Hello and welcome back to Clara writes selfish fanfic. I don't own Skip Beat!, but I do half-own the TSD thing mentioned below. It's something a friend and I bounced ideas back and forth for in high school. Enjoy!
Kyoko was excited. Today was the first time she would be working with the practical special effects for their movie! She had just been working with greenscreen until now, but she would finally get to work with the real dragons today! Okay, so they weren't real dragons (her grudges and angels, now equal in number, sighed at this), but they were very convincing animatronics. She was awake and out of bed before her alarm went off, too eager to sleep. Kuon let out a whimper as her warmth left the bed. They'd been together for going on two years now, and had been living together for a few months. It had taken some adjusting, but she didn't think that she'd ever been happier. And they were still learning new things about each other.
For example, Kyoko thought with a giggle as she started getting dressed, if Kuon went to sleep with socks on, one of them would always wind up on the other side of the room by morning. That, and he only slept with socks on in the summer. Air conditioning made his feet cold, apparently - nothing else; just his feet. She wondered if there would ever be a time when they would know everything about each other, or if they would keep finding out new things for their whole lives. She slipped on her castle-themed house slippers (ones he had apparently bought for her ages before they started dating) and padded into the bathroom.
A few minutes later, she slipped out to the living room to make breakfast and run through her script again. Tiny, Spherical Dragons (a working title, apparently) was a story of a group of assassins who had tiny, spherical dragons (hence the title) as familiars. She was playing a girl code-named Scat, so named for her scatterbrained tendencies, who had a two-headed dragon. Today's practical effects scenes were the ones in which she and Up (Kuon's character, whose code name came from his uptight nature) discovered that the lack of magic in their world was responsible for their dragons being so small. Future scenes would reveal that this was a plot from within their own agency, which was colluding with governments. Today's, however, had her interacting with both the tiny dragon animatronics and the scaled-up versions. It was almost as good as working with faeries!
When Kuon's alarm went off an hour later, he found Kyoko's side of the bed empty and cold. He frowned. Where was she? It was still early. He heaved himself out of bed and went to look for her, slipping a little due to his unbalanced sock status. She wasn't in the bathroom, so he stepped into the living room - and was immediately blinded by the sunlight streaming in through the open blinds. "Kyoko?"
And there she was, sitting at the table in the living room, eating breakfast with her script open in front of her. The same sunlight that blinded him danced in her hair, making it glow. She was so focused on her script that she did not hear him. He snuck up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. She yelped and dropped her script. "Kuon!"
"Morning. I called out to you, but you didn't hear me." He sighed, blowing his morning breath in her face, making her scrunch up her nose. "I woke up and the bed was cold."
"Yeah, I've been up for a while." She picked up her script and set it on the table next to her breakfast. She took a bite, then asked, "Did you sleep well?"
Kuon rested his chin on her head. "Very. My omamori keeps the nightmares away."
Kyoko's cheeks went pink. "I made enough breakfast for you, too. It's keeping warm in the pan on the stove."
He dropped a kiss on her hair and went to fetch it. "Thanks, princess. I'll do the dishes after we eat." They had kept this pattern for quite some time, but he still felt compelled to remind her, as she is Kyoko. That was one of the many things that had taken some getting used to once they started living together. But honestly, he had never been happier.
Kyoko's eyes sparkled as she approached the dragon animatronic. It was big, almost big enough for her to ride, and the dragon's two faces seemed to smile at her. Her grudges and angels swarmed around it, as enchanted as their mistress. Kuon chuckled as he watched her. If he didn't know better, he would have sworn that the prop leaned into her hand as she petted it. Fortunately for his sanity, he did not know that Kyoko's angels and demons were assisting their mistress in playing out her LaLa land fantasies by moving the prop - rather, that Kyoko was having them do this. Now that they were even in number, Kyoko's grudges and angels had agreed to work together for her sake. Nothing good came of having solely one or the other, after all.
"Is she in character already?" their director asked Ren.
"No, I don't think so." He fixed his face. Sure, there were rumors in the industry about the pair of them, but they had not confirmed anything to the press. They needed to keep up appearances - and it really wasn't professional to turn into a pile of mush on set. Imagine the mess the poor janitorial staff would have to clean!
"Alright, whatever," the director sighed, shaking her head. "Let's just get started." She turned and called out orders.
He slipped into the character of Up, Scat's fellow assassin and eventual love interest (their ship name in the original book's fandom was Sup). He had been so dubbed due to his uptight nature. Never let it be said that dragons are good at naming people. Granted, Scat's dragons were named Nork and Dork, so humans weren't much better. He stepped onto set. "Scat."
When she stepped back from the animatronic, Kyoko was gone. Scat was now in the driver's seat, and the grudges and angels had retreated to the Kyoko meeting room. She beamed at Up. "What's up, Up?"
He didn't have time to respond to her wordplay before the director stepped forward to give them a run-down of the scene. "So here, you're seeing the dragons' medium-sized, 'true' forms for the first time. Kyoko-chan, Scat needs to mix surprise, relief, and joy - remember, they've been missing and you're just now finding them. Ren-san, you need to take Up's more calculating approach to this, but we also need you to be surprised - and a little envious. You've always wanted a two-headed dragon, and here your friend's is seemingly more powerful than ever. But you need to remember that your own dragon is still missing. Got it?" At their nods, she stepped off the set and everyone got into position. "Action!"
"N-Nork? Dork?" Scat stared across the greenscreened set at the animatronics. "Is that - is that really you?"
The animatronics nodded and opened their mouths to make dragon sounds. There were no dragon sounds, as these would be added in post. Up hung back, taking in what was happening, thoughts racing through his mind and across his face.
"OHMYGOD!" Scat threw herself at her dragons, an arm wrapping around each of their necks. "I'm so glad you're safe! Are you hurt? But you're big! You're not all round anymore! What happened to you? I was so worried about you!" Tears of relief flowed down her face.
At this point, the dragons were supposed to twine their necks around her in a hug, and then Up would get the plot back on track. But this is not what happened.
Unknown to anyone, the machinery that made the necks curve was malfunctioning. And so, when the technician hit the controls to have them hug Kyoko, they did. They wrapped around her torso and squeezed. Far, far too tightly. And since this same animatronic would later be in an action sequence, it was very powerful.
Scat was used to such treatment, since she was friends with lots of excitable children. Kyoko, however, was being squeezed by metal and wires, and was usually the one giving the death-grip hugs. "Guys! I missed you, too!" she squeaked, the metal scales pinching her skin.
Kuon, under Up's facade, caught her squeak. He stepped forward. "Nork, Dork -"
And then the animatronic dragon lifted Kyoko off of the ground. Scat laughed while the director gestured frantically at the technician. Up rolled his eyes. "Can you two let her go already? We've got problems here." He tried to get ahold of the dragon, but it was moving too wildly.
Scat pouted at him. "Way to ruin the mood." Inside, Kyoko deployed her grudges and angels. Something was clearly wrong with their precious dragons. The director wasn't the type to throw in this type of surprise.
"Hey," Up replied, a bit wounded. Kuon caught one of the dragon's necks, only for its scales to slip right out of his hands. He gritted his teeth and repeated, this time more loudly, "We've got a problem here!" This repetition was not in the script.
While the grudges pushed at the dragons' necks, the angels slipped into the machinery. Scat's voice grew louder as she demanded, "Can't a girl have a moment with her dragons?"
"Not while mine is still missing!" Up shot back, grabbing at one of the dragons' necks again.
Scat froze and, at the same moment, so did the dragon. And then it moved in a way it was absolutely not programmed to move. Guided by Kyoko's grudges on the outside and maneuvered by the angels on the inside, the dragons gently set her down. While Dork remained looped around Scat, Nork extended his neck and rubbed soothingly against Up's chest.
Ren placed a relieved hand on the dragon's head. Up's face fell. "I - I'm sorry. I'm glad you're safe. I just…."
"We'll find her," Scat said, stroking Dork's scales. "And now we've got backup."
"CUT!" the director called. She stormed over to the technician. "What was that?"
While the technician gave their baffled answers, Kuon helped Kyoko unwind the rest of the animatronic from around her torso. "Are you okay?"
She smiled up at him. "The scales pinched a little, but I'm okay. Just a little shaken."
He checked her over. "What made it do that?"
"I don't know. I'm just glad that my - that they stopped it in time." She hadn't told Kuon about the grudges and angels… it was just too weird, too fantastical. Not even Maria could see them. "Did the scales cut you when you were trying to stop them?"
He shook his head. Something about this wasn't sitting right with him, and he hadn't missed her slip of the tongue. He could tell that she hadn't known about it beforehand, but she seemed to know more than she was saying. His concerns only increased when the director came over and informed them that they would not be doing any more animatronic scenes until they were fixed. Kyoko stopped herself from protesting that she probably could have made them work. They would just think she was crazy. Kuon's eyes followed her down the hall when they were both sent back to their dressing rooms to get changed for the new set of scenes.
At home that evening, Kyoko's grudges and angels were both out and circling Kuon. He had been in an odd mood all day, and they could not figure out what it was. It wasn't anger, jealousy, or anything on that spectrum; the grudges could detect those well enough. But it also wasn't anything in the realm that her angels could detect. Kyoko stood next to him in the kitchen as they both chopped vegetables for dinner, doing her best to keep her mind focused on the task.
Kuon also tried to keep his mind focused on the task at hand, but it kept wandering back to what had happened with the dragons. Finally, he couldn't keep it in anymore. "Kyoko -"
At the same time, she said, "Kuon -"
"Go ahead," he said. When she started to protest, he insisted, "No, really. Go ahead."
"I just wanted to ask what was wrong. You've been acting weird all day." She set down her knife and looked up at him. "Did I do something?"
"Of course not!" He set down his own knife and turned to look at her. "I just - the thing with the dragons this morning. I was really scared for you, and nobody was doing anything. But then it started acting so strangely. Then iIt seemed like - like you knew more than you were saying. About how it was behaving."
She bit her lip. They did their best to stay completely open with each other, so she didn't want to lie about this. But it was just so weird. "Promise you won't think I'm crazy?"
"Did you know it was going to happen and purposefully put yourself at risk?"
"Then I won't think you're crazy."
She took his hand and led him over to the couch, leaving the vegetables partially chopped on the counter. They sat down, Kuon growing more concerned by the second. Why did they need to sit down for this? Why would he think she was crazy? And why did she look so nervous?
"Okay, so," she started, then paused to swallow. She had only ever told Maria about them. How would she explain them to someone who didn't believe in magic and the paranormal? "Maybe I should just… show you."
"Kyoko, what do you mean?" He was beyond baffled. Show him?
She had the grudges and angels that were still circling his head go sit on the table, around the flower vase. "Watch the rose." The grudges held the vase still; the angels pulled the rose - a large one, but no Queen Rosa - out of the bouquet. They cuddled it, cooing over the love they felt from it.
Kuon's jaw dropped. In his eyes, the rose was floating on its own. "Wha…."
The angels brought it over to him, dropped it on his lap, and left kisses on his cheeks before they and the grudges retreated to the Kyoko meeting room. She watched him work through the various stages of I-just-watched-a-rose-float-through-the-air shock. He had seen a lot of strange things growing up with Lory as his godfather, but this was on another level. For one, Lory was not involved. For two, this didn't seem to be any sort of illusion or prank. For three, he could tell that Kyoko was dead serious about this.
"Kuon?" Kyoko whispered, after three solid minutes of silence.
"This is real," he replied, voice hoarse. "This is real and I am awake."
"Yes," she said tentatively.
"I am not dreaming and you made a rose float."
She gave him an awkward smile. "Well, my grudges and angels did."
He looked at her as if she had started speaking Swahili. "I'm sorry, what?"
"Grudge demons and angels," she said slowly. "They're like… manifestations of my emotions. Before the whole thing with Sho, I only had the angels. And then they all turned into grudge demons. That's when they got… powerful. Back then I couldn't really control them. Like the time when Father made the food into leftovers and insulted 'Tsuruga Ren,' and they exploded out and left dents all over his hotel room." She laughed, embarrassed. "He never mentioned it again. I wonder what the hotel must have thought. But yeah. As time went on, more and more of the grudges died off - well, I realized later that they were being turned into angels. A little over two years ago, they evened out. Maria-chan guessed that it was because I was getting better control over my emotions. She suggested that I could probably control them, too. So I started practicing, and here we are." She gestured to the rose in his lap.
"So the dragon…" he said faintly, trying to take in this information.
"I didn't want it to mess up the scene, so I had the grudges push against it while the angels tinkered with the insides." She smiled. "You handled Nork nuzzling you pretty well."
He stared at her. Because what else do you do when the love of your life tells you she has magic powers? No wonder she believed that I was a fairy for so long. She's literally magic. "Remind me to never piss you off."
"I don't use them like that! Well, when they were first turned they strangled Sho with his own choker, but that was a one-time thing." She wrinkled her nose. "Besides, you are the one who purified them, so I really don't think they can hurt you. And the grudges feed off of your anger."
He blinked. "I don't know whether to be flattered or terrified."
"Figure that out and I'll go finish chopping veggies for dinner?" When he nodded mutely, she kissed his cheek then stood. He's taking this better than expected, she mused as she went back to cooking. Though I don't think I'll let him near knives tonight. He's too out of it. She had been teaching him to cook, with somewhat decent results. But it would still be a long, long time before anyone other than Father would deem his cooking tasty. At least it was edible now.
They had a very quiet evening, broken by Kuon's occasional questions:
"Is that how you always know when I'm angry?" (Yes.)
"What did you mean that I purified them?" (She had blushed a lovely shade of crimson while explaining this.)
"So are they fairies, or…?" (She and Maria really aren't sure. They might be extensions of her consciousness, bits of her soul, or something else entirely. Maria and her paranormal friends were researching it.)
"Those dolls you made of me - are they working voodoo dolls?" ("Of course not, they don't have any of your hair in them.")
"You can see them?" was followed quickly by "What do they look like?" (She wound up sketching them for him. He requested little dolls of them to carry with him as a good-luck charm, like the one of herself she had made for Moko so long ago. She was embarrassed, but agreed.)
"Can anyone else see them?" (Only that damn Beagle. He kidnapped one, and that was why she'd had to make him chocolates that one Valentine's Day. And no, he didn't do anything too weird to her. Just took her on walks, apparently. This did not make Kuon feel better about the incident.)
"What else can they do?" (She really wasn't sure about the limit of their abilities, but she'd keep him updated.)
"You said they liked me?" (Well, yeah. They're part of her. "In particular, the grudges love it when you go all righteous demon lord on someone, and the angels bask in your heavenly smiles." But since they're part of Kyoko, they're as in love with him as she is.)
Eventually, Kuon's questions petered out and the evening found Kyoko hesitating in the doorway of their bedroom. "Kuon?"
He was in the middle of putting on his pajama socks. "Yeah?"
"You - about earlier, I…" She twisted her hands together. "Are you scared of me? Or think I'm weird or crazy?"
"Of course not," he replied, finishing putting on his socks and slipping into bed. "I mean, sometimes I'm scared of how talented you are, because I don't know if I can keep up with you when we're acting together."
"Kuon!" Kyoko whined, but she smiled as she padded over to the bed. He held the covers up for her, and she slipped under them and into his arms. "You know that's not true."
He tugged her close. "Remind me which one of us kept their cool when the dragon animatronic malfunctioned."
"That doesn't count! I had help." She furrowed her brow. "And I thought you stayed in character."
"Help that you control." He needed to think of whatever-they-were as just extensions of Kyoko, or he would never feel like they were alone together again. "And I tried, but I was panicking. If you remember, I wasn't supposed to touch them at all. And I definitely went off-script."
"I didn't notice that," she mumbled, burrowing against his chest.
"Well, you were using magic at the same time, so I don't think anyone would fault you for that," he said.
She frowned up at him. "They're not strictly magic."
"I have never even heard this type of thing before," he pointed out, "and you said that Maria-chan hadn't either."
"Yes, but they're more occult than magic. They're not fairies." Her frown deepened. "And it's not like I had to cast a spell or something."
He gave as good of a shrug that he could, given that he was lying down with Kyoko in his arms (gods, he loved that thought). "Whatever you say, princess. But I still think that you're more likely to have fairy blood than me."
He expected her to pout as she usually did when he teased her about that. She had been insisting that he had to have faerie blood somewhere in his family line - and this had only increased when she finally met his mom. She was convinced that Julie was descended from the Seelie Court of the Faeries. Julie loved this, and had taken to calling Kyoko her little sprite, elf, or pixie. Kyoko's brain had short-circuited the first time that Julie did this. Dad had sent him the pictures later.
Kyoko did not pout. Instead, she stared at him, wide-eyed. Then she gasped and leapt out of bed, leaving a very confused Kuon in her wake as she scrambled for her phone. She was halfway through dialling before she realized that it was almost eleven o'clock. With a sigh, she set her phone back down and instead grabbed the notebook she kept on her bedside table.
When at last she finished writing and slipped back into his arms, he asked, "What was that?"
"I was going to ask Maria-chan if she knew anything about changelings from the Unseelie Court. This seems more their style - and it's not exactly unheard of to have resurgence in powers some generations down the line. But I don't know if that's a faerie thing as well, or if it's just a witch thing." She sighed. "But then I realized that it's past her bedtime. I'll have to call her tomorrow."
"Sounds like a plan." He pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Any other incredible revelations for me before we go to sleep?"
She shook her head. "I'm surprised you're taking it this well, honestly. I've only ever told Maria-chan about them, and this is more in line with her tastes. I expected you to think I was crazy."
"Kind of hard to deny the evidence." And it really explained a lot about her behaviour early on in her time at LME. No wonder poor Sawara-san was afraid of her.
She giggled. "That's true."
"Know what else is true?" he whispered, fingers tracing the line of her jaw.
"What?" she whispered back, matching his tone.
He leaned in until his lips were mere centimeters from hers. "You play a hilarious chicken."
She laughed, and he swallowed the sound in his kiss.
Woo, selfish content! I always wondered what would happen if Kuon found out about the grudges/angels. What do y'all think?