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Kanae feels a real sense of foreboding when she hands Kyoko the slip of paper with her mobile number on it. It's not that she's worried about getting texts about fairies, or receiving pictures of princess costumes. (She is, actually, but that isn't the source of her nerves...) No, Kanae is more worried about the face that she knows Kyoko will make, dreaming of "twoo fwendshep" and other such girlish fantasies.

Kyoko makes a surprised face at her, eyebrows disappearing under her hair, and Kanae braces herself for the face - that ridiculous face. Her hand shakes just a little bit. She's never just given someone her mobile number. (To be fair, she hasn't had a mobile too terribly long to give the number to anyone.) It feels big somehow, like a moment in shoujo manga that takes up a full two page spread and has bubbles and flowers everywhere.

Kanae stomps down on the shoujo-manga-feeling and raises an eyebrow. "Are you going to take it or not?"

Kyoko looks at her surprised. Then, her face relaxes into a quiet, happy expression. She reaches forward and, with two hands, takes the folded paper from her hand. "Thank you, Moko-san!" Her smile widens until her whole expression is shining with joy.

Kanae is taken aback at the lack of jumping around, the over-dramatic tears, or the dopey expression of total admiration with the giant sparkly eyes. Relieved, certainly, but also a little disappointed, surprisingly. She huffs. "Just don't be annoying and call me all the time!"

As Kyoko stammers out promises of calling only when absolutely necessary, Kanae feels her frown quirk upwards slightly.

03

When Kanae calls to tell Kyoko that she might be in an ad for Shiseido, the line cuts straight to the voicemail. Kanae cuts off the automated message and frowns at the screen of her phone. Then, she shrugs and tucks her phone away into her purse. Knowing Kyoko's need to be polite all of the time, she'll call back as soon as she can. Or, once she remembers that she even has a cell phone. Kanae shakes her head and keeps walking. Such a ridiculous girl!

Kyoko doesn't call back for like a week. Kanae is eating lunch in the LME cafeteria when she hears her phone ring. She scrambles for her purse and is surprised when she sees the display. She presses answer and holds the phone up to her ear. "Hello?"

"Moko-san!" Kanae winces and holds the phone a little away from her ear. Kyoko shouted her name into the phone, and now her ear is ringing slightly. Her enthusiasm is going to be the death of Kanae.

"Mou!" She says back, frowning. "Don't be so loud on the phone."

"Ah, sorry." Kyoko pauses and Kanae sighs and pokes at her lunch with her chopsticks.

"What did you need?"

"Oh! You called me a few days ago. I'm sorry I didn't call back sooner. I've been busy being Tsuruga-san's temporary manager."

"Eh?" She raises an eyebrow, even though Kyoko can't see it. "But I thought you hated Tsuruga-san."

"I did but..." She trails off. "He works really hard, you know."

The dark-haired girl scoffs. "Of course, he does. You don't become one of the top actors in the industry by sitting back and eating chocolate."

"Chocolate?"

"It's an example, okay?" she replies hotly. She clears her throat and straightens up, pulling her drink toward her. "Anyway, how did you end up being his manager?"

"It was a Love-Me assignment," she explained, sighing. "You know I can't refuse those."

"Don't you have trouble refusing in general?"

Kyoko laughs. "Yeah, you're right. Still, it wasn't so bad." She giggles and Kanae can see her in her mind's eye, ducking her head and blushing a little bit. "It was almost fun. Can you believe he wanted to take the subway when we were stuck in traffic?"

"Seriously? Tell me you didn't let him!"

"Of course not! I biked him over there. We still had a huge crowd chasing after us, though. Still! We got there on time, and Tsuruga-san's record is intact!"

If this wasn't Kyoko, Kanae is pretty sure she would have the other person's head examined. "Well, that's good. Did he give you a hundred points?" There was silence on the other end, and Kanae's expression flattened. "You forgot to get him to stamp it, didn't you?"

"It's okay! He can sign it next time I see him."

"That's true." She ran a hand through her long hair. "So is that what you've been up to the last week?"

"Actually," Kyoko starts, shyly, and Kanae stiffens unconsciously. "The president enrolled me in a high school!"

"Really?" She feels her body relax, and her voice takes on a teasing tone. "That's good. I know how much you liked wearing that uniform for the CM shoot." Kyoko sputters incoherently and Kanae grins, expression softening. Have you taken the entrance exam yet?"

"Un!" Kyoko replies. "Perfect marks!"

Kanae feels a real, wide smile spread across her face. "Congratulations!"

"Thank you." Kyoko blows out a breath. "So, why did you call, Moko-san?"

"Oh, that time?" She plays with the bottle of her drink and tells Kyoko about the Shiseido audition. The whole time, she is glad that Kyoko isn't here to see her with such a stupidly happy expression.

042

Kanae is on break from filming her drama when she sees the voicemail on her cell. She raises an eyebrow and dials her voice mailbox.

A gloomy voice emanates from the speaker. "Moko-san, it's a sea of darkness before my eyes. I totally don't know what to do. Please save me, Kanae!" The message clicks off and the automated commands tell her to press seven to delete the message, or nine to save please?

Kanae feels every hair on her body stand on end. Kyoko's in trouble! Something must have happened on the Prisoner PV set!

Quickly, she seeks a quiet corner of the studio lobby and dials Kyoko's number, heart racing.

So, when, Kyoko responds, excitedly, "Hello, hello? Kanae!" Well. It's understandable why Kanae flips out a little bit.

When she hangs up, several minutes later, Kanae feels confident when she decides that she's just had the most ridiculous phone call of her life. I am so glad I couldn't take the job.

0422

Kyoko calls exactly thirty-six hours after Hiou-kun has fired Kanae. She curses the strangely perfect timing Kyoko always has and answers brusquely. "Yes?"

"Kanae~!" She has to hold back a groan at the sheer joy in Kyoko's voice. "The PV filming was so cool!" And then she goes on for what feels like fifteen minutes, describing the costuming in excessive detail, the plot of the PV, how pretty her wings looked, and on. Kanae swears Kyoko doesn't even stop for breath.

When Kyoko inhales, Kanae spots her chance. "So annoying! I know already! Calm down!" She pauses. "I have to go now."

"Oh, okay! Have fun filming your drama."

Something like a stabbing pain in her side twitches at those words. "Thanks," she replies, not at all grateful. "Bye," she adds shortly and hangs up before Kyoko can say another word.

She tosses her cell onto the low table in front of her and falls backward onto the floor. Then, she smiles. Despite everything, she's glad Kyoko did well on her PV.

(She's also a little selfishly glad that she helped.)

0423

After they leaves the karaoke box (Kanae shivers when she remembers just how she was dragged to the box in the first place brrrrr) she adjusts the strap of her bag on her shoulder and sighs.

So, Kyoko's past is like that? she thinks, waiting for the light to change so she can cross the street. She pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs. No wonder she's in the Love-Me section. After what Shou did to her, I'd be hard-pressed to not swear off love forever, too. She shakes her head. Oh, who am I to talk? I'm stuck in this pink-uniform section, too.

As she walks to the train station, she laughs quietly to herself. I felt a little guilty playing the friendship card like that to get her to confess her secret, but...It was worth it! She punches her fist in the air victoriously, then quickly recovers her cool. That was close!

She keeps walking, bag swinging in her hand. Her thoughts run to a particularly interesting part of their conversation. Honestly, if Kyoko wasn't so sure that Tsuruga-san hated her, I'd be sure he liked her. She denied it so much. Still, could he...?

She paused on the sidewalk, considering the thought. Nah, couldn't be.

0424

When Kyoko goes off to film "Dark Moon" (and, of course, she's filming her Miyamori Miyako series) they start playing phone tag.

Some days, Kanae's voicemail message from her sounds like this:

Hey Moko-chan! Filming today went really well. I can't wait for you to see the drama! It's going to be so amazing. How is your series going? I just wanted to call and say hello. Talk to you soon!

Other times, however, Kanae gets messages like this:
Kanae~! So the other day, Tsuruga-san and I decided to work on developing his Katsuki character and there was a moment when I saw The Emperor of the Night, and heart was beating so fast, but it's okay because I realized that would have happened no matter who it had been because of the situation, and I was so glad. Anyway, so a couple of days later I got to see Tsuruga-san's Katsuki and Kanae he made this face it was so angelic and I'd seen that expression directed at me before. I don't think Tsuruga-san dislikes me as much as I though. But Kanae-chan! You absolutely have to watch Dark Moon! Promise me you will! Oh, I have to go film my scene now. Bye~!

(Incidentally, Kanae clocked this second message. Two and a half minutes even. Kanae's more impressed than anything else, really.)

Needless to say, her responses are far more mundane by comparison.

0426

Kyoko picks up the phone on the third ring. "Hello?"

"Yo. It's Kanae."

"Kanae! Why are you calling?" Her voice takes on a panicked note. "Is something wrong?"

"What? No! Calm down!" When she hears Kyoko breathing normally again, she continues. "Your last message mentioned that you're going to Karuizawa tomorrow. I just wanted to wish you well on your trip."

"Oh!" Kanae can see her face turning dopey and ridiculous. Heck, she can feel the shoujo bubbles through her phone.

"Oi, oi, calm down, would you? How was work today?"

The shoujo-bubble-feeling turns to a frigid winter storm. "Work was bad," Kyoko replies flatly, and Kanae can practically see the ridiculous, dark text.

"I'll bite. What happened?"

"SHOU," she says, voice a raspy growl filled with anger, and Kanae pinches the bridge of her nose and sighs and listens patiently.

0427

Kanae dials Kyoko's number as soon as she has a free minute. When she gets kicked to voicemail, she swears under her breath and waits for the beep. "Oi! Why didn't you tell me you were being stalked?! Mou! You can't just not tell me these things." She takes a breath and all of the tension leaks out of her. "Call me back," she says tonelessly and hangs up.

(Later, Kyoko listens to the message, but all she hears is, "I was so worried about you. Are you okay? Call me, please!" So she does.)

When she sees Kyoko's name on the display, Kanae maybe picks up the call with more force than necessary. "You!" Her voice is sharp and angry.

"KanaeI'msosorryIwasgoingtotellyoubutsomuchhappenedandI--"

"Slow down! Tch, I can't understand you if you talk that fast."

Kyoko takes a breath. "Kanae-chan, I'm so sorry. I wanted to tell you about the stalker but so much happened all at once and I just...I'm sorry. But, if you want, I'll tell you the whole story, every detail."

Kanae sighs. "Okay."

So Kyoko launches into an epic, half-hour monologue. Kanae can see her friend in her imagination, dopey expressions and intermittent anger and all. When Kyoko haltingly describes what happened in the forest, Kanae's hand balls into a fist. She gets the feeling Kyoko glosses over the end of her story, and Kanae has a feeling that Kyoko missed something significant in the exchange between Shou and Tsuruga in the stairwell, but she swallows her questions and focuses on knowing that Kyoko is fine, largely unharmed, and currently saying her name.

"Eh? No, I'm still here," she replies and straightens.

0428

Kanae get a phone call that goes like this:

Kyoko: Kanae-chan! I'm going to recolor my hair today. Do you want to come?
Kanae: Come and do what?
Kyoko: Keep me company, of course! And see how it turns out. C'mon, it'll be fun!
Kanae: (sigh) I can't. Drama filming.
Kyoko: Really? Aw! But I was hoping Moko-chan could be there!
Kanae: Well, I can't. (pause) I wish I could, though. I haven't seen you in a while.
Kyoko: I'm sure we'll bump into each other at LME sooner or later. Oh, did I tell you? I got offered a role!
Kanae: Ooh. What series?
Kyoko: It's called "Box 'R'" and it's a high school drama.
Kanae: Congratulations. Oh, one sec. (muffled noises) I have to go. Ja ne!
Kyoko: Bye!

Later, Kanae gets a photo message with Kyoko's "new" hair (it's the same light brown color...?) and a victory sign.

Without thinking about it, she saves the picture to her phone.

044

Kanae gets a text message from Kyoko one day into her taking care of Kuu.

This man is going to be the death of me.

Kanae raises an eyebrow.

He's really that bad?

Her phone chimes. Like every bad stereotype of a foreigner rolled into one.

Later the next day she gets another message. So that's what you meant by losing.

You saw it then? Fuwa's singles record?

Yeah. I think I'll reject those roles. If I don't, I can't beat him.

Good. You won't get boxed into a character type, either.

I'll do it after I cook Kuu's lunch.

Much, much later, Kanae gets this text message:

He eats SO MUCH.

Kanae's eyebrows rise.

How much does he eat? Isn't he pretty thin?

I made enough food for 50 people. He's still hungry.

Kanae decides that Kyoko is exaggerating.

He's leaving tomorrow. The message arrives late at night.

Is that good or bad? she replies, eyes focused on her script as she types.

Both, Kyoko responds. Kanae is tempted to phone her (and it's not that she misses Kyoko's voice, no...) but a glance at the clock convinces her not to.

04992

Kanae gets a text message that reads:

Tsuruga-san taught me how to walk like the best model in the world!

Kanae's eyebrow twitches.

Don't send such ridiculous texts! Your fantasies are so strange!

A few minutes later her phone chimes.

Moko-chan! I'm serious! Also, the makeup you gave me is wonderful - I look like a princess~

In lieu of the sarcastic, shouting reply she planned on, she instead finds herself replying calmly, I'm glad. How's filming going?

I hit a bump, but this issue will be resolved soon.

A few days later, she hears that Kyoko fell down a flight of stairs at Fuji TV and is pissed.

"I TOLD YOU TO CALL ME IF THIS HAPPENED AGAIN. SEE IF I CALL NEXT TIME."

"Uwaaah, Kanae-chan!"

Kanae glares at her phone while Kyoko apologizes profusely. Honestly, with friends like her...

She calms herself down while Kyoko offers everything from home-cooked meals to ritual suicide as penance. "Mou. Just be careful. Idiot."

04994

Kanae picks up the phone gruffly. "Yes?"

"I have had the worst day ever," Kyoko declares, voice colored with exhaustion. She sighs and it sounds like static in Kanae's ear.

"Oh yeah? I bet mine's worse."

"What's your day been like?"

"My obnoxious co-star stole the chocolates I made thinking they were for him and bullied Hiou-kun. I had to step in, flip the guy, yell at him, and tell him something kind of embarrassing. You?"

"Yesterday I had to deliver cursed chocolate to Reino from the Beagles. But stupid Shou saw me, so today he brought a giant bouquet and wished me luck with that bastard. When I explained what had happened - with Tsuruga-san there - Shou force-fed me chocolate, then took it back by KISSING me. Later, I gave Tsuruga-san his Valentine's Day wine gelatin--"

("Instead of chocolate?" Kanae mutters.)

"and he kissed me on the cheek. And then told me it's because he's been around foreigners too much." Kyoko sighs heavily.

Kanae gapes at her phone. "You're the heroine of a manga, aren't you?"

"Eh?"

"Nothing." She runs a hand through her hair. "You definitely had the worse day." She toys with a lock of her hair and suddenly grins wickedly. "Do you think Tsuruga-san will get you something for White Day?"

"EH?!"

Kanae bursts into laughter, hearty and full, and soon Kyoko is laughing, too. Between gasping breaths, Kanae decides that this wasn't such a bad day after all. And that, maybe, giving Kyoko her number was for the best.

"Kanae~ are you listening?"

She smothers a few lingering chuckles. "Yeah, yeah. I'm right here."