Sleeping to Dream
Disclaimer: I don't own Skip Beat!
I hate my laptop. It's weird and the letter 'e' doesn't work well; I have to press extra hard. T_T how can I write with such poor equipment?
Bold italics - tv dialogue or conversation
Bold – conversation in English
Italics – thoughts
Chapter 14: Promises and Interventions
Four days have passed since Kuon left for New Zealand. And she can't stop thinking about him. He would call her in the evening, just to check on how she was doing. Though his voice alone was never enough to erase her doubts that what was happening between them was real and that his affection was not just a figment of her weird imagination, it strengthened her hope day by day as she waited for his return. He promised he would come back for me… and… Well, she hasn't figured out yet what she will do once he's back. Whenever she thought about what the President said, she would have another bout with confusion and self-doubt so usually she would just stop thinking about that part.
Currently, she's looking at his likeness – the last doll she made with his puppy dog look which she discovered during her stint as Setsu. She smiled back at the adorable expression.
"Mo! This is the creepiest scene I have ever seen" a voice said from behind her.
Like a child caught doing something naughty, she hurriedly clasped the doll with her hands and hid it behind her. "Uhmm.. haha.. you startled me, Moko-san.."
Her best friend smirked back and joined her beside the table. "You're really a very good actress, you know. But when it comes to that man, you can't act any other character except yourself".
She blushed and put the doll back on the table. She didn't have any answer to that. Kuon, back when he was still Ren, always knew when she was feeling angry or down or unhappy about something. She always thought he had some extra sensory ability given that she can't hide anything from him and he always managed to make her spill her guts out. She had just realized that it wasn't because of him but because of her – even back then she had unconsciously singled him out as someone she longed to trust, somebody she wanted to believe in, and possibly, even – spend her life with…
"I can tell you're thinking about him.." Moko-san said with annoyance. "Jeez, even when he's not around and you're talking to me you can't stop thinking about him"
She shook her head. "I'm sorry Moko-san. I was just remembering something. Please don't be angry with me…" she pleaded, grasping her best friend's hand.
"Tch. So I guess you've finally figured out what to answer him, huh?"
She fell silent.
"You can't seriously still be unsure! Please don't let this drag on any longer. If you want to be with him then go. Besides, I can't look out for you for the rest of my life and he seems to be eager to fill the role of your protector. For your sake and mine, I'm willing to hand that responsibility over to him. Just make sure you come to me first once he hurt you so I'll make sure that I'm the first one to break his legs".
She giggled at this. She felt so blessed with Moko-san by her side. Her best friend always had good perspective about things. She would really be hopeless without her.
"Thank you, Moko-san"
"Hmp. Just make sure to provide me with good competition. This doesn't mean I will let you off the hook. And don't ever let that man turn you into a plain housewife!" Moko-san warned.
She nodded, stifling a laugh of adoration.
"By the way, Moko-san, have you and Yashiro-san made up?" she inquired.
Her best friend's expression became a scowl. "Erm.. I don't mean to pry.. but you should really give him a break. He really likes you" she amended nervously.
Moko-san sighed heavily. "I know. He confessed to me right after we came back here to Tokyo".
Her best friend nodded briefly. "He said that he's falling in love with me and because of that he's offering to resign from being my manager. It's unprofessional for a talent and her manager to have a romantic relationship. But I told him that he can't. Though he can be a little too overprotective at times, he's actually pretty good at what he does. He's helped me a lot". Then she uncharacteristically slumped, slamming her forehead lightly on the table.
"Do you mean to say that you feel the same for him? But since you want him to remain as your manager, you chose to say no? Oh Moko-san that is so sad… and Yashiro-san must be devastated…" she said, hugging her best friend's back.
"Mo… getoff me.." Moko-san mumbled. Then she sat up. "Who invented that policy anyway? And if he really loves me, why would he want to be away from me? Really, that idiot… he's too.. too professional! I don't know why I even think about him!"
She chuckled at her best friend's dilemma then immediately became somber, remembering something. "I'm sorry I can't give you any advice. But I can talk to Kuon. He and Yashiro-san have been good friends in the past. Maybe he can talk to him".
"Don't you dare, Mogami Kyoko! I swear I will never speak to you again if you tell a soul about this!"
"I'm sorry. Okay, I won't. But at least you two should tell the President" she replied.
Moko-san thought for a moment. "Ugh… I already considered that. But I kept imagining that he would put up an extravagant party when he finds out. Remember when the old maid receptionist and the old costume keeper got engaged? He practically wept on the lobby, in his French Musketeer costume! The same day he organized a ball celebrating their so called love. Imagine being exposed to all that!"
Moko-san's expressions were truly out of ordinary, she couldn't help but laugh. Plus, she remembered the old couple who were forced to publicly declare their affection for each other. She can understand why Moko-san would hesitate to tell the president.
At first, her best friend only stared at her with a scowl, obviously offended that she found her predicament rather funny. But then Moko started to laugh herself and they both laughed so hard and so long, they ended up catching their breaths.
"We really are hopeless, aren't we, Moko-san?"
Her best friend nodded. They smiled at each other. Who would have thought, that aside from acting, the only other thing they will have in common is a problem with the heart?
It was the end of the first set of the photo shoot and he was on break. As usual, he immediately got his phone and browsed his inbox. He reread her message – and he felt immediately warm all over. It was nothing grand, really, just a simple "good morning, take care and don't forget to eat", but it came from her! He didn't force her. He woke up and it was there. It was so totally out of the blue, so unexpected (though definitely not unwelcome), he still can't believe it was there in his inbox. So he had to check every now and then just to make sure it was real.
"I take it you received some good news" Simon commented, seeing the weird and uncharacteristic grin pasted on his face.
He didn't bother to hide anything anymore. His manager more or less has gotten the whole picture about his real relationship with Kyoko, courtesy of Lory Takarada.
"It's nothing, really. How about you? Did they agree?"
"They agreed to your proposal to delay the filming of the episode - in the condition that you will agree to extend the role for a total of three episodes instead of just one" Simon answered, straight to the point.
He sighed. "I guess that can't be helped. And the filming of those 3 episodes will last for how long, exactly?"
"Maybe 5 to 6 weeks"
He could handle that. He asked his manager to revise a deal with a major network in the US. He was supposed to guest star in an episode of an action/drama tv series while his movie with Kyoko is being filmed. But since he wanted to spend more time wooing her (as termed by his father), he decided to accept no more job offers while in Japan. His next movie was still under negotiation and he can easily lobby for its filming to take place later in the year. He can squeeze in all the modeling jobs while he's in New Zealand and in Japan two weeks henceforth. An additional of 3 weeks to his original planned stint on that crime drama is no big deal. He intends to get an answer from Kyoko before the movie filming is finished. He just prayed that she will cooperate.
"Okay. You can give them my agreement as soon as you can" he replied.
Simon nodded and looked at his phone. "By the way, a man named Yashiro Yukihito called me to ask for your number. I told him I will ask for your permission first"
Yashiro? Did something happen? He immediately felt his blood run cold – everything in Japan, to him, was associated with Kyoko. "Did he say what it was about? Was it urgent?" he said with a bit of alarm.
"No. He didn't mention any details but he didn't seem pushy. I don't think it was that urgent".
He looked at his watch. He still had 15 minutes left. "Did he leave a number?"
"He said you probably still have his number since he hasn't changed it"
He nodded as he immediately scrolled over his contact list. Yukihito's number was listed with his contacts in LME. He located it and dialed directly, excusing himself from Simon with a look.
Yukihito's number rang for 5 times before the man finally answered.
"Hello, Yukihito? It's me Kuon"
"Ren! I'm glad you called" his former manager's voice issued from the phone. He sounded a little upset.
"What's wrong? You wanted to speak with me?"
There was silence on the line.
"Hello? You still there?"
"Ren, I mean Kuon… I need your help".
She sat wearily on the bench. She had forgotten how tiring it was to wear the chicken suit. Still, it had been fun. She hadn't been this happy for quite some time and for a little while she actually forgot all her worries. A week ago, she had a great time bonding with her best friend in the old LoveMe office and she found out about Yashiro-san's confession to Moko-san. Every day, since then, she and her best friend found time to meet every day, if not in LME (hiding away in their old headquarters), they would go out wearing various disguises. She would try to squeeze out information from her best friend about the status of her relationship with the bespectacled manager. Who would have thought? Moko-san and Yashiro-san! She can already imagine their kids running around and calling her Aunt Kyoko – the girl looking exactly like Moko-san: beautiful and refined, plus a little Yashiro-san with cute little glasses perched on his nose. She thought the manager is a good match for her Moko. He's actually quite handsome, hardworking and respectable. He's still not as handsome as her Kuon, though – What? When did he become 'your' Kuon? She shook her head to drive away the thoughts and to calm herself down. Lately, she had been thinking very possessively about him, which was definitely not a proper and healthy thing.
She stood up from the bench, having rested her back somewhat, and was about to walk away to the costume room to take off Bo's suit when someone called her.
"Oi, chicken-san! I need to talk to you".
She froze. I know that voice.
"Come on… don't tell me you're still angry at me after all these years" Shotaro added, sounding serious and almost grown up. "I've come here to apologize".
Slowly, she faced him – or rather, Bo faced him. He was wearing a red and maroon checkered shirt with black tight jeans. He looked almost preppy and more handsome than she had ever seen him in the past 6 years.
"Look, I just want to say sorry, okay? I know I must have offended you during that episode that we played badminton".
She was too surprised to say a thing, which was actually fortunate as she almost answered with her normal voice, so she just nodded.
Shotaro looked at her with a frown. "Aren't you going to say something?"
Bo shook its head. Knowing him, he must have wanted to hear an apology too.
Then he sighed. "Fine. But we're okay now right? We're not enemies anymore, right?" he asked while offering his hand.
She looked at the proffered hand, unbelieving. Did he somehow manage to know it was her inside the suit? If so, why is he acting so… so different? Why isn't he acting like Shotaro? And she hadn't worn the Bo suit for 2 years. This was supposed to be a one-time thing because Tomoki-chan had an emergency and couldn't come on time for the show.
Without any response from the chicken, Shotaro started to become annoyed. "Look, I've already said sorry and I truly am! You don't know how weird it is to apologize to a chicken mascot for something that happened more than 5 years ago".
Bo immediately grabbed the offered hand with its stubby wings.
Shotaro was startled for a few seconds. Then he started to laugh uncontrollably.
Now he's really irritating her. Bo crossed its chicken arms on its chest.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry" he said in between gasps. "I just realized you can't really shake hands because you don't have thumbs! Ahaha…"
Bo only looked at him with an expression of disdain. But inside, she felt… weird. She hadn't seen him laugh like this for years. And seeing him this way brought back fond memories from their childhood.
After a while, he finally sobered up. "But I guess that can be considered as a handshake".
She was startled by his expression. He actually looked… mature. She had never seen him like this, ever. Not when they were younger, not when they had 'sort of' reconciled a couple of years back. He seemed to have changed somewhat and it's confusing her.
"So I guess I'll see you around then. Keep up the good work, Bo. You've floundered a bit a few years back but you've recovered your usual funny self. I really respect that". And he finally walked away.
Wait! She tried to remember her Bo voice – the one she used when conversing with her senpai. "Why?" Bo asked.
Sho looked back at her. "I've decided to change. I realized I've been a total jerk and I want to prove to the girl I love that I'm willing to change in order to earn her trust again" he answered in a total un-Sho-like manner and then waved his hand goodbye.
As he disappeared around the corner of the corridor, she felt the tears gathering behind her eyes – the cause she had no idea whatsoever. She also had a feeling that she knew who that girl he was talking about. She didn't realize she had been standing there for quite some time, until she felt someone pulling Bo's left wing.
"Kyoko-senpai? Are you alright?"
She looked beside her and saw Tomoki-chan's worried face. "Hai. I'm sorry for spacing out Tomo-chan".
The girl blushed. Tomo-chan wore her auburn hair in pigtails. She had round glasses covering her large blue-gray eyes. She noticed the beads of sweat covering the younger woman's forehead and she clucked like a mother hen. "Tomo-chan, you ran again, didn't you? I told you that you didn't have to hurry since I already got it covered. You could have gotten into an accident".
They started to walk together to the costume room. Tomo-chan scratched the back of her head and looked chastised.
"I'm really sorry about this, Kyoko-senpai. I didn't know you used to play Bo until the Ishibashi onii-sans told me. And they told me that you were the one who made Bo famous!"
She chuckled at this remark. "I actually liked putting on the suit again. I've missed playing Bo and the Ishibashi onii-sans are as funny as ever" she answered, matching Tomo-chan's enthusiasm.
The girl blushed even more profusely and she could actually see the freckles on her kohai's nose. "You know, you should learn to control your expressions. It's okay to have many expressions. But you only want them to appear at appropriate moments".
"Now, could you please help get this chicken costume off me?" she answered with a grin and the younger actress nodded. The costume room brought back fond memories, including memories of the old Kyoko – so unsure, so transparent. Only then did she realize that she had actually grown up and changed in a lot of ways. Before, any encounter with her childhood friend would elicit a violent and uncontrollable reaction. Now, she was actually able to take the time to listen to him without getting angry, maybe only mildly irritated. It used to be that whenever she felt down, remembering her past, she needed Corn to make her feel better. Now, there was Moko-san, and Maria, occasionally even the Taisho and the Okami-san. And then there was Kuon, who used to be her senpai, the man she looked up to and almost worshipped and who was also Corn… her fairy prince. She used to be completely dependent upon him, always needed his support. But she had lived the past 4 years without hearing his voice and asking for his opinion and she did quite fine, actually. And now, she finally realized, he was the one who had confessed that he needs her in his life.
Tomo-chan helped her wiggle out of the Bo costume and finally, she can breathe more normally. They worked to put the costume and other Bo paraphernalia to their proper cabinets when suddenly, her kohai stopped, turned around and looked at her intently. "Uhm… Kyoko-senpai.. wh—what do you think of Hikaru-senpai?" The girl tried not to blush and failed miserably. She laughed to herself and took the younger girl's hand and tried her best to be a good senpai.
Hikaru-san had confessed to her right after Kuon (then still Tsuruga Ren) left for America. But Tomo-chan doesn't need know that.
"Fuwa-kun, Fuwa-kun! Is it true that you're trying to steal away Kyoko from Hizuri Kuon? Or is it the other way around? Could you confirm that it was you who visited Kyoko in the filming of her drama and had a quarrel with a Hollywood celebrity?" the insistent reporter asked. She was one of the few who were able to reach Fuwa near enough to jam a microphone in front of his face.
"Fuwa-san, how do you intend to compete with a Hollywood star?" another female reporter asked.
The singer stopped walking, which made the throng following him stop abruptly. He took a deep breath before saying: "Yes, I was there at the set of Kyoko's drama".
Hearing this, they buzzed around him in a bigger frenzy than before. "But I am not trying to steal her away. I'm trying to make her choose me", the singer said as he looked straight to the camera.
"So, does this mean that Kyoko is still yet to decide who to go out with between you and Hizuri-san?" someone asked.
Instead of answering this, though, the musician threw in his own question. "Is this being shown everywhere? In all the major networks?"
The reporters looked confused but they nodded in assent.
"Good. I have a message for Kyoko". Then Fuwa closed his eyes. When he opened them after a few moments, he looked straight to the camera and said: "Kyoko, wherever you are, please listen to me. I'm sorry for hurting you. I've changed and I can still change if you want me to. I want to be a better person… for you. Watch my performance in Fuji TV tomorrow. My new single is dedicated to you".
He turned off the tv but remained gripping the remote tightly. He expected to have a glimpse of her, instead he saw his rival publicly confess to the woman he loves. And why hasn't she answered his calls all day? Kyoko, where are you? He went to the liquor cabinet. But before he could open the door, he saw his reflection on the mirrored surface. It was a face full of despair.
What is she thinking? Does she still feel anything for that – that punk?
He didn't reach for a bottle but for his phone and dialed Simon's number. When the call connected: "Hello, Mr Manager. Please tell the photographer to reset the schedule tomorrow. I want to start at 7:00 am and return to Japan tomorrow afternoon. I need to be there as soon as possible".
End of Chapter 14
Sorry for the numerous typo errors in the last chapter. I will try to repost later with the corrections… maybe.
Thank you for your heartfelt sympathy. Our family was overwhelmed by the amount of support and condolences that came in. We decided to hold a reunion later this month in memory of my aunt. Our hope and comfort is that she is in much better place now.