On my first visit ever to the official Skip Beat! discord, I saw a challenge posted by wolfdancer333 called the "Expect the Unexpected Challenge" and decided to take up the challenge. Now initially, I thought that it would take me a while to come up with an idea for a fic confining to these rules, but lo and behold, I suddenly had a brilliant idea lying down in bed that night! I have no set update schedule for this fic since my main focus is on updating Love is Immortal, but I still wanted to put out the preliminary chapter to see how popular it would be.
Here are the rules to the "Expect the Unexpected Challenge"!
1. The story can have any pairings in any order but it has to end with Ren/Kyoko as the final pairing. With no set length it can be as long or as short as you want!
2. The story MUST be tagged in the summary or title with 'Expect the Unexpected Challenge' so we know the story is included in the Challenge! Also: there is no time limit. Whether you have been with Skip Beat! For 12 years or you have just found it, this Challenge will be here for everyone, forever! As long as you tag your story, this Challenge has no ending!
3. Lory CANNOT be the main perpetrator. Yes, yes, he is the most likely one to throw Ren and Kyoko together but not this time! Think outside the box. Takarada, Lory is hereby banned from all love activities for this challenge! (Lory: unmanly wailing in the background) However, because I am a kind challenger: Lory cannot be the perpetrator….But he CAN be involved in whatever way that does NOT make him the main initiator. (Lory: cheers and throws rose petals in the air)
4. I don't want to hinder the many, many ways to throw Ren and Kyoko into unexpectedly romantic situations HOWEVER! There is a rule to this! (I know, I know, I'm evil.) It has to be a forced and completely unexpected development! Examples: a surprise cruise/vacation for all LME employees, a dating show, a variety interview where Ren and Kyoko appear together without the other knowing, Skip Beat! Bachelor, etc. Any situation where the two are thrown together unexpectedly and have no choice but to deal with it. And it has to be sort of public, a big deal, with no way to escape.
5. There has to be at least one fight between Ren and Kyoko but the fight does NOT have to be in the story! As long as it's made clear that a fight has happened between them, it will count! At least one destructive fight (I'm talking the works: arguing, possible screaming, teary Kyoko, angry Kuon – let me know they are in a serious fight that could destroy everything they have), an extremely awkward moment for both of them (together or separate), and of course, no Skip Beat! Ren/Kyoko Challenge would be complete without this last one: THE FREAKING FINALLY, AT LAST KISS! The kiss must be initiated by Kyoko but it can be for any reason related to the story!
6. In a lot of fanfics, Ren is the one who reveals his identity (or someone close to him like Lory or his Dad) but not this time! This time, for this Challenge, Kyoko is the one! Kyoko MUST already know that Ren is Kuon or Corn but NOT both. For example: she can know he is Kuon but has no idea he is Corn or vice versa so that she knows he is Corn but has no idea he's a Hizuri. For this Challenge, you can write her knowing that Ren is Kuon or Corn into your story or you can hint at it from before your story BUT! You have to include Kyoko figuring out the opposite identity IN your story! Whichever identity about Ren she DOESN'T know, you HAVE to include!
7. Ahem….There HAS to be a shirtless Ren (I don't think I even need to explain why this rule exists XD) and a sweetly funny scene between him and Kyoko while he's shirtless! The reason he lost his shirt, I leave up to you :p
8. Now, this part is the best one! Excluding shirtless Ren. The story NEEDS to include both a jealous Kyoko and a jealous Ren and as a bonus: anyone who throws Kimiko, or the actress who kissed Ren, and Sho into the story as a jealous prop will get extra points! XD
9. Finally, the last rule! This is the most important rule of them all! HAVE FUN!
"Kyoko-chan! Don't forget the bus ticket that your friend gave you!"
"Hai! Thank you for reminding me!" Kyoko bowed, turning back to grab her bus ticket out of the Okami's outstretched hand.
"Have fun on your trip," The Okami smiled. Kyoko gave her and the Taisho a wide grin and word of thanks before rolling her bag out front to the car waiting outside. Ruto was already waiting on the pavement to take her suitcase from her, and he opened the door of the backseat for her. Kyoko's smile widened as she saw her best friend sitting in the backseat. Once she was seated inside and buckled up next to Kanae, Ruto began the drive to the LME meet up spot.
"Moko-san! Good morning!" Kyoko exclaimed perkily.
"Good morning," Kanae responded, although a lot less excitedly than Kyoko.
"Are you excited for the trip too?" Kyoko asked, her eyes glowing with her own excitement.
"We're going to have to stay on a bus for hours on end for a week. And who knows what the LME president has planned for the trip?" Kanae groaned.
"But Moko-sannnn, this is the first time we're going on a trip together!" Kyoko pouted. Kanae didn't reply.
When the Love Me duo arrived at the bus station, Kyoko insisted that she would take care of her own bag as Ruto unloaded the car. She thanked him profusely before heading into the busy bus terminal with Kanae.
Kanae glanced down at her phone to see a new text. All set.
"Good. We're here next to the information board," She quickly texted back.
Kanae looked up from her phone to see her friend marveling at a stand selling bento boxes for kids with cute characters on the boxes. Kyoko looked back to see Kanae and gave her a bright smile. Kanae felt a pang of guilt. Hopefully Kyoko wouldn't hate her after today...
"Ah! Kotonami-san! Kyoko-chan!"
Kyoko stiffened and turned towards the voice, seeing Yashiro coming towards them with a messenger bag in his arm. And to his left, there was a man in a large overcoat and sunglasses who Kyoko most definitely did not want to see.
"Yashiro-san. Tsuruga-san. What a pleasant surprise," Kanae smiled, although she had expected to meet with them.
"Good morning, Kotonami-san," Ren greeted Kanae before turning to her companion hesitatingly. "Mogami-san."
"G-Good morning," Kyoko replied curtly, turning towards Yashiro to try to avoid any more conversation with the fairy prince who had lied to her over and over again. She had been avoiding him ever since she had learned of his true identity.
"Mogami-san, I have something very important to speak to you about."
Kyoko turned from the sink where she had just finished washing the dishes from the meal she had made for Ren. She had been surprised initially when he asked her to come to his place to make dinner. He had only said that he had something important to discuss with her, but she would never turn down an invitation to dinner from her senpai.
Kyoko finished washing her hands and joined Ren on the couch, waiting for his next words. What could be so important that he had to ask her to come to his place to speak about?
"Mogami-san, I'm really sorry for keeping this from you for so long. I really never expected to ever meet with you again, and when we first met each other, we weren't exactly on the best terms, but… I'm Corn."
Kyoko blinked, her mind too confused to respond.
"You're Corn pretending to be Tsuruga-san?" Her befuddled brain spat out words as it tried to piece together the new development.
"No. I'm sorry, Mogami-san. I lied to you that day I met you in Guam because I knew how important Corn's memory was to you, and I didn't want to ruin your memories of him," Ren looked down guiltily. Kyoko's brain processed Ren's words for a few more seconds before her eyes widened in understanding and she stood up in shock. Her brain was overloading with the development, but one single memory from Guam stood out among the rest. If he was Corn, then that would mean he had kissed her in Guam and told her that he loved her, but Kyoko knew for a fact that Ren loved a high school girl. If so, why would he have kissed her?! Tears came to Kyoko's eyes as a single explanation came to mind. He must have been toying with her.
"Y-You must have thought I was stupid in Guam for still b-believing in fairytales. You were playing with me this whole time!" Kyoko frowned, her eyes filling with tears of hurt. Ren's eyes widened at the unexpected distress he had caused her.
"Mogami-san, I really didn't think you were stupid for still holding onto hope with Corn-" Ren stood up, trying to placate her, but Kyoko's reasoning had come to a conclusion, and she was unwilling to listen to anymore of his words.
"How could you?! You knew exactly how Shotaro had used my feelings for him against me, and you did exactly the same thing! Was Guam a game to you?! Was it really funny for me to fall for your lies again and again?!" Kyoko yelled, causing Ren to look down in shame.
"I meant everything I said that day," Ren argued, but this only riled Kyoko up more.
"Even now, you're still trying to lie your way out of this. I don't know if I can trust any of the words coming out of your mouth now, Tsuruga-san."
"I understand you need time to process this, but please, Kyoko-chan-"
"Don't call me that!" Kyoko screamed.
"Please, Mogami-san, let me explain-"
Kyoko's face was now covered in tears, and she shook her head violently. "No. I don't want to hear it."
"Tsuruga-san, I just can't take any more of this. First it was my mother, then Shotaro, and now you. I just…" Kyoko shook her head, grabbing her bag off the coffee table and searching through it. She pulled out a small pouch and dropped the Corn stone into her palm.
"I just don't think I can take this anymore," Kyoko said lifelessly, grabbing Ren's hand and placing the stone into his palm. He could only stand there stunned as she walked out of his apartment.
She hadn't expected that one conversation could wreck their relationship so badly. After that day about two months ago, she had avoided him, and he had not pushed her about the issue. Other than exchanging the usual pleasantries whenever she was unfortunate enough to cross paths with him, she had never initiated a conversation with Ren again. Truly, she was afraid. Afraid of what that kiss in Guam meant to him and the subsequent confession. There was no way that he could actually be telling her these things truthfully since he was in love with that high school girl, so the only explanation was that he had tricked her. He had played with her heart just like Shotaro had. She didn't think she could survive that blow to her heart if he told her the truth like Shotaro had. She had just regained that feeling, and it had been crushed yet again, and she didn't think she would be able to mend her heart again. Kyoko replayed that conversation in her head at least once a day, wondering what he would have told her if she had stayed and listened to him. Would he have crushed all the remaining hope in her heart?
"Ah, are you two excited for the trip as well?" Yashiro asked, trying to lighten the heavy atmosphere and bringing Kyoko's attention away from Ren.
"Yes! I'm excited to sightsee and spend time with my friend!" Kyoko exclaimed, clinging happily onto Kanae's arm who only rolled her eyes.
Yashiro glanced at Kanae who shook her head at her friend's antics and pointed to the ticket in her hand. Yashiro lifted his own ticket, nodding that all was going according to their plan.
Both him and Kanae had noticed the change in Kyoko and Ren's relationship during the past two months. It was truly heartbreaking to see how entirely devastated both Kyoko and Ren were. Kanae had not seen a true smile from Kyoko for a whole month, and she would always freeze up whenever Ren was mentioned. Yashiro, on the other hand, had been subjected to only Ren's gentleman smiles that hid Ren's true feelings to the public. One day, Kanae had come to Yashiro to complain about how broken Kyoko was because of Ren. That day, they had compared notes about the subtle changes in their two friends and had come to the conclusion that there must have been a misunderstanding between the two. After a month, they had subtly attempted to push the two together to have a conversation, but Kyoko avoided Ren like the plague, and Ren seemed intent on letting her do it until the end of time. Even the president of LME had attempted to push them together with his love-mon ways, but his plans had not worked either. There were only so many ways that Lory could spur the two of them on, and neither had reacted in the way he hoped when he showed them the photos of Kana-san kissing Ren and Sho kissing Kyoko. Unless Kanae and Yashiro did something about it, who knew when the two would be on speaking terms again?
"I think it's time we get going, Yashiro-san. Have a nice vacation," Ren bowed his head to no one in particular, walking off without another word. Yashiro quickly said a small apology for Ren's aloof behavior before running off to catch up to his charge.
"Hey, Kyoko, I'm going to head to the ladies' restroom before we board the bus," Kanae nudged her friend off of her arm.
"Oh, I'll come with you then!" Kyoko exclaimed.
"You need to use the restroom as well?"
"No, but I'll still follow you!"
"Actually, if you wouldn't mind then, could you do me a huge favor?"
"Anything!" Kyoko smiled.
"I don't have a drink for the bus ride yet, so could you visit the convenience store and buy me an iced coffee? I'm not sure how long the line is for the restroom, so we can meet each other on the bus."
"Thank you so much. Just remember that our bus number is Bus 1225, and it boards on the Northern platform. Make sure you don't board the wrong bus."
"Okay! I'll see you on the bus, Moko-san!" Kyoko exclaimed before heading off to the convenience store. Kanae turned towards the ladies' restroom and watched over her shoulder until Kyoko disappeared from her sight. She sighed in relief and changed her course, heading to the Southern platform where Bus 210 was currently boarding.
Ren turned to see his friend running to catch up to him, and he paused as Yashiro grabbed a baseball cap out of his bag. Yashiro threw the hat to him, and he caught it on reflex as Yashiro fished a few more articles of clothing out of his bag.
"Yashiro-san, I think my disguise is fine already."
"The president just told me that our company vacation was leaked to the press. There's fangirls everywhere looking for you. Even I'm too recognizable standing next to you right now. Go to the restroom now and switch around your disguise a bit just in case. I'll head to the bus first and meet you there. Remember to head to the Northern platform to board Bus 1225," Yashiro told him. Ren nodded and headed over to the men's restroom as Yashiro made his way to the Northern platform. Once he saw that Ren had entered the restroom, Yashiro immediately changed course and made his way to the Southern platform. As he boarded Bus 210, he saw Kanae in the front row by herself. He put his bag in the overhead compartment before sitting down next to her.
"You told her Bus 1225?" Yashiro immediately asked.
"I did. She should be on her way there soon," Kanae replied.
"Good. I told Ren too."
"What is this I'm hearing about my two stars being told to go on the wrong bus?"
Kanae and Yashiro turned towards the seat next to theirs and dropped their jaws in shock as they realized that Lory was sitting right across from them. They hadn't noticed him since he was wearing a simple Hawaiian shirt and khakis, very subdued compared to what he usually wore.
"Where did you send them?" Lory asked seriously as he narrowed his eyes with a predatory glint, causing Yashiro to gulp in fear, but Kanae would not cower to him.
"My cousin runs a tour company," Kanae crossed her arms with a small smirk.
Kyoko ran through the bus terminal towards the Northern terminal with Kanae's iced coffee in hand. She hadn't expected the checkout line to be so long, and now she was almost late. She couldn't let the bus leave without her!
Kyoko looked around and spotted Bus 1225, handing her ticket to the driver as an assistant took her suitcase from her to store under the bus. She quickly ran up the steps of the bus looking around for Kanae, but she didn't see her friend.
"Uh, Miss, could you find your seat? We're about to depart," The driver called out from behind her.
"Oh! O-of course! Sorry!" Kyoko apologized. She quickly scanned the bus, seeing no empty seats except for one in the front next to some guy in a baseball cap with headphones in who was currently either sleeping or looking out the window. She took the seat next to him, hoping that he hadn't been waiting for anyone in particular. She would just have to look for Kanae later once they stopped somewhere.
Kyoko watched the scenery through the window as the bus began to move, and she glanced over at the man beside her. He was holding something in his hand, and the sun was reflecting off of it. It seemed very familiar...
"Miss, could you wake him up to hear the introductions?" The woman in the seat across from Kyoko asked. From her slightly dressed-up attire and nametag, Kyoko guessed that she was the tour guide. She seemed to not be much older than Kyoko herself. Kyoko nodded, tapping the man on the shoulder and turning back to the girl as she stood up with a microphone in hand.
"Hello everybody! Welcome to Bus 1225! This is our bus driver, Akito Hamada. My name is Mari Kotonami, and I'll be your tour guide on this trip through Japan! Please take care of me!" Mari bowed. The people on the bus clapped, and Kyoko clapped along with them.
"It's really amazing to see so many newlyweds all in one bus! We think this honeymoon itinerary is truly dreamy, and we hope you all enjoy what we have in store for you! I know it's still early in the morning, so I'll begin talking to you all again once we get closer to our first destination," Mari finished before taking her seat. Kyoko's eyes bugged out of their sockets. What was she talking about?! Honeymoon itinerary?!
Kyoko poked her head into the aisle of the bus and looked behind her to see that every pair of seats was filled with couples. Had she gotten on the wrong bus?! Kyoko looked at the front dashboard to see that she was indeed in Bus 1225, the bus that Kanae had told her to board.
Kyoko gasped as she realized that she had taken a seat next to a random man. If this was a bus full of newlyweds, she must have accidentally taken the place of his wife! Kyoko turned towards the man to stutter her apologies but found herself stop cold as the man took off his sunglasses and she found herself staring into chocolate brown eyes.
Kyoko would have screamed if she hadn't been in a bus full of other people.
"W-Why are you on the wrong bus too, Tsuruga-san?!" Kyoko stammered. She pulled her ticket out of her pocket, confirming that it was indeed a ticket for Bus 1225.
"That's the same ticket that Yashiro-san gave me…" Ren said, pulling out his own ticket.
"Moko-san gave me this ticket, and she even tried to remind me not to get on the wrong bus. I don't know how this happened! I followed her directions exactly! How could I mess up?!"
"Mogami-san, calm down. I think I know what happened. Yashiro-san also reminded me about the exact bus to board. I found it a bit strange since I have never had trouble remembering plane gates or bus numbers. I think Kotonami-san and Yashiro-san must have tricked us."
"T-Tricked us? Why would they do that?"
"I'm not sure, but you must have realized that the tour guide has the same last name as Kotonami-san, right?"
Kyoko yelped as she felt a tap on her shoulder, and she turned to see Mari the tour guide smiling at her. Mari hadn't heard their conversation since they had been speaking in hushed whispers. "I'm sorry for interrupting, but I just wanted to introduce myself to you personally, Kyoko-chan. When Kanae-san asked me about a last minute couple to add to our tour group, I accepted immediately when she told me you were one of her good friends. It's rare for Kanae-san to have friends, and I'm surprised she has a friend who was just recently married. Congratulations to you and your husband!" Mari smiled. Kyoko paled and turned to Ren who looked thoughtful for a second before smiling angelically.
"Thank you, Kotonami-san. We're excited to see what this trip has in store for us," Ren smiled, and Kyoko found her mouth gaping at the sheer bliss in that smile. She had expected anger behind a gentleman smile, not the kind of smile that could melt her grudges! When Mari retreated back to her seat, Kyoko frowned at Ren.
"What are you thinking? There's no way that we would ever be married!" Kyoko whispered harshly, causing a flash of pain through Ren's eyes which Kyoko didn't catch.
Kyoko blanched at his use of her given name. "W-Why are you calling me that?!"
"If we were a married couple, then we would never use each other's family names to address each other-"
"We're not newlyweds!" Kyoko retorted.
"According to Kotonami-san, we are."
"I'm calling Moko-san right now to tell her to fix this!" Kyoko argued. She quickly dialed Kanae's number and pressed the phone to her ear, standing up to head to the cramped bathroom at the back of the bus. After two rings, Kanae picked up.
"Moko-sannn, why did you do this to me?!" Kyoko wailed into the receiver.
"I'm honestly surprised you knew it was me so quickly with how you usually misinterpret things."
"You've been avoiding Tsuruga-san for months, and whenever I asked you the reason, you would always give me that stupid smile!" Kanae barked back.
"It's for your own good. Whatever there is between you two, sort it out during your vacation together this next week," Kanae replied.
"It's more complicated than you think," Kyoko murmured.
"Mo, I bet you're blowing it way out of proportion. If you try to run away, Yashiro-san has a tracker on Tsuruga-san's phone. If my cousin calls me and tells me that you ran away from your husband, I'll tell Yashiro-san to release Tsuruga-san's location to the media."
"What?! Moko-san, you wouldn't do that! Tsuruga-san's reputation would be ruined if he was found on a couples' retreat left behind by his wife!"
"So if you want to protect his reputation, then resolve your issues! If you want to, you can even see this as acting training for portraying a newlywed couple."
"B-But there's no way that Tsuruga-san would ever be in a relationship with me! It's so unrealistic! A-And I would have to call him by his given name! Moko-san, I think the gods will curse me if I do that!" Kyoko wailed.
"Figure it out. Mo, we're driving through a tunnel right now. The reception's cutting off. Talk to you later."
"No, wait! Moko-san!" Kyoko exclaimed, but Kanae hung up before Kyoko could stop her. Kyoko groaned at the phone in her hand. Dangling the prospect of a married life with Ren in front of her was torture. It was swinging something she desperately wanted in front of her, but she would never be able to reach it. As if she already didn't have to deal with the knowledge that he was Corn and had kissed her in Guam, now she had to treat him like her husband?! How could Kanae do this to her?!
Rules 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 complete! Hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Now usually I would write review responses after a chapter, but I just want to say beforehand that I am not doing that for this fic, so please log in so that I can personally reply to your messages! Thank you for being such an amazing community, and I will see you in the next chapter!