A/N: I do Not own Skip Beat!
Hi all! This story has been swimming in my head for more than a month. Why has it taken me so long? Because of these four first chapters. I put a lot... A LOT of thought into it and I truly hope you enjoy it. Give most of the credit to my husband for helping me with the poems. I couldn't do this without him.
Kyoko woke up leisurely. She had no filming, interviews, or auditions today. She opened her eyes to find the sun streaming in on this cool February morning, not that she could feel the cold tucked inside her warm futon. In fact, it looked rather warm outside - although looks are often deceiving.
It was just after eight in the morning. Even on her days off she couldn't sleep in late. Sometimes Kyoko wished that she was like other girls who could sleep until ten in the morning, but her ryokan training robbed her of that. She stretched her awakening body, letting out a little groan, and then sighed with a smile.
Her plans for the day included learning her lines for the next few episodes of her newest drama, Red Ribbon, and helping out downstairs in the Daruma-ya - if the Sasakis allowed her to. Their normal clients were used to the little starlet serving them, but occasionally a fan would get overly excited and caused a ruckus, forcing Taisho to take action.
Kyoko crawled out of her cocoon to start the day. She pulled on some clean underwear, a pair of comfortable black jeans, and a dark green shirt with long-sleeves. She stood up to go downstairs for breakfast, when she found a curious little note attached to her door.
The note was tacked onto the door. It was dark yellow and slightly curled to make the paper look like it was old. The lettering was printed in black and in an old fashioned script. She tore the note down and read it.
Look all around, the thing you'll not find
the Corn from your past is now mine.
If you want it returned
first you must learn
the rules of this game
and where you must turn.
So without further ado
here is your first clue
seek out the Lady of the House
and you'll know what to do.
Kyoko's hands were trembling slightly as she read it again… and again.
"No, no, no…" she said as she shook her head. She stumbled into her room, grabbing her phone to dial, fumbling at the little numbers. It took her three tries to finally get the phone to ring for the person she wanted.
"Please answer… please, please, please," she begged, her eyes shut. This couldn't be happening. She felt like she couldn't breathe, like her chest was gripped in an iron vise.
Kyoko's heart almost shattered in relief as she heard his voice. "Oh thank God," she exclaimed. Her legs trembled with relief and she collapsed onto her knees, trying to calm her heart and steady her breathing.
"What's wrong, Kyoko?" Kuon sounded concerned, wondering why she sounded so upset.
"I thought…" she panted before taking a few deep breaths, "I found a note in my room telling me someone took you. I got so scared. I thought someone kidnapped you or something."
"A note? Kidnap? I'm home right now getting ready. I'm fine, there is no one else here, unless someone is breaking in as I speak, and I'm sure I could handle it if that happened," he reassured her with a hint of humor in his voice.
"That's not funny! I don't care if you are a martial artist, I don't want you getting hurt in some fight. If someone attacks you, you run and call the police!" Kyoko didn't want to imagine what kind of things could happen to him. When Kuon told her of his past, she had been terrified for his safety. She made him promise not to take chances like that again.
"Yes, yes. But nothing like that is going to happen unless it's on film. Right now, I'm more worried about you. You found a note at your door? Like the restaurant's door or your bedroom door?"
She felt a chill run down her spine at the thought of a stranger or worse -Reino or Sho - coming into her private bedroom. "Um… it was my bedroom door," she whispered.
"I'm coming over," he stated.
"No. You'll be late to your jobs today if you come over." She didn't want to bother him.
"Someone we don't know was just in my girlfriend's bedroom without her permission, and you expect me to just continue on with my day like nothing happened? I don't think so. I'm canceling today's shoots and coming over." She heard his door open and close.
"Kuon, please, I'm fine." She looked around the room, distraught. "It looks like they just wanted to scare me since nothing is out of place."
She heard Kuon sigh, "How can you be so calm?"
"Well, my first instinct was to make sure you were okay since it mentioned you. Since you are okay, I really don't feel the urgency anymore." She looked at the note absentmindedly as she spoke.
"It mentioned me?" He asked curiously.
"Well not really you by name. It says, "The Corn from your past is now mine." You are the Corn from my past." She paused and frowned. "But no one knows that you are my Corn so this doesn't make sense."
"Your Corn? How possessive of you, my love." She heard him smile.
She blushed. "I didn't mean it like that. You know what I meant," she mumbled as he laughed. He loved teasing her. They had been dating for over a year now, but she was still hesitant to accept that he loved her unconditionally.
"Hmm, well perhaps someone misheard you. After all, you did the same when we met," he offered.
"The only reason I misunderstood was because of your American accent. No one can mistake Kuon for Corn if you pronounce it correctly. I don't call you that. I like your real name." She blushed at her admission. If she was with him in person, Kyoko was sure she would melt underneath his divine smile.
"That's true. What did the note say?"
She read the rest of the note out loud to him, and they stayed silent for a moment pondering the meaning. Suddenly, the gears in her head clicked. Kyoko figured out the riddle.
"Oh! My Stone!" she cried out, running to her little shelf to search for her little coin purse. "No, my purse is still here, but then what…" she reached for the little purse and felt absolutely nothing inside.
The stone was gone.
"IT'S GONE," she screamed. Kyoko opened the little purse to double check and sure enough it was empty.
"Kuon! They took Corn!" She started to throw her books, picture frames, and other keepsakes to the floor as she looked for the stone.
"Kyoko calm down." He heard lots of thumps and shuffling. When she didn't reply, he called out to her again, "Kyoko?"
"It's gone. It's not here," she cried as she shifted through her drawers.
"Don't worry. I'll be there in a little bit and we can file a police report."
"Okay." Kyoko sat on the ground as she heard his car door close on the other side of the phone.
"Who knew about your stone, Kyoko?" He asked as he started his car.
Kyoko thought about it. There was Kuon, of course, he was the one who gave it to her. Her landlords knew of it as well as Yashiro-san and Moko. Then there was….
She nodded to herself. That explained everything. Not only was he cruel enough to take the stone, he also thought it was extremely dangerous.
"That stupid Beagle knew and always told me to get rid of it. I bet it was him!" Kyoko was so sure it was him, but she hadn't seen him in…actually, she couldn't remember how long it's been.
"No." Kuon's voice was so firm, causing her to jump in surprise. "It's not him. I took care of that problem after the White Day incident." His voice was so deathly cold she shivered from fear. Kyoko remembered that day. She hadn't known her feelings about Kuon then, but looking back at it now, she thought herself a fool not to have known.
"But he came back the first time you threatened him. What makes you think your second threat worked?" She didn't mean to question him, but Kyoko honestly couldn't think of anyone else who would steal the stone.
"Trust me. He won't be a part of our lives anymore." The conviction in his voice forced her to drop the issue.
"Okay, then I'm lost," she sighed as she just looked at the note. Her most precious of gifts was stolen, and she didn't know by whom.
"I'm two seconds away. Come down stairs and give me my good morning kiss."
Kyoko blushed and laughed softly. She shook her head. This was not the time to be laughing. "Kuon, I'm really upset by this. Your stone was stolen," she pouted as she stood up and started to make her way down stairs. Since the living quarters and restaurant were separated, she didn't see the Taisho or Okami as she walked to the back entrance.
"It's not mine anymore. It's yours, but I know how…" Kyoko opened the door and there stood Kuon with a soft, sincere smile. He hung up his phone finishing with, "much it means to you. Good morning, sweetheart." As Kuon smiled at her, she sighed as warmth flooded her body. That smile was utterly captivating, like a bewitching spell. The world could end this second and as long as she was with him, she would still be exceptionally happy.
"Good Morning," she blushed, embarrassed that her phone was still being held against her ear. Kuon smiled humorously as she shut her phone. He stepped through the threshold and slipped his arms around her, causing her to shiver. He bent down slightly and Kyoko was more than happy to rise on her toes to meet his lips.
The contact was brief, but it still made her knees weak. Her hand slipped around his slim waist, and he pulled her closer to him as he kissed her. At that moment their thoughts were perfectly in sync: It would be wonderful to have this every single morning. Kuon turned around and closed the door behind him while Kyoko licked her lips, wishing to keep the flavor of him just a little bit longer. He turned towards her and she smiled up at him with a small blush. As he slipped off his shoes to enter the home, a voice spoke out from the hall.
"Good Morning, Hizuri-san." Both of the stars' attentions turned to the older woman.
"Good morning, Okami-san!" Kyoko bowed down, blushing a little darker. Did she catch them kissing? If the Okami-san had seen, she didn't let them know.
"I didn't know you were coming by. Shall we set another place at the breakfast table?" she asked.
Kuon bowed down gently, "That would be lovely, thank you." He smiled his dashing smile, leaving the okami with the light blush of a school girl. When Kuon looked back at his girlfriend, he shrank back in fear.
"You were going to skip breakfast weren't you?" Her voice was low and threatening.
Kuon gulped, "No, of course, not. What makes you say that?"
"You are willing to eat here. That means you haven't eaten yet, and you have… what, about an hour left till your first job?" She crossed her arms under her breast, glaring at him.
"I was going to get something on the way to pick up Yukihito, but you called." He tried to turn it back on her.
"Hmmm… Well it doesn't matter since you are staying to eat with us." She started to walk off, and Kuon smiled as she grumbled at his lack of self preservation. He reached over and took her hand, turning her around straight into his arms.
"Ku...hmmmm," she cut off as he kissed her. Kyoko shivered as his hands ran down her back and pressed her against his hard frame. Her eyes opened at the loss of his lips and met the Emperor's. He leaned towards her, moving past her mouth to whisper in her ear.
"You could move in with me and make sure I eat properly," Kuon whispered to her, and she felt herself grow hot in his embrace. His lips pressed a soft kiss just below her ear, causing her to gasp softly.
"Kuon," she moaned as he nibbled down her neck, goosebumps crawling over her skin. She couldn't move in with him - look at how she melted under his touch in her own home! She wouldn't be able to last a whole day in his condo - alone with him. Kyoko was already having a hard time resisting him without the added temptation of living with him. The feeling of his warm, wet kisses sent waves of pleasure through her body and she instinctively held him closer. Her breath hitched as Kuon hit her collar bone - it was a sensitive spot - and he knew that. She felt her knees go weak as his hand ran down her back, lightly grazing her bottom and to her thigh. Her leg crept up his, eagerly trying to wrap around Kuon's leg.
"Kyoko-chan? Hizuri-san?" the okami-san called from the other room.
"That was close," Kyoko mumbled, hoping he wouldn't hear her, and pushed away from Kuon's very warm and enticing arms. "Coming!" she yelled out and rushed to the other room, trying to calm down her heart and the heat pooling in her lower abdomen.
Kuon smirked, knowing he shouldn't tease her like that. She wanted to wait and he would respect that. That didn't mean Kyoko couldn't move in with him. She could sleep in the spare bedroom. He just wanted her close by… stop lying to yourself. You'd slowly seduce her until she willingly came to your bed.
He sighed. It was better that she lived away from him. There were nights, dates that were in his condo or ended up there, of her in his arms, and he was so very close to taking it too far. Her flushed hot skin burned underneath his fingertips, her hands sending shivers through his body as they sunk into his hair, the feel of her soft lips and warm slick tongue driving him mad with desire. She made the sexiest little sounds as his hands slid up her thigh, slowly pushing up her skirt.
Kuon took a deep breath. Now was not the time to think about this. There were other, more important matters to attend to - like the note she found. He smiled to himself and shook his head, making his way to the personal dinning room.
They were eating breakfast when the conversation turned to the note. The Okami-san pulled out another note and handed it to Kyoko. "This was on the door for you, Kyoko-chan."
Kyoko took the note from her. It was rolled up with a small black tie with a little tag that said, "To Kyoko" written in the same script.
"It did say to seek out the "Lady of the house" so that would mean Okami-san," Kyoko said. She looked at the older woman who busy eating - so much, in fact, that Kyoko thought it a little odd.
"Um, are you in a hurry, Okami-san?" she asked, and the woman blushed. The taisho didn't say anything. He was as stoic as always, just eating his breakfast.
Okami-san blushed lightly and shook her head, "No… well… yes, I gather it will be a very busy day today, and I'm eager to get started." She laughed nervously, and Kyoko tilted her head a little worried.
"Well, I have the day off so I'll help out."
"No…" The older woman started.
Both the Okami-san and Kuon started to speak at the same time, and both stopped with a smile on their lips. Kuon motioned for the woman to continue.
"No, Kyoko-chan. We are fine today. You should address this note and get your stone back," she said and forced a smile onto her face.
Kyoko frowned, but looked back at the note. She had to admit that she wanted to get her Corn back, and the whole situation peaked her curiosity.
"And you have no idea who gave you the note?" Kyoko asked, looking up in concern.
Okami-san shook her head vigorously, her eyes flickering nervously to the Taisho, Kyoko, and back at her food. "We…ummm… found it tied to our front door," she smiled brightly. "It was just tied there with your name on it."
"What does it say?" Kuon asked when the woman stopped talking. Kyoko sighed and unraveled the rolled up paper. It was printed the same way and on the same paper as the first note. She read it out loud:
"Tap dancing, baton twirling and acrobats
All may come to show their act.
Though there are many who don't get the part
You were the one to get a start.
Go to the man, thought inflicted with fear
that helped you get a start in your career.
Have no fear there's no danger here
At the end of this road all will be clear.
"Start in my career?" She repeated, "That's President Takarada right?"
Kuon took the note and read it again. "It says they were inflicted by fear. Fear is one of the last things the President would feel."
Kyoko took a deep breath, "The first part sounds like an audition. Oh! Sawara-san." Then she frowned. "Why would Sawara-san have Corn?"
"That's something you should ask him." Kuon stood up, "I'll drive you there." He turned to the couple, "Thank you for the lovely meal. I hope everything goes well for you today."
"YES! You too!" Okami-san burst out, and then she blushed as Taisho coughed lightly. Kyoko looked at the older woman and wanted to ask what was wrong, but she was ushered out by Kuon. As they entered his car, she voiced out her thoughts.
"Wasn't Okami-san acting a little funny like she was nervous or something?" Kyoko asked, thinking about this morning's breakfast.
"Did she? I don't really know her as well as you do," he said distracted as he pulled into traffic.
"You are awfully calm for someone who was panicking about a potential break in," Kyoko stated as she looked at him suspiciously.
Kuon smiled, "Yeah, I'm not really nervous about this anymore. She was acting scared, so I think she put the note on your door and I think she knows who gave them to her too. If Sawara-san is involved, who do you think the master mind of this is?"
Kyoko thought about it for a moment then it dawned on her, "Ah, President Takarada."
He smirked, "So I think it would be best just to play the game. You'll probably get Corn back sometime during it."
She agreed, and having Kuon reassure her that this was just some game the President made up had her feeling better about the whole ordeal.
"Okay, I'll see where this takes me. There are probably other LoveMe members doing this too." She turned to Kuon and gave him a quick kiss. "Have a good day at work."
He smiled and was tempted to bring her back in for a proper kiss, but restrained himself. "Call me if you need anything."
"I will. Bye." She exited the car, and Kuon took off while she went to Sawara's office.