DISCLAIMER: I don't own Skip Beat, for if I did, Kuon would keep in contact with Kyoko when he goes to the U.S.

Kyoko sat cradled in the palm of the giant hand chair while sipping her hot cocoa. It was her spot. She claimed it as soon as she arrived at the yurt the president had gifted her for her use on her eighteenth birthday. He owned the place and told her she was free to use it to her heart's content. She decided to take him up on his offer while she had the time off following the success of The Sacred Lotus in the Mire. She thought it was a good reason for going during this cold season.

After the new year, she wasn't sure when she would have the time again. She already accepted the lead role in a new drama and still had a plethora of offers to choose from. Offers she didn't even need to audition for. She was one step closer to achieving her dream as a top actress to represent Japan.

She gripped the large pendant hidden under her shirt and thought about the man that gave it to her. She had not seen him since he went to the United States for his Hollywood debut. That was almost six months ago. They kept in constant communication even if most was through email exchange. Different time zones and their busy schedules made it difficult to find time to speak over the phone. It got to the point where they had a planned phone date; her Sunday night with his Sunday morning. During those calls, he would lovingly say he missed her and she would shyly admit that she missed him too.

He had called her twice this past week. The first was to wish her a happy birthday and apologize that he couldn't attend the Grateful party. He had sent her a lovely bouquet of forever roses which many of her friends found suspicious since it was unlike him to send something so impersonal. She pushed their negative assumptions out of her mind. The bouquet was beautiful and thoughtful. Best of all it was a gift from him. She was far from disappointed. The second call was their usual Sunday exchange but ended up just as short. She had time to thank him for the gift and tell him the highlights of the party before he had to go to work for an early call. He apologized profusely for not being able to keep their time commitment. She was honestly not expecting him to call her since they spoke the day before but the fact that he did filled her with joy.

She wasn't hiding by going off-grid contrary to what her friends believed. She just needed...peace. If one more person looked at her with sympathy or assured her that the article in the gossip rag of him and his gorgeous American co-star was most likely false she would probably lose it. She wasn't even dating him for crying out loud! He sent her a message reassuring her of his innocence and she believed him. End of story. It never entered her mind to question why he didn't just call. He was busy making his dreams come true after all.

Her eyes widened with wonder as she gazed over her mug and through the frosted windows. She could make out white fluff dancing in the light breeze. It was snowing again. Only this time it looked serene and enchanting compared to the howling of last night as nature battered against her shelter. When she woke up this morning, she confirmed that about a foot of the magical white substance covered the surrounding grounds on her quick and cold trip to the detached bathroom. The small natural hot spring was the only spot not covered in white since the hot water melted the snow on contact.

Kyoko took one final sip of her hot chocolate and cleaned her mug. She fed more wood into the antique wood-burning stove to raise the heat in the room. She stepped up to the door and pulled the thick cashmere scarf off the nearby peg then wrapped it several times around her neck. She continued the tedious task of donning her winter attire by shoving a knitted hat over her head and stuffing her thick, socky feet into tall fur-lined boots. She zipped her coat up to her chin and pulled on her leather gloves. Finally, she was ready to play outside with the snow fairies.

Kyoko eagerly grabbed for the doorknob and stepped into the winter wonderland, instantly forgetting her troubles. She laughed and skipped her way to the open area of the property near the back where the ocean waves raged tumultuously below. She twirled in a tight circle, dancing to the rhythm of her little snowy friends until she fell to the ground in a dizzy and exhausted heap. Residual giggles rose from her lips as the snow fairies continued to descend upon her face. Some even stuck to her lashes. She opened her eyes to the bleak sky waving her arms and legs in the snow-covered ground. She had always wanted to make a snow angel but was too afraid of Yayoi-san's reaction.

She was delirious with glee by the time she started her third angel. This one would be Chiori-chan she told herself after the perfect angel she made of her best friend. This was just the little trip she needed to put her back in the right mind space. I'm not lonely.

"LoveMe Girl." She heard the words in the deep velvety voice of the man that stole her heart.

"Great, now I'm hallucinating," she muttered to herself continuing to wave her hands back and forth until she was satisfied with her friend's angel. "You're going crazy, Kyoko. I'm pretty sure hearing voices is the first sign of lunacy. This is what happens when you decide to self-isolate. It has been less than two days and you're already breaking down."

"I assure you, you're perfectly sane," his voice said again. Kyoko blinked rapidly and squinted up into a pair of amused green eyes.

She screamed and ninja rolled as best she could in her thick winter gear. She stayed crouched in the snow glaring at the intruder that dared invade her solitude. This man had his physical attributes though his hair was much lighter when he announced his identity to Japan and left. The color was now a dirty blonde but he appeared to have the same brilliant green eyes. The sun was hidden behind layers of clouds so she couldn't confirm if they flashed to a burnt sienna color in the right light.

"Kyoko," he called softly taking a step towards her. He sounded just like him too. It was the same voice that haunted her before she went to bed at night when her mind was quiet and still.

If Kuon was here in the flesh then...She smiled mischievously. He tilted his head, confused. The expression on his face when the snowball pelted him on his shoulder was one for the history books. He was flabbergasted.

Kyoko whooped with laughter at the direct hit. "Oh, you're real!" She exclaimed gathering more ammunition. Her hands worked frantically to form another compacted ball. In the periphery of her vision, she saw him doing the same. Panic rose within her. She finished her snowball and wound up to throw it. In the time it took her to make her one, Kuon had managed to amass a pile of snowballs. Kyoko halted at his wicked smile.

"Oh no," she yelped. Kyoko did what she does best. She bolted looking for cover as snowballs rained down on her. They spent significant time in a fierce snowball fight. It took away any of the awkwardness his sudden appearance had brought with him. They were those kids again playing on the bank of the river in Kyoto without a care for the outside world.

Kuon yielded first crying mercy while cupping the area between his legs. It wasn't her intention for the snowball to hit him there. Her frosty gloves covered her mouth to stifle her laughter.

He quit rolling around the ground for a second to shove a handful of snow into her face. Kyoko sputtered snow and dirt out of her mouth then joined his laughter. It was so cold.

"Come on," Kuon said holding his hand out to help her off the ground. He gently brushed residual snow off her face like it was the most natural thing to do. "Let's get you warmed up inside."

He picked up the duffle bag he dropped during their impromptu battle and led her inside by the hand. Through their thick gloves, Kyoko felt the heat radiating from his touch and spreading throughout her body. She was quite warm already.

...

Since they were thoroughly soaked, Kuon insisted that Kyoko take a hot bath to warm up before she caught a cold. Only then could she ask him any questions afterward. He was appalled to learn that to do so she would have to use the hot spring outside. Kyoko stubbornly insisted in turn that she was not waiting another minute for his explanation. She showered first and entered the steamy pool patiently waiting for him to join her. The proper thing for him to do was to wait until she was done; however, he eventually caved and reluctantly took a shower. She claimed that it was just like going to the beach. No big deal. A private beach, he thought apprehensively. So here they were sitting across from each other neck-deep in hot water surrounded by fluffs of powdery-white snow. Kyoko wore a modest one-piece swimsuit that she had the foresight to bring for this very purpose and he wore a T-shirt and shorts. At least it stopped snowing.

"What about your work in America?" She asked, her mouth barely breaching the water's surface. He kept the smile off his face as he watched her sink lower to hide her small frame from him. It was amusing that she kept her eyes trained on something beyond him. For all her earlier bravado, he could tell she was uncomfortable with their current situation. It was adorable.

"I finished it," he stated. Kyoko's eyes widened and glanced off him. He never did tell her his schedule. He wanted his return to be a surprise for her birthday but unforeseen setbacks occurred with the project thus ruining his plans. He wanted to give her his present in person that he was forced to think of something on the fly as a quick replacement. Today was the soonest he could make it back. At least he could spend New Year's with her.

"Why are you here?" She asked, finally looking at him directly.

"Because you're here." He pursed his lips to keep from smiling at her frustration. He could see the cute frown lines forming between her brows exasperated by his short answers.

"Are you going back?" she asked, averting her eyes again.

"I signed a contract for a new drama here. You might know it. I'll be playing twins." She squeaked and retreated lower into the water again. He knew she accepted the female lead role in that same production.

"I plan on remaining in Japan. I already have two contracts signed for future work in America. At most, I would have to fly overseas for a few weeks at a time but I'll always come back," he promised. He missed her and he didn't have to miss her. He realized after arriving in L.A. that he could make his dreams come true from Japan where his heart remained. His transition to being Kuon Hizuri again went smoother than expected. Both countries embraced him with open arms. He still had issues to work out with his family but the important part was they were communicating again.

They prepared dinner together and lost track of time catching up. There was never a lull in their conversation unless she counted the time when they both reached for the salt at the same time or that time his face was so close to hers as she demonstrated how to julienne a carrot into long thin strips. She lost the ability to speak during those moments but the point was that their routine telephone calls had conditioned them for times like these.

It was obvious to both of them that he would be staying the night since he had no plans on leaving before midnight. Like her, Ruto had dropped him off. It would be senseless to bother the poor man at such a late hour when he would have to retrieve Kyoko in the evening. It wasn't like they never shared a room.

After dinner, they sat on the floor in front of a three thousand-piece puzzle of Kyoto's Golden Pavilion. Kyoko started it the day before and already had the border and much of the temple completed. With Kuon's help, she was sure they could finish before they left.

The phone inside the yurt rang. Kyoko glanced at the clock and noticed how late it was. She stood on cramped legs to answer the house phone. There was only one person she expected to call her at this hour.

"Hello, Mogami-san, speaking," she answered as music and laughter greeted her.

"Mogami-kun, I trust you are well and in good company?" Lory's voice rose to overcome the New Year's festivities going on at his end.

"Yes sir, I'm fine. And yes it's nice to have Hizuri-san here to visit." She smiled shyly at Kuon and felt the heat rise in her cheeks.

"I'm glad to hear you aren't alone tonight," Lory exhaled with relief. She watched Kuon rise and stretch to remove the kinks from his body deciding to take a break from the puzzle. He settled into her hand chair.

She bit down the urge to reclaim her chair. After a few more words with Lory, she hung up. The president's phone call marked that they were less than two hours away to midnight. She couldn't be selfish since she had the seat to herself since her arrival. She supposed she could share just this once.

She resigned to sit on the couch which wasn't as comfy. She read her script while he browsed through his messages casually sitting against the fingers of her favorite chair while she sat rigid on the couch beside him. A random thought popped into her head. She was curious about his answer.

"Kuon, at what point did you find me outside?"

"From the moment you walked out of the door. You were easy to spot from the top of the hill," he confessed. "I'm glad something's never change." Kyoko groaned and hid her face. That meant he witnessed the entirety of her embarrassing display of dancing with the snow fairies.

Kyoko eyed him when he stood to stoke the embers in the stove. She could barely concentrate on her script with his overwhelming presence filling the room. It didn't help matters that she reached the intimate scenes she would share with him. She hid behind her script when he caught her staring and settled back down into the hand with a knowing smirk.

...

"It's getting close. Do you want to watch the countdown in Shibuya?" Kuon asked, swiveling his chair in her direction. He turned his phone to display the live stream in her direction. Kyoko put her script away and scrambled off the couch squeezing herself onto the chair beside him. She was just full of surprises today.

They counted down from ten along with the crowd. Kuon called upon all his acting reserves to resist the cute girl pressing up against him to watch his phone. "Happy new year, Kyoko," he whispered with a radiant smile to match her own. He wanted to wrap her in his arms and kiss her just like the daring couples on the live stream. Just being with her like this was enough for him even if the tension was unbearable.

"Happy new year, Kuon," she replied with a quick peck to his cheek. He pulled back astonished. The spot she kissed tingled. Did she just initiate that? He touched the spot where her lips once were and smiled goofily.

Kyoko gazed up at him shyly but expectantly through her lashes. Did she know how seductive she was at this moment? They had danced around each other all evening. He recognized their actions as flirting but did she. He decided to take a gamble. He tilted her chin up and leaned in closer. This was as far as he allowed himself to go. He would leave it up to her to decide whether she wanted to take it farther.

He closed his eyes and gulped when her fingertips took hold of either side of his face. He didn't want to spook her with the desire pouring forth from his eyes. He focused all his energy on keeping his body still but she was making it difficult. Closing his eyes was probably a big mistake; it only managed to heighten his other senses. He took a deep calming breath only to be assaulted by the sweet smell of peach blossoms emanating from her. He felt like cornered prey. He was trapped by her smell, her touch. Her every curve of her lithe body that pressed into his side set him aflame and yet he remained still.

Her fingers brushed the lock of hair that fell over his face. Kuon withheld his tongue from licking his lips in anticipation. He wasn't sure how she would respond to something so suggestive. He gasped when her fingertips caressed his lips. He squeezed his eyes tighter even though he wanted to open them so badly. If he could just look at her he could easily figure out what she was thinking. His mind went blank and his breathing stopped when he felt the tickle of her hair against his face. She was close.

As if she knew he could no longer handle the suspense, she brushed her warm lips softly against his barely a whisper. It was reminiscent of their time in Guam. His worries that she would run screaming for the snow-covered hills were dashed away as she pressed her open lips more firmly against his. Kuon's control evaporated easily as she breathed her very essence into his body. He melted into a puddle of hot mush.

The sound of cheers, fanfare, and exploding fireworks from his phone mingled with the deep bass of his racing heart. It was like the entire fandom was cheering on this miraculous occasion. He couldn't believe this was happening. She was kissing him and he was kissing her back. Realistically, he expected at least six months of dating before they arrived at this point in their relationship but he wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth.

His hands slid around her waist and took up residence at the small of her back. Her delicate curious hands threatened to roam over parts of his body he knew she wasn't ready for. Heck, he wasn't ready for it. He subtly repositioned them whenever they strayed and placed them in a more tolerable location. He groaned internally as her foot absentmindedly rubbed up and down his leg. She had no idea how the little action grated on his sanity. There was nothing he could do about it without making things awkward so he endured and lost himself in their passionate embrace.

Kyoko broke away first. Her need to breathe brought her back to her senses. Kuon did the opposite and held his breath, tightening his grip on her waist. As breathtaking as her wild eyes were, he knew that look well. He refused to let her run from this, from him, not this time. She buried her red face into his chest with a dramatic moan. It was only then that Kuon allowed himself to breathe again and relax his grip.

He quietly stroked her back in what he thought was a calming gesture. Several minutes later her breathing steadied assuring him that she had fallen asleep with her foot still firmly locked on his ankle. He knew he should put her to bed but he wanted to savor the moment a little longer just in case tomorrow she regretted the kiss.

He needed a distraction. Any distraction would do to keep his mind from wandering into his overactive imagination of having the woman he loved willingly and firmly in his arms. His eyes roamed around the interior of the yurt for the first time since his arrival. The place reeked of the president from the decor on the walls to the furnishings in the room. He told himself he would move her just as soon as he was done looking around so he took his time analyzing the artwork in the room. His gaze lingered on the colorful mask in front of him. There was something a bit off yet oddly familiar about one of the eyes.

His eyes turned cold and deadly as realization dawned on him. He had been in this industry long enough to recognize the shine of a miniature camera lens. He swiveled the chair around and wrapped his arms protectively around Kyoko. He glared at it again from the corner of his eye. He wouldn't let that stupid LoveMon off the hook this time.

...

"Oh my, Natsuko-chan, it seems like we've been found out." Lory chuckled petting the anaconda as she slithered away.


AN: Hiya Everyone! I was so easily pressured in joining the Yurt challenge from the SB discord fandom after Chitesnoo presented us with incredible fanart of RenKyo cozying up together in the hand chair. This was a toughie for me since I had to keep the innocence of these babes. I hope you enjoyed it.

Ja ne! ^_^