Today was the day Kioko's experience would be put to the test, knowing she was late and having told Yasmine she didn't need a lift or more like she didn't want a lift with Raven. She quickly grabbed her jeans and a pink t-shirt and ran downstairs for a piece of toast. She then ran back upstairs, grabbed her handbag and her script, put on her shoes and then ran straight to her car. She didn't drive as fast as she ran in the house, but drove steady enough to park nicely in the station parking lot. She swiped her ticket and ran to the nearest carriage on the train. Kioko would've gladly drove to the city but parking was horrible and plus she would have to pay. Plus she didn't know how long the auditions would be for. Kioko sighed heavily as she found a seat on the train and then decided to fix her messy hair.
Meanwhile Raven was pacing to and fro in the studio, occasionally checking his watch, even though he was still nine o'clock, he was worried for Kioko again. Raven had also gone through a routine where he would open his phone, dial Kioko's number and let it ring once then close his phone again. Yasmine was getting annoyed at his behavior.
"For goodness sakes boy! Its only nine o'clock and she did say she'd be here by ten! You've got one hour!" Yasmine exclaimed, Raven looked at Yasmine, rather surprised at her response to his behavior. "If you're so worried about her why don't you go and pick her up yourself?"
"Fine! I'll just do that," Raven said, opening his phone and dialing Kioko's number once more. He left the studio and was already in his car when Kioko answered.
"Hello?" Kioko's voice rang in the receiver.
"Where are you?" Raven asked through his hands free as he started the engine.
"I'm on the train now. Why? What's wrong?" Kioko asked, sounding rather concerned.
"No nothing's wrong. What station are you getting off at?"
"Flinders St Station. Its closer to the venue isn't it?"
"Yeah it is. How are you going to get to the studio?"
"Uh… I was thinking of walking or taking the tram,"
"Forget it I'll come pick you up,"
"But I'm not arriving for another thirty minutes,"
"Then I'll park and meet you at the station,"
"Well ok. Is it really that far?"
"It'll be easier on time if I take you there,"
"Sure. Suit yourself,"
"I shall. I'll see you at Flinders St Station then,"
And with that they both hung up, not really understanding what had just happened during that phone call. Kioko thought it was weird that he was all of a sudden being nice and giving her a lift. Not to mention that he had a car, she wondered why he didn't use his car in the meeting the day before. It occurred to her that she might have been harsh to Raven the day before she couldn't help it. With everything he had said to her fresh in her mind, she didn't see any reason to hold her back from being so cold. Kioko grabbed her MP3 player out of her bag, turned it on, took out her script, and began reading from the page she was up to. Ignoring her surroundings completely.
Raven felt like a weight was off his shoulders, knowing that Kioko hadn't arranged something with Nathan before hand. After all they had spent their evening together, so there was no need to continue the service every day. He turned into Flinders St, parked his car near the station and then made his way to the station itself. He had just finished climbing the stairs at the entrance when he bumped into a girl and caught her just before she could tumble down the stairs and hurt herself.
"Sorry about that! I wasn't watching where I was going," Raven apologized, not noticing whom it was he had caught.
"No it's my fault…" The girl began, when she turned to look at who had caught her, her eyes widened. Raven having noticed who it was, was deeply regretting catching her and hoped to rewind to the time frame where they bumped into each other. "Raven?" the girl continued.
"Jess…" Raven replied, not bothering to hide his disappointment. He was hoping that seeing her at the food court in China Town was the last time he was going to run into her, yet fate decided to be cruel to him.
"You sound rather upset to see me? How so?" Jess asked, fixing her handbag and standing a clear way away from the stairs. "Or do you remember the old days?"
"Both yes to both your questions. I should have let you drop if I knew it was going to be you," Raven replied coldly, not really wanting to have a conversation with her.
"Whatever. It'll be just like last time Rave. You'll come back to me. I miss your company. Plus hearing you play your guitar," Jess said, at that very moment her face turned from cheery to excited. Raven took a small step back, for he feared she might hit him in with the excitement clearly showing on her face.
"I know! Why don't you come round my house this Friday night? The usual peoples are coming over for a get together. I know you loved hanging around those guys," Jess asked excited. Raven thought about it and then suddenly understood.
"Isn't you're brother's Jason's birthday this Friday?" Raven asked curiously.
"Bingo! Good memory there babe,"
"Argh! Don't call me that. We're not going out anymore," Raven shot, obviously disgusted at Jess' pet name for him. Raven wished Kioko would come soon, but she wasn't due to arrive for another fifteen minutes. He much preferred to be called a 'Royal Jerk' by Kioko than 'Babe' by Jess.
"Fine! Well you better come or I'll be very disappointed! Jason will be disappointed! He liked you heaps out of all my boyfriends,"
"Whom you all had at the same time might I add,"
"Yeah well I'm a changed girl Rave. I haven't had a boyfriend since we broke up,"
"May I remind you I broke up with you? Not 'we'! 'I'!"
"Yes well, in a way its all the same. The point is our relationship was no more!" Jess said hurriedly, not really wanting to remember the two times she cheated on him. She really wanted him back; she didn't know what it was about Raven that she liked. In her eyes, if she couldn't have him, then no other girl could.
"Then give me your phone!"
"Just give it to me,"
"What are you going to do?"
"Just give it here and then I'll tell you,"
"You better not run off with it. Kioko might ring any minute!"
"Kioko? Who's that?" Jess asked, remember very well whom Kioko was and not wanting her to interfere with her getting to Raven.
"Kioko? Uh… My girlfriend? She was feeding me when I last saw you," Raven reminded her, remembering himself that Jess perceived Kioko as his girlfriend.
"Oh right her…" Jess pretending to remember, her reply being rather stiff. She dialed her number on Raven's phone, saved it and then handed it back to him, not knowing that Kioko had already arrived and was making her way to them.
"What did you do?" Raven asked, now looking at his phone.
"I entered my phone number on it. So just text me if you can or cannot make it. I'll be expecting a reply!" Jess said winking at Raven, Raven looked rather disgruntled.
"Hey. Did you wait long Ryle?" Kioko's voice came through, to Raven it was like hearing a beautiful melody over a racket of noise.
"No baby I didn't. You wanna go?" Raven asked smiling at Kioko, Kioko just smiled back. Kioko knew why Raven was acting all happy to see her plus calling her pet names. Kioko kissed Raven on the cheek, causing Jess to indicate that she had to go. With the Jess left, Raven and Kioko had already gone down the stairs and were walking back to Raven's car.
"Thanks by the way. I really wanted to get rid of her," Raven said gratefully, smiling at Kioko.
"No problem. I knew she wasn't really that entertaining." Kioko replied, "She still thinks we're going out huh?"
"Yeah. Now about that, you're gonna have to keep the act up till I can finally get rid of her," Raven said as he reversed, turning in the direction towards the studio.
"Is that so? What do you mean by get 'rid' of her? Haven't you moved on from her already?"
"No. No exactly, I have but something still bugs me about her,"
"A small feeling that only she brings?"
"Yeah. Kinda like that. And the fact she doesn't seem to want to let go of me,"
"Even when you're supposed to off the market,"
"Could you do me another favour?"
"And that would me Mr. Lim?"
"Be my escort for her brother's party this Friday night?"
"Uh? Why are you going?"
"I'm not going for Jess. I'm going for Jason. We were really good friends during my relationship with Jess. It seems a shame I miss his birthday purely because of his sister,"
"Then why do I have to come? I won't know anyone!"
"You'll know me and Jess?"
"Gee, that's reassuring,"
"Well. Knowing Jess, with a little bit of alcohol she'll be more hands on than she already is plus she'll be rather curious if I don't bring my 'girlfriend',"
"I guess I will then. Although I never thought you liked girls who drink." Kioko said, looking at Raven now.
"Then why go out with her another round then Mr. Lim?"
"To be honest I really don't know why and I'd rather not discuss while I'm driving or I might hurt you,"
"You wouldn't hurt me Mr. Lim,"
"Then don't get too attached to me in this pretend relationship and you won't," Raven said gently, really meaning his words. He really didn't want to hurt Kioko, she was fragile enough with all the misunderstandings they had the previous day.
"What is that supposed to mean? I'm not supposed to fall for my love team partner. Not the writer," Kioko argued.
"Its nothing. Just don't be surprised if I end up breaking up the pretend relationship for another girl,"
"No problem there. I never wanted this relationship anyway,"
"Good. Neither do I," Raven replied. He knew deep down, that was a complete lie but he wasn't going to dwell on emotions that he believed weren't going to be returned. Kioko watched the scenery out the window, repeating to herself in her mind that what they had was only a pretend relationship in the attempt for Jess to leave Raven alone. So why couldn't she help feeling that she wanted it to be for real?
Raven pulled in and parked at the studio; they both got out and entered the studio. Kioko checked her watch and saw they had arrived at ten o'clock on the dot. She was secretly glad that Raven picked her up for she knew that she wouldn't have made it to the studio having collected how far down Flinders St the studio was.
"Excellent, right on time!" Yasmine exclaimed, patting Raven on the back as a reward, "Kioko here's the parts we'll be running through for the major auditions. I've decided to let them act monologue first and then when we have fewer options and its getting close to call we'll put you up there. For the mean time, sit back, analyze each one and give some feedback when we decided who goes through,"
"This reminds me of Australian Idol. The long auditions," Kioko muttered.
"You went for Australian Idol?" Yasmine asked in surprise, Kioko chuckled a couple of times.
"Oh no. Never! I'm not a singer. My friend went in and she made it to the top fifty a while back," Kioko replied, still chuckling to herself at the idea of her performing in the music talent show.
"Oh I see. Sorry about that,"
"No its fine. So what scene are they acting from,"
"The park scene. When Michael, your characters love interest, is talking to himself, trying to figure out whether he loves Kyla, that's you, or Desiree,"
"You've read the synopsis right?"
"Good. Then you know what we're looking for."
"What time are we starting again?"
"I reckon now is good. Most of those who have registered are already waiting in the foyer,"
"Let the games begin," Raven said with a grin patting the seat next to him. Once Yasmine had seated herself on Raven's right, he told the security to bring in the first actor in and so the process began. Kioko had never experienced something so difficult yet so boring as well. Hearing the same passage over and over again fifteen times or more was not on her agenda. A couple of young men spoke out to her in performance, some made her fall asleep and some would fall into the just 'okay' category. Occasionally Raven would write down some comments, each one bagging the actor before them, with Kioko replying with a smile on her face. Her answers either agreeing with him or making cheekier comments, which usually was associated with a little drawing. Raven noticed Kioko was rather good at drawing, so when they had finished the first round of actors and were about to begin the elimination process, he pocketed the piece of paper for memory.
Raven found it rather easy to comment on which guy he preferred to star as Michael as he was the writer and knew the character like the back of his hand. Kioko would have some influence in the decisions having had acting experience and commenting on whether she'd feel comfortable acting with any of them. From the first round, twenty-five out of sixty young men made it through to the second round.
"I never knew this process would be so tiring! Even if you're just sitting there listening to more than fifty potential 'Michael's," Kioko said stretching in her chair, Raven yawned as a form of agreeing.
"Yes I know. Now here's the harder stage. We've eliminated the ones that don't fit. Now we have to eliminate more than half of them tomorrow," Yasmine commented, also having a good stretch. Yasmine's personality always amused Kioko, she could be cold and heartless yet have such a childish personality as well. Yasmine was a kind looking person above all; an average height, curly-haired brunette with matching dark brown eyes. What always pushed Kioko off the edge was Yasmine's voice, how it could be from friendly or motherly to strict and proper.
"Ah yes. Also I was also wondering, shall we go out to dinner tonight? My treat?" Yasmine asked, putting away her glasses in its case.
"Sure. I'm up for it. After all, a good dinner always cures a full day of boredom," Kioko said.
"I could go with something to eat," Raven said halfway through his yawn.
"Good. Rick would you like to join us?" Yasmine asked, turning to Rick.
"No thanks Mam. I have to get home to take care of the kids. My Mrs. is working tonight," Rick replied with a smile. "Although I am most willing to drive you to the venue?"
"Nah no need my man. I've got my car so I'll drive these ladies home tonight," Raven interjected with a slightly slap on the driver's back.
"Oh very well. Thank you! See you tomorrow I presume?"
"How about you have the week off?" Raven suggested, winking off Yasmine who nodded in agreement.
"Yes take the week off. You deserve it," Yasmine added, stilling nodding.
"But what about Miss. Han?" Rick asked obviously concerned for Kioko's transport.
"Never you mind! I will be driving Miss. Han to and fro during this week and possibly from now on," Raven said in a very Shakespearian tone. Kioko turned to look at Raven as if he had gone mad. "Don't worry so much my Kio-ling. I'll have you at the studio and home safely," Raven said with a wink, seeing Kioko's face relax a little when he said this.
"Very well then! Good night to you all! Have a pleasant time and thank you very much Miss!" Rick said, getting into his limo and driving off.
"So? Dinner?" Raven began with a grin, "Where shall we go tonight ladies?"
"Vintage Café," Yasmine suggested, but by the way she said it, the decision was final.
"Vintage Café it is!" Raven said opening the car door for both ladies, Yasmine in the front and Kioko sitting in the back.
When they had arrived at the café, Kioko who had never been there before, fell in love with the café already: it's bright lights, the vibrant tables and seats. The old fashioned posters that were reminders of how it was in the previous decades, hung up neatly on the walls. The set up being very much like the typical diner's in any American movie; high chairs positioned before the counter, a window behind the cash register for food to be take and served to those who ordered it. Kioko was simply baffled by its presentation. Raven had dropped off the girls to find a table whilst he parked the car, seeing as Vintage Café was quite a popular place. Raven didn't show up until ten minutes after Yasmine and Kioko had been allocated a table.
"Did I miss out on anything?" Raven asked as he sat down next to Kioko, with Yasmine sitting opposite them. It simply looked like she was interviewing them as a couple as such.
"No not really. I was just about to ask Kioko what her opinion is on how 'Michael' should be presented," Yasmine replied taking a sip from her coke.
"Ah I see. No need, my Kio-ling doesn't really need to have her say on 'Michael'. After all I'm the one who created him," Raven replied smugly, Kioko smiling at Raven sarcastically.
"No, not necessarily Mr. Lim. As far as I'm concerned, the lead actress should give her opinion. We need to know how 'Michael' is to be acting towards the character she is playing," Yasmine explained, shutting Raven down. "How to you perceive 'Michael' to be?"
"What do you mean Yasmine?" Kioko asked nervously.
"Well. How do you think he should dress? His personality? Actions or reactions to specific parts in the movie?"
"I kinda perceived 'Michael' to be a normal boy,"
"Yes. Do tell!" Raven added, rather curious of how Kioko perceived her character's love to be.
"Michael Evans – a nice pure heart boy, talent beyond compare. He's a singer right?"
"Well yeah? We heard the same song being sung by more than fifty other guys my Kio-ling. Bad memory," Raven commented sarcastically, rolling his eyes, Kioko kicked him underneath the table. Raven gave a yelp of pain and then rubbed his leg, but smiling broadly to show it didn't hurt that much. Yasmine was rather fascinated by the two; she had never seen such lively people. Not the lively kind where they would bring the party but they were entertaining. Yasmine knew they had history but how she knew was a complete secret to the two who were sitting in front of her. As she watched them laugh to cover up what just happened and glare at each other in small doses. She knew they had something but she didn't know whether she should push them to their limits.
"So obviously he is a singer. Well then he'd have passion for his talent, playing the guitar and writing his own songs. A casual kinda guy who loves nothing more than to just hang out with his friends, share his views and what he values most. Wants to do well for a great career. He's a metro, so he has a high sense of fashion. Yet he chooses not to try so hard like the other boys in their co-ed school seeing as he feels girls shouldn't like him for his status on the social hierarchy," Kioko continued playing with the straw in her glass of water. Raven had his full attention to Kioko now, it seemed like every single detail she had given was related to him. Raven played guitar and was very good mind you, he had his mind set on a performing career, he had good fashion sense and he didn't try too hard to please the girls.
"Do continue please Miss. Han," Yasmine urged Kioko, enjoying Raven's reaction.
"Well. He'd be a gentleman, taking care of any girl who happens to be in his care. He loves his boys of course. He'd be very close to them. A tender heart yet can sometimes be stubborn, especially when it comes to his feelings,"
"What do you mean by your last sentence?"
"Umm… if it's a girl he's comfortable with and has known for quite a while. I wouldn't think he'd have trouble in telling her how he feels. But if he's a crazy about a girl whom he has never talked to or has but not in depth, and he doesn't know why he constantly thinks about her. Then I wouldn't think he's share emotions for the fear of either being rejected or her accepting,"
"Why would he be afraid if she accepts? Wouldn't he be happy?" Raven asked curiously, obviously making another attempt to shut Kioko down, whereas Kioko smiled at him smugly.
"Well. He's afraid she'll accept not purely because of what his friends will think. But he's afraid that if he doesn't like her in the end and realizes its just a crush or whatever. He'd hurt her badly,"
"He wouldn't really care. He's a jock for goodness sakes!"
"Jock or not. Everyone has feelings and a conscience. If we were to go out for a month and then break up how do you think you'd feel if I suddenly had feelings for you after that one-month and wanted to extend the time we had? Wouldn't you be hurt in some way knowing that you probably led me on?" Kioko defended, burning desire inside, hoping he wouldn't catch on what had been on her mind since her signing of the contract. Raven admitted defeat, not really knowing what to say after that. He then knew there was something seriously bothering Kioko if she was using them as an example. He continued to look straight into her eyes and even after she turned away and took a sip from her drink he still watched her.
"Calm down! Its only a movie!" was all Raven could say, seeing the light blush of red on Kioko's cheeks.
"I'm surprised that even you would say this consisting its your movie. Wouldn't you have a little passion for all your hard work paying off?" Kioko snapped.
"Yes I do have passion for my work. But I don't get worked up about it,"
"You seemed worked up when Nathan insulted you as a writer when we first met him," Kioko said, knowing this would trigger some emotions. Before Raven could reply the audience roared out of excitement. The three of them looked towards to the stage to see the manager holding the microphone.
"Settle down people! Karaoke night will begin in a few seconds. We just have to pick our first singer from the audience!" the manager said with a huge smile on his face. As the spotlight went rolling around on the heads of the people in the audience, one spotlight landed on Kioko and so the other two soon followed and rested on her. Kioko could feel the spotlight on her and was pushed out of her seat, Kioko squealed. The first thing she did to save herself was grabbing Raven's arm, which was resting on the table. Yasmine nodded at the people dragging Kioko to drag Raven with her so they did. Pretty soon, both Raven and Kioko were on the stage, blinded by the bright lights that were on them.
"Looks like we've got ourselves a duet! Give them a warm welcome guys!" the manager said, handing both Raven and Kioko a microphone and put on a song, which they surprisingly both knew. With the audience was clapping Kioko breathed heavily and sang the first few lines, causing Raven asking himself on whether that was really her singing or someone else in the background.
"Turning back time to when I last saw you,
Would mean to look at all the memories,
To sit down and watch as the time went through,
Yet I was the one who was not to please…" Kioko turned to see Raven gawking at her like he didn't know her, Kioko nudged Raven to begin with the next few lines, Raven woke from his stare just in time to catch up with the song. Much to Kioko's surprise, he was good.
"You looked at me with those beautiful eyes,
Hiding from me many secrets inside,
Your smile so pure; saying you told no lies,
Your touch so gentle; man I was so blind…" Raven hit the right notes and Kioko could feel herself melting by the sound of his voice. Raven then looked at Kioko and nodded, Kioko didn't know what he meant but she had a hunch, so sang the next too lines, only to hear a beautiful harmony of hers and Raven's.
"To actually believe I felt this way,
You brought me pain I still feel to this day…" Kioko could feel her throat swelling, for she hadn't listened or sang to this song since Raven left suddenly. Raven not really noticing Kioko's voice fading began the chorus, breaking Kioko from her thoughts, she knew she had missed the first few lines so decided to add second voice and echoes as Raven continued.
"I think of you all the time,
Like as if you were mine (mine…)
I don't know why I feel this way (this way….)
But I can't help it,
I think of you everyday (everyday my baby…)
I'm so confused and don't know what to do (with the feelings I have for you…)" Soon enough they were hitting the high notes in hope of hopefully ending the song, both singers were rather disturbed by the lyrics, each one having their own story including the other.
"If you ever find someone new,
I'll just keep thinking only of you (only you darling…)
You might not know me or maybe not,
I liked your kindness and practically the whole package,
No matter where you are or what you do,
I will… (I will…)
I will always… (Always…)
Be thinking of… (Thinking of…)
You…" there was a huge applause from the audience, they seemed to like the ballad in which held some meaning to their performers. After taking a cheery bow Raven was the first to walk off the stage, closely followed by Kioko who was trying to calm herself down. Yasmine applauded them as they sat themselves back at their table, their meals only just arriving.
"Well done. I am impressed. You both harmonized without even meaning to do so," Yasmine complimented grabbing her fork and knife.
"I knew her key so I just added some effect," Raven boasted before putting some chips in his mouth. Kioko who was cutting up her steak remained silent. Raven noticed this and wondered whether this was a good time for a tease, but as he looked closely at Kioko he decided perhaps now wasn't a good time. Kioko looked rather upset, he couldn't think of any reason to be upset after such a great performance without any practice as such. And it had been the first time Kioko had impressed him with her voice as such. Usually the only thing that came out of her mouth was harsh words to be sent back at him for him teasing her. As Raven continued to eat his dinner, he couldn't shake the feeling that he may just give Kioko a chance. A chance for her to come through the door that he had held closed for her during the last five years, a chance to reopen that door that was reserved for only her and was always for her. A place in his heart, with the bonus of his tender loving care. Yet would Kioko accept it or would she slam the door instantly, disgusted at the idea? Raven didn't know, yet he wasn't going to open up to her as of yet, feeling that it was way too soon to be committing his trust and care to her, based on singing performance. Although, he wished it was a good enough reason.