He returned to consciousness with a start, imagining her final screams in his ears for the umpteenth time. He almost thought he could picture her hovering over him, changing the bag of ice hanging on his feverish forehead, she had smiled down at his fever-logged brain and told him to go back to sleep. Foolishly he secretly hoped that when he opened his eyes she would be there again, that it had all been a dream. However, this was childish for if there was one thing that was certain, it was that she would never smile at him again. He would never get to say that he thought she was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, or that he had been the one to give her the small glistening token that she had cherished so much, the one she had christened "Corn". Worst of all he would never get to tell her that he loved her. Tears welled in his eyes as he turned over in his large empty bed. He let the small salty slivers of pain exit his overflowing heart freely. He didn't know if he could take much more, she was the second person to perish due to him, but this time he felt so much worse than he had in America, because while they both were tragic accidents (at least that's what the police claim) this one had taken not just someone he looked up to, but the most important person in his life.
"Ren, Get up!" Yashiro said, standing at Ren's bedside, staring at the actor's back. He was dressed in all black, he must have come in when Ren had started crying, but Ren didnt pay attention to much around him anymore. "We need to go, or we will be late for the funeral. Mogami-san wouldn't want you to be late." Yoshiro went to Ren's closet and started pulling out a black suit and tie for Ren to wear. "Take a shower, then get dressed into that." The manager said sternly, keeping himself together for Tsuruga, Ren's sake. The tall man nodded, got up slowly from his bed, and disappeared into the bathroom. Once Ren was gone, Yashiro sagged onto his bed, tears coming again. He couldn't believe that only a week before she had been acting, helping, behaving erratically, and being her usual cheerful self. If only those fans knew that she had not just been a mere distraction to the actor, but the one he had given his heart to, maybe they wouldn't have attacked her. If they only knew that by killing her, they had killed the only chance Ren had of finding true happiness, maybe they would have thought twice before stalking her on her film set.
Kyoko walked brightly onto the set of Box 'R' ready for another fun day of filming. She had her necklace in its silk pouch in her bag and was excited for today's episode. She waved happily as she passed the stage manager and his assistants, and gave a bright and cheery "Hello" to the director as she went past him. They all returned in kind to her enthusiastic greetings.
The two hours of shooting went incredibly well. Kyoko was very satisfied as she made her way to the vending machine during her break for a juice. She had just bent down to put the money in when she heard a familiar voice nearby. "Tsuruga-san?" She asked, heart skipping a beat. 'What was he doing here?' she wondered vaguely. Then she shook her head, he was doing his own shoot right now, it couldn't be him. But then she heard it again.
"Kyoko!" Ren's disembodied voice said. Kyoko looked around to ask if anyone else heard it, but no one was around. She shrugged and followed the voice. "Kyoko, Lets go!" it said. She frowned, where were they going? "Where are we going?" she asked, curious. "...Can't tell" Ren's voice answered. She puzzled over this as she turned around the corner and came to a dead end. "Why?" she asked, starting to wonder if she was impertinent. The only way out was a door leading to a back alley behind the studio. She was hesitating at the door when she heard Ren say "superstitious," on the other side. She pushed the door open. "Tsuruga-san?" she said, looking around.
Then from above she felt long sharp nails digging into her scalp as it grabbed her and pulled her out the door using only her hair. She tried to work her way free, but the hand held her from behind was too tight. Kyoko heard the door close, as she was slammed hard against the brick building she had just come out of. Somewhere close to thirty girls, ranging from the ages of their mid teens to their late thirties, had been hiding behind the door. Kyoko's eyes narrowed and sent a death glare worthy of Mio at the girl holding her. She felt the hand shudder, but it did not release its grip, on the contrary, it was tightened. Something large and woolen was forced hard into her mouth gagging her. She choked but couldn't fall because someone had her pinned by the throat. Her demon aura, normally so capable of doing Kyoko's bidding seemed to be just as pinned as she was. Kyoko's mind was racing, spinning in circles, her little Kyoko demons got confused and tried to fight ineffectually.
"What are you doing around Tsuruga, Ren?" One of the girls hissed as she was punched in the gut, pulling out a short bloody knife from the place her fist had just made contact with.
"Why are you always together?" another one asked vehemently taking the knife, placing it in her fist between two fingers and punching Kyoko in the ribs. Kyoko tried to cough, breathing was becoming difficult, and the metallic taste of blood was filling the cloth in her mouth.
"What about you is so special?" a third one said mockingly grabbing Natsu's necklace and tearing it from her throat.
The leader held up her hand and everyone stopped talking and attacking Kyoko. "If you wont leave Ren alone, like we asked you too so very nicely only three months ago," She turned and smirked at the girl on her right.
"Then we will make you" that one finished. And she kicked Kyoko hard in the shin. The one holding her by the throat threw her down onto the ground by the wall and Kyoko felt herself being kicked everywhere. She closed her eyes tight, trying to block out the pain when she suddenly felt a piercing agony on her chest and opened her eyes to see someone standing on her chest with stiletto heels. The heels had dug deep into her rib cage. Another Stiletto dug into one of the knife wounds, opening it further. Kyoko closed her eyes once more. She heard a loud whoop and suddenly she felt lots of heels, of all shapes and sizes digging into her entire body. Someone raised her up by her shirt collar and she felt a knife press against her throat.
Just then the door opened, and she was instantly dropped to the ground. Kyoko heard the pounding of heels running on concrete. "Kyoko?" a familiar voice asked. She tried to cough through the gag. "Kyoko!" the voice said again. Kyoko then felt herself being lifted gently and cradled in a lap. The gag was removed from her mouth. "Someone call an ambulance" the voice said, to whom she wasn't sure. She tried to open her eyes, but they felt heavy. She forced them open.
"Chyuto?" She coughed, hard racking coughs that shook her entire body.
"Shh," the assistant stage manager said. "don't try and talk, you lost a lot of blood." She moaned and curled up, instinctively trying to protect herself. "Hold on Kyoko, the ambulance will be here in a matter of minutes."
She knew that she didn't have that long. She could feel it. Breathing was becoming more difficult and her body weaker. All at once, the meaning of her interactions with her Senpai became clear to her. She felt tears on her cheeks as she tried hard to articulate her last thought. "Tell Ren" she started, stopping as coughs over took her once more, leaving scarlet pools on the ASM's shirt when she drew away, too weak to raise her own hand to her lips. She stared at the blood for a moment. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." she whispered
Chyuto placed a hand on her head and held her to him, "its ok, dont think about the shirt. And don't talk like this Kyoko, you will be ok" he said pleadingly
She didn't hear him. She was determined to send it out into the world She started again, "Tell Ren, I….." She had to say it, "L..ve…" whom? 'I love' whom? Say it Kyoko she said to herself as firmly as she could "H.." she started again "Hmm" she finished. And she slumped back in the arms of her assistant stage manager, eyes turning glassy and unseeing as the last of the blood poured out of the wounds in her body.
"Kyoko!" he yelled, shaking her, "Kyoko!" the ambulance pulled up and paramedics jumped out of the car and pulled the young limp actress out of his arms. It was no use. The paramedics had come too late. He knew that she was gone. The ambulance drove off and left Chyuto sitting on the concrete covered in blood. They had asked if he wanted to go with her, but he couldn't. he knew he had to tell the rest of the cast and crew. He stared down at his hands dully trying to piece together Kyoko's last words. The first two were pretty clear. "Tell Ren" but, "l..ve"? there could be any number of things Live, lave, luve, leve, lyve, no the only actual word there is Live. I live? No that isnt right. Love. The answer came to him in a flash of realization. "tell ren, i love him."
He got up and numbly walked back into the studio ignoring the stares he received from people he walked by. The stage manager hurried up to him angrily but Chyuto just walked right passed him without noticing. He went straight to the director. "Kyoko is dead" he said in a voice completely devoid of emotion and courtesy. The stage manager and director looked at him in disbelief.
"What?" they said at the same time, not taking in the meaning and slightly offended at the disrespect.
"She is dead. I found her lying outside beaten up and losing a lot of blood," he explained to his superiors still in a plain monotone voice, not noticing the tears streaming down his face. "By the time the ambulance came, it was too late. She died in my arms." He held out his arms to show them, and stared hard at them, he seemed undisturbed at the blood covering him. "I need to call Tsuruga Ren" He said before either of this superiors could say anything else. They nodded and let him go. From behind him he could vaguely hear the director call the cast into quiet and tell them that the rest of the filming was cancelled for the day.
He had to give Ren Kyoko's last message. "Tell Ren, I love him". Tears started falling freely down his cheeks again.
It was Yashiro who had answered Ren's phone. "Moshi, Moshi" He had said after taking the time to put on his glove, Ren had been on set, filming a new movie. "I am looking for Tsuruga Ren," a voice answered from the other end after a moment of silence.
"I am Yashiro, his manager, Ren is on set, please either leave a message with me, or call again later." He was about to hang up when the voice answered urgently. "Please ask him to get to the Box R set as soon as he can." And then there was a *click, and silence. Yashiro stood puzzling over this for a moment. And then it hit him like a thunderbolt. Kyoko. She was on set today. What if she was in trouble? Or fell ill? Dozens of scenarios flashed through Yashiro's mind in the space of milliseconds. One thing was for certain, they had to get to that set.
He hurried to the director, told him about the phone call and that he suspected that something terrible happened and that he needed Ren for the rest of the day, and possibly longer. He apologized profusely and promised to call when he had more news. "CUT!" said the director nodding at Yashiro. The manager went to his actor and pulled him out of the studio with him without letting Ren get changed.
"Yashiro," Ren asked confused. "What's wrong? I have never seen you act like this" The shorter man took a deep breath, knowing what Ren would do when he knew the reasoning for his behavior.
"Gomenasai, Ren-san" Yashiro said, stopping to turn to Ren and bow quickly before hurrying off again, "But we have to go, I just got a call from someone on the set of Box 'R', Something has happened." Ren stiffened immediately. He knew exactly what that meant. Something had happened with or to Kyoko. Ren crossed the last few yards of the parking garage to the car in long quick strides, making his manager jog to keep up with the much taller man. As soon as the doors were closed, Ren reversed and flew out of the parking garage in seconds. Within two minutes they were pulling up to the studio where Box 'R' was shooting. There was a policeman at the security gate who apologized and said that no one could come in. "We were called specifically and told to come over" Yashiro said over Ren's person.
"Tsuruga Ren?" The policeman asked. Ren nodded, glancing in surprise at Yashiro and the policeman let them in. parking and getting into the studio, also flanked with policemen, took a matter of seconds, or so it seemed to Yashiro.
Yashiro looked around for the man who had called them. The studio seemed to be stuck in time and yet in a state of chaos different than the one normally found on a TV set. No one was bustling around doing their duties as normal. The actresses were standing in a corner, crying on each others shoulders. Stage hands and costume hands were sitting talking seriously in a corner, a few of them crying silently.
Yashiro finally spotting the Director and hurrying over to director told them to talk to one of their assistant stage managers, Chyuto. Yashiro looked around for the man and found him in tears and talking to a police officer. Yashiro felt a hand grip his heart, Chyuto was also covered in blood. "What happened?" he asked. "What is going on? Where is Kyoko?"
The policeman interrupted. "We are investigating the murder of actress Kyoko." He said, looking down at his notepad where he had been taking notes.
Yashiro stopped dead and felt Ren stiffen beside him. "What do you mean, murder of Kyoko?" Yashiro heard Ren say, voice full of ice.
"I found her outside when i was going to collect her after break" Chyuto said, trying to control his tears. "She had been stabbed in many places, badly beaten and losing a lot of blood. By the time the paramedics showed up it was too late." The ASM held out his arms, staring at them blankly. "She died in my arms." Ren and Yashiro just stood there in disbelief as the policeman led Chyuto away
End of Flashback
Yashiro and Ren had found out everything that had happened after that. The girls who killed Kyoko weren't caught as of yet. Ren found the spot where it happened and picked up Kyoko's broken necklace. He got a new chain and now wore it around his own neck. He had also found the recorder that carried his own voice, the thing that lured her out in the first place. Ren also took Kyoko's stone that she had always had in her bag and that she used to keep with her, her 'corn'. He now carried around with him her two most prized possessions both of which, although she didn't know it, had been given to her by him. The third possession that Ren had acquired that day, the recorder, was now only precious to Ren because of the effect that it had on the most important person in his life Ren had never been chatty, but now he never spoke except to give one word answers, and never left his apartment, it worried Yashiro greatly. He hadn't returned to the set of the movie he had been filming when they received the call, and the director had to call a different actor, in fact, he had stopped going to all of his jobs. Sets reminded him too much of the young actress he lost.
Ren had gone to identify the body, and Yashiro thought he had handled it well, at the time at least. Yashiro knew that as an actor Ren was very good putting on a mask, however this mask fooled no one. it was clearly one of heartbreak and loneliness. While he didn't sob, or throw himself on the body, Yashiro could tell that Ren was dying inside.
Chyuto had spent three days in the mental ward of the hospital, and was now doing much better. The doctors finally realized that what was tearing him up the most was not relaying Kyoko's final message to the person it had been intended for. Therefore the stage manager, who happened to be a good friend of Chyuto's, called Yashiro and asked him to bring Ren to Chyuto's room in the hospital, because there was one last thing that Kyoko needed to say.
After hearing the words Ren had so desperately wanted to hear from the girl for so long being relayed from another's mouth, Ren's mask nearly slipped completely. He had hugged Chyuto, thanked him, and silently left the room. As soon as he was clear of the door, Ren had crumpled against the wall. When Yashiro found him he was on the floor with his hands over his head, sitting in the fetal position, body shaking with silent sobs. "Why did I never tell her?" He asked Yashiro, not looking up. "I could have told her months ago, I should have told her over and over." Ren couldn't look at Yashiro, the actor felt his heart breaking again, shattering into smaller pieces than they did when he first knew she was gone. She loved him and she was gone.
Today was the funeral. It had been put off for a week so that the police working on the case could use the evidence on her body for clues. Finally Lory put his foot down and demanded that they release her body so that they could lay it to rest. Apparently, when Lory gets angry, no one, not even the Police Chief, will deny him what he wants. Yashiro came to check on Ren because he knew that the actor had been having the hardest time of them all in coping with her death. Yashiro knew that Ren felt that he was responsible. His fans, his voice, his fault. None of it was true, but he still blamed himself. It broke Yashiro's heart to see Ren act this way. It was completely out of character for the young actor.
Yashiro looked at the clock, "Ren, what are you doing in the bathroom? We will be late!"
Ren had been remembering Setsu, Natsu, and Mio, and the angel that was one of her very first performances, even if it was in Sho's music video. He remembered Kyoko taking care of him when he was sick, and helping him face his 'demons' after they had started their work together as the Heel siblings. When she had came to him for advice, when she just wanted to talk, when she pulled him out of his dark rage; he needed her. She was like rice, always there, in many guises, necessary for living. He felt his heart starving from the lack of Kyoko. He needed her. He held corn in his hand and kissed it. "I love you too, Kyoko" he whispered.
"We are officially late!" Yashiro called banging on the door. When he didn't hear anything he pushed at the door. Nothing happened. Yashiro was getting really worried now. He kicked the door as hard as he could, and it broke. The tape recorder was on a counter, playing Rens voice endlessly for no one to listen to. Ren was sitting peacefully in a bathtub of red water. He had his eyes closed and head resting against the wall, and there was a smile on his face. In one of his hands he held the necklace with the gem that Ren gave to Kyoko. In the other hand lay the stone which she named after him, 'Kuon'.
A/N - i dont own Skip Beat! just so y'all know. oh, and sorry that was so depressing, i just thought someone had to write it.
Senpai - elder, or someone who is more experienced, someone who has been wherever it is longer (often used at schools or in workplaces)
oh, i talk about Chyuto dismissing formalities at one point - in japan you always speak to people above you in more formal a manner. here, since it was such a shock and he doesnt know how to handle it, our poor assistant stage manager doesnt.
Moshi Moshi - how you answer a phone in japan
Gomenasai - i'm sorry (relatively polite)