Dark, Empty Apartments

Warning: Boring.

Disclaimer: I don't own Skip Beat! I just read too much of it and read too much into it that I ended up writing fanfiction about it.

"I'm a pri-hm-hm-hmm… Hm Hmm Hm Hmm…" Mogami Kyoko hummed as the last customer for the evening left the place. "Hm Hmm Hm Hmm…"

Sho-chan has been humming that same melody over and over again in their apartment last weekend, saying that it's something that he came up with and would probably use in a single.

It's really catchy. And why wouldn't it??? she thought, swelling with pride. Sho-chan's music is a wonder to the world. Sometime in the near future, he will be on top because he's been working hard, creating music and increasing his fan base. All his fans love him. And why wouldn't they? He's very good looking too! There was no doubt that Sho-chan will be the number one celebrity in Japan.

She just wished he were home more often.

But it's the sacrifice they both have to make. She will be supporting him all the way, doing whatever it takes to make things easy for him so he doesn't have to worry about mundane things like cooking and cleaning after himself when he's in a creative mood. Then someday… her prince will settle in his kingdom and come for her with her glass slipper in his hand and they will love happily ever after.

She interchanged her shifts for the burger place and the Daruma-ya this week because the girl who works the closing shift here got sick. So she does the lunch shift at the Daruma-ya instead. She looked at the clock 10:40 PM. Only 20 more minutes before closing. The place was empty and there was virtually no one passing by outside anymore. She impatiently watched the seconds tick by. It's moving too slowly, she thought as she bounced on her toes.

Oh, she might as well start cleaning up now! No one's going to come in anymore. She started for the closet where all the cleaning supplies were kept when lights from some fancy sports car filtered through the glass windows as it parked in front of the fast food joint.

She sighed, hoping they were just parking and not coming in.

Sho-chan mentioned something about coming home tonight. She still needs to pass by the convenience store to pick up some soft custard pudding his favorite snack before heading home. He'd be hungry for sure so she'll prepare a light meal for him. She glared at the car, wondering what happened to whoever's in there. Are they coming in or not? She impatiently thought.

Finally, two men emerged from the car and Kyoko gaped as that all-looks, no-brains, and number one in the popularity charts Tsuruga Ren and a bespectacled man made their way to the entrance.

"Welcome," she automatically greeted with her automatic cheerful smile as the doors opened.

"Not another fast food joint, Ren," the glasses guy complained.

"Well," Tsuruga Ren replied. "It's the only place around left open. It's either this or a nice cup of instant noodles from a convenience store."

"After what you didn't eat for lunch? No way!"

Kyoko held her smile as the two men talked. So… Gorge-stars like Tsuruga Ren also lives on Planet Earth like the rest of mankind and live on nothing but junk food and skipping meals. At least Sho-chan has someone like her who can prepare nutritious food that won't slowly kill you no matter how simple or elaborate the dish is. Not that it makes her like or sympathize with him any more. The mere fact that he is ahead and on top of the popularity charts against Sho is enough for her to make her dislike him. Not that she'll ever care about the kind of food Tsuruga Ren ever puts in his system.

Her train of thought was interrupted when he stepped forward and smiled. "Hi. We'll have two of whatever's left for take out please."

He's tall, she'll grant him that. Probably wears 15-inch platform shoes. "Certainly." She moved quickly to prepare the order. She wanted them to leave so she can clean up already and leave before Sho-chan gets home. Besides, she can't stand having this person around. The only thing that's keeping her from showing her outright dislike for him is because he's a customer. "You have to endure with a smile on your face until the customer leaves," the okami-san back in Kyoto always reminded her. It is part and parcel of the service industry after all. And she was going to do her proud.

"Here you go," she announced, putting the paper bags on the counter. He paid for the bill and she bowed them out the door."Please come again." Not one her shift though, she thought.

OK... that's finally over and done with. She looked up at the clock on the wall. 10:54 P.M. It should be OK to start cleaning up now, thinking how the faster she can clean, the faster she can leave, the faster she can see Sho-chan again

"Now that's something you don't see everyday," Yukihito-san commented as he popped a French fry into his mouth.

"What is?"

"This is the first time I've see a girl not go over the moon about Tsuruga Ren coming during their shift in a fast food joint or a convenience store," his manager said as he took a sip off his soda. "In fact, I've never seen someone move so efficiently when I'm with you. They usually try to make small talk or fawn over you. That girl looked like she wanted you to get out as fast as possible." He smiled slyly at him. "Maybe you're losing your touch."

"Isn't that the point of a fast food restaurant?" Ren shrugged, ignoring his last comment as he took a bite off his hamburger. "And leave it alone. It's late and she's probably tired. We came in a few minutes before closing. Anyway, it's good that she was quick and efficient. I still have a script to memorize when I get home."

"What!?" Yukihito-san sputtered out. "I thought your girlfriend… Erm, what's her name again? I can't keep track. Anyway, I thought she's coming over tonight?"

"She isn't," Ren stared ahead of the road, annoyed that Yukihito-keeps tabs on even things like that. But it's not like it was his fault. His ex-girlfriends used to always call him Yukihito-san up to they know his availability because he wouldn't pick up the phone when he's at work. "We broke up."

"Again!?" His manager gasped. "That would make how many times already this year alone? Do you really get tired of girls that easily?"

Ren covered his annoyance with the question by popping a fry into his mouth. "Who knows…?" He shrugged. It's not like he's the one who gets tired of the relationship. They're mostly ok. He's the one who's always getting dumped. It's not really his fault they end up falling in love with someone else, right? He's not exactly in the position to get in the way of her happiness.

"Ren…" Yukihito-san sighed. "Why go out with them, get their hopes up if you're going to dump them in the end?"

Really… This guy is the only one who can get away with prying into his personal life and it kinda grates on his nerves. He thinks that he's being too lenient with him. But apart from being reliable and efficient, Yukihito-san is very trustworthy, especially when it comes to his personal life. He's very good when it comes to filtering out the things that should and shouldn't be shared about Tsuruga Ren.

"Anyway…" Yukihito-san abruptly changing the topic. "I was talking to Kijima-san's manager earlier." Referring to one of the actors he co-stars in one of the dramas he's working on. "There's some wild rumor in their agency that Director Ogata Hiroaki might get approval to remake Tsukigomori."

The title perked Ren's ears. Tsukigomori? The drama that made Hozu Shuuei into a household name with his portrayal of Katsuki just a little before he was born? "Really?" he turned to him with interest. "For when?"

"In a couple of months' time," Yukihito-looked at him observantly. "And you look interested. This is not your usual genre, Ren. It's a suuuuuuper deep romance."

"Well… it's not right that you just do the things you're comfortable with and not try new things."

"Then I'll keep my eyes and ears open then. I'll let Matsushima-san know too." Yukihito crumpled the hamburger wrapper. "Who knows? If this pulls through and you end up with it, you might end up with a cute co-star you could fall in love with."

Ren narrowed his eyes and stared ahead of the road. OK, now he was just talking nonsense. As expected from his manager who can abruptly change the conversation into something else completely.

Kyoko may just have broken many records today.

She cleaned up in record time. Her Type B personality ensured that she did a thorough job with the clean up but she got slightly stuck with one table where a customer stuck gum on top of the table – gross! Then she rushed to the nearby convenience store to get Sho-chan's soft custard pudding. Then she rode her bike in record time back to their apartment. The anticipation and excitement of seeing Sho-chan again made her ignore the fact that her legs felt like jelly because of the excessive walking, pedaling and running up the stairs (elevator was too slow).

She burst through the door and stopped, finding only a dark, empty apartment.

The adrenaline rush wore off and her legs finally gave out. She fell on her knees, trying to catch her breath.

Sho-chan might still be at work. He did say that he might come home tonight, but he didn't say that he would. He's an incredibly busy person after all.

She sighed and stared out the window. Even with the heavy congestion of Tokyo, she could see several starts twinkling. She smiled and just looked at them, thinking how much nicer it would be if Sho-chan was there. After all, it's very nice to have someone to go home to.

Tsuruga Ren entered his apartment and sighed.

He tossed his keys and coat on the table. He made his way to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of liquor, which he occasionally does after a long day at work. He brought the drink with him to the living room where he sat down near the window.

Tonight, at his now ex-girlfriend's insistent reminders for over a week, would have been an early birthday diner for him since he'll be flying to Okinawa for a photo shoot tomorrow morning. But of course, she broke up with him telling him that she fell in love with someone else. So instead of coming him to someone preparing dinner for him – even though he knows nothing about her cooking skills nor does he had that much interest in food anyway, he goes home to a dark, empty apartment.

Oh well, he thought. Looking at the clock and then the stars outside the window. He's now officially 20 now. Apart from being a legal adult now here, there isn't really anything much to it. Now, he reached for his bag and pulled out a script. He has work to do.

Author's Notes & Assumptions:

- I don't own Skip Beat! I just read too much of it and that I ended up writing fanfiction about it.

- Too much trying to understand Ren and Kyoko's pasts for another long-winded fanfic made me write this what-if fanfiction. I was thinking about how much Kyoko disliked Ren before they met. It was already a given she didn't like because Ren is on top of the popularity charts, hence a hindrance for Sho to achieve his dream to be on top. Kyoko, as a total Sho fangirl, would totally dislike Ren.

- Yes, I also did think about having Ren and Yashiro have lunch or dinner at the Daruma-ya, but the food there might be too good for Ren.

- foxyfire - you're not suggesting that ren's been living like a monk in the spring of his youth are you? if you think back when ren & kyoko simulated katsuki & mizuki, ren got the "stabbing pain in his chest" when mizuki said that she'll pretend to be someone else when visiting him so no one would get suspicious, he realizes that it's something he did with his girlfriends - which he wouldn't have been necessary as corn. the lack of gossip for him has something to do with him being an aloof type of person because his relationships were considered "shallow". when lory said that ren still feels that he doesn't deserve to be happy, ren realizes he doesn't deserve that kind of happiness with someone important to him. ren never corrected yukihito was considering that kyoko is the first girl he has difficulty dealing with in terms of love. i mean, only with kyoko did yukihito even realize that ren is totally inept with love. so before, it would be a good assumption for yukihito that ren just loses interest.