What I'm Missing
Sariah Loire
Chapitre One

Skip Beat! and its characters, locations, terms, etc, do not belong to me.
This story begins on the day of Act 151, February 15th. It follows all previous Acts exactly, and is a direct continuation of Skip Beat!'s main story. If you need back info, please read the official story.

February 14th had been a long day, much too long for Ren Tsuruga's liking. He glanced at the glaring clock on his bedside, wincing at the time. It was a stark revelation to see that it was no longer Valentine's Day anymore.

Judging by the time, he had been lying in his bed for hours, staring at the ceiling. Every time he closed his eyes, his mind replayed the events of the day, and it left him with insomnia. Fuwa, Kyoko, and his own reactions to the events that had taken place were almost more than he could take, especially in his sleep-deprived state.

Ren sat up, sighing as he adjusted the pillow behind him. He blinked against the darkness, reaching for the silver decanter that was tucked away in the nightstand next to his bed. He unscrewed the cap and took a long drink from it, relishing the cool feel of the bottle. He was about to tip it up again when he noted the time that was shining in his face. There was no way he'd be able to get up in time if he spent the night drowning his worries with liquor.

Groaning slightly, Ren swung his legs out from under the warm covers. He padded his way across the soft carpet into the dark kitchen. Feeling his way through the cabinets, he found the sleeping pills he kept stocked for such an occasion. He downed two of them with a glass of water, and made his way back to bed.

"Two million shouldn't be too much to ask from the son of Hollywood's Favorite Actor, now is it?"

The breath rasped low on the phone, mutilated by the voice-changer being used to protect his identity. Every word was altered, making them sound even more frightful than they would have on their own.

"I'll take your silence as an agreement, young Mr. Hizuri." A harsh chuckle rang through the phone. "I want the two million dollars at midnight on the 15th. Don't be late, or she won't be very happy."

Kuon Hizuri shuddered as the phone fell from his hands to the plush carpeted floor, a dial-tone sounding from the receiver.

Ren sat up in bed, breathing heavily. He scanned the room, squinting at the sunlight that was beaming through his room's large panel windows. He had pulled back the curtains yesterday, and was now wishing he had left them in place. He was drenched in sweat, and by the feel of his skin and the blankets he had thrown off of him, so were his pajamas and sheets. Brushing back his dark hair, he sighed as his pulse finally began slowing from its racing tempo.

'I shouldn't be surprised anymore.' His thoughts were whirring in circled as he was sure he had just fallen asleep a few minutes before. Checking the bedside clock, it told him that he had been asleep for all of four hours. "I know that." He whispered his thoughts out loud, mildly surprised at the harsh tone he produced. "And after what I did to Kyoko, I deserve even more than that."

He slammed his fist into the pillow at his side, hitting the headboard it was against, instead. He pulled his slightly bruised knuckles away, throwing the sheets and bedding off of him. "If I keep talking to myself like this, I'm going to turn into Miss Mogami." As the name left his mouth, Ren stopped in his attempt to get out of his gigantic bed. He reached up and touched his lips, still remembering the feel of Kyoko Mogami's soft cheek.

He shook his head, trying to chase away the dark thoughts that followed his slip up earlier. Ren let out a frustrated sigh as he climbed unsteadily out of the bed. He wandered aimlessly around the apartment, telling himself that he was trying to let his legs steady themselves. More than anything, Ren was trying to clear his head long enough to stop the onslaught of memories that were forcing their way into his mind. 'I don't need any more memories showing up in my nightmares.'

After a long, cold shower, Ren was feeling wide awake despite the early hour. A glance at his cell phone's screen let him know that Yukihito Yashiro, his manager, wouldn't be expecting him for over three hours. He knew the day was going to be a busy one, he had requested that his schedule be filled to the breaking point. He had two talk shows, a shooting for BJ in Falling Death, and a meeting with a Director Ichihara about a new movie.

Walking into the sunlit kitchen, his gaze fell on a tall, clear glass that was decorated with roses. He had asked Kyoko if he could have it, after their filming was over. He knew he was going to have to wash it by hand and take care not to scratch the glass, so it could be put properly on display like it deserved. Ren smiled softly, letting his fingers gently caress the roses. 'Thank you again, Miss Mogami.'

Next to the glass was a brightly decorated bag, with a small card attached to the handles. He looked at the card, scowling slightly. Mr. Yashiro had put the birthday present from Kyoko in the bag, and wrote 'From KYOKO' on the tag, flourishing her name with little hearts and flowers. If it was anyone else, Ren would have taken no hesitation in telling Mr. Yashiro to mind his own business. But the man was a necessity to him, and his involvement was usually done with good intentions.

His hands moved to take the wrapped gift out of the bag, but he stopped himself. 'Not today.' The two words rang through his mind as he let the present fall back into the bag. He moved away from the counter, seeking out a better distraction. 'Let's just get this day over with as quickly as possible.'

A few short hours later, across Tokyo in the towering LME building, Kyoko Mogami was worried. Not just a little worried, the kind that could be classified as low-level anxiety. Not even a 'Mr. Tsuruga's smiling at me with his lying, sparkling, gentlemanly smile and is coming my way' worry. She was scared to death.

The object of her fright was the small, white envelope she was clutching in her shaking hands. It was marked 'Mogami – Dangerous', and had been given to her by the president of LME, Lory Takarada. Turning her head slightly, it was obvious that her best friend, Kanae Kotonami, was experiencing the same level of fear. Her envelope simply said 'Kotonami – Muddy'. The third LoveME member, Chiori Amamiya, had followed the president out of the room a few minutes before, insisting that he take her envelope back and give her something different.

"M-Moko, what are we going to dooo?" Kyoko had tears in her eyes as she faced Kanae. Experience taught her to be very afraid of President Takarada's idea of anything to do with love. "We can't open these, there's no way of knowing what the President has planned for us!" Her imagination was working in its usual hyperactive speed, as she pictured herself taking care of children, or playing nursemaid to someone. Kanae slapped her back to reality as she tried to stab Moko's arm with an imaginary syringe.

"MMMMO! Snap out of it and pay attention to what you're doing!" Kanae grabbed the envelope from Kyoko, ripping the end off. She yanked out the folded paper that was enclosed, and thrust it at the other girl. "We're going to have to answer to the president if we don't do what he says, so read this and tell me what torture he's going to put us through!"

Kyoko shied away from the paper, as if it were a holy amulet shining at her demons. She cowered on the floor, covering her head with her arms to block her sight. "MOKO, NO-" Her scream was cut short as, despite her best efforts, her eyes fell on the task that was written. Instead, her grudge demons continued screaming as they hid behind her.

Kanae backed away as Kyoko reached out a hand and accepted the paper from her. The temperature in the room dropped a few degrees, and the lights dimmed slightly as she read over the task again and again.