Skip Beat: Changing

You'd think I'd quit when I was ahead right? WRONG! This idea kind of sprung up and I can't just leave an idea alone. So hope you enjoy this one as much as you do my others please remember to comment or leave a review so I can talk to you ^v^

-Kate

Skip Beat own do I not (I don't own Skip Beat) ;)

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Chapter 1: The day of Reckoning

Kyoko burst through the house, sweat dripping down her face.

'There's no way I'm out of time, no way!'

She ran her hands through her orange hair, praying and hoping she didn't feel them; she didn't. She breathed a sigh of relief before a shiver went down her spine and she spun around in the darkness,

'no. no. it can't be!'

She thought to herself. She looked at the calendar, hoping that she'd gotten the date wrong. But there was no doubt. December 25 glistened up at her. Today was the day she officially turned 18.

'But that's not possible!'

She thought, fearfully combing her fingers down her face. She didn't feel anything, so she took that as a good sign. Then she realized how silly she was being. After all, she had only seen the creature last night. There's no way it'd be here tonight. She sat down on the couch, trying to calm herself of the eerie events from a few hours before,

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Kyoko was leaving for the Grateful Party. She had her clothes on, her makeup set and her birthday gift for Maria locked away carefully. She hummed along as she got together all her belongings,

"I'm going to a party! And it's going to be fun! "

She sang, happy that the Darumya owners weren't here right now to hear her. But a clank from downstairs sounded, freezing her stiff.

"The Darumya owners…"

She thought, before stopping at the stairs,

"But they weren't supposed to be back until tomorrow…"

A shiver flew down her spine as she walked fearfully down the stairs. The restaurant seemed eerie in the darkness but Kyoko took a deep breath as she flipped on the light. She scanned the room carefully as she retrieved the dropped dish,

"Okay. Tables and chairs in the same spot. Nothing seems to have fallen but this dish…which could've been for any sort of reasons. Nothing's behind the counter except for the strange shadow lady…"

She froze, her eyes fixed on the woman drenched in shadow,

"STRANGE SHADOW LADY!"

The woman didn't seem to mind as she tossed Kyoko an amused smile,

"Kyoko, you'd think you'd remember me. I'm Feleia remember?"

Kyoko couldn't remember meeting a Feleia ever in her life! She turned her head to the side, swallowing the fear welling up inside of her body,

"No. I'm sorry. I think you have the wrong house."

Feleia chuckled,

"Oh. No I don't. I'm Feleia. From the Kyoto Spring. You found me one day and we played together."

A hazy memory from her past resurfaced. It was before she met Corn. She was only about 4 years old. She had run down to the spring one day after her mother and herself had moved in with Sho's parents. She had met him that day and they had a great time. She was conversing with the river fairies and talking about how much she loved Sho-chan when she was approached by Feleia.

"Don't you remember Kyoko? You got mad when I told you that wasn't real love. That all you had was a folly child, puppy love crush."

Kyoko gulped as she remembered the rest,

"I know what love is! I've read about it in my stories and watched it on TV! I know what love is!"

The arrogant four year old had replied with a pout scrunching up her small face. Feleia had given a smirk and knelt down close,

"Well, if that's so, let's make a bet. I bet…by the time you come of legal age; 18, you will not be in a relationship or dating anybody! Nor will you say you've fallen in love."

The challenge did not go unanswered by the cocky four year old,

"I bet I will! I bet by the time I turn 18 I'll be married and living happily with Sho-chan, my prince! So I will be in love, crazy shadow lady!"

Feleia gave a wicked smirk,

"Fine. Then I'll find you when you turn eighteen. And see if you truly love anyone, and if anyone loves you…in a romantic way. If not, then I get to make you into anything I want."

She held out a hand for Kyoko,

"Deal?"

Kyoko who was supremely confident in her challenge took her hand firmly,

"Deal!"

Feleia smiled the same smirk as a long black tattoo appeared on Kyoko's hand.

"Well, obviously I can't let you remember this. You can't fall in love because of the challenge."

The tattoo that began to glisten on little Kyoko's small hand, as a commitment of the challenge to Feleia vanished as her amber eyes grew cloudy with forgetfulness.

Kyoko gave a gulp,

"I'm not eighteen yet you know."

Feleia smiled and put a hand on her cheek in amusement as she leaned against the counter,

"Oh I know. You turn eighteen by tonight, but the challenge is over. You lost. When you come back, tonight. After the Grateful Party is all said and done, I'll be here to collect my payment."

And with that she was gone.

Kyoko glanced around the room nervous, but tried to use her acting to blot out the memory. As she had just reached the part of it all being a dream coordinated by the evil love fairies, she noticed a black tattoo glistening softly on her hand. In fear she thrust her hand in her pocket and refused to take it out the remainder of the night,

'There's no way it could be real.'

She kept repeating to herself hopefully, as the Grateful Party ensued.

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Kyoko shivered as she remembered the cold woman from a few hours before. Her long red hair that trailed to her feet and her cold green eyes that could stare at you. She was tall and regal but fearful like a witch. Of all the fairies that Kyoko knew about…this one scared her the most. And now that she had made the bet and lost? It was too late.

'No! The bet doesn't exist remember?'

But her hand was heavy in her pocket as she clenched it. She could almost feel the inscribed ink on her palm. The proof that the foolish young child had indeed made a bet about love.

'But I threw love away! That's gotta be a way out right? Love doesn't exist! Especially for people like me!'

But each one of those made her heart drop lower and lower. Then her mind came to the terrible conclusion,

"If love doesn't exist for me…then the bet was over before it began."

She said sadly. She placed her head heavily in her hands, crying softly,

"It's not fair. I made that bet when I was four! I was too stupid to think about anything but love! It's not fair!"

A cold voice drifted up from the counter where Feleia had been a few hours before. She sat there, combing her long red hair over her shoulder,

"What are you griping about?"

Kyoko spun and threw herself to the ground,

"Please Feleia! Don't do this! I'm sorry I challenged you! I promise I won't do it again! Love doesn't exist! Especially not for a plain, boring girl like me! I realize that now! Please don't!"

Feleia stared stoically at the young girl, one deftly shaped eyebrow raised over a cold green eye. She was unmoved by Kyoko's desperate pleas,

"Love doesn't exist? You're a plain, boring girl? Clearly you've not learned your lesson yet. Instead of one extreme, you've gone to the other. No. You made a bet with me, and you need to learn your lesson."

She narrowed her green eyes hard at the girl, who cringed on the floor, tears spilling from her eyes in the midst of "please don't" begging.

Feleia uncovered her arm, which held a small white tattoo, similar to the black one glistening on Kyoko's hand.

"This was the contract of the bet we made. See how mine's white? Means I won."

She said with a cold smirk. Kyoko's eyes went wide as Feleia gently probed her small white tattoo. Even though she touched it softly Kyoko could almost feel the burning that was beginning to churn in her stomach. She watched in fear as her hand grew hot and knew that the black tattoo, with 14 years of no activation, was active and beginning to change her.

Kyoko could feel the changes burning throughout her body as a hot flash spread up her arms and legs covering her from head to toe, like a warm bath. She knelt down in pain as her body began to shift and change, the bones cleverly contorting (though she was surprised there was no pain) and the muscles becoming smaller. Her clothes shred from her body as a new dress revealed itself from the inner workings of her skin. It was a simple black dress with a white triangle on her chest and white sleeves and trim on the skirt that clung delicately to her small lithe arms and legs. It stopped just at the knees with a small cut in the back, but Kyoko had no time to admire it as it began to shift.

Kyoko fell on her hands and knees now, as the muscles were too weak to keep her standing any longer. The dress began to expand over her body and become tighter, the skirt breaking away with the help of the cut and forming itself over her small frame, as though it was a second skin. The hair from her arms and legs grew thick and began to cover her body as the dye from her hair faded back to its natural black ebony hue. She could feel her bones shifting in her face and her mouth, no longer working like it normally did. Her nose became squashed and flat, with the bridge slightly expanding in an upwards turn. She fell on her stomach as the dress melded itself to her body, becoming more now like a body suit than a dress. Her spine shifted and she could feel something emerging from her tailbone. Nausea and fatigue from the exhausting change began to overtake the young woman, and in a last desperate call; though with a strangled voice that was beginning to feel the effects of the change but with the stubborn refusal to give up, she cried out,

"Please don't."

But Feleia just watched as the remnant of the young girl's body disappeared into the mold of a small black cat with white paws. Kyoko, dizzy but still unrelenting, started to try and stand before falling onto her belly, the full change now completed. Feleia waved her hand over the small creature; which had not gotten used to seeing with new golden eyes, and caused a great fatigue to overtake her and fall asleep.

Feleia watched the girl with soft green eyes. She uncovered her hood, revealing the small pale blonde lion ears that she possessed. A tail from behind her twitched with caution as Feleia watched the new sleeping kitten. A twinge of guilt formed in the woman's eyes as she remembered the constant pleading of the young woman, but she shook it away as she rationalized,

"She must learn her lesson. That was my mission."

She said to herself coldly. She shook her head from her guilty thoughts and drew closer to the defenseless and vulnerable Kyoko,

"Now then…back to work."

She softly touched the young kitten's forehand with her hand before smiling,

"So that's her most important person huh? Let's see how this will work."

She gently cradled the kitten to her chest before slipping a small collar over her head. She knew the young girl was still asleep so she couldn't hear her, but she whispered softly,

"That's to make sure you don't run away Kyoko-chan. This collar states who shall be your master until the appropriate time when you learn what you need to learn."

She gently kissed the kitten's forehead a small white emblem appearing amidst the black fur.

"This will keep you safe from all predators. While it won't stop them from touching you, it will create a pathway to your most important person. So they can always find you."

She wrapped a small white blanket around the girl, tucking a small letter in the folds. The kitten softly turned and readjusted to the blanket, her new tail instinctively wrapping itself around her small kitten body. Feleia smiled and kissed Kyoko's head once more, not out of duty, but because she wanted to,

"Learn quickly Kyoko."

She whispered fondly,

"I don't want you to miss out on anymore love."

She gathered her cloak around her, and whisked out the door, having no indication she was ever there. A small note fluttered down on the table. It was simple white parchment, with black glittering Kanji that stated,

"When you read this, you will forget that Kyoko's not here."

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Ren opened the door and heaved a sigh as he collapsed on the couch. Ever since the Grateful Party had started, Kyoko had seemed anxious, and every time the actor had tried to convince her to talk to him about it, she would be whisked away for another menial task.

"Times like this, I wish she was just a guest, rather than the head cook."

He muttered to himself in frustration of the irony. He felt his pocket where her birthday gift lie in wait. It was a special charm bracelet he had made with specific charms of a fairy and the famous two masks of acting. He thought she would enjoy that. But before her birthday could even come up, she was gone. Panicked into the night as soon as the clock struck twelve,

"I guess she likes to feel like Cinderella then."

He said quietly, a small smile cracking on his face in amusement as he thought the fairytale obsessed girl fondly. He laid down for a minute before hearing his phone chime. He saw the name on the phone and smiled as he reached up and took the call,

"Hey Mom and Dad, Merry Christmas."

Julie and Kuu on the other line smiled widely at their son's voice, even though they couldn't see him,

"MERRY CHRISTMAS KUON!"

They harmonized. Kuon chuckled at his parents antics,

"So how was the church service?"

Every year during Christmas, Kuu and Julie would go to the Christmas service at their church, to sing and pray and rejoice like everyone else. Kuon was guessing they just got out by the background church music.

"It was good. I never get tired of hearing that story. What about your Christmas Eve? Did you see our daughter yet?"

Ren felt his heart skip a beat as a blush slightly colored his cheeks. He would always fantasize when Kuu would mention her as "their daughter." It would always send visions of Kyoko's in wedding dresses dancing in his head. And he did not need any more temptation than he already had to suffer with her as "Setsu".

He blotted out the memory of what Kuu had called her and continued,

"No. She was there, but not for long. I didn't even get to give her the present yet."

He growled, his voice taking on a bit of a whining tone. He prayed it would go unnoticed by his parents…it didn't. Kuu and Julie stifled a chuckle at their son as Julie wagged a finger at him (even though he wasn't there to see it)

"You need to have more patience Kuon. Just give it to her when you can. I'm sure she'll like it, no matter what."

Kuu could see the time, and knew it was pretty late in Japan and soothed his wife as he wrapped up the conversation,

"Well, we know it's really late there. But we wanted to give you a call and wish you a Merry Christmas. Good night Kuon."

Kuon smiled and nodded,

"Good night dad."

Julie jumped in,

"Good night Kuon! I love you!"

Kuon laughed and responded,

"Good night Mom, love you too."

And then with a click the call was over. Ren breathed out a sigh of relief. Ever since he had made that video call and given them a phone number they could contact, they had been calling once every 2 or 3 months. It was never very long, since they could only call when nobody would know they were talking to him, (so usually very late at night) and most of the time, Ren would feign annoyance, considering he had told them about his plan and wishes. And he would never tell them…but they did make him feel better when they did call. He took the gift from his pocket and placed it on the mantle,

"When I can huh? Maybe I'll go see her tomorrow? Take her out for lunch on her birthday? I could always say it's for Christmas…and that I wanted to spend time with a coworker…but would that be too upfront?"

A knock at the door jarred him from his wonderings and fears regarding the love abstained girl. He grumbled as he went to the door, wondering who would be up and wanting to see him at two in the morning. He peeked through the door, but didn't see anything.

Becoming wary of whoever was at the door he slowly opened it, making sure the lock chain was still intact. At his feet was a small box. Curious, he unclipped the lock and knelt down. He saw wrapped in a small white blanket, a little black kitten with white paws. He looked around to see if he could find the person who had put the box here. He sighed and breathed out, running a hand through his hair,

"I don't have time to take care of a cat."

But he couldn't stop looking once more at the little kitten, whose paws were wrapped around her face, as though they were the only things that could protect her. He sighed and relented,

"Fine. Maybe it'll give Kyoko a reason to come over anyway."

Feleia watched from a distance, with a small smile on her face,

"She's closer than you think Hizuri Kuon."

But Ren didn't hear that as he shut the door, the box in his hand. He set it down carefully before noticing a small piece of parchment inside. He picked it up and read the glittering black ink,

Tsuruga Ren,

I need you to watch my kitten. She's been very foolish and she needs to learn a lesson. You were the most prospective person to teach it to her. Watch over her well and take good care of her. There are five steps to this lesson, and I trust you to watch over her in each one and help her succeed. Her name is written on her collar but you probably won't be able to understand it for a while. For now, just call her Hime-chan.

Gambatte,

It wasn't signed. Ren looked to the back to see if the signature was there, but there was none. He tsked with frustration before turning to the little kitten,

"Well Hime-chan, looks like I'm taking care of you for the time being."

He picked up the small kitten and cuddled it gently to his chest. The kitten purred against his chest and readjusted her position, so her body was comfortably nestled in the crook of his elbow and a wall of pectoral muscle. Ren gave a smile and chuckle and he held the kitten closer to him, taking his other hand and gently coursing his fingers down the trail of her spine.

"Don't worry Hime-chan."

He said gently, his mouth curling in a smile usually only reserved for Kyoko, as he softly kissed the white mark on her forehead.

"I'll protect you."

What he didn't see beyond the window was Feleia's twisted grin in the snowy darkness.

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So this is the start of a new story. Tell me what you think leave a review I get back to you!

-Kate