Prologue

Acknowledgments: Jhiz and leavesfallingup for not even trying to talk me out of this. Jhiz and Runadaemon for beta-reading and soundboarding.

I don't own Skip Beat.


"Ow!"

Kyoko pulled back a cotton ball with disinfectant and sighed. "You really shouldn't be picking fights, Sho-chan."

With a dark glare from his eyes and a low growl rumbling on his chest, he said, "I already heard this from the old man. I don't need to hear it from you too."

Instantly contrite, Kyoko bit her lower lip and apologetically answered, "Yes... I'm sorry," she raised her hand again to treat the small cut on his jaw. It was small - nothing that would mar Sho-chan's handsome face permanently.

"Besides," Sho-chan continued to mutter. "I didn't pick the fight. I was just caught in between some moron who pissed off Akazame..."

"Aka...zame?" Kyoko tilted her head to the side. She discarded the cotton ball next to her on the floor and picked up a tube of ointment from the first aid kit she brought along with her.

Sho gave her an exasperated look. "Kyoko," he said as he shifted where he sat beside her, leaning against the side of his bed. "You seriously need to get out more."

Kyoko smiled uneasily. "Well... the ryokan has a lot of customers this week and I need to help out whenever I can."

Sho-chan sighed as Kyoko dabbed ointment on her hand. "Anyway," he continued as she gently placed the ointment on his wound. "Akazame is some high school guy who beats the crap out of anyone who pisses him off. He's known by every delinquent in Kinki. That's how he got his nickname - wherever he goes, blood flows."

"And he hit you?" Kyoko frowned disapprovingly as she reached for and opened a band-aid.

If things were going to be like this, she wasn't sure she liked Sho pursuing a music career. She was beside herself when he came home all bloodied up and then his poor parents started freaking out alongside her. Well, it was just a small scratch, but in retrospect, she was really horrified and suddenly understood why Sho-chan's father didn't want him to go around pursuing music. Sho-chan once told her that playing in places that were not the most desirable was part of pursuing music. It wasn't at all like how she envisioned it; he wasn't in a stadium where he's the biggest star in Japan. On the other hand, Sho-chan really good at music and liked performing so it was really important to him.

"No!" Sho-chan answered as she placed the plaster on the wound. "That guy walks around with a baseball bat with nails on it. If he got to me, it'd take more than just a band aid to get me going again."

Kyoko was horrified. Who wouldn't be? Some troublesome person walks around with a baseball bat with nails on them? Who does that? What's more, Sho-chan looked exhilarated at the thought of being in the middle of a brawl even if he wasn't actually a part of it.

"Anyway, I was really pissed off," he concluded. "That guy is trouble and the police showed to break up the fight. Everyone scrambled out of the place and I got pushed and hit the table. At least the bassist pulled me up and we ran off. Otherwise, the old man would be picking me up from a police box."

"Oh my..." Kyoko commented worriedly. "The police?" Oji-sama wouldn't like that.

"Yeah..." he nodded. "It was really annoying. We just finished our set and were feeling happy about it when he and those thugs came along. I met his eyes though-" he raised his middle finger, "-so I gave him a load of this."

"Eh?" Kyoko guilelessly imitated the gesture. She looked at it in wonder as to what it meant.

"It means..." He explained the meaning and her eyes widened in scandalized surprise.

"Sho-chan!" Kyoko immediately balled her hand into a fist, clenching and unclenching it as if trying to mentally cleanse the thought that she could ever do such a rude gesture.

"Hey, I was angry!" he answered defensively. "My cut hurt and it could have ruined my face! I couldn't be an idol that way. You can't call me a man if I couldn't show him how angry I was!"

He did have a point, Kyoko sighed in resignation. It was still better than having him get into fistfights, especially with some guy called Akazame who carries around a nailed baseball bat.

She wasn't comfortable talking about such things so she tried to change the subject. "Oh yeah, Sho-chan..." she said as she reached behind her. "Because you were such a great sport while I was cleaning your wound..." she produced a packet of his favorite snack. "Here's your reward," she smiled happily.

Sho-chan's face lit up and cried out, "Oh yeah!" as he snatched the pudding from her hands and opened it. Kyoko watched with pleasure the pure bliss reflected on his face as he took his first bite. "Sho-chan..." she softly said as she raised her eyes to meet his.

"What is it?" he turned to her.

"The gig went pretty well, didn't it?" she asked precariously.

Interest lit up in his eyes and a smile stretched across his face. "Yep!" he enthusiastically answered. Then he started talking about the rush of performing in front of a crowd, the reaction of the small following the band was picking up...

Kyoko listened to his story in contentment, soon forgetting about that awful yanki Akazame. Sho-chan's voice sounded almost giddy, and his eyes were sparkling until he started yawning and climbed on the bed. Then, she discreetly left his room, first aid kit in hand, to make her way out of the private area reserved for Sho-chan's family. It was a small part of the ryokan quite isolated from where the guests stayed. Kyoko used to stay there whenever her mother would leave her with the Fuwa family. After starting junior high school, it became rather inappropriate so she settled for one of the rooms reserved for live-in employees.

"Kyoko-chan..."

Kyoko turned in the direction of the voice and found Oji-sama and Oba-sama sitting at a low table with their evening tea. She smiled at them and bowed.

"Thank you for seeing to Sho, Kyoko-chan," Oji-sama said with a kind smile.

She quickly raised her hand and shook it. "It was nothing at all, oji-sama." It was after work-hours and Sho-chan's parents instructed her that when her work hours are over, she should address them as oji-sama and oba-sama just like she did when she was much younger. She really didn't understood why, but it's likely her perk for being friends with Sho-chan.

"Would you like to have some tea with us, Kyoko-chan?" Oba-sama asked.

"No, thank you," she refused gently. "I need to get back to my room so I can finish my homework." She knew where this was going to go. She knew his parents were adamantly against Sho-chan's music. They would most likely attempt to convert Kyoko to their way of thinking so she could influence Sho-chan into working at the ryokan instead. She usually saw things eye-to-eye with Sho-chan's parents, but they couldn't understand their son's love for music at all.

Sho-chan looked so happy talking about it just now. As long as he's happy, she is too. His parents will just have to live with that.

But it seems so nice, she thought as she made her way to her room. Sho-chan will get what he wants.

Then, she'll get what she wants. She was sure that if and when she sees Corn again, she will be able to tell him that she finally has her Prince Charming. Well, Corn told her that they will never see each other again, but she refused to believe it. She will see him again.


Chapter Notes:

Taira mentioned that he is from Kinki. The Kinki (Region) is another name for the Kansai Region, the same region where Kyoto is located. Since it was never (hasn't been) mentioned in the manga exactly which part of Kinki he is from, I use it as plot device that's he's also from Kyoto. Either way, he was known all over Kinki so he'd still be known in Kyoto, unless that was an exaggeration.

I know I said that I quit fanfiction. When I was finally getting comfortable with the decision, sensei suddenly introduced a new character who I find so awesome. Also, an entire treasure trove of characterization of him crammed in one chapter that has never happened in SB before. I cannot resist for I actually like Taira's character. I'll try to keep the story as light-hearted as I can, some of the thing I came up with are kinda dark.. Let's all hope it won't come to that.

Meh... prologue so it isn't much yet. If this prologue would have any impact of the overall story, it will only be as a detail. Next chapter, present day.