Sho Business

Synopsis: What if Sho had had to make an honest woman of Kyoko in order to get her to agree to come to Tokyo with him?

Disclaimer: Skip Beat! and its characters are the sole property of the legal copyright holders. This story borrows the characters and is not for profit or professional gain. To support the original artist and enhance enjoyment of this story, it is recommended that readers purchase copies of the manga at their nearest bookstore if at all possible.

Notes: Obviously, from the description, I am taking some liberties with the circumstances surrounding Kyoko and Sho's move to Tokyo. That aside, I intend to make every effort to mold the story to fit manga events as much as possible, though some modification will be necessary.

Special thanks to past and future reviewers!

Chapter Sixteen: The Universe is Shaped Exactly Like the Earth (Part 3/3)

"Sho-chan," Kyoko repeated, smiling shyly. "You can have these." Once again, she held out the small handful of stones.

Sho shrugged his shoulders and put his hands in his pockets. "Why would I want some dumb rocks?"

Kyoko scrambled to her feet, then walked to the edge of the garden. "So you can hit the target!" She exclaimed, pointing at the giant rock Sho had been trying to hit. "You were so close last time, it's amazing how far you can throw!"

"Amazing?" Sho asked, looking at her through narrow eyes, trying to judge whether she was making fun of him.

"Yes! I couldn't throw a rock half that far; you must be really strong!"

Sho looked into her eyes, which shone with such sincerity that he couldn't help believing her. A warm feeling spread through him. He scratched awkwardly at his neck, undoing the top button of the collared shirt his mother had made him wear.

"Of course you can't throw that far; you're a girl," he said, quickly grabbing the rocks from her hand. He marched back to his previous position and geared up to make another throw. As he extended his arm back, he glanced over his shoulder to see Kyoko a few feet away with her hands clasped in anticipation. Swallowing, he put his arm back and leaned forward to judge the distance one more time. Just as he released the throw, he jumped at the sound of Kyoko yelling "You can do it, Sho-chan!"

He turned to scowl at her for making him jump but before he could say anything, Kyoko let out a squeal and ran forward to tug on his shirt sleeve, jumping up and down.

"You did it!" she exclaimed. Sho spun around to look at the giant rock in the center of the garden. Just visible on the flat part at the very edge was a tiny blue pebble.

Sho had been trying to land a pebble on that stone for weeks, and this was the first time he succeeded. In his excitement, he grabbed Kyoko and spun her around in a circle. She wasn't heavy, but he wasn't really strong enough to carry her so a second later they both collapsed onto the ground. For a moment he just looked at Kyoko and she looked at him. Then she burst into giggles. Sho blushed crimson but couldn't help laughing, too. They were still in hysterics when his mother found them a few minutes later.

"Shoutaro!" she exclaimed as she rushed forward to pick him up from the ground. "What happened? Are you alright?"

Sho pulled away from her mothering and glanced at Kyoko. There was no trace of a smile on her face anymore as she quickly got to her feet by herself. She started to smooth out her skirt and was looking anxiously down the path his mother had come from.

Satisfied that her son wasn't hurt, Sadako turned to the little girl. "Kyoko-chan, are you okay?"

Kyoko turned quickly and bowed to her. "I'm fine. I'm sorry I made Sho-chan fall down," she said, bowing her head.

"Well, neither of you are hurt, so there's no harm done," Sadako said, kindly. "It's time for supper. Let's go inside." She steered her son down the path and reached out a hand to Kyoko, which the girl took tentatively.

When they reached the reception room, Sadako looked around in confusion. She strode to the doorway and called for one of the maids.

"Which room did you show my guest to?" she asked quietly, back to her okami propriety.

"Mogami-san had to leave," the girl replied nervously. "She said to give you this." She held out an envelope.

"I see," Sadako said, without blinking an eye. "Prepare dinner for myself and the children. We will eat here in ten minutes." She slid the door closed after the maid left and for a second her shock showed on her face. It was replaced with a placid smile by the time she turned back to the children.

"The food will be coming soon. Why don't you wash your hands?" Shotaro led Kyoko to a small washroom and Sadako sunk down onto one of the cushions at the empty table. Her hands weren't quite steady as she opened the note.

"Sadako -

I can't wait because I must make the six o'clock train or I will miss my flight. Tell Kyoko I said she is to behave herself in my absence. I will be back from Madrid in six weeks.

-Saena"

"She didn't even say goodbye to her her daughter," Sadako whispered, shocked. She knew that her friend had been hardened by what she'd been through. But she couldn't imagine what could make a mother separate from her child without even saying goodbye.

She didn't have much time to ponder it, because Sho and Kyoko returned almost immediately and took seats at the table.

Sho was twiddling with his chopsticks and craning his head at the doorway, obviously waiting for dinner to come. Kyoko sat still, staring at her own tiny hands, which were neatly folded in her lap.

"Kyoko," Sadako began, then cleared her throat and started again in a more cheerful voice. "Kyoko-chan, your mommy had to leave to so that she could make her flight. She left a note that says she is very sorry she could not say goodbye."

Kyoko's head shot up, her eyes wide and frightened. "What- but – how will I get to the train station?" she asked in a small voice.

Sadako couldn't help letting out a small gasp. Surely Saena had explained to Kyoko that she would be staying with the Fuwas?

Regaining her cheerful smile with effort, she explained. "Your mother will come in a few weeks to fetch you and she'll take you to the train station then."

Kyoko's lower lip quivered and her big eyes were wet with tears. "Yes, ma'am." She said obediently, her voice shaking. She was looking around her at the room as if it had suddenly become much larger and scarier.

Sho shifted nervously in his seat and looked at his mother.

"Kyoko is going to be staying with us for a while, Sho-chan," Sadako explained. "Her mother has to go to Spain for work and Kyoko has to start school when you do in a few weeks. She can't do that in another country where she doesn't speak the language, so she'll go to school with you and stay with us here. Isn't that nice, to have a friend even before school starts?"

Sho nodded, accepting the explanation without question. His mother had given him everything else he ever wanted. Of course she got him a friend, too. It made perfect sense. Still, he didn't like the way Kyoko was sniffling and looking sad. He liked it better when they were laughing on the path. She was his friend, so she belonged to him and he felt like he should do something to make things better again; he just wasn't sure what he could do.

No one ate much when dinner came and Sadako decided it would be best to call it an early night, because Kyoko didn't seem very interested in playing. She showed the little girl to her room, explaining where the bathroom was and where she could find the Fuwas if she needed anything. Kyoko nodded silently, barely glancing at the room. Her arms were crossed tightly and her hands gripped her elbows until her knuckles turned white.

Sadako shepherded her son from the room, closing the door softly. "Poor thing," she sighed, before turning to Sho.

"Kyoko is sad because she won't see her mother for a long time, so we need to leave her alone for a little while to give her time to adjust to her new surroundings, okay?"

Sho nodded uneasily. "But why did her mother go away?" he couldn't help asking. A sudden thought occurred to him and he paled. "Are you and Dad going to go away too someday?"

Sadako crushed him into a tight embrace. "Dad and I will never EVER leave you alone, baby," she insisted. "Never."

Sho pulled free with a scowl. "I'm not a baby."

Sadako touched his head gently. "You're my baby," she said.

Sho made another face and his mother reluctantly let him go. "I have to review the books at the front desk. Let Kyoko rest for a while. And Shoutaro –" she trailed off.

"What?" he asked, smoothing down his hair where it had been ruffled by her touch.

"If you need me, you know where I am," she finished after a pause before hurrying away.

Sho watched to make sure she was gone before he turned back to Kyoko's room. As quietly as possible, he slid the paper door open a crack and looked in. Kyoko was still in the same spot, but instead of standing, she was sitting on the floor, with her arms folded over her knees and her head buried between them. Her shoulders shook a little bit and after a minute he realized that she was crying. He hadn't seen too many people cry except on television so he wasn't sure how to react. He pushed the door open a few more inches and the sound caused Kyoko to look up.

Sho froze in place. He had never seen such a sad look in his entire life. Just as she her happiness earlier that day had infected him, now he felt like her sadness had torn a small hole in his heart to match the large one within her. As she looked at him her sniffles became sobs and he couldn't bring himself to move a muscle as she cried herself to sleep. After her eyes finally closed and she became quiet, Sho turned to leave. A few steps from the door, he turned around and went back. He walked silently into her room and slid the door closed behind him. Not brave enough to approach her directly, he sat down by the wall across from her and watched her until his own eyes closed.

When Kyoko woke up the next morning, the first thing she saw was Sho's sleeping face as he slumped against the wall of her room. In this new, strange abandonment, the first time she'd ever been anywhere without her mother, she took comfort in the sight of him. She had always dreamed of having a friend, because then she would never be alone. As the sunlight stretched over the face of the young boy who was her first friend, he seemed to shine like a dream come to life. Her dream, her friend. And she knew she wasn't alone.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

More than ten years later, when Kyoko awoke with a splitting headache in a tiny apartment in the largest and most dangerous city in Japan, she remembered that first morning.

For when her hungover eyes adjusted to the early morning sunshine that poured through the windows, the first thing she saw was her dear friend, bathed in light, slumped against a wall fully-clothed with a wet cloth in his hand and a bowl of water next to him. She touched her moist forehead and smiled, knowing that she could handle anything this city had to throw at her. Because from now on Sho would always be there when she woke up.

Author's Note:

This was so sad to write- particularly the last paragraph!

Thanks for reading! Please review!

Also, there is now a forum for Skip Beat fanfic writers (Google beatskippersbackagain and you'll find it)! The moderators are really nice so I definitely recommend checking it out!