>> Thursday, August 25, 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. Especially this chapter.
When Ren pulled into the parking lot at the studio so Kyoko could film her scenes for Box R, Kyoko had long since lost sight of what she was feeling. Too much, too fast, her heart was overloaded. Ironically, her mind was no longer reeling but crystal clear...unless she tried to sort anything out. Ren, with an apparent ease she couldn't help but admire had changed everything. Cradled in Ren's—no Kuon's—large but gentle hands, she'd been carried above the tide of frenetic activity as Ren, Yashiro and President Takarada changed the entire landscape of her future.
In some ways, it was too easy, with her only responsibility coming to grips with new truths: who Ren was, really, having a father she'd already coveted who would be her father for real (Koo and Kyoko had both wept on the phone along with Ren's mother, "Julienna," who Kyoko had never met), knowing and accepting Ren loved her, really loved her. The fairy tale, complete with her gorgeous, clever and accomplished prince in disguise, had landed in her lap without fanfare or warning, without requiring her to lift an additional finger to take it all.
And she had Ren, beautiful, gifted, admirable, caring and protective, as the man who loved her. How was that possible? His heart-stopping heavenly smile, his unnerving Emperor of the Night look, both belonged to her, both thrilled her in entirely different ways. As her mind wandered back to the feel of Ren's long-fingered hands on her skin, the feel of his mouth that explored her with a thoroughness that made her skin heat at the recollection, the fairy tale dreams of her youth seemed insipid and colorless by comparison.
"Kyoko," he said softly, opening her door to hand her out. "You're looking particularly radiant. What are you thinking about?"
Her cheeks flooded as she tried to figure out how to answer him. Not with the truth, or she'd never get her color under control for work. "So much has been happening, it feels unreal. I don't know how I'll get my focus back for Natsu."
He lifted her hand to his lips for a kiss with a look that made Kyoko suspect he knew exactly what she'd been thinking, before he tucked her hand in his arm. "You will. You're a professional. And I very much want to see your Natsu in action. Filming's almost over so this may be my only chance." He glanced around as they began the short walk to the studio, then stopped still. "That," he said with emphasis, "looks like one of the boss' cars."
As if his voice provided the magic words, the door of the shimmering lavender Rolls opened and disgorged a very pretty girl child with a less-than-pretty expression on her dainty features. Behind her, President Takarada, blinding in a glittery ensemble of Renaissance splendor, unfolded himself with a rueful expression on his face.
Maria was not so reticent and marched right up to Kyoko. "You liar! I thought you didn't love Rem. That you weren't going to love anybody."
Kyoko crouched automatically so that their eyes were even. Given Maria's long-standing crush on Ren, Kyoko had known Maria would be upset. The best she could offer was honesty. "So did I, but I was wrong. Turns out I do love him, very much."
"I loved him first!"
"I know. But Ren and I have learned to love each other. We want to be together."
Maria refused to unbend, her lips a tight line. "It's not fair."
"Probably not. Life frequently isn't. But it doesn't change how I feel about him or how I feel about you," Kyoko said.
"Well it changes how I feel about you!" Maria shouted, stamping a foot, eyes bright with angry tears. "I hate you!"
Kyoko'd prepared herself, but it still stung.
Ren had also crouched down and opened his arms to Maria, but Maria hung back. "Maria," he said softly. "Do you think I won't love you any more if I love Kyoko?"
"Why? Why do you love her? Why are you marrying her?"
"Because she touches me and amazes me," he said simply. "The same reasons you love her."
Maria stole a glance at Kyoko, but gave Ren most of her attention. "You'll never marry me," she accused, as a tear slid down.
"No, I won't. I can be your big brother, though." He said, "Are you really going to stop loving Kyoko?"
The second tear fell and her lip was trembling now, instead of tight. She looked at her toe before glancing up at Ren through her lashes. "I've always wanted a big brother."
He grinned as she leapt into his arms. "I'll forgive you, but I'm keeping your doll in case you ever change your mind."
Caught up high on Ren's chest, she sheepishly looked around at Kyoko. "I'm sorry, onee-san. I didn't mean it. It's just hard to give up a dream."
Kyoko crept closer and hugged them both from behind. "I know. It is hard and it won't be exactly the same, but then again, it might even be better. Will you be my flower girl at the wedding?"
"Will I? Absolutely! I'll be the most beautiful girl there!" Maria said without hesitation, then turned back to Ren and touched his nose. "And you'll be able to see what you'll be missing."
Ren stood with Maria still in his arms, Kyoko's hand in his other hand. "That will teach me. You know, Maria, Yashiro's still available."
"Huh! He's an old man!"
"I'll be sure to tell him."
That went fairly well, Kyoko thought to herself as she hurried to her dressing room while Ren, Maria, and President Takarada went to talk to the director. Even without everything that had happened the past 24 hours, Kyoko wondered how well she'd be acting with Ren and the President both watching. As she carefully applied makeup and put on her school uniform, Kyoko fretted. Would she be able to find Natsu as easily as she usually could?
The answer came sooner than she expected for, when she came back to the set, Ren was under siege by nearly every female cast member from Box R. Maria was now in front of Ren in a defensive position, but the President and the director were deep in conversation on the other side of the studio, ignoring the whole situation.
Natsu arrived unbidden, Kyoko found, changing her stride and her stance as she bore down on the crowd of imploring women that circled her fiancé. With Natsu's leggy stride, she could soon hear what was being said.
"You stay away from Ren," Maria warned, her posture as menacing and futile as that of an angry kitten. "He belongs to Kyoko!"
"It's a stunt, isn't it?" one girl cried. "'Cause you have the same agency."
Other girls took up the cry. "You can't be getting married!" "Ren! Ren! No!" "Why Kyoko?" "Kyoko's nothing special!""Say it isn't so, Ren!"
Ren looked distinctly flustered, even alarmed as the women clamored around him. Looked like her prince needed rescuing, and Natsu was just the girl to do it. Without checking her stride in the slightest, Natsu sliced through the crowd, even bumping an open-mouthed Maria aside with her hip. Without hesitation, Natsu she stood up on her tiptoes and slid her hands up Ren's shoulders before twining them around his neck and giving him a little tug.
When he bent down, uncertain, she planted a lingering kiss on his beautiful mouth, reveling in the spike in his heartbeat she could feel through his shirt, the way he automatically cupped the back of her head with his hands. She left him, trembling and gasping, and slithered back down his body before turning, her back still plastered against his full length. She let her hand slide back up, toying with the hair at his nape, at his ear as she drawled, "We may all be friends here, ladies, but there are some things a girl just doesn't share."
Maria stared up in amazement, then had to stifle a laugh behind her hand when Natsu winked at her. Natsu felt Ren smile with her drifting fingertips before he bent and kissed the top of her head. "Sorry, girls, I'm taken."
The girls began to back off, some muttering, most looking disappointed. Natsu let her most evil smile touch her lips as she pulled off her engagement ring. "Hold this for me, won't you, darling?"
Ren grinned down at her. "I'm really going to enjoy this afternoon."
Natsu gave him a wink. "I hope you do, handsome. Though I'm a very naughty girl." She rose to her tiptoes again, but didn't kiss him this time, just brushing her lips on his earlobe as she breathed, "But Ren's so staid, it's almost a pity. I think I prefer Cain. I do love danger." Maria could not have heard the whisper.
Ren's eyes blazed as the hand at her back clenched. "If he were here, Natsu, you'd never have gotten away with only one kiss."
Natsu smirked and pushed him away with a laugh before blowing him a kiss and sashaying on to the set. Her little interlude with Ren, staid though he might be, had energized Natsu and she was on fire that afternoon, burning through scene after scene in single takes and taking the rest of the cast with her, enrapt with her performance. If she hardly noticed Maria's or the President's eyes on her as she acted, Natsu was well aware that Ren watched her closely, carefully, his eyes dark and mysterious, completely focused on her.
"Cut! That's a wrap!" the director called out, unable to hide his smile. "That's it for the day, everyone. Great work!"
Kyoko shook herself, Natsu receding, and looked for Ren, but saw no sign of him or the President. "Director! Did you see where...?"
"Nice work today, Kyoko. Even better than the show you put on before we started filming. I think your boyfriend walked the President out earlier. I haven't seen him since."
Kyoko tried not to let it bother her and bowed politely as people congratulated her on the work she'd done. Ren would be back. It's not like he would leave her stranded, even if he were disappointed in her work or upset about her kissing him in public earlier. Kyoko could feel her ears heating at the memory. And after she'd lectured him about a kiss on the cheek in a dressing room! Surely something like that wouldn't change Ren's mind about her...
Even as the thought came up, she found herself unable to take the fear seriously. Her love and acknowledgment of Ren's were new, but her relationship with Ren was of long-standing and had grown over time. He didn't commit to things unless he were committed, dedicated to seeing them through. They were alike in that. She trusted Ren. He said he loved her. It had to be true.
She'd just closed the door to her dressing room, lost in thought, when she was lifted bodily off her feet with two hard hands on her thighs and crushed against the door, her mouth being devoured mercilessly. No way this was the gentleman, Ren. If Kyoko were overwhelmed by the aura of reckless danger, Natsu recognized it immediately and wrenched her mouth free to breath into his ear as her hands fisted in his dark hair. "Cain."
His hands were relentless and rough on her clothes then under them, his mouth voracious as it blazed a trail down her throat. She reveled in his physical power, pinning her against the door as his body strained, hard and hot, with a desire that was her power over him. She gloried in it.
"Don't tell Setsu," he muttered before they both lost their minds.
When Ren pulled into the parking lot some forty-five minutes later, he realized he was still at a loss for words. After they'd used each other in a brutally satisfying way, Natsu had rubbed herself against him like a cat, literally purring, then evaporated leaving a mortified Kyoko in her wake. Kyoko had changed quickly for Yappa Kimagure Rock and they'd left without so much as a word passing between them.
He needed to say something, apologize, make sure she was alright. She didn't appear angry, but he was unable to gauge what she really felt. Had he scared her? He'd nearly scared himself. So many aspects of her appealed to so many aspects of himself, he didn't know how he could keep up, and if he were struggling with it...
"Are you angry with me?" she asked softly. "You don't feel angry but I feel like you should be."
"Me?" he asked, legitimately shocked. "Why would I be angry? Did I hurt you? I was rough—,"
"No," she said with a sigh. "You didn't hurt me. I was, Natsu was, loving it. Natsu has no shame. It was only afterwards... And I loved it too, even though it scared me."
He closed his eyes as he walked around the car to her door. The memory was incredible, arousing. Life with Kyoko would never get boring. But he had to reconcile all her facets just like he had to reconcile his own. "Don't feel ashamed, Kyoko," he assured her, stroking her hair. "You're a very passionate person, more so than even I knew. I'm finding passions in myself I never suspected. Natsu gave you a way to indulge your passions, and mine. It doesn't make you any less Kyoko. At worst, it makes you more."
"And after I lectured you about a kiss on the cheek," she said as he handed her out.
Ren laughed. "Yes, well that should that teach us both. Fortunately, I think I can resist Bo."
"You don't think this will be boring for you?"
"Not a chance. I loved watching you earlier today. I don't want to miss a thing."
If Ren had thought he was being polite when he'd told Kyoko that, he soon discovered that it was true. Kyoko, her mobile fascinating face hidden behind a chicken mask, her versatile voice silent inside the bulky suit, was still mesmerizing. Her every move was perfectly balanced, her gestures evocative, her energy captivating, her lampooning hilarious. And Ren wasn't the only one seduced. The audience was caught up in Bo's antics just like Ren was, dancing to her tune.
She was brilliant.
After the show, as she changed out of her costume while Ren wandered off to fetch her a drink. When he turned from the vending machine, he found himself face to face with an unhappy man just barely taller than Kyoko herself. A quick flip through his mental files and her remembered a name. "Ishibashi Hikaru-san, right? Good show you had there. I think I met you at the thank you party."
"Tsuruga Ren," the young man replied, with a very brief nod and no enthusiasm. "I heard you were marrying Kyoko."
Ah. Now that he was looking for it, Ren could see the signs of distress behind the brown eyes, the hopelessness. "I am marrying her," Ren said gently. "You like her, do you? Can't blame you. Did you tell her?"
"I tried to," he said. "I asked her out lots of times, but I don't think she ever understood that I was asking her out out."
Ren snorted, then held up a hand before the kid bristled. "Sorry, I wasn't laughing at you. I know just how you feel. Subtlety, when it comes to romance, is completely wasted on Kyoko. I feel for you."
"You wouldn't want to postpone..."
"No. No I wouldn't," Ren said, trying not to laugh again."But I don't blame you for asking."
Hikaru shrugged. "Well, I didn't think you really would and I guess I can't blame you for that. I know everyone likes you, girls scream over you, but you're lucky to have her. Don't you forget it."
"I don't intend to."
"Treat her right," he said, with as much menace as that sweet-faced boy could muster. "She's special."
Kyoko burst through the her dressing room door, tidy, charming, her smile as bright as her eyes. Instantly, Hikaru was forgotten. "She surely is."
See part seven: Shoudown