person to bridge the conversational gulf between the two actors. But the manager could only do so much. They were all relieved when Kyoko announced that dinner was ready, proudly leading the way to a dining room table so heaped with dishes it looked more like a wedding feast than dinner for four.
"Mo, did you really need to make all this?" Kanae grumbled, knowing from the delicious aroma rising from the plates that she was about to ruin her diet.
"I couldn't help it!" Kyoko pouted, wanting Moko-san to compliment her cooking. "I wanted to make something special, to celebrate the wrap of your first season! Besides," She added with determined cheerfulness, "I can't really eat most things anymore, but I can at least watch other people enjoy it."
Kanae and Ren locked eyes from across the table.
"It looks delicious." Ren announced. Kyoko beamed as he scooped a generous (by Ren standards) serving onto his plate.
"It smells amazing!" Kanae emphasized, touching Kyoko's arm, making the younger actress flush with pleasure. "I want to try everything!" Kanae said, her voice strangely intense. Ren could feel Kotonami's eyes on him. He didn't need to look up. He knew a challenge when he heard one.
Yashiro had put a small mountain of food on his plate. "-'s shuber tasthy!" Yashiro said blissfully through a mouthful of noodles.
Kanae was true to her word and ate from every dish on the table, twice. Yashiro looked distinctly impressed. Ren did his best to keep up, but eventually had to concede, pushing his plate away. He saw the look of triumph in Kotonami's eye as she deliberately took one more bite and then declared herself full as well.
Kyoko was delighted, although slightly confused. Ren was glad when Yashiro and Kane both volunteered to take extra home with them; he didn't think he could eat it all before it went bad. Even after everyone's second helpings, there were copious amounts of leftovers. Kyoko sat quietly, musing to herself. Watching them all eat dinner had been an odd experience: both nostalgic and taunting. Her stomach growled loudly.
"Um, excuse me," Kyoko said, embarrassed. She stood up, reminding them there was still dessert and scurried off to the kitchen. Ren felt queasy at the mention of more food. Even Kanae looked slightly intimidated.
"Ren, pass me that empty pl—" Yashiro dropped a serving spoon with a loud clatter as he saw Kanae untie the neck of her blouse. "Wha-! Ah!- UH!" Yashiro spluttered, his cheeks turning red. Ren looked at the actress blankly.
"What?" Kanae demanded, glaring back at the two men. "Kyoko hasn't eaten yet."
"Kotonami-san, you don't have to— I was going t—" Ren fumbled. The dark-haired actress pinned him with an uncomfortable stare as something clicked in her brain.
"No. Really?" Kanae asked skeptically, one eyebrow raised. She gave Ren a long, assessing look, then shrugged haughtily. "Well, I'm grateful for Kyoko's sake," Kanae said, not sounding grateful at all. Ren struggled to keep a politely neutral face as she continued condescendingly "But I'm back, so there's no need fo—"
"You're smaller." Ren interrupted, grateful for his large frame. Yashiro felt the beginning of an icy breeze blowing from where Ren sat, smiling politely. "As a man, and someone physically larger, I think it's better if I—"
"Kyoko likes my blood," Kanae cut in. "She said I taste like fresh spring." She shot the actor a proud glance, daring him to one-up her. Ren didn't have a response. Kyoko hadn't told him what his blood tasted like.
"Well," Ren replied defensively, "My blood type is O, so—"
"So don't you think you should donate your blood to someone in need?" Kanae finished for him. "I'm AB positive," she added, clarifying. "So it doesn't really make sense for me."
Ren stared at the actress, but Kanae held her ground. He changed tactics, pivoting to his manager.
"Don't you think Kotonami-san looks tired?" He observed loudly, not caring if the actress found his comment impolite. "Filming on location is so exhausting. And you just got back, didn't you?" Ren added to the actress, who fumed in her seat. They both whirled on Yashiro, who shrank back in his seat.
"I couldn't really say…" Yashiro stammered out reluctantly.
"Really?!" Ren couldn't believe it. His manager. The man who wouldn't shut up about his crush on Kyoko, who actively arranged Ren's schedule to stop by the Love Me Room as often as possible. "Seriously? Come on. Yukihito, how long have you been telling me th—"
"Alright, alright," Yashiro relented, turning to Kanae. "He has a point. Maybe you sh—"
"Yashiro-san," Kanae purred, leaning forward. Yashiro froze. His eyes strayed down from her face to her open neckline before snapping back up. Kanae gave him a sultry smile. "Doesn't Tsuruga-san have an awfully early start tomorrow?"
"If you agree," Kanae's voice lowered as she trailed her fingers up his arm, "I'll let you take me on a date."
"I-I—" Yashiro stuttered. "R-really?"
"What's going on?" Kyoko asked, reappearing with three small dishes of raspberry mousse.
"We were just talking about work," Kanae said with a meaningful glance at Yashiro. Yashiro blanched, then shot Ren an apologetic glance.
"Ren, don't forget we have an early start tomorrow!" Yashiro announced loudly to the table.
"Are you kidding me?" Ren whispered through clenched teeth.
"I'm sorry!" Yashiro replied, "But have you seen her?" His eyes flicked to Kanae. "She's gorgeous."
"Moko-san is BEAUTIFUL!" Kyoko agreed dreamily, launching into her favorite subject. Yashiro was an enthusiastic listener. He agreed with every point Kyoko made. Yes, Kanae's hair was stunning. Yes, her eyes shone like dark pools of starlight. Yes, she had the figure of a model and the grace of a queen. Yashiro definitely agreed that Kanae was the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes on. None of this praise seemed to bother Kanae, who was totally accustomed to Kyoko's long winded compliments. The dark-haired actress licked the last bite of dessert off her spoon, looking as proud as a cat who caught its first bird. Then she offered herself to Kyoko.
"Um, Tsuruga-san," Kyoko asked, "would you mind if we used your guest room?"
"It's fine, we can do it on the couch," Kanae said, standing up decidedly. Kyoko paused, uncertain. But if Moko-san wasn't uncomfortable, Kyoko reasoned, then there wasn't any reason for her to be. The teen realized her friend was probably trying to make her feel normal. Kyoko smiled at Kanae gratefully.
Ren and Yashiro stood awkwardly in the living room, both trying not to stare, with varying degrees of success. Kanae defiantly pulled the collar of her shirt down over one shoulder, revealing her pale skin and a dark blue bra strap. She stared at the two men as if daring them to make a fuss. Yashiro suddenly became incredibly interested in Ren's living room ceiling. Ren turned his gaze away, more for Kyoko's privacy than anything else. The actress still seemed a little self-conscious, despite Kanae's boldness. But Kyoko was hungry, and Kanae smelled like she had just rolled around in a meadow of wildflowers. After a few seconds, Kyoko pulled away quickly, licking a drop of blood off her fangs.
"I think you missed some," Kanae said, aware of Ren's eyes turning back to them both. Kanae raised a finger, a few drops of blood running down. Kyoko licked them up, as carefree as if Kanae was offering her a taste of an ice cream cone. Ren watched Kyoko's tongue greedily, feeling his gut clench. He had to look away.
"Are you feeling okay?" Kyoko asked. Kanae saw her opportunity. The dark haired actress wondered out loud if she should lie down. Kyoko instantly panicked, practically pulling Kanae's head into her lap and yanking the throw blanket off the back of the couch to spread it over Kanae, tucking it in around her so she wouldn't get cold. Kanae let Kyoko fuss over her with a smirk that both men could see. Yashiro looked at Ren's miserable face and took pity on his charge.
"I can take Kotonami-san home," the manager volunteered. Kanae's eyes narrowed. This had not been part of her plan. She started to protest, but Kyoko, worried for her friend's health, insisted, thanking Yashiro for being so thoughtful. Yashiro saw Ren's look of thanks over the actress' head.
"I think I'm actually fine," Kanae said, sitting up, no longer malingering. But she kept herself wrapped in Ren's throw blanket. It was the softest thing she had ever touched. Kanae would have to get one for herself.
"No, she's right," Ren smirked openly at the actress on his sofa, who scowled at him. "You'd better go home."
Kyoko returned from the kitchen, handing a bag of leftovers to Yashiro and putting her arm around Kanae, insisting on helping her to the door. The taller girl leaned on Kyoko's shoulder the whole way, really milking it. Ren rolled his eyes as Kanae gave Kyoko a long hug, whispering something in Kyoko's ear before begrudgingly relinquishing the throw blanket.
"I love you, Moko-san!" Kyoko said cheerfully. Yashiro held open the door, letting Kanae out first.
"So, when do I get to take you on that date?" Yashiro asked, then gave Ren a very conspicuous wink as he pulled the door shut.
The tall actor insisted on doing the dishes. Kyoko miraculously located some tupperware (Ren didn't know that he owned any tupperware) and put away the rest of the leftovers.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Kyoko looked at him, full of concern. They were sitting on his couch again. He insisted he was fine, just overly full from dinner.
"What does my blood taste like?" Ren asked suddenly, disrupting the quiet.
"I just—" Ren realized he sounded stupid, but his curiousity won out. "Kotonami-san said that you told her, what she—" Ren struggled. "What she tastes like," he finished, grimacing inwardly at how crass it sounded. "I just… I thought maybe… if you preferred…"
Kyoko caught his meaning. She blushed. "I don't know how exactly to explain it." she mumbled, evasive. Just thinking about how Ren's blood tasted made the hunger rise in her. It was one thing to explain it to Moko-san. But even after their discussion the night before, Kyoko wasn't sure she could tell Ren just how much she liked how he tasted and look him in the face afterwards.
"Your eyes are red." Ren observed.
"Are they?" Kyoko sat up straight, covering her face with her hands. "I'm sorry!"
"You don't have to apologize," Ren said. "I'm not mad. No," he amended. "I'm just a little envious."
"Uh…" Kyoko stared at him.
"Yes?" Ren prompted.
"I'm sorry! I completely forgot, you have work early tomorrow!" Kyoko suddenly remembered the time. "It's so late! I'm so sorry!" Kyoko started to stand up from the couch, but Ren grabbed her arm. She stilled.
"You don't have to go." Ren's fingers brushed the inside of her wrist. "Please. I want you to stay."
Kyoko slowly sat back down on the couch.
"Did you perhaps have something you wanted to talk about?" she ventured. Ren sighed.
"No, that's not—" Ren bit out frustrated. "I— I wanted..." he gestured between them. Kyoko went rigid.
"Uh... sorry if this is wrong," Kyoko said robotically as her brain struggled to process. "But... do you… do you mean…?" she trailed off, looking at his neck, her eyes flicking back up to his face.
"Is it that weird?" He said, his voice plaintive.
"Well, uh..." Kyoko trailed off, clearly wanting to tell him that yes, it was weird. But that would be rude. She searched her brain. "Doesn't it hurt?"
Ren shrugged. "I like it." He avoided her gaze.
Kyoko stared at him for a full minute, her nose scrunched. Finally, he looked at her. She was biting her lip, the point of one fang peeking out slightly. "Do you.. Would you like me to—"
Kyoko shifted as Ren practically dragged her on top of him. He fidgeted in anticipation underneath her, so that she had to grip his shoulder to get him to stay still. Her other hand rested near the base of his throat, close enough to feel the erratic thumping of his heartbeat as she ran her thumb along his collarbone. Then she sank her teeth into him. The heat of his blood and her mouth on his neck made Ren stiffen and jerk. Kyoko made a small mewl of protest at the motion, digging her fingers into his arm and squeezing her thighs, trying to keep him in place. Ren let out a shaky breath. His hands gripped her thighs, running up the side of her leg, over the curve of her hip to the small of her back, pulling her closer. Ren had to actively fight not to scoot her weight forward the last few inches so he could grind his hips up against her center.
Kyoko released him. She ran her tongue over the bitemark twice, extra slowly the second time to make sure she got both points where her fangs had pierced him. Ren groaned. Kyoko began to sit up, but his arms held her against his chest. She let out a contented sigh and settled against him, her head on his chest, where she could still hear his heart slowly returning to its usual, steady beat.
" -ove in." Ren said.
"Sorry?" Kyoko blinked, lifting her head, realizing she had been drifting to sleep.
"You should move in." Ren repeated. Her eyes widened, and he put a finger on her lips. "Think about it. You wouldn't have to go hungry. We could do this twice a day. I park in the underground garage, so you won't have to go out in the sun. I might need some heavier curtains…" Ren said absently, looking at the living room. Kyoko's throat let out a strangled response. Clearly her answer was plain on her face. Ren ignored it. "Think about it. I have a spare bedroom, if that's what you're worried about." Ren offered, although he would much rather Kyoko sleep in his bed.
"But what about you!?" She cried, unsure why she was even asking. Of course it was preposterous. What was he even saying? She couldn't believe he was even suggesting—
"I wouldn't offer if I didn't mean it," Ren said, and was struck by a brilliant thought. "It would be good for me too. You can make sure I'm eating all my meals…" He looked at her innocently.
Kyoko frowned. "You're trying to manipulate me."
"No," Ren countered, "I'm being entirely open about the fact that I want you to stay. That's not manipulative. I'm just trying to persuade you." He gave her a hopeful grin. "Is it working?"
Kyoko's mouth twisted as she tried not to smile back. "No."
"Are you sure?" Ren wheedled, his hands running up and down her back. He gave a wide, unconvincing yawn. "I'm pretty tired. And I have work early tomorrow." Ren smirked inwardly. Take that, Kotonami. "But I can still drive you back," Ren offered sincerely. He was a gentleman. If she didn't want to stay, he wasn't going to force her. He didn't actually want to manipulate her. He watched her face carefully, hope blooming in his chest. She hadn't shot him down immediately. That had to mean something. Kyoko chewed her lip.
"Well, it is late…" Kyoko began, and Ren grinned eagerly, making her smile too. She was helpless against his real smile. "Just for tonight, though." She added seriously.
"Of course. That's fine. Just for tonight." Ren agreed, once again lying through his teeth.
The very next morning, Ren ordered a state of the art, automatic, fully programmable smart blind system for his entire apartment. He ordered some new curtains too, ones he thought Kyoko would like. Over the next few weeks, he stocked his kitchen: herbal tea, tons of travel mugs, nice tupperware, sushi-grade tuna and ribeye steaks of Kobe beef. Kyoko stayed over one night a week, then two. Then more. Every time another item of hers found a permanent home in his apartment, Ren rejoiced.
Once, a few weeks into their new routine, they were careless. It had been a particularly long workday for both of them, and they had fallen asleep cuddled on the couch. The next morning, paparazzi snapped a blurry photo of Tsuruga Ren with what looked like a hickey on his neck. Rumors of his 'man-eating girlfriend' circulated immediately. Kyoko was absolutely mortified. Yashiro cackled with glee when he saw the headlines, teasing his charge mercilessly. But Ren was as unflappable as always, calmly denying and diverting any discussion of the topic. They finished work for the day early and decided to head back to LME. Yashiro nervously straightened his tie in the rearview mirror.
"What, you got a date or something?" Ren smirked, glad the tables had finally turned. Yashiro stiffened, looking a tiny bit flushed.
"A second date, actually." the manager corrected, pushing up his glasses. He gave Ren a sly glance. "What about you? Any plans?"
Ren smiled. "I think I'll see if Kyoko wants to grab a bite."
Big thank you to Claraowl for helping with many of the moments in this chapter. And shoutout to the discord for inspiring this story - I had so much fun writing it! Hope you enjoyed