Warnings: AU, was kinda spur-of-the-moment, angst, titles might be made-up words or misspelled (on PURPOSE!!! I'm a grammar nazi, trust me, it burns my eyes enough as it is), probable course language, more warnings later, I'm sure.

Disclaimers: Skip Beat belongs to Nakamura Yoshiki, Hana to Yume (Flowers and Dreams – the magazine that publishes the manga) and... others I dunno who else. Not me though, I assure you (else Shou would pop up more often, Kyouko wouldn't be so childish, Ren would have more success with her, and the art would be a LOT worse. So it's good I don't own it – Ren is too pretty!!!)

Definition: The external covering of an organ or other structure. In this instance, metaphysical.

In a closet lay a box. It wasn't the only box in the closet of course, nor was it the most interesting box in that closet; there were many interesting boxes filled with many interesting things, interesting memories of interesting times. But this box was still a little different from the others. It was important.

Sun glared down on his back, the good kind of glare. He grinned, brushing blond hair out of his eyes, and kept his eyes on his father before him. They didn't have much time together, but today... today he had his father all to himself, and his heart swelled happily.

The box was special. It was a simple brown cardboard box, a packing box like any other from a big move a couple of years ago. It was dusty, and a spider had made its home in the corner beside it, ready to defend its web. There were a few small bits with less dust, where idle fingers had trailed over that box longingly before pulling away quickly and slamming the door shut again.

'Do you know? That when you wish upon a falling star, a fairy will grant your wish,' he laughed, somewhat mocking but hopeful as if to say that, if he could get her to believe it, then it would be true for him too. But it never worked, never...

The box stayed shut today too. Tsuruga Ren looked down on that box unseeing before slamming the door shut on that box containing all the old things from his life in America, life when he could still proudly say "I'm Kuon Hizuri!" and "Kuu is my father!"

Just looking at it made him angry, because he was reminded of his father, of the role his father had done so magnificently twenty years ago. He'd been certain he could surpass it somehow, but in the end Lory had been correct.

"I'm sorry Ren, but it's just not feasible," Lory shook his head, eyes softened to near liquid in his sorrow. "I warned you that you weren't ready."

"I am! I have to be!" He didn't care that he was still on the set, that his co-actors were staring at him, that Ogata was so horrified. "To get to this and then fall short..."

"If you continue as you are, Dark Moon will fall far short of Tsukigomori. Your replacement is Mouri Keiji; Ogata-kun, I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I can assure you that the new Katsuki will do his best to make up for the lost time."

Ren didn't have that emotion of love, not romantically. Kuon at least knew what it was, but he'd been locked so deep down that Ren wondered if that child still existed within him. How could he surpass his father and come back to America if he couldn't even play a romantic lead?

Kuu's shadow was getting bigger and bigger it seemed, and Ren felt like he just kept shrinking as he found he needed his old life more and more. But he couldn't. That box would stay closed, forever if need be.

"He's coming here y'know," one of Ren's costars in a medical drama he'd recently taken up commented. He needed something to fill up the time that Dark Moon was supposed to take up after all. "That guy who played the role you quit for this show." That was the official story, that Ren and Ogata had some disagreements and decided it would be better for another actor to take the role of Katsuki; there would be less public outcry that way. "Hizuri Kuu."

Ren clenched his fists. Tomorrow was the day when Kuu was scheduled to fly into Tokyo; if all went well, Ren would never be within the same television studio as his father, and he had already told Yukihito that under no circumstances was Lory or anyone else to find out his schedule.

If, for just one moment, his mask were to crack to Kuon, Ren might not be able to bring himself to be Ren.

Author's Note: Yeah... decided to do an Advent Calendar. Why? Er... well, I'm bored and have Skip Beat bunnies trying to nom my brain. Hope these aren't too stupid! So I turned one of my many Skip Beat bunnies into a series of drabbles. They don't occur on the days they're written for, just at soe point between Dec 1 and Dec 25 (some will be the same day, some days will be skipped (lots will actually), etc).

And if you're confused (which you should be), you'll find out more later (though I think the summary explains a good bit of what's going on).

(I'm fairly certain no one has done this idea before, but then again I've only read maybe 3 Skip Beat fics... sorry if it's not as original as I think it is)