|The Grating Wheel|
|Character/s in the cover||Kyoko Mogami|
The Grating Wheel is the 37th chapter of the Skip Beat! manga series.
Kyoko has successfully enters high school. She and Ren have another misunderstanding that hurts their new friendship. Popularity in the Curara commercial leads to a job offer for Kyoko... but it's with someone unexpected.
Kyoko has successfully made it into high school and is happily attending each day. The only problem is her class is made up entirely of kids who are artists.
All her classmates have mostly a strong, arrogant attitude and frequently leave early or take time off for work. Kyoko wonders if they even know she exists. One girl in particular, Mimori Nanokura, seems to have something against Kyoko for no real reason. However Kyoko is able to deal with her taunts easily since she's had to deal with this sort of thing her entire life as Sho's fans would frequently gang up on her. Mimori implies that Kyoko only got the jobs because of her company (LME) supplied them for her which annoys Kyoko.
Kyoko is riding home, wondering what Mimori's problem is, thinking she'll complain to Kanae about her. Then Kyoko catches sight of Kanae on the big screen in the middle of the intersection she is at. The Curara commercial featuring Kanae and Kyoko has started airing on television. People surrounding Kyoko at the pedestrian light highly praise Kanae for her performance, but don't seem to be very impressed by Kyoko (because of her appearance), saying she lacks charisma.
This makes Kyoko angry as the only people who have praised her for her work on the commercial are the people who know her. Implying that they feel obligated to do so since they are her acquaintances. The comment that she 'lacks charisma' irks her the most because it reminds her of Sho's insults. With this thought, Kyoko's face now looks demonic as she marches through Fuji TV and her grudges are swirling around her. Suddenly she starts vibrating causing 2 male staff members passing her to jump while exclaiming that she's possessed by evil spirits. Kyoko reaches into her pocket realizing its a call. The male staff members sigh in relief at this saying that she's so hard to understand.
She answers it thinking it must be Sawara as there's no caller ID showing (calls from the office don't show up) but she gets a shock when she recognizes the voice. It's Ren! Ren tells her off for walking around with such a scary face on as she counts as an artist now that she's appeared on TV. Surprised, Kyoko realizes he must be nearby if he can see her face, so she begins looking around for him. Ren goes on, saying that even if she isn't an artist she is still a lady and so shouldn't wear such a scary face. Kyoko then spots Yashiro on the balcony above, who is waving at her, and Ren, who is standing next to him, still on the phone to her.
Yashiro congratulates Kyoko on her commercial saying she looks really cute in it. Kyoko thanks him but looks rather irritated by it. Both Ren and Yashiro look at her puzzled wondering why she's angry. Kyoko is silent, thinking angrily that it only seems to be people who know her that say this. She brushes this off saying its boring talk and asks Ren how he knew her phone number. Yashiro is taken aback at the 'boring' comment, thinking wouldn't this be a very memorial commercial for her. Ren tells her that he'd been trying to find her so Sawara gave it to him. Kyoko is confused, wondering why he wanted to find her, did he need something. Ren tells her he does but that he's been very busy lately so he hasn't had a chance to contact her but fortunately Sawara told him he might find her here. This causes Kyoko to freak out, wondering if Sawara had revealed to Ren the fact she's Bo. Ren says he heard the job was part of her Love-Me Section work but she's not wearing the uniform. Relieved that he doesn't know, Kyoko informs him its merely by chance as she came straight from school. Inwardly Kyoko is glad that Sawara is a trustworthy person and hadn't revealed her identity. However Sawara is more afraid that if he betrayed there's no telling what revenge she'll take on him, probably remembering her frightening persistence when trying to get into LME.
Ren says this is good for he wanted to see how she looked in her school uniform. He says it suits her surprising both Yashiro and Kyoko and making them blush. Kyoko awkwardly thanks him for the compliment. Ren says he heard from the President that she got full marks on her entrance exam too and tells her she did very well. Yashiro is impressed by this and says Kyoko is amazing. Kyoko smiling, embarrassed at this, thanking him again. Kyoko says she really should thank Ren for this because it was due to his comment (that she doesn't need to get a perfect score) that freed her from the pressure she was feeling. He may have said it unintentionally but those words allowed her to fly and feel light-hearted so she really must thank him. She does so whilst doing her usual deep bow. Yashiro is looking a bit confused as he probably doesn't know what Kyoko is referring to but then he catches a glimpse of Ren's expression and quickly turns to look at him closely. Ren is looking at Kyoko, who is still bowing, with such a tender expression and a soft smile that Yashiro is taken aback.
Ren tells Kyoko that its he who should be thanking her. Kyoko, who just finished bowing looks up at him puzzled. Ren says this is the reason he come to find her today. Ren explains saying that one's attendance is the mark of a professional actor so as his manager it was because of her that he managed to get there on time (referring to when she used the bicycle to get him to the office on time). So he wanted to thank her for her efforts but since she swapped with Yashiro while he was working she was gone before he could do so that's why it took until now, which he apologizes for. Kyoko says no problem but both she and Yashiro feel like he's blaming them for this inconvenience. Kyoko had a job at lunch time that's why she had to leave, she's thinking worriedly about how many points he's going to give her and how scary waiting like this is. Ren has her Love-Me stamp book and is smiling as he gives her 100 points for being his temporary manager.
Kyoko tells Ren she would have never imagined that he would give her points. That she really didn't do anything worth thanking her for because looking after him when he was sick, cooking and protecting his attendance was all part of her duties as his manager. Yashiro disagrees with this, thinking only if they had a special relationship would they do so. Shocked he wonders if Kyoko might have feelings for Ren and tells her she's just being modest but Kyoko denies this saying if something went wrong it would be her fault. Kyoko says she did the job she was asked to the best of her abilities and modesty has nothing to do with it. Yashiro listens to her a bit drained, thinking that now it sounds like she was only doing it for self-satisfaction.
Ren is obviously listening to the exchange but has remained silent. He interrupts them, calling Kyoko "Mogami-san" which is new for her and hands back her stamp back. She takes it thanking it, thinking that since she's being his manager he's warmed up to her a little. Excited she looks at what stamp he's given her, however there are two now. A 100 point stamp and a negative 10 point stamp, which he totals to 90 points. Kyoko wonders why there is a deduction as he clearly stamped 100. Ren lies saying he didn't realize it wasn't the 90 point stamp. He apologizes for this while giving her his mesmerizing gentlemen smile.
Kyoko, knowing what this smile means, she yells that it's fake and she won't fall for it. She yells too that he probably suddenly changed his mind. Ren walks away as she yells this looking distinctly untroubled by this accusation. Kyoko runs after them still yelling that he's too much and how could he change his mind. Doesn't he feel that he's acting like a kid. Ren continue to denies her accusations saying he already told her he used the wrong stamp. He reminds her that she has a job and shouldn't she be going, probably hoping to change the topic. However Kyoko is undeterred and demands to know what was unsatisfactory about her that earned a deduction. REn tells her she is too suspicious and he really did use the wrong stamp. Kyoko says he is definitely lying. Yashiro is looking on quite taken aback at this passionate exchange and probably at the out-of-character behavior from Ren.
Meanwhile, back at the LME office, Sawara is talking to a coworker about the Curara commercial who said he heard good reviews about it. Sawara is relieved to hear this as they are the Love-Me members and hopes they might get another job from it. Coincidentally a call is then received from Queen Records who wish to use the two girls from the Curara CM in a Promotional Video for a new song by Sho Fuwa.
Characters in Order of Appearance