Five minutes after hearing Kyoko's life story and Kanae has never in her entire life wanted to kill anyone as much as she wants to kill Sho Fuwa.
The sheer magnitude of her fury astonishes her, so she clamps down on it tight; suppressing it the way she would stage jitters or a brief insane thought that one of her nieces/nephews might be cute.
Honestly, all of this girl-bonding jazz is not Kanae's thing at all. First there was Kyoko's insistence on walking home from school together (what was she, twelve?) Then she'd dragged Kanae to a session of bonding over supposedly-not-alcoholic strawberry daiquiris (damn, that girl was scary when mildly buzzed). Then there had been the slumber party (even scarier).
For someone who takes friendships to the level of stalker-dom, Kyoko actually plays her deepest pain close to the chest, avoiding the subject of Fuwa-the-living-manifestation-of-evil. But Sho Fuwa just keeps showing up in Kyoko's life (which regrettably is adjacent to Kanae's), and consistently making an ass of himself, which leads to hysterical rants about his evil by Kyoko to Kyoko's best friend "Moko-chan."
And between strawberry daiquiris and shopping for matching cell phone charms, the whole sordid story came out in small details. Kanae wasn't sure why, but listening to the epic of Kyoko's Fuwa-related self-sacrifice and misery going back to elementary school had been like going a few rounds as a gym's punching bag.
She hates how she can envision exactly what Kyoko used to be like, naïve and trusting and as eager for attention as she is with Kanae, except without any of her aggressive nerve and little demons to protect her. She hates that she can picture in her head exactly the look on Kyoko's face when the asshole Fuwa showed his true colors. And she hates that he's going to more or less get away with it.
Kanae doesn't doubt Kyoko's ability to succeed as an actress (not anymore) or that she'll rise far beyond that second-rate pop star's level in fame and fortune. But she sees a basic flaw in her friend's revenge plan, one which has the potential to ruin everything, and to make matters worse she suspects that Fuwa has noticed it too.
Kyoko's revenge is a terrible paradox. On one hand, in order to get revenge on Sho Fuwa she has to become a greater star than he is, which in turn requires full-time devotion because succeeding in the show biz takes nothing less. But on the other hand, Kyoko is still doing it all for him. It's no different from when she was devoting her entire life to him as his servant girl.
And if Fuwa is permitted to believe that Kyoko is doing everything just to get revenge on him (which he knows full well), then even if she succeeds, he will be smug in his power over her. And if Fuwa is smug, then Kyoko's revenge will be tainted. This is intolerable.
There is only one way for Kyoko's plan to work, and that is for her to rise to fame and obtain a new boyfriend. Only then will it be clear that she isn't stuck on Sho Fuwa anymore. Then he would be truly humiliated, defeated, put in second place.
But who? Kyoko is in the Love-Me section for a reason.
The first step is to identify who might put himself forward as a candidate. Since Kyoko is unlikely to initiate anything herself, it has to be someone who already likes her—someone with a lot of persistence and strong stomach for the being attacked by demons.
Hikaru Ishibashi is a sweet enough guy who seems to have a genuine crush on Kyoko. Plus, if he is attracted to her after working together on a show where Kyoko dresses like a chicken, he has persistence nailed down. But he lacks the stage power to match Kyoko. As much as Kanae hates to admit it, he would look like second best standing next to Sho Fuwa.
That Hidehito Kijima from the Dark Moon cast seems to like Kyoko, enough to ask her on a date, but he has a reputation as a womanizer and might just end up putting her through more heartbreak.
Kyoko's ideal boyfriend would be someone who made Sho Fuwa feel inferior, someone who is clearly more popular and more famous. Someone Fuwa can't help but be jealous of.
Ren Tsuraga fits that bill perfectly.
But is there an interest there? On Kyoko's side, Kanae would say yes. It isn't visible to non-best friend eyes, of course. But Kyoko has constructed voodoo dolls of Ren in great detail and talks to them when she's feeling down. Coming from the love-hating girl that is close to a declaration that Ren has a special space in her heart. Her uneasiness around him, Kanae takes as a good sign, the suspension bridge effect and the fact that anyone who is attractive to Kyoko would be terrifying to her.
Ren is much harder to get a handle on. His vaguely jealous nature is telling of something, but how to be sure if it is romantic or big-brother protective? An outsider would note nothing but professionalism in how Ren treated Kyoko—but Ren is the perfect actor and in his case actions speak louder than words. Kanae suspects that anyone who would take off in the middle of a job on the off-chance that Kyoko was in trouble has a bit more than a senpai-kohai interest.
But Kanae isn't completely certain and she needs to be before doing anything embarrassing. There is only one person who might be close enough to Ren to know how he felt about Kyoko, and that is his manager, Yukihito Yashiro.
Some research with L.M.E.'s secretaries (a surprising number of whom seem to have crushes on Ren's manager) reveal his favorite type of coffee and the likely times when he can be found near the office coffeemaker. Where Kanae waits for him to happen to walk by for an hour, on two separate occasions. Oh, if Kyoko knew the lengths Kanae is willing to go for her…she'd be even more insufferable so it is best she never finds out.
Third time is the charm. As Yukihito approaches her, Kanae says, "Here, I made you a cup of coffee."
"Why, thank you," he replies.
Kanae feels the need to explain. "I wouldn't want you to destroy the machine before it's even Tuesday."
Yukihito frowns. "I wouldn't do that, I brought my gloves! How did you know about me and electronic appliances, anyway? Common gossip, or Kyoko?"
"Kyoko, although it's pretty widely known. She's at a press meeting today—with Ren, right?"
"Yes, all the main cast from Dark Moon is there. I'm going to take the time to catch up on some paperwork, although I will keep an eye on the TV."
Casually, Kanae says, "They look good together, don't you think?"
Yukihito freezes. For a second, Kanae thinks that she's offended him, has just placed herself somewhere on the black-list of crazy Ren stalkers, and she is about to explain that Kyoko has definitely not put her up to this.
But instead, he says, "They do look good together. It's a pity they're both so thick-headed about it."
Kanae says, "Perhaps they need a friend or two to help them out." She can't believe how lucky she is—she was only hoping for some positive confirmation, and instead she's found an invaluable ally.
Yukihito's face lights up in an enormous grin. Glasses glinting, he squeals, "I can't believe I found a fellow fan! Aren't they just the most adorable couple ever? Don't you just want to lock them in an elevator together? But first, I have to show you my Ren-Kyoko almost-romantic moments scrapbook!"
Or on second thought, this could all be a terrible mistake that Kanae will regret for the rest of her life…