Hello there! Here is my latest update to the story. This chapter is the LONGEST chapter in the entire story so you guys will have a lot to read! Hehe, but hopefully you'll enjoy doing so. Thanks again for all the wonderful feedback and responses. They are greatly appreciated. You guys are the greatest! Please Review!
Disclaimer: I do not own Skip Beat or any of its characters.
Kyoko blankly stared out of the window, watching the pouring rain splatter on the cool glass. For the last few days, there hadn't been a flicker of emotion across her cold, empty face. It almost seemed as if the life was sucked right out of her, leaving nothing left but a hollow shell. To say that others were worried was an understatement. Her once bubbly personality and charming smile had been absent for so long that people have actually considered that Kyoko was going through some spur-of-the-moment depression.
Depression, however, was not the word Kanae would have chosen. It was clear that her friend was more than just sad. She was devastated. Any normal person would have cried and sobbed until it was no longer possible, but Kyoko wasn't like everyone else. She remained silent and still, eating here and there, and responding when spoken to, but it was like she had lost the will to live. Everything she did was mechanical and it was almost accurate to say that Kanae expected to hear gears grinding whenever she moved.
Kyoko wasn't like herself at all. Most days she would just sit in her bedroom and stare out the window while in the mornings, she would go to work with no expression on her face at all except for the same empty look. Oddly enough however, whenever she was placed in the front of the camera, it was almost as if a light had switched on inside of her and her whole body awoke with some new found vigor. She acted as she always did and possibly even better than before. In fact, it seemed that Kyoko was trying so hard to succeed that most people would say she was improving as an actress.
But Kanae knew better. She knew that Kyoko was just trying to drown herself in her work. Never once did she miss a day, even when it seemed impossible for her to move. Kyoko refused to stay home no matter how horrible she felt because when left with nothing to do, she knew that her mind would wander. She absolutely dreaded the nights. During times when sleep evaded her, Kyoko could suddenly feel a pain hit her like a non-stopping tidal wave as she tried her best to smother her violent sobbing. She never cried in front of anyone. She didn't want to trouble them anymore than they were already, especially Kanae.
Kyoko knew that her friend was worried—that she was concerned about what was going on with her—but that wasn't enough for Kyoko to snap herself out of it. She felt so alone these days that nobody, not even her best friend, could save her from what looked like eternal agony. Kyoko didn't know what to do anymore. She tried to forget him, to push every thought and memory of him out of her mind. She even tried to forget his name. But with every attempt, his face came back more vivid than ever and she could feel a new wound rip itself open inside her body. Kyoko couldn't save herself no matter how hard she tried.
Kanae stood by the door frame, watching her gaze out the window with her slender arms wrapped around her curled knees. Silently, she walked over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder. Kyoko didn't even flinch.
She blinked in response.
"Is it okay if I leave for a minute?" Kanae asked gently. This was a tone that she would have never chosen to speak to anyone with, but she couldn't find the will to speak any louder. The thick silence inside the room didn't allow it.
Kyoko turned her head slightly and stared at Kanae's worried face with blank eyes. A question burned inside her throat, but she didn't have the voice to ask it. Kanae saw the expression on her face and immediately knew what she wanted.
"I won't be long," Kanae replied with a strained smile. "I just need to go see someone. But there is one thing I have to ask you before I go."
Kyoko gave a small nod.
Kanae leaned down and brought her face directly in front of hers. "I don't want you to leave the house. Just stay here for now. Don't go outside."
Kyoko slowly turned her head back to the window. Frequently, she had been going out on late night walks, hoping that the cool air would clear her head, but usually all she wanted was to avoid having nothing to do. On some days, Kyoko wouldn't come home until at least five in the morning, silently walking around town in search of something that she knew she would never find.
"Kyoko," Kanae said in a firm voice. "Can you please do this for me? Just this once?"
She didn't reply. All she did was place her chin onto her knees and stare blankly at the opposite wall.
Kanae bit on her lower lip. She didn't know if she could trust Kyoko right now. But knowing that she had to go see Yashiro before it got too dark, Kanae finally stood up. Usually an independent person, Kanae was forced to abandon her old ways and ask Yashiro for help who unfortunately didn't know any more information as to the problem than she did.
But even though they were both lost as to what had happened, Yashiro and Kanae took some comfort in the fact that they shared a common problem. They even spent some time together to talk about ideas of how to help their friends, but in the end decided that they couldn't do anything except hope that this will all pass over soon. Tonight, however, Kanae wanted to go and see him to tell him how Kyoko was holding up since he was just as worried about her as she was. It was the least she could do after all that he had done for her, by acting as someone she could confide in.
With one last look at her friend, Kanae slowly made her way down the wooden stairs and out the door, shutting Kyoko inside.
Time seemed to crawl by as Kyoko turned her attention back to the rain. Everything outside looked distorted, like a painting that somehow had its colors washed away. Kyoko sat up straighter and stretched out her feet.
And just like every other time when she was left alone, she could feel the pain from before rip its way through her body and in no time, Kyoko found herself crying in her arms. Desperate for some sort of release, she stood up and ran down the creaky stairs. She knew that Kanae had asked her to stay put, but Kyoko couldn't stand it much longer. She had to get out of her room that seemed to be more of a cage than a sanctuary.
When she finally threw the front door open, Kyoko gasped for air. Immediately, she could hear the rain fall upon the roof and smell the fresh, wet pavement. Quickly closing the door behind her, she began to walk forward. She stopped right underneath the hangover, leaning her head on the cold pole that stood beside her. Kyoko closed her eyes for a second and forced her mind to focus on the sound of the rain and nothing else. She didn't want to think anymore. In fact, she didn't even want to feel anymore.
All she wanted to do was to listen…listen to the pouring water…to the roaring wheels on the road…to the soft voices down the street… to the cool wind rustling the trees…to the quiet sound of approaching footsteps on the cold, wet floor…
Kyoko's eyes immediately sprang open. The first thought that ran through her mind was that Kanae had returned, that she must have forgotten something, but when she looked ahead of her, she saw a tall, dark silhouette walking towards her that looked nothing like her friend. Fear bubbled inside the pit of her stomach and she had every intention to run back into the house, but it was as if her legs had refused to move. She stood rooted to the spot, watching the figure step closer and closer to her.
The sound of shoes against the floor pounded loudly in her ears. A scream was beginning to build in her throat until very slowly the person stepped into a hazy pool of light from the nearest lamppost.
She watched the heavy rain fall upon his head, the drops of water drip from the ends of his silky hair, the way his soaked shirt clung to his body, how his chest slowly moved up and down with each breath, and how his eyes stared at nothing else but her.
Kyoko couldn't move.
He stood there for what seemed an eternity until he finally found the strength to pick up his feet and slowly walk towards her. He noticed how her expression didn't change. Her eyes didn't even have a flicker of recognition as he continued to walk closer and closer to her. But when they were finally face to face—he, standing in the rain and she, safe under the hangover—he saw silent tears streaming down her face.
He would have reached out a hand to caress her cheek. He would have wrapped his arms around her to prove to her that he was truly here, but he lost all the feeling in his body. He stood still, watching her body tremble and shake.
An ache rippled through her as Kyoko desperately tried to find her voice. She expected to wake up any minute now and find herself lying in her bed, seeing nothing but the empty wall and feeling more alone than ever. But she remained awake.
For the first time in what seemed years, Kyoko opened her mouth and said in a breaking voice,
"You can't be here."
He didn't reply.
A fear suddenly rose inside her as she suddenly thought that this was some new form of a nightmare. He was going to dissolve into nothing but mist as soon as she reached out to him. Deciding to get the horror over with, she took a small step forward and reached out a hand. Rain splattered her outstretched fingers, causing them to shake and tremble from the cold and even more so from fear.
But when she was close enough to touch him, he suddenly whipped out a hand, grasped her wrist, and pulled her body to his chest, forcing both of them to stand in the pouring rain.
No words were exchanged as Kyoko cried. She cried as if her life depended on it. Every time she opened her mouth to speak, a sob would rise up from her chest, rendering her speechless. She couldn't stop crying even when she felt his lips on her hair. She couldn't stop even when he whispered her name tenderly in her ear. She couldn't stop even when she felt his arms tighten around her slim body. The tears just wouldn't stop.
"I'm sorry," he whispered huskily as sobs continued to rise from her chest. "For not listening to you. For refusing to abide by what you want. For not leaving like you asked me to. I'm so sorry."
Kyoko couldn't respond. Her tears continued to fall as she raised her head from his chest and stared into his pained eyes. She shook her head and opened her mouth, but no sound escaped her lips.
Ren brought a gentle hand to her cheek, mixing the rain with her salty tears. He leaned forward and placed his forehead against hers. "Forgive me for being so selfish to come here."
She shook her head from side to side. "There's nothing to forgive," she managed to whisper breathlessly.
Ren felt his heart swell from her words, but he refused to take too much from them. He refused to allow himself to feel happy from her tender words when she didn't mean it as he wanted them to.
"Why aren't you on the plane?" Kyoko asked tearfully, feeling her body throb from his warm embrace. "Why aren't you leaving to America?"
Ren pressed a light kiss to her forehead that caused her body to freeze in surprise as he replied, "I can't leave you."
He smiled painfully. "Haven't I made it clear, Mogami-san? I love you. I love you more than I ever thought I could. You're everything to me."
Kyoko let out another sob. She could feel her dead heart start to beat again as his words rang in her ears. He loved her.
"But your dream," she said in desperation, in fear of getting her hopes up and then falling back into reality once again. "You're giving it all up."
"No, I'm not," Ren said with a shake of his head. "I have my dream right here." He squeezed his arms tighter around her. "It's you."
Ren chuckled feebly. "America will always be there. But you, you come once in a lifetime and I'm not willing to give you up."
Kyoko allowed his words to sink in, right down into the depths of her heart. She couldn't find any other way out as a hope began to flood her senses. A happiness was slowly starting to glow deep inside her and there was nothing she could do to stop it. Kyoko was finally waking up.
But forcing herself to stay rational, she asked, "And Mya? Don't you love her?"
Ren pressed her soaked body to his as he laid his head on her shoulder. She hesitantly wrapped her arms around his torso. "I do care for her. I won't deny that. But if I have to choose between you and her, there isn't any competition."
He smiled. "I choose you."
Kyoko leaned back and stared into his dark eyes. Sincerity rang in every word. She couldn't force herself to turn away from him anymore. He loved her. He truly loved her.
But suddenly, his smile fell as he brushed her wet hair out of her face. He shook his head and said in a strained voice, "I do love you, Mogami-san. I have loved you for so long and I'm deeply sorry for not telling you sooner, for hiding it from you all this time. But please don't feel inclined to return these feelings."
Kyoko stood speechless.
"I couldn't choose America because I can't bear the thought of not seeing you, of not hearing your voice, of not feeling your gentle touch. It even scared me to know that one day I would find you happily in the arms of another man."
Ren smiled sadly and brushed his fingertips across her delicate cheek, watching the rain fall upon her face. "I have thought long and hard about how I feel about you and I know for a fact that I love you. But I'm not asking you to feel the same for me in return. I know you don't love me and that you can only see me as a mentor than anything else. But I am more than willing to somehow change your mind in order to earn your trust and—"
Kyoko placed a slender finger to his lips, silencing him in an instant. She smiled in what seemed like such a long time and stood on her tip toes as she replied in a gentle voice—
"For a mentor, you say the most ridiculous things."
–and tenderly pressed her lips against his. For a second, Ren didn't respond as he felt her mouth slowly brushing against his. He was too surprised to react. However, when he felt her hands tangle in his hair and how she pulled his face towards him, Ren couldn't fight it any longer and kissed her back with every bit of strength he had left. The way she tasted nearly made him collapse in pleasure since for so long he had wondered what it felt like to feel her warm lips.
When her mouth parted, Ren could feel his heart burst into a million pieces as he gave more of himself to her, knowing that he belonged to her forever. She continued to kiss him back until her body finally forced herself to lean away for air. As their lips parted, she stared into his eyes and could see a fire that burned within them that she knew mirrored her own.
He didn't say a word except gaze into her amber eyes with an expression that she was all too familiar with, but too ignorant to notice it before.
"I love you," Kyoko whispered as she pressed another kiss to his lips. Ren's eyes widened and she could feel his body tense up underneath her fingers.
"I have always loved you," she continued softly, "And nothing in the world will ever change that."
Kyoko smiled sheepishly as she realized he was still frozen from her actions. "I'm sorry for not realizing it sooner," she added.
Ren, who felt as if his entire world had just flipped upside down, held her to his body and shook his head. "There's nothing to forgive," he replied shakily. He couldn't believe what had just happened. He couldn't believe that he had kissed the love of his life and that she returned it. She really loved him.
Kyoko laughed gently and looked up at him from under her lashes. "I've been so blind."
Ren chuckled lightly at her words as he placed a tender kiss on her cheek. "To what?" he asked softly.
"My feelings…and what it is that I want."
"And what do you want?" Ren murmured against her lips.
"This," she replied with ease as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "You…I want you."
Ren smiled. "You have me."
And as they held each other for an immeasurable amount of time, the rain slowly came to a stop. They both suddenly looked upward towards the night sky and spotted the red, twinkling object they have been looking for ever since they had said their painful good-byes to each other.
Kyoko smiled as she leaned her head against his broad chest, continuing to gaze upward. "Do you see it?" she asked softly.
Ren looked down at her face. "Yes, I do."
"I was talking about the star," Kyoko replied with a natural laugh in her voice as she realized he wasn't looking up anymore.
"I thought you figured it out by now, Kyoko."
Her heart faltered as he said her name.
Ren ran his fingers through her soft hair and gently pulled her to him. "You're my star."
A powerful emotion erupted inside of her as Kyoko allowed herself to drown in his embrace. Everything that she had hoped for had come true. She was living in her own fairy tale with a prince that she would have never thought in a million years she would find. She loved him and to her surprise, he loved her back. But for one fleeting moment, Kyoko felt a twinge of sadness for Mya who had to go through the trial of losing Ren all over again. She even hoped that one day Mya would find someone else out there who would love her back the way she deserved to be loved.
But suddenly, in one swift movement, Ren placed his finger under Kyoko's chin and pulled her lips back to his. Eventually, every thought escaped her mind except kissing the man she loved with everything she had to offer.
Six Months Later…
"Ren, want to hear something interesting?" Yashiro asked as he walked across the park, holding a tabloid in his hands.
Ren was standing under the shade of a large tree and facing the other direction, allowing a couple of people to put powder on his face and fix his hair. But at the sound of Yashiro's voice, he slightly twisted his head around and raised an eyebrow.
Yashiro grinned. "Listen."
Flipping open the magazine to the eleventh page, Yashiro took in a deep breath and read out loud, "This weekend Mya Beaumont's much awaited movie Smoke and Mirrors was released worldwide in theaters for all her devoted fans to see. Many were anticipating her new role as a seductive detective and even more so for her leading man. However, to say that some were disappointed with the movie itself would be a huge understatement. If rated just for the movie, people said that it was acceptable, but when compared to her other movies, this one did not do Mya much justice. Even more so, the actor chosen to play the Mafia leader (Richard Ewal), who many people did not recognize, caused a ripple effect of disappointment among her fans since they had expected another actor to be playing the role.
At this point, Yashiro looked up to see what Ren thought of it. His expression was blank, but the make-up girls around him had stopped their movements and stared at Yashiro with a look of pure interest.
Ren raised his eyebrows. "Is that all?"
Yashiro shook his head and said, "No, here's the last part: When asked about why Richard was chosen, the director replied that he found that Richard worked best with Mya, but much of the audience disagreed with his comment by saying "Mya looked stiff in every scene with him" and "that the connection between the two actors was nothing more than a dying flame." The romance in the movie was definitely not a highlight and much of her fans only approved of the fighting scenes between the drug fighters, which Mya was not a part of at all. Although Smoke and Mirrors raked in quite a lot of money its opening weekend, many people believed this was not Mya's best. However, her fans are more than hopeful that she will make a quick comeback and surprise them like she always did before.
Yashiro shut the magazine and glanced up. "What do you think?"
"Well, to tell you the truth, I was planning on watching it this weekend," Ren said as he turned his attention back to the girls. "But according to this, maybe I shouldn't."
"You should go anyway. It might be a good experience, and bring Kyoko-chan with you."
Ren smirked out of the corner of his eye. "It sounds like you're trying to get rid of me so that you can have some alone time. Who are you meeting up with, Yashiro?"
Blushing profusely, he nervously pushed his spectacles further up his nose and replied, "No one that you should bother yourself with."
Ren chuckled. "Well, if you're going to insist, I guess I'll go."
Yashiro grinned widely.
"But I must tell you," Ren began in a sly voice. "Kotonami-san is going to be out of town this weekend for a commercial role."
In an instant, Yashiro's smile fell. "She is?"
Ren grinned as the other girls walked away, finished with their job and slightly irritated about Yashiro's advice of telling Ren to go on a date with another girl.
"So it is Kotonami-san?" he asked.
Jumping in surprise at what he had just done, Yashiro vigorously shook his head and stammered, "That's not what—!"
But Ren didn't allow him to finish his sentence as he walked over to his friend and clapped him on the shoulder. Amused, he said, "You should do better at covering that up."
"Covering what up?"
"This," Ren replied as he pointed at Yashiro's love-stricken face.
Yashiro smiled and shook his head. "That obvious, huh?"
Ren chuckled. "I guess you learned it from the best."
Suddenly, the two busted out laughing until a tall, slender figure caught Ren's attention out of the corner of his eye. He turned and smiled widely. "And speaking of love," he said slowly as he motioned his head into the other direction. "It turns out that it's your lucky day."
Kanae was walking onto the set with her hair draped over one shoulder as she approached the photo shoot. Yashiro froze up instantly and stared with a slightly gaping mouth. With one small push from Ren, he walked forward, but not before he turned around and gave him a small smile.
Chuckling to himself, Ren walked in the other direction, deciding to give those two some privacy. When he reached his silver trailer, he leaned against the door, looking at the crew prepare the set. He decided to close his eyes for just a few minutes, since he was slightly worn out from all the jobs he had been doing so far, until he heard footsteps walking towards him. He opened his eyes and smiled.
The photographer warmly waved in greeting and said, "Thanks for doing this again, Ren. I owe you one. Too bad all these magazines only want you as the groom."
"It's really not a problem, sir," he said with a shake of his head as he straightened up. "I'm honored to do it."
"But don't you get tired of doing the same old stuff?"
Ren chuckled. "Not really. Besides, I think things will be a little bit more interesting this time around."
"Why do you say—?"
But before he could finish his question, the sound of approaching heels silenced him as he turned around, feeling his jaw drop to the floor. Ren stood speechless, with a beaming smile upon his face, as he watched a young girl walk towards him with her face turned downwards. She seemed to be carefully measuring her every step as to not trample on the white gown that flowed all the way down to her feet. It was a strapless white, wedding dress that cinched at the waist and flared like a large umbrella as soon it hit her hips. Although the design was simple, the crystals and elaborate patterns on the bodice set the dress apart from any other.
Very slowly, she raised her head and when her eyes met Ren's, a beautiful smile crept along her face. Her hair was slightly longer than usual since it was now able to be tied up in curls, but everything else remained the same. She had the same amber eyes, pointed nose, and red, flushed cheeks.
Sensing that he was needed at the set—but also feeling like he was intruding—the photographer silently made his way back to the set as the two were left alone in their own little world. Ren extended a slender hand and gently felt her gloved hand place itself upon his. He didn't break eye contact as he brushed her hand against his lips. Smiling, he murmured, "You look lovely."
Kyoko blushed scarlet. "Thank you. So do you."
Of course, even though Kyoko had seen Ren in tuxedos before, it never ceased to make her heart beat in overtime as she stared into his attractive face. He was just too good to be true. And the fact that he was all hers was nothing short of a miracle.
Ren tenderly pulled her body to his and whispered in her ear, "The dress really suits you."
Kyoko's ears went red as she replied, "You don't think it's too much?"
He shook his head, unable to find his voice as he realized just how breathtaking she really looked. Unfortunately, their time together was cut short as the photographer beckoned them to walk over to the water fountain to begin the shoot. As the two situated themselves in front of the large sculpture, with Ren standing behind Kyoko, the director said, "Okay you two, I want these next few pictures to be natural. I won't be giving you specific instructions as to what I want. Have a little fun with it. I'll just be snapping away. Got it?"
Ren and Kyoko nodded as the photographer took a few steps back. "On the count of three, okay?"
Suddenly, Ren casually leaned low into her ear from behind and whispered in hushed tones, "What do you say we practice a little bit for next month?"
Kyoko smiled. "Right now?"
"Right now," he answered playfully as he wrapped his arms around her waist.
"Fire away," she replied with a tiny giggle.
And Ren did just that as he whispered softly through unmoving lips, "Do you, Mogami Kyoko…"
"…take me, Hizuri Kuon…"
"…as your lawfully wedded husband…"
"…to have and to hold…"
"…for rich or for poor…"
"…in sickness and in health…"
"…til death do you part?"
"Alright, you two!" the photographer called from behind his camera. "Last shot!"
Kyoko smiled widely. And in one fluid turn, she spun herself around and wrapped her arms around his neck. Ren jumped in surprise as she leaned forward and murmured softly against his lips, "I do," as one last picture was taken that captured their love forever.
I guess you guys can infer this is the very last chapter. I was planning on writing another chapter, but I thought it would be best to end it here. Haha, thanks so much for reading it this far and for favoriting it as well. I really enjoyed writing this story and I hope you guys enjoyed reading it as well. I plan to write more fanfics in the future so keep a look out for them! Thanks so much for all the support and reviews! Once again, you guys are awesome! Ja-ne!