Sleeping to Dream
Disclaimer: I don't own Skip Beat!
This story is nearing its conclusion and I would like to thank you all for following and reading and sending your reviews. I'm so thrilled to finish this story. I'm sad, of course, but also thrilled, because I can now resume writing my other stories without the worry of losing all the ideas for this one.
Upload and updating would have been faster if I was in a country where the internet connection is consistent and strong. But where I am, internet connection sucks. So I'm really sorry.
Also, since I love odd numbers (Yes! Odd numbers such as 1, 3, 5, 7… you get the picture…) I decided that I will end this with Chapter 17. So, only 1 more chapter to go!
Chapter 16: Truth and Consequence
They arrived the next day, exactly 16 hours after they answered his call, looking bedraggled and extremely concerned. Immediately after going through the door, his mother rushed to him and smothered him within a tight embrace – which he still couldn't figure out, since he's half a foot taller and 50 pounds heavier. She cooed and shushed (especially when his father started to talk) and patted his back for a good fifteen minutes. After his father's turn for a hug, they moved to the dining area of the hotel suite.
"So, you think you can manage being with her on set for 2 months after all this?" his dad asked.
He was still thinking about what to answer when his mother cried: "I can't believe she could do that to Kuon! I looked up that Fuwa Sho and he's not half as adorable as you, dear" she added.
He smiled back at his mom.
His father answered for him. "She must have had her reason, love. The Kyoko I know is a young woman with principles. I still can't understand what she did but she promised to explain, right? Then let's just hear her out".
He couldn't believe how mature his dad sounded. He agreed to this. Not because he wanted to be mature, but because despite what happened, he couldn't hate Kyoko. Not ever.
"I hope she does or she'll definitely hear from me. And that pretentious cosplaying man you call friend! I thought he was going to help Kuon but where was he?"
"Just let it go, mom. Lory did what he could. Ultimately, it would be her decision anyhow" he said calmly.
The previous night, sleep eluded him. So he just stared outside, at the lights of Tokyo and tried to accept everything that happened thus far. Fuwa sounded genuine. For someone like him who lived for fame and pride, lowering himself down to ask for forgiveness and confessing that he had hurt a girl who idolized him, he looked like he really wanted to change and make things right. But if the singer does hurt Kyoko again, then he would be there to make sure that punk would never utter another note again.
His father was on the second box of creampuffs when the doorbell rang. Being nearest the foyer, his mother answered the door and right after she disengaged the lock, they heard her wail: "YOU!"
She woke up and welcomed another day. It had been years since she felt so… so liberated. Then she remembered the promise she made the day before and resolved to do what she needed to do as soon as possible. She owed him an explanation after the way she treated him. She would have to talk to him before she reports back to LME.
But before she could go out the door, Moko-san blocked her way and told her to stay inside the apartment. It was the president's instruction, her best friend said. And shortly after that, she received a call from her boss. The conversation they had was very confusing. She asked if he knew where Kuon was. But he very cryptically avoided answering and told her to stay put until she heard from him again. She hoped he would call her within the day or else she would be forced to leave her voluntarily confinement to seek out Kuon herself.
While waiting for the president's call, she went back to her room and retrieved the letter that Moko-san handed to her 2 nights ago. She had read it several times before and could almost recite its complete content by memory. Still, the feeling of reading his letter, done in his handwriting, made her feel closer to him somehow, so she opened it now and read again.
I apologize for not keeping my promise to you before I left for New Zealand. I said that I will tell you the whole story how and why I kept my identity secret all those years. I apologize again if I can only tell you this story with a letter. I'm still a coward, you see. I wouldn't be able to bear the disappointment in your eyes when I finally told you that your beloved Corn is not a fairy prince – that he's just a normal and very flawed human being.
So instead of telling you in person, I wrote it down.
I used to be a good kid. At least that was what my parents told me. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be like my dad, an actor – in fact I wanted to be better than he is: an actor like the world has never known. My dad was so happy when I told him this that he started bringing me along in his film shoots and other projects so that I could learn about the business early on. My mom was equally supportive and would come along when she didn't have her own projects.
On one occasion, dad had a chance to shoot a film in his native country, Japan. I'm pretty sure you already know Hizuri Kuu's history so I don't need to tell you the details. And so he came to Japan and he brought me along – the project was to be filmed in Kyoto. I was 10 years old then.
The other kids whose parents worked on the same film immediately took notice of me. I didn't know what they disliked about me – my hair maybe, or my eyes. I didn't look like a native Japanese but I tried so hard to be one, speaking the native language with my awkward accent and all. They started to bully me. I wasn't new to bullying. I've been subjected to this even back in the States. It was nothing. Besides, when I fought back, I always ended up winning.
One day, after being bullied again and beating the other kids until they all ran away, I found shelter near a clearing. It looked like a nice, safe place, with a pond nearby and the insects and the frogs sounded nice. I just wanted to be alone. But over the sounds of the forest, I heard something else – l heard someone crying. I searched for the sound and found a little girl beside the stream, crying her eyes out. She sounded so pitiful that I couldn't let myself be angry with her. Maybe she was bullied like me, and since she was younger and so little, I could understand if she can't defend herself and all she could do was cry.
And so I asked her if she was okay. She looked up at me and I was startled by the color of her eyes. They were the color of pure honey; honest, sincere and kind. Then she asked the most unexpected question: "Are you a fairy?"
I could have answered 'no' and just laughed at her ridiculous question. But I didn't. I didn't have the heart to disappoint her, not when she looked like she really needed to talk to a fairy right then. So I said 'yes' and her eyes immediately lit up. I knew then that I will never forget that moment. Never.
For two weeks, every day, we met at that clearing. The little girl never failed to amuse me. She would invent the weirdest games and tell the weirdest stories about princesses and fairies. She was not like anyone I've ever met before. And she was nice to me. She accepted me without a second thought.
The day before I left for America, I said goodbye to her. She cried again. I so wanted to make her happy and I could only think of one thing. I took out a blue stone that my dad gave me and told her the same thing he said to me: the stone is magical and would absorb all the sadness she was feeling so she won't need to cry again. It was the only good memory I could leave her. Then as she waved goodbye, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she told me that she believed in me – that I will be able to fly on my own, without my father's fairy wings stopping me.
I never did forget her, that girl.
After a time, things got worse for me. I saw everyone as my enemies, even the people that I loved. The people who my parents called friends didn't believe I had a talent of my own. I wanted to be taken seriously – to be known not as Hizuri Kuu's son, but as a separate person. Because of this I became increasingly frustrated and then angry. Whenever anyone wanted to pick a fight, I didn't back down. Remember our project with Cain and Setsu? You probably wondered how I learned how to fight. Now you know; I learned by fighting on the streets. Then, I fell in with the bad crowd. I broke my parents' hearts. And more than anything, I was ashamed because I failed the only person who believed in me: that little girl who believed that I was a magical fairy prince.
By the time I was 14, I was already notorious. Then I caught the attention of a young man who used to be a rebel like me. He befriended me and helped me change. His name was Rick. One night, I was on my way to meet Rick, when my old enemies came back to get even. I fought, as always, forgetting the hard work Rick has put into me. It was a rampage. Out of desperation, a guy got inside his car and prepared to run me over. I knew what was coming but I didn't care. I was done. It was too late when I realized that I was not run over, instead, it was Rick who took the impact. In order to save me, he got between me and the car. I saw my best friend and mentor die in front of me. For a long while, I believed that I killed him, that I was a murderer. I knew without them saying, everyone blamed me for his death.
Lory came into the picture after this. He offered me the best solution. He offered me a new life – a different name, a new identity in a faraway place. My mom asked me to stay. Still, I decided to go. But I made them a promise: I will come back when I've finally proven that I was as good as my dad and that I can already stand on my own without relying on anyone's power. That was how I became Tsuruga Ren. I invented a character so opposite of my own true self and lived in that character for 6 years.
Then you came along, Kyoko. When we first met, I didn't know you were that girl in that clearing so many years ago, not until you dropped the blue stone from the stairwell and I saw you pick it up. I never thought I'd see you again. But even before I found out, I must have known inside me who you were because I was drawn to you, inexplicably, like waves to the seashore, like the tides to the moon. Since then, my character started to unravel. The mask I had worked on for so long started to crack and dissolve. You touched my heart in ways I never thought possible. But I kept myself from falling completely because… because I knew I didn't deserve such a pure, kind-hearted person such as you. Inside me was a darkness I still hadn't overcome. And I knew I would just hurt you if I let you near me.
I guess I can stop right here. You already know the rest of the story after this part.
During those four long years we were apart, I tried to tell myself that you were better off without me. And so I only followed your life from afar and never contacted you directly. I also thought you hated me. I didn't know I hurt you even more with what I did.
What I only ask is one chance – one more chance – to show you that I do love you. I have never loved anyone like this and I doubt if I would ever feel the same with anyone else. It's only you. It has always been you. For me, you will always be that strong, kind, wonderful, beautiful girl who believed I was a prince. And now I'm starting to believe in this too. What I need now to complete me is my princess – you.
"YOU!" his mother shrieked. The two of them in the kitchen immediately stood up thinking that she was being attacked or more likely she was attacking someone.
"Relax, Juliela. I come in peace", Lory scoffed. He looked far from a peace-loving character as he was wearing his GI Joe ensemble.
"How can you even show your face to us after you ruined my son's life?"
His dad held her. "Darling, you're overreacting. Come on now, let's go to the living room and talk like real adults".
She sniffed. "Oh shut up! You two are the same! You both think you know what's best for Kuon".
"Not at all. I think your son has his life all figured out and he did that all by himself. You should both be proud" Lory answered, looking at him squarely.
They all sat down at the living room, except for Sebastian who positioned himself beside the TV set, looking at his watch. His dad sat beside his mom, ultimately deciding that family is more important than left over creampuffs.
"So what brought you here? Did something happen to Kyoko?" he asked.
Lory smiled enigmatically. "Oh, Mogami-kun is quite fine. She wanted to come see you, talking about a promise she made…" It was clear that the LME president was trying to get information. So he didn't say anything and just nodded. For a moment the man looked almost disappointed.
"Anyway, I told her to stay in her apartment for now. She's expecting a call from me, though, telling her that the coast is clear" Lory said, trying to sound mysterious.
"What does that mean?" his dad asked, sounding confused.
The GI Joe-attired man sighed. "I knew you would react like this and poor Mogami-kun wouldn't stand a chance if she came here all by herself".
"This is no time for explanations! She had done it. There's no justifying it!" the former supermodel answered, clutching her husband's shirt in between her fingers.
"Mom, I think we should let him finish first".
"Thank you. Now, I'm just here to tell you that it was all just a misunderstanding" the LME president said.
"What misunderstanding?" the three of them asked.
Lory sighed again, as if dealing with them was too troublesome. "Oh look, it's just about time. Why don't we just watch the news? I think it's about time for the celebrity segment. Sebastian, could you please turn the TV on?"
They looked at him with confusion. It seemed, though that both he and his right hand man knew everything that's been going on. And Sebastian's timing was just right. The TV was tuned to Japan's most popular daytime news program. As the TV came to life, the male news anchor introduced the next segment:
"Now for our Celebrity News…"
"A couple of days ago, Japan's No.1 Singer / Musician Fuwa Sho confessed his undying love and devotion to Japan's No.1 Movie and TV star Kyoko, who was rumored to be having an affair with the gorgeous and top Hollywood star, Hizuri Kuon. In his performance in Fuji TV, Sho asked Kyoko to come to his concert as a sign of her consent to, as he termed it: 'come back to him'." Beside the anchor, the screen showed Fuwa Sho's dramatic song number in Fuji.
"Now, doesn't that tell as a lot of things?" the female news anchor joked.
"Right you are, partner. Apparently, there is quite some truth behind the rumors that Sho and Kyoko had a relationship in the past, despite their confession 2 years ago that they were just 'childhood friends'", the male anchor answered.
Sounding completely scripted, the female anchor chuckled. "Now isn't that cliché?"
"But the best part about this story was Kyoko's response to Sho's heartfelt request".
"What? Come on… just say it!" the female host said with wide eyes.
"You better hear this, all you Sho fanatics out there who thought your dream guy is already off the market… it turns out that you still have a chance in snaring this dashing and sexy young singer! Because Kyoko was a no show!" the male host declared dramatically.
"What?" the female host looked completely out of sorts as she asked this.
"Yes. That's right. Kyoko did not appear in Sho's concert last night. And to give you some idea of what the singer/musician's disappointment was like, here's a clip of a hasty interview right after the concert…"
The news station image dissolved into a video clip with the very recognizable Fuwa Sho walking briskly towards his limousine amidst a horde of crazy fans. The cameras and microphones accosted him as he neared his vehicle.
"Sho, we received news that Kyoko was not in the audience during the concert. Is this true? Or did you somehow manage to hide her in the crowd?"
"Hey Sho, someone reported seeing Kyoko enter your dressing room earlier. Did she? Why wasn't she in the concert?"
Similar questions were thrown at the musician, but unlike before, he remained evasive and didn't say a word to the press. His bodyguards forcefully parted the crowd and pushed him inside the vehicle, his manager following right behind.
Then Sebastian turned off the television on Lory's signal. The LME president looked at them as if he was about to give them a good scolding. But before he could, his dad suddenly threw in a question.
"So was she really there? I mean, did she meet with Fuwa?"
His heart sank again when the eccentric man nodded in affirmative. Right as he was getting his hope up, it was trampled once more.
"But she wasn't in the concert, they said. Did she really go into his dressing room?" his mom asked, gripping the side of the sofa with one hand.
"Well I'm not sure about that. But my sources confirmed that she wasn't in the audience" Lory answered. His parents relaxed somewhat. "But Fuwa didn't get on stage until after 10 minutes past 7, which was unlike him at all. And Mogami-kun told me that she did see Fuwa right before his performance last night".
"But what business did she have with him, if she really wasn't interested in getting back together?" his beautiful mother asked angrily.
"Mom, please calm down" he said. The three older people looked at him.
"We can only assume what went on that time. If Kyoko wanted to tell us, she will tell us. If she doesn't want to then that is her choice. It was between her and Fuwa after all", he added and then gave a long sigh.
"I think I have to go and sleep now" he said as he stood up, feeling dejected than ever before. "Just don't do anything stupid okay? Like going to Kyoko's house and giving her threatening phone calls" he looked at his mother pointedly. She looked away in response and mumbled something which he couldn't hear.
Before he could step further away, however, Lory asked. "Mogami-kun would come looking for you to keep her promise. What do I tell her?"
"Tell her… tell her the Prince had gone to sleep and needs a true love's kiss in order to wake up".
She cried again as she read his letter. All those nights crying and feeling helpless and then what happened last night with Sho, somehow made her eyelids heavy and her shoulders become leaden. She slept like a rock. And she dreamed.
She was dropped off by Sanosuke-san outside the stadium. She wore a white coat with a matching felt hat that she had pushed down to almost cover her eyes. She surreptitiously entered the back entrance used by the staff and crew. Good thing she had worked there before in a modeling project and was still familiar with the layout. She searched the corridors until she came upon the one marked with 'FUWA SHO CONCERT STAFF ONLY'. She tried to enter like she belonged there, but the security guards were quick.
"Where's your ID, miss? This is a restricted area" one of the guards said as he glared at her. He probably thought she was some groupie.
He was about to ask again when she took off her hat and showed her face to him. Both guards were so surprised they can only nod and let her enter the restricted space.
She walked through the passageway. Everyone was too busy to notice her. She sought out the door marked with Sho's name. She finally found it at the end of a dimly lit hallway. They somehow managed to separate his room from all the noise and the chaos going on around. That was how he preferred it, after all. When she reached the door, she looked at the star beside his stenciled name. She traced his name with her fingertips. "You've really reached the stars, friend of mine" she murmured. She tried the handle and found that the door was unlocked. Without knocking, she opened the door…
There was only Sho and his manager inside and both were startled with her sudden entrance. But after a few moments, her childhood friend finally came to his senses. He smiled so brightly and ran to embrace her.
She didn't shrink away and didn't fight back. For once, she actually felt grateful to have him near. When Sho finally let her go, she looked up at him and smiled.
"I'm so happy you came" he said, his voice a melodic murmur.
She smiled at him again and at the same time, the first tears fell from her eyes. "I don't intend to stay, Sho".
He looked at her, alarmed and bewildered. "What do you mean you don't – what is…?"
She tried to tell him everything with her eyes. Some of it might have come across properly, because he dropped down his hands which held her arms. "I thought you… I thought we could be together again…" he said. His jaw clenched visibly. It pained her to see him hurting.
She touched his cheek to make him look at her face. She tried to smile as kindly as she could. But the tears kept falling. "You will always be my Shotaro… my baka-Shotaro".
It's true. He would always be her childhood friend – that clueless, lazy, arrogant, self-centered, but well-meaning boy who showed her what it was like to have a brother, a family. But he would never make her feel like a woman. There would be none of those tingling, excitable and breathless sensations that only one man had ever made her feel.
"What happened between us a long time ago.. I now understand what it meant for you and me. You see, you wouldn't have risen this far and this high with me hanging on to you" she said. He tried to disagree, but she stopped him with her hand. "And I know I couldn't have found myself if I remained beside you. If I stayed, I would still be that plain, boring and talentless girl who was never good at anything except being a glorified maid".
Sho's eyes had begun to tear up as well. But somehow he managed to keep his emotions at bay.
"What happened between us was part of what we've become, what we are now. I'm not angry about it anymore. And I've forgiven you. I want to move on. And you should too. We both deserve it".
Having said all of these, a sort of calm washed over her. It was something like she had never known. For once in her life, she finally could say she was at peace. Gone was the bitterness, the doubt, the disappointments. Being hurt was part of growing up, she realized. But in order to really grow, one must learn to live beyond the hurt, to leave behind the past and look at the future with hope.
"So you're choosing him over me" Sho said with eyes hard as stone.
"No, Sho. I'm choosing myself" she answered, trying to tell him, with her eyes, that everything will be alright.
As he stood before her, it looked as if there was a battlefield inside him. After some time, he closed his eyes and a single tear rolled down from his cheek.
"If you really love me, as you said you do, then you will understand what I feel for him. You know what it's like to feel as if you were dying when the person you cherish is so far away. You know that being with that person is all you need to keep you smiling, to keep you hoping, to keep you believing" she added, remembering Kuon's face.
Sho took a deep and shaky breath and then wiped away the tear with his sleeve. He looked back at her with those eyes she used pray would look at her with love. Now that they do, she realized she prayed for the wrong thing and hoped that he would forgive her in time.
"I know. If that is how you really feel, then… I'll accept it. But he better treat you right or I'll-"
His ranting was cut-off as he felt her lips touch his cheek.
"Thank you, Sho. I'm proud of you".
She opened her eyes only to realize that she actually fell asleep! She checked the clock on her phone and saw that she had been sleeping for two and a half hours! Fortunately, there was no call, not even a single message from the president. She stood up and started to pace, stretching her extremities while thinking about her next course of action. From the living room, she heard the television turned on. It was Moko-san's free day. Maybe her best friend could help her plan her next move. She needed someone objective and efficient.
She went out to the living room and was about to greet Moko when she heard the news anchor say:
"For our other showbiz news: We have received reports that the retired Hollywood actor Hizuri Kuu and his wife, the former supermodel Julie, arrived at Tokyo this morning". A short clip was shown showing her Otou-san with a gorgeous blond woman walking briskly across the airport exit and entering a black sedan. Both sported dark sunglasses but no other form of disguise, making it easier for the viewers to confirm that it was really the famous Hollywood couple.
"We are still trying to contact the Swann headquarters here in Tokyo, as well as the LME President to confirm the whereabouts of the famous couple but we are yet to receive any response. It can be recalled that their son, Hizuri Kuon, is currently in Japan for a two-month long vacation. It may be presumed that the couple is here to join their son, but there are also some speculations that their hasty arrival had something to do with the scandal between Fuwa Sho and Kyoko, who was also linked with their son Kuon".
Her Otou-san is in Japan! She thought about him happily and began to plan the food she would cook for him. Then the other details began to click together and she realized… Wait… Julie-san is here too… Her eyes widened. No… She can't face them – all 3 of them - at the same time! And Julie-san… the fairy queen mother!... Julie-san would definitely punish her for hurting Kuon! Noooooooooooooooooo!
End of Chapter 16
This was a very long chapter. I was saddened by some of the reviews for Chapter 15. Some readers didn't like the way Kyoko hurt Kuon by not telling him what she really felt about him, making him think that she chose Sho. But I do hope this chapter made up for all the negative ideas the last one gave. I see Kyoko's as someone who's still struggling within herself – not knowing how her intentions will be perceived by the people around her. So she just chose to keep silent and do her own thing and hope that by making the right decision, she will make everyone happy. As for Kuon, he needed to learn how to accept himself – to see himself as someone who deserves love, and to learn how to 'fight' for his love – the kind of fighting that doesn't involve fists and knuckles and bloody body parts. I would like to think that in this story, their characters have grown mature – and because of that I would not change anything.
Regarding the letter; forgive me, but I just had to use the word 'ardently' somewhere in this story. Gyahaha…
See you in Chapter 17! :)