Disclaimer: Skip Beat! is not my creation. If it was, I would be pleasing all of you by making the new chapter instead of working on this.
Authoress' Notes: And so begins my new story. I know this tale is one that is overdone, and yet it remains an enjoyable classic - the whole Ren and Kyoko starring opposite each other in a romantic production. However, the details can be altered so much that a whole new story emerges every time an author undertakes it. I hope that my story will be very different from any you have previously read (I have a book full of ideas I haven't seen in any stories yet, though that doesn't mean they have never been done...just that I haven't come across them). My writing style is also different, as is every author's, and I hope that you will enjoy it. I appreciate reviews and criticism - both help me write better. Outright flames are just annoying. Let me know if you think the story is moving too fast, or too slow. The same if I'm making the characters to OOC - this is only my second Skip Beat! fanfiction and I only read the entire manga at the start of Christmas break. Be patient with me and help me, and hopefully a great story that you love, as much as I do, will come out of it. I can't say how frequently I'll update since I don't know what my new semester will be like, though I say at the very least I hope to update once a month until May - when my updates should become a lot more frequent with a huge increase in homework free time. Hope you like it.
It all starts in 3...2...1...ACTION!
"Moko-san!" Kyoko yelled, running through the hallway to catch up to her friend who was very noticeable in her bright pink jumpsuit that was a trademark of the Love Me section of LME.
Kotonami Kanae turned around with a grimace on her face, and stepped aside just in time to avoid Kyoko's flailing arms.
Kyoko stumbled past Kanae, almost crashing to the floor. She managed to regain her balance however and turned back to face her first female friend with tears pooling in her eyes.
"Moko-san! I've missed you so much! It's been almost a whole week since I last saw you," Kyoko babbled excitedly going in for another hug.
Kanae sighed heavily and avoided Kyoko's arms once again, "Mo! Do you always have to get so worked up? Like you said, it's only been a week." But inside, Kanae was very happy. As much as she had tried to keep Kyoko at a safe distance, she had found it impossible. And now she was stuck with Kyoko because she liked her too much and found her strange behavior surprisingly endearing.
"But it's been an eventful week!" Kyoko continued unperturbed. She had long accepted Kanae's personality and knew that in spite of Kanae's sometimes less than enthusiastic responses she really was her best friend. The makeup Kanae had bought her and given her on her birthday, just because she had thought Kyoko would like it and not because she knew when her birthday was, was proof enough of that fact.
"Oh really?" Kanae asked, fully expecting Kyoko to prattle on about something insignificant, but preparing to listen nonetheless.
"Of course! Would I ever exaggerate?" Kyoko replied.
'Yes,' Kanae thought in her head. Out loud what she said was, "What do you need to tell me, Kyoko?"
"I've been offered the lead in a television drama!" Kyoko exclaimed excitedly.
Kanae was actually speechless. The lead in a television drama was a big deal. Kyoko was already becoming well known for her roles as Natsu in Box "R" and Mio in Dark Moon. The fact that she had played the tragic angel in Fuwa Sho's music video and had done the Kyurara commercial hadn't done anything to harm her growing popularity in the business. Kanae was excited enough for her friend to take the bait. "So what's the role?" she asked.
"If I accept, I'll be playing the privileged daughter of a mob boss, who for the last sixteen years of her life has been enjoying her family's wealth while trying to keep out of the family business that she hates. Then her mother leaves her father, and her father starts to fall apart. Her three older brothers aren't exactly bright men, and with her father distraught, soon business deals are in danger and mob members begin questioning her father's leadership. My character, Saki, can't completely avoid the mob business at home, as much as she tries, because her male relatives discuss it freely in front of her. One night, she gets fed up of their arguing and offers her opinion on something they're discussing over dinner. Then before she knows it, she's dictating all of the mob's business behind the scenes while still trying to live the life of a normal teenage girl," Kyoko explained to Kanae.
"At the same time," Kyoko continued excitedly, "she has to deal with these two boys from school who are both vying for her attention. What she doesn't know...at least when the story starts, is that one of them is the son of the chief of police while the other is the son of her father's rival - the leader of another mob. Both have been ordered by their fathers to try and get close to her."
"The role isn't exactly what I fantasize about," Kyoko kept explaining while Kanae groaned, knowing exactly what kind of roles her friend would prefer - princesses and fairies came to mind - "but it's not a bully role either. My character is an intelligent young woman who's just trying to continue to be a normal high school girl while doing what's necessary to take care of her family. Of course she'll become more jaded and less innocent over the course of the drama, but there's no way she'll ever be as dark as Mio or as twisted as Natsu," Kyoko finished telling Kanae.
Kanae was silent. The role was an amazing opportunity. It could very well become a popular drama.
"So what do you think, Moko-san? Should I take the role? I'm supposed to tell Sawara-san today what I've decided," Kyoko continued, looking at Kanae with imploring eyes.
Kanae was silent for only the split second it took her to process what Kyoko had said, and then she was furious. "Of course you have to take it!" she yelled at Kyoko who just stared at her in shock. "This is a role that could get you noticed by all sorts of directors, producers, and casting agents. It would also show them that you're not only suited for bully type roles. It's the kind of drama that could become popular with people across the country. It could really get your career going! How could you not take it? That's just dumb."
"But my character will probably fall in love with one of the two boys over the course of the drama. I don't know how to act out love!" Kyoko exclaimed, letting her one worry over the role be known to her closest friend.
Now it was Kanae's turn to stare in shock. "That's the only reason you're questioning whether to take it or not?" she asked while staring at Kyoko dumbfounded.
Kyoko nodded her head silently.
"Well if she actually does fall in love, it can't happen until later in the drama, right? At first it'll be casual with the two guys competing for her attention, right?" Kanae asked Kyoko patiently, trying to convince her friend to take the great opportunity ahead of her. Kyoko nodded her head some more, hope springing into her eyes. "Then we have time for you to work on expressing love. It's not like you really have to be in love or anything. It's just acting after all!"
Kyoko was bobbing her head along furiously with Kanae's words now.
"Now go tell Sawara-san that you'll take the job!" Kanae ordered in a loud voice, pointing in the general direction of Sawara's office.
"Alright, Moko-san!" Kyoko exclaimed excitedly before finally catching her friend in a hug. "Thanks!" she yelled over her shoulder as she then ran off towards her manager Takenori Sawara's office.
Kanae had given Kyoko all the encouragement she needed to take on the role. Kyoko had already liked the character a lot when Sawara had first told her about the offer. A strong female who would essentially be trying to ignore her family's background and act like the stereotypical high school girl so as to get the stereotypical high school experience. Of course her world would be thrown into disarray and she would become unable to ignore her family's background any longer, but it was the effort that counted. Another plus of the role that Sawara-san had mentioned to her was that she'd get to learn to drive - a real fancy, expensive motorcycle. The only reason she had hesitated at all was because of the feelings of love she would have to express for her co-stars.
The familial love she'd have to express for the actors playing her character's father, mother and brothers, and even friends, wouldn't be easy - she'd have to forget her childhood and think of the people who made up her family and friends now. And then, of course, her character would have to fall in love with either the police chief's son or her father's rival's son - it was unavoidable in a drama like this. That would be a lot harder to express.
She sighed heavily, but she was now determined to take on this role. Like Kanae had said - it was all just acting. She was an actress! Even if she couldn't necessarily feel love in her own life, that didn't mean that her character was unable to feel it. Her character wasn't her and didn't have the same history she did. 'And it's a lead role!' Kyoko added mentally, suddenly excited again.
'Look at me now, Shotaro!' she continued on in her head triumphantly, knowing that she was getting closer and closer to her goal.
Because of her interior rambling, she wasn't paying much attention to her surroundings. So when she crashed into a hard body and was brought back to the world in front of her, she snapped out of it and immediately started blushing and apologizing profusely in a very Kyoko-like way.
"Sorry, sorry!" she exclaimed over and over while bowing low and staring at the person's feet. Sudden recognition dawned on her however while she stared at the man's large shoes throughout her furious, numerous, and rapid apologies.
"Tsuruga-san! I should have been paying more attention. I really am sorry!" Kyoko exclaimed when she finally straightened and turned her gaze on the man's face instead of his feet.
Tsuruga Ren stared back at her, a small smile playing on his lips. Running into Mogami Kyoko always cheered him up. This time, the run-in was especially welcome since he hadn't seen Kyoko in nearly a week. Even though they were still filming Dark Moon together, their schedules had been very conflicting lately, and they hadn't been on set together these last few days.
Inside Kyoko's head, her mind was racing. She wanted to tell Ren all about how she had landed a new role in another television drama, and how it was even a lead this time. She wanted to show him that he wasn't wasting his time hanging around her and being her sempai. She wanted him to be proud of her progress...but she didn't want to just burst out and tell him. It would be rude - almost like bragging. She tore her gaze from Ren's careful stare and fixed her eyes on his shirt so that she wouldn't be tempted to just blab it out under his knowing gaze.
"It's alright, Mogami-san," Ren replied maybe a little too cheerfully to her apology, unable to completely keep the happiness of seeing her out of his voice. "You seemed very excited. It's understandable that you weren't paying very much attention to your surroundings. Would you maybe share the reason for your happiness with me?" he continued, hoping to learn what had been the cause of the joy he had witnessed in her eyes before she had started babbling apologies.
"Oh!" Kyoko said happily, glad for the invitation to tell Ren her news. She responded, "I've been asked to be the lead in a new television drama!" Her excitement was quickly coming back with that statement, and she managed to look back up at Ren's face to see that he was giving her his genuine smile.
"Could I ask what drama this is?" he continued, unwilling to let her leave his presence yet.
Kyoko's brain was failing under his blinding smile, but she managed to pull the name of the drama out of the recesses of her mind. "It's called Mob Daughter," she managed to get out.
'Really?' Ren thought to himself. What a coincidence, because he had been offered a lead role in the same drama. He immediately suspected that the president of LME, Takarada Lory, had had something to do with it. Instead of saying anything to Kyoko about his involvement in the drama though, he smiled even more brightly at her, and told her she should continue on her way.
Kyoko immediately remembered that she was supposed to be telling Sawara-san that she would be taking the job, and with a quick goodbye to Ren, she sped off, leaving Ren alone in the hallway.
'Time to go see Lory,' he thought as he watched Kyoko turn a corner and disappear, yet again, from his sight.
"So," Ren began when he was seated in Lory's office - which was presently decorated as an underwater cave. Lory himself was wearing a mermaid's tail and carrying a trident around. Ren thought in passing that this was one getup Kyoko would love.
"So...what?" Lory asked Ren with a broad grin on his face.
"I heard Mogami-san's been asked to be the lead in a new tv drama. One that sounds like it could become really popular," Ren started, staring at Lory to see what his reaction would be.
Lory's grin got even wider. "Is that so?" he asked. "I might have heard a little something about that. I mean, director Shingai Seiji only came to see me personally after all, absolutely begging to have her. Apparently, since he first saw what she could do on the set of Ring Doh, before she'd even had any training, he's been following her career. He's convinced that she'll be perfect in the role, and I wholeheartedly agree. Plus I feel it's exactly the role that will teach her that she can love, and also to want to be loved by others."
"Hmm," Ren began casually, not quite sure how to respond to the president's comments, but then his voice hardened as he continued, "so I guess you'd know why I got offered a lead role in the same drama then, wouldn't you?"
"Well of course director Shingai would offer the role to you first," Lory said it as if it was the answer to one plus one, and Ren was a little boy who just kept saying three instead of two. "You are the Tsuruga Ren. The most famous entertainer in Japan. Director Shingai wants the best for this drama since it has such potential to succeed. You are the best."
"So you had nothing to do with the offer then?" Ren finally asked point blank.
"For once, I didn't meddle," Lory promised Ren solemnly before returning to his usual giddy state. "Though I can't say I disapprove of his choice. So are you going to take the role? From what director Shingai told me, it seems that the cop's son is the one who wins the girl's heart." Lory had the audacity to giggle after that - he knew after all how Ren felt about Kyoko.
Shingai hadn't told Ren anything definite - because he didn't 'want to reveal everything to the cast and crew yet to keep it fresh'. But what Shingai had told Ren, when he had called him personally to offer him the role, was that he really hoped Ren would take it - especially because Kyoko and him had looked really good together during the acting test on set for Ring Doh, 'a necessity for true chemistry between actors'. For Ren, this was enough of a hint to see that his character was the one who would get close with Kyoko's - and because of that he wasn't sure if he could accept the role. He was sure him and Kyoko would have to kiss at some point during the drama. And frankly, he didn't know if he could handle that. But at the same time...he couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend more time with and be close to the woman he loved. Plus he really did like the character that was Yahiko, the police chief's son, and he wanted a chance to bring him to life.
Of course he would take the role. If only to get to spend time with Kyoko.
"I'll take it," Ren answered Lory.
Lory smiled triumphantly. "Oh this is going to be so good! I can't wait to watch it. The character growth. The crimes. The deaths. The love story! It's the recipe for the perfect drama. This is going to be so much fun!"
Ren could only hope Lory was right.
"I'm so glad to hear that!" Sawara Takenori said happily after Kyoko had told him that she would gladly accept the role of Saki in Mob Daughter. "The director will be very happy that you accepted too. I think you might know him - director Shingai Seiji?"
Kyoko remembered him well. He had let her take and keep a picture of herself from when she had been dressed up, and made up, as the beautiful Choko from Ring Doh. She loved the picture, and she stared at it whenever she felt uncomfortable with her appearance. If she was feeling down, it made her happy to know that she could look like a princess.
"Yes. I remember him," Kyoko answered a little subdued. He was a perfectionist if what she had seen on the set of Ring Doh was any indication of how he usually worked. It was an honor to be asked to star in his drama though, and Kyoko only hoped that she wouldn't make him regret his choice.
"Someone will drop off the script for the first episode here in the next two hours, so don't forget to stop by my office and pick it up before you go home. Filming starts in two weeks already, and before then you're going to have to make sure and coordinate your schedule so that you can make it to all of your jobs. I know that Dark Moon is almost done and should hardly pose a conflict in two weeks' time, but you still have to organize your schedule with Box "R" and Kimagure Rock in mind," Sawara told Kyoko calmly.
Inside though, he was brimming with pleasure. Kyoko's rapid success was proof that both him and Lory had been right in keeping her in LME. She would explode and become a top name in the business all too soon if she continued at the same rate she was currently going. 'And to think, it was her own initiative that landed her the Kyurara commercial and resultantly everything after that,' he thought.
"Now, run along. I'm sure you have something better to do than lounge around here," Sawara finally finished, ushering Kyoko out of his office so that he could make the call to director Shingai.
Kyoko flashed him a grin and then ran straight to the Love Me office to see if there was anything she could do to keep busy until it was time for her to go home. When she burst through the door however, she was sorely disappointed to see Amamiya Chiori sitting there reading a book. Not because she didn't like Chiori - the two of them had slowly become friends after the whole stairs incident - but because that meant there was currently no work to be done. Chiori was as diligent as Kanae and Kyoko when it came to performing Love Me jobs, and she wouldn't be in here if there was work to be done.
Now Kyoko would have time to brood over how she was going to act out her new character - most importantly the stupid love part.
"Hello, Chiori-san!" Kyoko called.
"Hey, Kyoko-san!" Chiori called back cheerfully. "I ran into Kanae-san a few minutes ago and she said that you had been offered the lead in a new television drama. Congratulations."
"Thanks!" Kyoko said while a slight blush came to her cheeks. "I actually just came back from telling Sawara-san that I'm accepting the role."
"That's great!" Chiori replied honestly. Had this been before she had joined the Love Me section, she would have been angered by Kyoko's success. As it was, she was genuinely happy that Kyoko was getting another opportunity to show the world what an excellent actress she was. Their friendship had had a rocky start, if you could even call Chiori's initial hatred of Kyoko the beginnings of friendship, but since then, the two girls had gotten to know each other really well on set and while doing Love Me jobs and they were friends.
"So there's nothing to do then?" Kyoko asked Chiori a little sadly while she took a seat.
"Not right now. Though it's been a little too quiet. Something's bound to come up soon," Chiori answered a little quizzically, wondering why Kyoko would be upset that there was, for once, no work to be done.
"Oh. Okay," Kyoko said while leaning back against the wall and closing her eyes. Chiori let her be, completely used to Kyoko's mood swings. Kyoko meanwhile was in her fantasy land, imagining what her character would be like.
Saki would have a casual, playful walk, like an unaffected young girl - maybe like the girl's she had gone to school with... How would she talk though? She would be perky and enthusiastic when dealing with her friends, and then when dealing with her father and brothers - caring, maybe a little exasperated, confident even if she didn't feel that way just to keep them all together. What about how she would behave with the two guys? Cool and aloof? She'd keep her distance and guard herself...at first anyways. She wouldn't be fake with them, but impersonal to begin with. With whom would she be scared though, because she would be scared and worried. With herself maybe? She wouldn't be able to confide in any of her friends from school, and she'd have to wear a brave face for her family...which left her fears for herself alone.
Kyoko groaned mentally. If only it was really that easy. There was more to bringing her character to life than just thinking about her. She needed to fully become the character. Maybe...maybe tomorrow she could make the whole day an acting exercise. 'Yeah,' Kyoko thought becoming happier again, 'I'll just get together what I can of the character tonight, and then tomorrow when I wake up, I'll spend the day being Saki.'
"Okay," Kyoko began muttering under her breath, "she's rich and fairly happy. She ignores what she doesn't like about her family until she has to become involved. At that point, she gets in deep and she does her best for her family. It seems like she's the type who would throw herself into anything she's doing wholeheartedly. And it seems like she really cares about her father and brothers - enough to do something that she wanted to spend her life never knowing about to protect the family business that she hates."
Kyoko opened her eyes and looked up into Chiori's face to see that Chiori was looking down at her, clearly concerned.
"What?" Kyoko asked innocently, curious about the look of concern in Chiori's eyes.
"I called your name a few times and you didn't answer. Sorry. I guess you were in your own world, huh?"
"Sort of," Kyoko answered scratching the back her head sheepishly. "So what did you need?"
"We have a job to do. They want us to bring some props over to one of LME's sets. They need all three of us to carry everything or else I wouldn't have bothered you. Kanae-san is going to meet us in the prop room," Chiori explained.
Kyoko immediately snapped to attention. "My two friends and I on a mission together! Yay! Let's go meet Moko-san, Chiori-san!"
And with that, Kyoko danced happily out of the room with Chiori right on her heels, laughing genuinely at her friend's antics.
The rest of the day passed rather uneventfully. Kyoko did some more LME work with Kanae and Chiori. Then she picked up her script from Sawara, and went back to the Daruma-ya where she flopped down on her bed and read said script. She thought and she read, then she thought some more. She was starting to understand her character, despite the fact that Saki didn't really fit with any of her own experiences. But tomorrow's enactment would be good because it would help her to develop her character more. She would have a chance to think like her character and respond to situations like her character would.
Not to mention that she would have a chance to get Ren's opinion on it all. They were both due on set in the morning for Dark Moon tomorrow. Whenever she didn't have to act out Mio, she would be Saki. And then, at the end of the day, she could ask him what he thought.
'You know what? It might actually be fun,' she giggled in her head.
Then, with a yawn, Kyoko settled her head against her pillow, closed her eyes, and let sleep overtake her.