>> Thursday, July 21, 2011
If you are interested in reading this, start here or, even if you're a fan, you'll get confused. Note that the disclaimer and introduction still apply. And I'm really almost done with this.
Disclaimer: these characters and scenarios are based on the work of Nakamura Yoshiki and I'm just speculating on what might happen later in the story. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not an original work and I will never try to market or profit by it in any way. The manga is rated "Teen" but this is probably closer to "older Teen" 'cause, unlike the manga, there's actual sex.
"I really liked this robe," she said sadly. "I was barely wearing it. How could you tear it this badly? You only had to open it."
"Forget the robe. Give me a damn answer," Ren growled, dressed fashionably, as usual, as he did her makeup. "Tell me you'll marry me."
"I'm wearing the ring," she said, blushing furiously.
"Don't color up like that unless you want to be kissed. I'm trying to put on blush. Why won't you just say it?"
"What will the president say?"
"Give me your answer and then we'll worry about his."
"What if he doesn't like it...y'know, you with me?"
"Let him find his own girl. Kyoko, why won't you tell me? Don't you want to marry me?"
"Yes, it's just..."
She peeped up at him from beneath her lashes, sending his heart racing. "I'm afraid if I say it, I'll jinx it."
"Ah." He laughed. "Silly girl. Don't you know I have my own magic? If you tell me you'll marry me, there is nothing in the world that can stop us."
"How do you know?" The eyes she turned on him brimmed with absolute trust.
Time for the last secrets. "Because, we were fated to be together, since the moment you first happened upon me."
She frowned. "At the agency? When you hated me?"
"No. On a river bank where the most beautiful girl in all the world stumbled across a lonely boy and mistook him for a fairy prince. Mistook me."
"Fairy prince?" she asked, her face shocked.
"I was so entranced by this girl, I let her believe, even showing off my agility, up into the sun, so she'd think I could fly."
"Corn? You...were Corn?"
Better get it all. "Kuon," he corrected gently. "Hizuri Kuon. And that was the first time I gave you a stone like that. Less polished but somewhat bigger."
"Kuon. Hizuri Kuon. Hiz—Hizuri!?"
"See, my father already loves you like his own child."
"Father! Hiz—Koo? You're that perfect boy? The one that's dead? His Kuon?"
"I'm not actually dead."
"No wonder Koo went on and on about you. And here I thought he was exaggerating. Wait a minute, he pretended not to know you."
"As did you when you were playing...me. I had to succeed on my own, here in Japan, without relying on his name. It was therapy so I could leave behind the violence and pain. So I could find myself. Just like you found yourself."
"But you love your father!"
"Exactly! That's why I did it. So I'd be a worthy son, so I wouldn't hate myself if he still loved me."
"You are so odd," she said, regarding him critically. "So you're my Corn? Koo's Kuon? Both of them? That means—! And if we get married—!" The many pieces of it seemed to be flying crazily around inside her mind.
He took her hands in his and looked her steadily in the eye. "Fate. You. Me. My father. Then. Now. You saved me then. You saved me now. And my father already loves you."
She calmed down immediately, much the way he thought the stone might work for her. "My Corn. My true Prince," she breathed. "You saved me, then. And now. I never let myself believe you could love me."
"I loved you then."
"So did I," she said, then pinked. "I mean, I loved you then."
He placed his hand along her jaw and held her eyes. "Kyoko. Tell me you'll marry me."
"Good," he said, dropping his hand so he wouldn't do something foolish and mess up her makeup. After all, she had to be at work in a few hours and he had to get the ball rolling so she couldn't rethink it. "Now to tell the President."
"Won't he be upset?"
Ren grinned down at her, one finger uplifted. "Ah, not if we handle it right. Watch and learn." He dialed a number on his speakerphone.
"Ren! I didn't expect to hear from you! I thought you were shooting a commercial today?"
"It's been rescheduled. President, I have some news for you that you may not like." Ren winked at Kyoko.
"Oh? And why do you sound like you're in a tunnel?"
"Kyoko's here with me."
"Kyoko? You're calling her Kyoko now—"
With studied blandness, Ren said, "We need to get married."
Silence. "Ren, you idiot! She's pregnant, isn't she? She's a promising actress and requires a delicate touch. Have you no concern for her career? You should never have forced yourself on her. Didn't I tell you to control yourself as Cain? Didn't you promise—"
"No—No, President," Kyoko protested. "I'm not pregnant!" She cleared her throat. "And he didn't force anything on me as Cain or anyone else." With her head down, she mumbled, "More the other way around."
Silence. "You mean you want to marry Ren?"
"Thanks, Boss," Ren said, inwardly delighted. It was going exactly as planned. "Am I such a bad prospect?"
"No, no. I just thought you'd drag your feet indefinitely," the President said dampingly. "It's not a good idea. I mean, your fanbase is going to freak, with you off the market. And Kyoko's career is just getting started. And most people know her as a villain."
"Sooooo, even if we played it up, poor little unknown who, through exceptional skills and beauty, climbed the road to success in a year and won the heart of Japan's top acting talent at the same time, it still wouldn't add to the Tsuruga or Kyoko mystique? Still wouldn't charm fans into falling even more in love with either of us?"
"Well, it could certainly be spun that way. I mean, it does have a certain fairy tale aspect. Still, Kyoko might actually be in danger. Some of your fans are quite passionate."
"I was thinking she could use a manager to protect her. She has enough work and exposure, even without this publicity, that she should not be wandering about alone and unprotected, since I can't be with her all the time."
"That's a very good idea. I'll call Sawara this morning. If someone finds out you're involved with Kyoko, she'll be in mortal danger." The President paused. Ren knew what he was thinking: he liked to control everything. He'd want them to wait so he could be more involved. On the other hand, he was not the man to stand in the way of romance. "Maybe, after a reasonable time, we could consider..."
Kyoko looked bewildered. "If...if it's better that no one know I'm with Tsuruga-san, I could keep it quiet. I don't want to hurt his career..."
The President cut in. "No! You mustn't, Kyoko-chan. If there's one thing Ren needs, it's a bit of scandal attached to his name. A quiet hopeless romantic interest in you is a great explanation on why there aren't any other scandals attached to him. A relationship with you could be perfect, for both of you...as long as it's what you want."
"How could I not want it? President," she said, her voice falling to a whisper. "He says he really loves me."
"Yes, dear one. I've known he's loved you for a long long time. But what do you feel? You have to do what you want, what will make you happy? Do you love him?"
"I think I always have."
The President cleared his throat and Ren suspected he was choked up. "Well, that's wonderful. But you shouldn't get married right away."
Kyoko opened her mouth to ask something, perhaps agree, but Ren shook his head. "Pity," Ren said sweetly. "I was going to ask you to arrange a fairy tale wedding for us, as flamboyant and over-the-top as you like, complete with press and celebrities and every imaginable excess."
"Erk," the President choked. "Yes, well, that does sound like a great deal of fun, much like the debut I'd originally planned for Kyoko, but, hmm, well..."
"And I was going to invite my parents, too, and announce to the world who I really was, sharing my most important day with my parents who love me. But I'm sure my mother and father would be happy to wait a few more years. They're not anxious to see me or get to know the woman I love, right? Nor would having Hizuri Koo and the world's greatest model at one of your bashes be a publicity coup, right?"
"And, since Kyoko doesn't have a father herself, I think she might have wanted you to give her away. But that's probably not your style."
"It will be the event of the decade, if not the century! Magnificent, my magnum opus! Perfect! We can have it at my home! I can arrange it in...when did you have in mind?"
"I'll have to work with Yashiro and Kyoko's new manager to arrange for several weeks off as soon as I can manage. I want a real honeymoon with Kyoko. Within the next couple of months."
"That doesn't give me much time. I love it! I couldn't be happier for you, too. Where do you want me to arrange the honeymoon?"
"I'll handle that. You just take care of the wedding. I'll give you a free hand. I know just the designer for Kyoko's dress. Oh, and Boss."
"You can invite anyone you like, including the Love Me Members and my parents, as long as you include Fuwa Sho. And Kyoko's Daruyuma family. Actually, I'd like to invite my parents myself."
"Fuwa Sho? Wasn't he...ah." The President's deep laughter rolled in through the speaker, eventually dwindling down into gasps and coughs. "I think that can be arranged."
"So, can I have Yashiro-san make a press release?"
"I don't think I can get her a manager until tomorrow at the earliest."
"I'll be watching over her today."
Ren could almost hear his smile. "Then you have my blessing." Ren heard the happy sigh. "But you have to be the one to tell Maria."
And so it began.
* * *
"Ren! You should be recovering, though I'm glad I have you on the phone. I was just hearing about an offer just as our most recent project winds down that will keep you busy for months. It's all about..."
"I'm off today and I won't take any job unless it starts several months in the future. In fact, I need you to arrange things so that I have at least three consecutive weeks, preferably four, free within the next three months."
"Three weeks? Consecutively? What? Are you crazy? Ren I don't think it's possible..."
"Oh, and I also need you to draft a press release and get it out as soon as you can manage today: 'Actor Tsuruga Ren and star talent, Kyoko, both of the LME Agency, have announced their plans to get married this winter. The date will be announced later, but the event will be hosted by the President of LME.'"
Ren gave Yashiro a few seconds to sputter.
"Well, if you have all that, Yashiro-san, thanks. K, bye!" Ren hung up on the incoherent squawking with a chuckle.
"That was just mean," Kyoko said. "I got Moko-san's voice mail."
"It wasn't just mean," Ren assured her. "It was fun, too. Yashiro's been teasing me about the way I feel for you since last spring."
She gave him her sternest look, looked away, then slid her eyes toward him under her lashes. "I guess it was a little fun. Oh, that's Moko-san!" She opened her phone. "Moko-san!"
"Mo! What did you mean by leaving that cryptic confusing message on my phone mail. Haven't I told you, if you're leaving a message, to tell me clearly what you want? You were hemming and hawing..."
Moko-san apparently had an impressive set of lungs. Ren could hear her easily. And he was at a loss to understand why Kyoko responded to the vitriol with a look of rapt pleasure. Kyoko tried to break in several times, but, between her embarrassment and Moko-san's impatience, the situation was only getting worse. Ren held out his hand. Kyoko wordlessly handed him her phone.
"What? Who is this?"
"This is Tsuruga Ren. What Kyoko is trying to tell you is that we are getting married in a few months and she want you to be her bridesmaid."
"Mo! You like Kyoko?"
Ren bristled, but kept his voice calm. "At least."
"I knew it! Tell her she's an idiot and I'm really happy for her. Married!" She paused briefly. "She's really special, you know. You may be hot shit to everyone else, but you're lucky to have her. If you ever hurt her like, well you know, I'll kill you myself."
Ren couldn't help smiling. "I begin to see what Kyoko sees in you. Understood." Ren closed the phone and handed it back to Kyoko. "She's happy for you and threatened me. See, you do have good friends."
Kyoko blubbered and Ren did his best to overlook it. That would probably be happening quite a few times the next few months. He just needed to remember kissing her senseless was a good remedy. He'd need more handkerchiefs. "Now," he said, by way of distraction. "To call my parents."
"Will you join me? You're part of his family just like me."
Damn it. He was going to have to redo her makeup.
* * * *
And, in entertainment news, a media bombshell. Women across the land will be weeping into their tea today: Tsuruga Ren, hottest man in Japan, is marrying Kyoko of the same LME Agency, a young, up and coming actress who's made her name playing villains with chilling intensity in some of the biggest dramatic hits this year. LME is already gearing up for a huge blowout this winter orchestrated by the flamboyant President of LME, Takarada Lori. Preliminary details of the fairy tale romance from LME indicate a love story to melt the hardest heart and we'll likely be hearing more as time progresses. In any case, it promises to be the event of the decade.
Ogata/Momose/Oohara/90% of Dark Moon Staff: "I knew he liked her! Wait, marrying!?"
90% of the female viewing public: "Nooooooo! Reeeen! Who the hell is this Kyoko?"
Sawara: "Hunh? Ren and Kyoko? When did that happen?"
Taicho of Daruyuma frowned at his wife. "I thought you said she wasn't romantically involved with any of her coworkers."
His wife shrugged helplessly. "That's what she told me last summer. But it is Tsuruga Ren. Who could resist him?"
Reino grimaced. "Ah, hell. She would link up with the only guy I can't take down."
"You mean that false angel? She's shacking up with someone else? Too bad, Reino."
"Yeah, I know. It's going to make it much harder to get Valentine chocolates from her next year."
"Shou! Shou, they're just about set up for your next session. What's wrong? Are you watching TV? What is it?"
Shou gestured without talking.
"Is that Ren and Kyoko?"
"From some Dark Moon bash last spring."
Shoko schooled her features. She remembered. "She looks lovely."
"They're getting married," Shou shouted, his grimace fearful on his face. "The little nobody managed to catch the gorge-star somehow and now he's going to be her prince? Ha! I give it three months! Everyone will hate her. Her career will go into a spiral. She's never going to get her revenge that way!"
"I don't know," Shoko said quietly. "I can't see how it will hurt her career since no one will be able to talk about anything else for the next three months. You can't pay for publicity like this. And her skills as an actress mean she has a really solid reputation as an actress already. Asami-san told me. Everyone wants to work with her."
"So, what are you saying, I'm going to lose? I've been near the top of the charts for nearly a year!"
"No," Shoko said. "I'm saying, maybe it's no longer about making you lose, Shou. Maybe she's just leaving you behind."
Shoko had never seen Shou look so small. She wondered when he'd recover.
See part six: Date with Natsu
See part seven: Shoudown