I suppose I should call this my own personal Cover Challenge. To stretch myself as a writer, I've given myself the challenge of writing a long series of shorts based on the volume and chapter covers for Skip Beat. I will be going consecutively through the volumes and my rules are as follows.
1. Avoid using "Kyoko as a model" or "Kyoko is acting as…" as a fallback
2. Avoid using characters' dreams as setting
3. Must include a reference or a character trait from the canon (even in an AU), but OOC tendencies are acceptable
4. Should include the scene on the cover with as few changes as possible; scenes without a distinct setting must include all the elements on the cover at least
5. Themed chapters with matching covers may be combined or done separately
Because of 1 and 2, I expect to be doing lots of AUs and some character introspection. I don't really expect anyone else to take up this challenge, but I would appreciate it if my reviewers could keep me honest. I will be using the covers from the Shojo Beat/Viz Media English translations of the manga.
Vol 1 Front cover/Act 1 Expanded cover
Call it the beginning. Because that was what it was, really. The beginning of everything.
Mogami Kyoko played with the ends of her newly cut hair and refused to sigh. Her natural attitude was cheerful so it seemed indulgent to be wistful. Besides, she had cut her hair because she wanted to start over. There was no time to go around regretting the choice she had made.
With a shake of her head Kyoko stood abruptly, a determined look on her face.
"I will do this!" she half shouted to the empty room. "I've thrown away all that stupid past and I will defeat that arrogant, cocky, lying Shotaro!"
With that she started to get dressed, flipping through her sparse closet for something to wear that struck her as "star quality." Of course this was realistically a futile task, but since Kyoko was not really a vain or ambitious girl, she was pleased with a jean dress that buttoned from top to bottom. Deciding so much blue was not in good taste, she sifted a bit more before finding a bright pink camisole. Perfect. An accent of such a bright pink would be sharp and cheerful.
Kyoko giggled as she tried imagining someone wearing an entire outfit in such a bright color.
In terms of accessories, Kyoko knew she was lacking, but two of the skirts she had bought had come with belts, so she removed them and threw them around her waist. Stepping in to the hall she hunted down the floor length mirror and examined herself in it for a moment. The Okami-san, carrying a tall vase of yellow flowers, watched her with an indulgent shake of the head. Really, this tenant was something else.
Fuwa Sho was not the kind of guy to wake up with the sun. Heck, he was not the kind of guy to wake up at all if someone did not make him. His manager wanted to scream as she found him sprawled all over her couch. Aki Shoko was always torn between irritation and wonder when it came to her charge. He was a brilliant musician when he chose to be. When he did not, he was a spoiled brat, and lazy on top of that.
"Sho, we have an interview on that talk-show this morning! You promised you would be up on time!"
"Ungh," he grumbled as he rolled over to hide his face.
"I'm not gonna be late," came the garbled response.
"Fine. I'm showering. Be up by the time I'm done." He was suddenly on his feet.
"I'll join you," he smirked. She resisted the urge to hit him and settled for a sigh.
"No, Sho. Go get breakfast. We're going to have to leave as soon as we can."
"I don't need breakfast," he grumbled, looking at the food that was sitting on the counter. Shoko tried to not take it personally. Sho had never liked her cooking, and after having seen a few of the lunchboxes his old friend had made for him, she could respect that. Sho ate out without any complaint, no matter the food, but Shoko knew his preference was for the food that Kyoko had made.
Shoko wondered if that girl knew how much control she still had over this boy.
"I've got leftovers from last night's dinner in the fridge if you don't want that. Eat, Sho. You don't want to pass out on stage."
"Alright, alright," he grumbled. Shoko disappeared into the bathroom making sure to lock the door. When she came back out, Sho was waiting in the hall. He slid past her into the bathroom without any comment and came out a mere ten minutes later, clean, dressed, and ready to go. Shoko almost wanted to slap him. His open button up, dark jacket, and gold chain necklace screamed haphazard, and he still looked good. More than that, his whole aura exuded a man who was out of control, but Shoko knew better. Entertainment might be tough stuff, but Sho had a disturbing amount of control over his life for a new star. He took his problems head on, was undaunted by the consequences, and forced people to accept him as he was. She wondered vaguely how he did it.
"You doknow what time it is, don't you?" Shoko remarked as she checked her purse for her keys and Sho's schedule.
"Who am I to keep a pretty lady waiting," was his flippant response. Shoko refrained from commenting. Sho had slid into his facade of flirty professional. He would not be out of it for a while. The host for the show was pretty and enjoyed sharing Sho's flirtation. When he greeted her with a wink she giggled and led him to the stage, hanging on his arm.
Shoko knew it was going to be a long day.
Lory stared over his desk and tried to justify this meeting. He had not told Ren why he wanted to see him, but mostly that was because he did not have a good reason. He knew Ren hated being singled out, so he used dramatic buildup as his excuse for silence, hoping he would come up with something good before Ren figured out he was being assessed.
"Sir, is something wrong?" Ren finally asked, keenly aware of his busy schedule. Lory sighed. Looking at the man in front of him, the crisp look of his dark shirt and black jacket, the clean lines of his trousers, Lory knew Ren projected the image of a man completely in charge of his life. In reality, Ren had no control at all and was quickly falling into the pit Lory had foreseen he would be drawn to. His desire to ignore and alienate all things that made him upset meant he was headed for his doom.
"Ren, what are you doing in your free time?" the president asked, knowing the conversation was only going to go downhill from there. Ren stiffened.
"Sleeping mostly, sir," he answered extremely politely. "I eat too."
"Not enough, according to your manager," Lory grumbled. Ren smiled, but it was one of those, "I'm smiling because this is not your business," looks.
"Sir, if you're concerned about my health, I promise you I'm fine. You could have just called and left a message."
"This isn't about your food, Ren," Lory stated, gesturing with the cigar in his fingers. "It's about your life. And the lack thereof," he added censoriously.
"I thought it was a good thing that I had so much work. And I'm avoiding gossip columns." There was a brief staring contest, but Lory and Ren both knew that neither of them had time to really fight this out right now.
"You need a life Ren."
"I've made this one how I like it," was the chilly response. There was another staring contest.
"Oh, go away," Lory sighed suddenly, leaning back in his chair. Ren stood and bowed, then turned to go with a polite farewell. "You are the most boring man in the world, Tsuruga Ren," Lory shot at his back. Ren turned and gave Lory one of his more honest, if more condescending smiles.
"I know sir. I intend to keep it that way."
"Just you wait boy. Life's about balance. You don't make yourself interesting really fast, someone will pop into your life and do it for you. That's a promise."
Ren just shook his head and left the office.
Kyoko strolled down the street, smiling as brightly as she could. She was getting stares, but no one approached her. Mostly they blinked and shuddered. Still, the lack of invisibility made her glow with pleasure. She stopped in front of a store and caught sight of herself in the reflection. She preened at the image she presented in her new clothes and boots. She posed with her hand behind her head.
"Mogami Kyoko," she told the reflection with a huge smile, "you are going to be a star!"
And there is chapter one. I know it is short, but I promise there will be longer ones. This is only the beginning, and its going to be a long ride. At least 176 chapters and growing. I hope that you all will enjoy it. This is going to be a project that has no set update time, but I plan on using it to fill gaps between long stories that I write.
Thanks to Will for helping me polish this up.